So, we decided that we would leave the resort at 3am. Unfortunately, since I overslept and had to be awakened by my running partner, that was more like 3:20am. We drove to Epcot and entered the resort before 3:35 and we were definitely parked by 3:40. I believe we parked in the "Create" lot, so you can easily see how close we were to the action. Easy peasy.
Now, you could say that we were unusual, but every single person that I spoke to (and stayed off property) had a similarly easy time with getting to the starting line. Every...Single...Person. So, if you are a Floridian and already have a car handy, save yourself some anxiety and stay where you want to stay...sure, its nice to have someone drive you to the race and back, but then you are at a bus line's mercy to get back to your room, when you most need to relax and shower!
Now, as for getting out of the lot, I cannot attest to that. My husband and the kids drove to the lot later that morning and had to park rather far away (far for kids' walking feet, but perfectly normal for amusement park walking feet). From the image, I recollect that it was about 2 lots to the left of the Create lot. We were able to quickly get back to their car even though my son walked like a turtle....no real issue getting out, except that you had to drive the opposite direction of the arrows in the road simply because the lots were being used differently (eg on one end of the lot, there were runners passing a photo ops...yes the runners were running that close to the very same parking lot where they parked!). Again, not such an issue...and honestly, a little forced walking after such a long race is good for your muscles and excellent for generating heat (since you typical freeze once you stop running after a half). Likewise, many park visitors were starting to arrive, but that didn't seem to cause an issue on our side either.
As for those that stayed on property and grabbed a bus, they were delighted for the most part. They were able to roll out of bed and 10 minutes later sit on a bus. But, if it was cold on race day, they would have to sit outside shivering until the race started (unless they had race retreat priviledges). If it was cold, we could just huddle in our car until we needed to walk. The line to get back to the resorts was sketchy. We hung around for awhile, and sometimes the line disppeared really fast, and sometimes it was there...waiting for a bus. I suppose you know you may have to wait a bit for a bus to get back, and thats perfectly acceptable...and Disney does have decent buses. But, I rather enjoyed the long walk back to where my husband parked the car....made me stretch a bit and I think helped stop my muscles from cramping.
All in all, I don't think either option is poor. If you drive, just ensur you get there early and allow yourself time to relax. If you grab the bus, make sure you get there early so you are not waiting in a long line for the bus.
Other Princess posts that may be of interest include: