We went on a Disney Cruise just before Christmas in December 2018 with our friends the Riedels. See more about it at the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise page. After our first evening, it was time to get some exercise on Castaway Cay…
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Wake up! It’s the day to run for your lives! Well, not really, but we did have a 5K run (or walk) ahead of us, so we were up and at ‘em early.
Because of the early run time, my alarm was set for 5:30. That seems like a really early alarm for when you are on vacation, doesn’t it? But we dragged ourselves out of bed and got ready to go to breakfast. I stepped out on the balcony for a few minutes to enjoy the view and get some photos. Our balcony divider had not yet been opened, so I couldn’t go over and knock on the Riedels’ balcony door, but I knew they were up and getting ready, too. When we were pretty close to ready, we opened our connecting door, and the Riedels opened theirs.
Arriving at Castaway Cay in the early morning hours. Who gets up this early on vacation?
We headed up to Cabanas for breakfast, because that is our usual breakfast spot. But we were careful not to eat too much, so that it would not sit too heavy in our stomachs during the exercise we were about to get. We figured we could always fill up with other stuff later, knowing how lunch usually goes on Castaway Cay. As we usually do, we got a table outside of the restaurant, near the Nemo splash area for kids, although there were not any kids out splashing at that early hour. As we were eating, the ship was docking at Castaway Cay, one of our favorite places on earth. Best of all, it looked like we were going to have sunny weather, unlike the last few times we had been to Castaway Cay. That makes a perfect place even more perfect-er.
After eating, we went back to our rooms to finish getting ready and to finish packing up what we wanted to take with us. We knew we wanted to spend lots of time on Castaway Cay after the run, so we took what we thought we would need for the day in extra bags, including bathing suits, beach shoes, sunscreen, and camera equipment. That last one mainly just applied to me.
The meeting place for the run was in the lounge area on Deck 4, so we made our way down there. Once we got down the stairs, we went out on the Promenade for just a few minutes, and we had a nice view of the Castaway Cay Christmas tree down below us. There were snowmen and a sleigh around the tree, too. Pretty neat! We knew that we would have to stop by and see it sometime before we left.
When we went to the lounge, we encountered a large group already there. I could tell that several of them were taking this run thing way too seriously. Or at least way more seriously than I was taking it. You could easily tell who were normal runners and who were sightseers. Laura and I fell into that latter category. Some people arrived after us and tried to walk on past us. I guess they did not realize that all of the people there were for the same thing they were there for. That is, until they got to the lounge door and found that it was closed. Then they came back to where we were.
Eventually, the doors to the lounge were opened, and we started to go inside. We all had to check in to make sure that they had us registered. We were then given a race bib and two safety pins to pin it on with. I knew the race bibs were mainly a formality, because no one bothered to note which numbers we were given. But it made it feel official.
When most everyone was checked in, one of the crew members went over everything with us. She showed us on the map where we would go, the location of the one water station that we would pass four times, where the box would be that we could put our stuff in, and how we would walk and not ride the tram to the starting place.
The time came for us to leave, so we all walked together as a group to leave the ship, stopping to get our cards scanned as we left so that they could keep track of us. At this point, the Riedels got on up ahead of us, but that was okay.
We all walked along the walkway next to the tram road on Castaway Cay, walking past the beaches and away from the ship. I took a few photos along the way, trying my best not to stop in the way of those people who were behind us. But there are so many cool views there that you can’t help taking a few photos. Sorry, people behind us!
Walking to the race involved stopping for a few photos along the way. Look, palm trees!
After our walk, we reached the starting point for the race. We saw the Riedels up ahead putting their stuff in the box, and then they were gone. We put our stuff in the box as well, and we had tied all three of our bags together to make them easier to find. The box was mostly full, so our bags mainly sat on the top. I didn’t figure that would be a problem, except that most all of those people who had stuff below our stuff would finish before we did. So they would have to dig for their stuff.
The time clock had started right before we got to the box, so most of the serious runners were already up ahead of us. Jaylin asked if he could go ahead and run, too, so we told him to be sure and wait for us at the end. That left just Laura and me, as the rest of our group was up ahead of us. I knew Laura wouldn’t run off and leave me, and she knew that I wouldn’t run off and leave her, because we both have pretty much the same philosophy about running, which is not to unless you just have to.
The course took us out past the bicycle rental place and out to the old airstrip that leads to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach that Laura and I loved visiting on our two cruises without Jaylin. It would be tempting just to stop off there when we got there, but we would try our hardest to avoid that temptation.
Walking on the runway. As opposed to those way out in front who were running on the walkway by this time.
I had started the activity tracking and GPS on my watch so that I could keep up with how far we had gone, how far we had left to go, and how long it was taking us, just for fun. I had also brought my camera to get some photos along the way, which was probably a sure sign to everyone that I was not a serious runner. But we were not the last ones in the group, so that was a comfort to us.
The course took us down the airstrip, but then it turned and followed the bike path, which is a big loop that leads to the observation tower and back. We had not been down there before, so that was interesting to see. While we were in the shade, it was almost cool, but when we were out in the sun, it was almost hot. Along the way, we realized that we were glad we had not done the Castaway Cay 5K on one of our summer cruises, because the heat and humidity would have been pretty intense.
The old airplane that sits at the corner of the bike path and the airstrip. I like the Donald Duck logo on the plane.
For the course, everyone would make the loop and then head back out to the airstrip, going all the way to Serenity Bay. There, they would turn around and come back, making the bike path loop again before heading back to where we had started. The water station was where the bike path met the airstrip, so that was how we all passed it four times.
As we were starting on our first loop, we heard Karen call our names as she ran past us. And then just after that, we saw Jaylin, who was just finishing up his first trip in the loop. We walked around the loop, getting a good view of the observation tower. We thought it might be good to walk back out there sometime and climb the tower, but we did not want to stop and do that right now.
Jaylin was taking a break from running when we saw him.
Back out on the airstrip, trams were taking some guests out to Serenity Bay, but they stayed on the far side of the airstrip from where we were walking. I heard the water station guy also ask the bicycle riders to watch out for the runners. Several people were well on their way to finishing, but that did not bother us any. We made our way down to the end of the airstrip, and then we turned around and headed back.
When we got back to the bike path loop, I think some of the walkers just skipped it and went on to the finish. It wasn’t really going to matter for anything anyway, but we wanted to make sure that we properly earned our medals, so we went around the loop a second time, once again not stopping to climb the observation tower steps. The water from the water station was starting to taste good, because the heat was catching up with us. We were thankful for the little bit of shade on the bike path, because it did make a difference.
Observing the Observation Tower, although this was as close as we got to it.
Once we got back out to the airstrip, we knew we were on the home stretch. But that was still not enough to make us break out into a run. We made the last turn around the roundabout and headed down to the finish line. When we crossed, the race time clock read 55 minutes, which is just about right for us. We were handed our medals, and that was that. We later learned that the ship photographers had been out there earlier taking photos of the finishers, but that they had left before we finished. Oh well, no big deal. The Riedels and Jaylin were there waiting for us, so we got Karen to take our photos instead, which was just as good.
Finishers! Even if two of us were among the last to finish.
We even got a cool medal for our efforts. My first race medal. And probably my last.
Needless to say, after that 3-mile walk (or run for the runners in our group), we were all rather tired. We retrieved our stuff from the storage box, changed into our beach clothes in a nearby restroom, and headed out to find a place on the family beach.
But there was still more fun on Castaway Cay! Check back soon for the next part of the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise trip report!