Wait, you want to do a runDisney race while on vacation? You really want to run, in the Bahamas heat, on an island, after days of binge eating? Alright, then continue to read…
The Castaway Cay (“key”) 5k is another runDisney event, well sort of, that takes place on the Island of Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Disney’s own Island boasts the run to get a little bit of exercise while enjoying some fun in the sun. Now, most of the runDisney events are planned months ahead of time, require much training and can be charming with Disney characters or exotic scavenger hunts and more. The Castaway Cay 5k is not this glamorous.
Stationed on the ship, if you would like to participate, you join the rest of your fellow runners in the designated area, which for us was the 687 Club at 8:30am on the day of our Island visit. After checking in, and pinning on our bib, at about 9am we were escorted off the ship to have a group photo taken on the Island. Goofy showed up wearing his beautiful blue running gear and took pictures with us. You might think the race began at this ship, but actually, you had to walk about half a mile or more to a location for the start. This has changed from previous years where you started at the ship. Once we followed the cast member to our location, we saw the start. A sign marked “5k Start”.
As we all get into our starting marks, the digital time clock began and we were off at about 9:15am. The course runs through the center walkways of the island, following the bike path. You really are not running anywhere near the beach, anything tropical besides lots of bushes and trees, and perhaps some low flying birds.
You are basically running through the airfield landing strip (reserved in the 1940’s as a runway), making a turn through a bikers loop, near the observation tower, continued to Serenity Bay (the adults only section) and back again. They had 2 different water stations set up along the path to get a quick drink if needed. The run was not bad at all actually, but being on the ship for a few days, and now having a tad bit of sea legs, the run was rather more difficult than I thought it would be. I usually run a 5k 2 or 3 times per week now while I have been training for my 10 mile Tower of Terror run in a few weeks, but something about this one hurt my shins a bit. Perhaps the 3 days prior of constant food?
The race was completed for first place in about 30 minutes, but there was no awards for 1st or 2nd, this was simply for the experience. I finished at roughly 44 minutes, rather slow, even for me, but my shins were really bothering me. The heat was not that much of a factor as I try to run my routine in the mid day Florida sun anyways to prepare.
As we finished the race, we were greeted by 2 cast members from the ship, but I also noticed that MANY of the runners were still waiting near the finish line. Perhaps a party? No, they wanted to know where their medals were… In all the prior years of the Castaway 5k, they have given out Disney Cruise Ship medals for completed the 5k on the island. Not sure what may have changed, but the cast members said they do not have medals now, they will provide us a certificate in our rooms later that day. Needless to say, many negative remarks were made and the runners I was with were also very dissatisfied. The cast members were there to mark down our times and to make sure that anyone who entered the race, finished and wasn’t somewhere dead in the bushes on the course.
Upon finishing the race, no characters were present, no photo op’s, nada. The race was over, you just continued on to the beach or perhaps you went back to the ship for a shower. We opted to head back to the ship to quickly shower before coming back to the beach. The trams were there this time, so we didn’t have to walk all the way back. If you think about it, we ended up doing about 4 full miles with the initial walk to get to the starting line. By that time, a good chunk of the runners were already sweating.
Follow Up: After heading to customer service to ask about the “medals” for the 5k, we were told they do not issue them anymore. Later that night, after about 9pm, the certificates were outside our door, with…. you guessed it, our medals! Granted they are cheap plastic, actually cheaper than the rubber medals runDisney usually provides for a 5k, but I GOT MY MEDAL! Another unDisney event I can check off as DONE!