ORLANDO, Fla – Universal Orlando Resort welcomed thousands of runners to its inaugural “Epic Character Race” Saturday and Sunday.
The courses took guests throughout both Universal Orlando, CityWalk and Island’s of Adventure during the early morning hours before any park guests arrived.
News 6 producer Landon McReynolds, tied up his shoes and took on the 10K course.
Here are the five reasons why you should sign up for the park’s next event.
1. The course
The 5K and 10K courses took runners from an area near the parking garages paralleling I4 and led them into both amazing theme parks.
Guests were asked to arrive early to give enough time to park, stretch and get in that last minute bathroom break.
At 6:15 a.m., the energy came to life as spotlights beamed into the sky, unleashing runners on their mission for a medal.
The first mile was by far the hardest in my opinion. You hit an interstate ramp, a bridge and at times you had to zig-zag around people. As soon as that was over, much of the pathway in front of me was wide open for running.
I’d also point out, just when I needed some water, the next water station was around the corner, so that was a plus for the Universal team.
You get to see what the parks have to offer as well as areas backstage.
The finish line was located in a backstage area behind “Jimmy Fallon: Race Through New York.”
The name of the race is the “Epic Character Race,” and Universal delivered on this.
Banana craving Minions, Betty Boop, Transformers, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy and many more were spotted while out on the course.
Having characters throughout a course is not new to Central Florida’s theme park running events.
Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando have several photo opportunities throughout its race weekends, but this event was different.
What made this so awesome, many of the waits to snag some photos were super short.
You could run up, hand a team member your phone, and off you went to sweat out another mile.
Universal detailed on the course maps where the character meet-and-greets would be offered.
3. The park experience
The atmosphere while running in the parks was incredible.
Team members cheered you on and encouraged you to keep up the hard work throughout the course.
One team member’s sign read “This is a whole lot of work for a banana.”
Other team members were in character in the lands they worked in.
I heard one team member working in “Jurassic Park” scream that runners were “going the wrong way -- And that a dinosaur was down the path.”
Universal also had a number of DJ’s around the park which helped energize runners like myself.
Another highlight was having several of Universal’s world-class attractions running as you passed them.
Something about running underneath the Hulk roller coaster as it roared out of its tunnel and down into several loops was cool. I’ve ridden it so many times, but something about that moment was epic.
4. Medals and swag
Nothing feels better than crossing that finishing line and having someone hand you an awesome looking medal.
Runners in the 5K race received a 3D-sculpted silver medal featuring Shrek and Bumblebee, while runners in the 10K race received a 3D-sculpted gold medal featuring Blue, the Velociraptor, and a “Despicable Me” minion.
The medals are definitely Instagram worthy to show off, after such an amazing accomplishment.
Blue the raptor and the Minions, the same icons on the 10K metal, were available for photos after you crossed the finish line.
Universal also rolled out merchandise celebrating its inaugural race weekend. T-Shirts, water bottles and hats were available outside the race finish line area.
All participants who signed up were given a 5K or 10K shirt and Epic Character Race drawstring bag.
5. Food options
After a race like that, the next thing on my mind was food!
Upon completion of the race, runners were given a water, banana and snack pack box.
The snack pack box included a go-go squeeze apple sauce, Kashi granola bar, sweet and salty mix and a bag of pretzels.
If runners wanted a little more to eat, Universal offered 15% off at select CityWalk restaurants.
Runners had to simply show their running bibs from the race for the discount.
A VIP Breakfast was also offered to guests who upgraded their experience for the race.
The breakfast was held at Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food restaurant.
The meal included a number of things including eggs, fresh fruit, bacon, pastries, coffee and juices.
If you want an easy and fast option following the race, the VIP breakfast is your way to go.
It was not too crowded, and easy to get in and out following the race.
There is also a character meet-and-greet inside.
For runners looking to celebrate their “sweet” victory, exclusive 5K and 10K doughnuts were available at Voodoo Doughnut at Universal CityWalk – featuring banana and peanut butter filling for a confectionery energy boost.
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Click or tap here to learn more about the attractions at Universal Orlando Resort.