What a way to experience the Disney Marathon! This weekend, Marcus and I volunteered for that 26.2 mile run, and we had an absolute blast!
We were required to pick up our credentials on Saturday at the Wide World of Sports, which was a great excuse to check out the expo. It was so strange to be at an expo and not actually be running it! It was a great excuse to try some of the samples that I stay away from on pre-race days! Woo hoo!!
As a fun side note – this was the 20th anniversary of the marathon and there are a select group of runners that have run each and every marathon since its inception! How amazing is that!?
It was pretty darn packed when we got there but we were able to get what we needed pretty easily. We hit up the expo for a few, said hello to a few familiar faces (Hi Carissa and Erika!) and head back towards Tampa to rest up for our early wake up call.
An early wake up call it was! I am pretty sure that this alarm took the cake as earliest ever! Before volunteering for the race, my earliest wake up was when I ran the marathon back in 2008! We pretty much felt like we took a nap, so getting up wasn’t too bad (coffee sure didn’t hurt!). Our shift was from 4:30 am – 9:30 am. Disney closes most of the main roads for the start, so getting into the park from 5:30-6:30 am is very tough – 4:30am is actually quite necessary to secure your spot.
We had a pretty quick drive to Orlando (50 minutes or so) since there was no one on the road. We got onto the property and headed straight for Downtown Disney, where the volunteer staging was taking place. We grabbed our volunteer jacket and snack bag (granola bar, cookie, chips and trail mix), and loaded our designated bus to get shuttled to our spot.
Our volunteer spot was pretty much awesome. We were park of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Screaming Fans ChEAR Squad. We were right after mile 6.5 by a fire station, fire truck, and an amazing DJ. Rather than giving out water like I have done at many other races, we had one single objective – be loud and support the runners. Needless to say, a cheer station right next to a DJ was pretty much the best place ever! I was crazy the crazy girl jumping like crazy in a Chevron top!
We waited about 20 minutes when we got there until the first athletes arrived. The wheelchair group was first, and they were absolutely flying! Marcus and I were in the very front of our volunteer group, right next to the DJ and speakers, so we were dancing up a storm as everyone was running by. I was receiving all kinds of updates on my phone from my friends that were running, and I was doing my best to look out for everyone. It was dark for the first hour, so it was kind of tricky to catch some runners.
As soon as the sun started to peek out, it warmed up and was pretty comfortable (for the volunteers, yes – the runners, not so much). I was jumping up and down, waving my arms, clapping my hands, and just having a fantastic time. I spotted Meghan first and she looked fantastic! So strong and rocking her first marathon. Dee, Rachel, Genna, Ashley and Collier all followed soon after and I was able to jump in and run with a couple of them (sorry I missed you Heather!!). I loved being able to see so many friends giving it their all for 26.2! I took photos of most of them, but for some reason, my phone didn’t store them. I just got a new iPhone 5, and then App I downloaded didn’t save them Bummer!
Before we knew it, our 3.5 hours of cheering came to a close – we hopped back on the bus to Downtown Disney and were dropped off back at volunteer staging Before leaving we got a nice little thank you for volunteering at the race. A free one day park ticket!
Disney is so great about treating their volunteers well, which includes giving us snacks, jackets, and of course the tickets. They don’t expire until this time next year, and I can’t wait to go and use it!
I would definitely volunteer regardless if we got a free ticket or not – I had an absolute ball! Marcus and I are already talking about what station we want to volunteer at next year. I am thinking it could be fun to be closer to the end, so my yelling and screaming can help pump up the runners that are struggling and hitting that dreaded wall. Who else is coming along!?
Have you ever volunteered at a big race? Do you prefer to be at the beginning, middle or end? Would you like to yell and scream, or do you prefer to give out water?
P.S – Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! You can win free run coaching or personal training!