My husband and I recently returned from a Disney Cruise Line cruise. In addition to having surprisingly healthy meal options (like quinoa, barley, and fresh fruits and veggies) and a state-of-the-art fitness center on board (we took a cycling class), the cruise line also offered a 5K race the day we were in port at their private island, Castaway Cay. The race was free to any guests aged 12 and older. The race is offered on any cruise that stops at Castaway Cay. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line offers something similar as well.
So, of course, my husband and I had to run the race. A free 5K? Sign us up!
The cruise line treated the 5K like any other port excursion. We registered the day we boarded the ship and received our bibs and safety pins. We were told to meet in a specific restaurant at 8:15 a.m. – 45 minutes before the race began — on race day.
We were shocked when we arrived at the restaurant and saw the line for check-in – about 80 other guests were running the 5k, too! We sat down and listened to an overview of the course – around the bike loop, down and back on the airstrip, and around the bike loop again — and were shown a map. We were also told to take special care to throw away our cups at the water station, unlike most other races where it’s acceptable to toss cups to the side of the road.
After the presentation, we left the ship as a group and walked about a ½ mile to the start (restrooms and a locker for storing bags are available near the start). Then without much ado, someone yelled “ready, set, go” and we were off.
Since I was 21 weeks pregnant, I didn’t wear a watch (there are no mile markers or clocks on the course except for the finish line) and just ran at a comfortably fast pace. I got a little carried away, though. I loved the flat, tropical course and the warm air – it was only in the 70’s and not too humid.
By the time we reached the airstrip, I could see all of the runners ahead of me. I was happy to see my husband was in second, and shocked to learn I was currently the first female. I got a little competitive and made it my goal to hold the lead.
Somehow I did! I finished in 24:15 and felt great. The finish line was kind of a letdown, though. When we finished, no one was there cheering or congratulating us. Which is fine – I was glad everyone else was enjoying the island! – but it was just different from every other race I’ve ever ran.
An employee handed us our medals and we were also given water. Castaway Cay 5K shirts were available for purchase at a gift shop on the island.
Overall, I loved this race and would definitely run it again. It was no frills, but for a free race through paradise, I’ll be more than happy to take it. Plus, I didn’t feel guilty at all for lounging in a hammock the rest of the day!
Written by Jen Matz.