For a person who loves to run on vacation, running on an island is about as good as it gets. Water views, palm trees, a gentle breeze -- it's the perfect way to start the day.
So when I heard about the possibility of running the world's only organized private island 5K -- complete with course clocks and finishing medals, not to mention the adrenaline rush of a formalized start and hundreds of other runners on the course -- I knew I would sign up.
But what intrigued me even more than the scenery along the way was who was behind this run that has been on my bucket list — Disney Cruise Line.
Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line's private island, is the home of the Castaway 5K -- and it's one of the cruise line's most popular excursions.
"Guests get to come off the ship early, about 8:30 when there's practically no one on the island," Anthony England, assistant cruise director for Disney Cruise Line, told "Good Morning America."
"It's a great opportunity to get in a run or walk first thing and see some beautiful scenery you might not otherwise. They love that it gets them off the ship first thing."
Full disclosure: As a marathon runner, I have run several 10Ks and half-marathons. But I hadn’t run in about a year when it came time for the 5K on Castaway Cay. I found the course flat and easy but still took full advantage of the on-course water stations and photo ops that also served as mini breaks.
On the course, I chatted with a father-daughter duo running together. Reed and Avery, from Seattle, said they signed up because they thought it sounded like a unique opportunity.
"It's not every day you get to run a 5K on a private island," said Aver, who was running her first 5K. Reed told "GMA" he loved sharing the experience with his daughter.
"We're having a lot of fun," he said.
From first-timers to long-timers, the course is designed to appeal to all fitness levels. And there's no need to run at all -- many people walk the course.
Self-described fitness enthusiast Jon Kuzava, from Denver, found out about the Castaway Cay 5K from a friend who had run it before.
"It was a fun trail back there," he told "GMA" at the finish line. "People were high-fiving, there was music going. There's every different kind of person and fitness level."
Disney Cruise Line has four ships in its fleet, with a fifth on the way. Every Caribbean and Bahamas cruise calls on Castaway Cay. That means that chances are if you're on a Disney cruise you'll have the chance to cross this run off your bucket list. Repeat guests often run the 5K again and again. Kuzava said he plans on becoming a repeat runner.
"I'm going to do this every time I come on the ship now," he said. "The Castaway Cay 5K was the highlight for me."
What to know:
- There are clocks on the course, but it is not an individually timed race.
- If you have kids, you can drop them off before the race at the on-island’s kids’ club, Scuttle's Cove.
- Cruisers registered for the Castaway 5K get off the ship before everyone else, avoiding the crowds.
- The finish medals change frequently, and runners collect them the way park-goers collect pins.
- The race is free.
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