Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spectating the WDW Marathon 2014

Don't let anyone lie to you. Spectating a race, is hard work! Whether you're following one runner along on their journey, or trying to catch as many of your friends as possible, it takes serious work- mentally and physically!

My original plan was to try to catch everyone in Magic Kingdom. I've always said if I were to ever be a spectator, I'd want to spectate there. BUT I know how much it means to have support later in the race, so I decided Hollywood Studios (mile 23ish) would be a good place to spectate with the best possibility of seeing everyone. I was trying to spectate about 6 different runners, all at different paces and I was worried I would miss people if I tried to move around. Plus, this way I'd finally get to "sleep in" and planned to get to there as soon as it opened at 9am.

In case you're ever in a spectating situation for any morning half/ full marathon, it's important to know that all transportation 
stops between the hours of 5AM and 7AM. So, in order to see your runner at Magic Kingdom/ TTC/ Polynesian/ early in the race, you pretty much need to wake up and go to the start with them. I've also heard that the monorails are extremely packed with other spectators, so you need to account for that travel time as well. 

First things first, breakfast of spectating champions: Coffee and King Cake. Thank you, nolarunner! MacKenzie's is and always will be my favorite King Cake (even if the official bakery isn't around anymore) and it was as delicious as I remember!

Soon after I boarded Disney transportation to Hollywood Studios, my text alert told me that Sarah was already at mile 20! Geez, speedy! Slow down. This is a Disney race. Seeing as the park had just opened, I didn't think I had enough time to fight with the security bag check and get into the park to see her. So, I hopped off the bus and stayed outside of The Studios.

As I waited, I made friends with some other spectators who had already spectated their friend twice that morning (TTC and Polynesian) and after this stop were going to Epcot for the finish- Kudos to them! My running around that day consisted within the smaller park on property and I was still exhausted. 

Within a few minutes, Snow White came running down and I was screaming and jumping! The entire area I was in asked what her name was and joined in the cheering. It was a great moment and I was so excited I got to see her. She looked awesome and I hoped we were a good pick up for the last couple of miles. PS- That was her 2nd fastest marathon ever- even AFTER the Half marathon, 10k and 5k the days before. That's insane and I am so proud of her!

Sarah kicking some serious marathon butt!

After that excitement, I knew I had some time, so went into the parks to see what characters were out. Normally Donald, Daisy and Stitch meet and greet outside of the hat, but since that's right where the race was going, they moved to the Animation courtyard.

Score for getting Daisy and Donald in their Hollywood attire WITH NO LINE! 

Stitch says he'd rather sleep than get up and run. 

After that, I got the notification that Fred was on his way, so I went over to the Street of America to catch him. That ended up being my to-go place to see everyone. I even made friends with the cast member who was directing the day guests around the course. Tip: This is a GREAT area to spectate. No crowds of spectators, or even day guests. It was awesome! Super emotional for me, too (when isn't a race emotional for me?!). A continuous loop of New York, New York? Reminded me of the start line of NYCM. 

Fred flying in!

The text message alert system was extremely helpful all day and pretty accurate. Sadly, the only glitch was it didn't send me Karen's mile 20 update, and I missed her, but she seemed to have a great race- riding Everest twice and picking up a funnel cake to give to the runDisney announcers! My friends are pretty Dopey ;)

I must say, the crosswalk system Disney had in place for The Studios was brilliant! Since I'm usually running, I've never noticed it- just the crowd of people either cheering as they wait or giving us death stares. Cast members direct runners to one side of the road while other cast members "unload" and "load" guests into a holding area in the middle of the road. Once the area is loaded with guests and there is a break in runners, they start directing runners to the other side of the road. The guests are unloaded to the other side and then repeat. I never waited more than a few minutes to cross- and I was crossing throughout the day. 

Originally, I thought I would ride rides and play in the park as I waited for people, but I was too excited and just continued to cheer for runners. It's not every day you're in Disneyworld and a marathon is running through it. Note to self: Next time, make a sign and have a cowbell! 

I saw this runner at the half marathon finish line the day before and originally thought it was fake. Nope. This is a real Tuba and he ran the half marathon AND the full with it. WOW!! 

This Dopey runner stopped to pin trade. No lie. What other marathon in the world can you see all this shenanigans?! It. Was. Awesome! 

Next up was Mrs. Jeannine, who was in great spirits! She was on track to finish pretty much over an hour before we did last year. The cooler weather was definitely making it a better race (I was down right COLD! Extremely thankful I had a jacket, but wished I had a long sleeved shirt under it) and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a tad jealous. But don't worry, not enough to attempt to run it again, ha! 

Soon after, Pam got there and I followed her along the course to the finish. She was struggling a little from having a blister pop earlier in the race. Ouch! So, I talked to her and tried to distract her from the pain. I followed her around the course to Epcot, and then to the finish line. By the time I got around to the family meeting point, she was just getting there as well. I made sure she was good and got her onto a bus back to her resort. 

Couldn't resist this photo op! 

I made a stop in the merchandise tent for a quick survey. They had stuff available for all the races- Half, Full, Goofy and Dopey. They even had Sweaty Bands left! This also peeved me, but glad to know that Disney is on top of that issue as well (fingers crossed, anyway!) Tip: Every WDW race I've run, has had a merch tent at the race and they have had stuff I didn't see at the expo. If you're looking for something in particular, always check there.

The original plan was to go back and play in Epcot, but there wasn't enough time. I only had time for some popcorn and people watched then it was time to say good-bye. It was a great weekend and I'm so glad I got to experience it with all my Dopey friends! 


  1. If I wasn't there to watch anyone runner in particular, I would love being a guest in a park and watching all the runners go by. That is entertainment in itself and definitely worth the price of admission!

  2. Awwww, thanks Abby! You guys were such a boost, you can't even imagine! It was so great seeing you there (and the cheering squad). It made all the difference!

    1. YAYAY!! I was so excited I didn't miss you! and I loved that all the people around me where as excited! haha. So glad we helped!

  3. I love to be a spectator at the finish line after I've crossed. It's SO much fun to watch other runners! I've also decided that I would hand something out like Sweedish Fish or Twizzlers...there were some people doing that and it was awesome! :)

    Karen @karenlovestorun

    1. Ah!! Candy is definitely a MUST next time- with the sign and the cowbell.

  4. Great recap! You make spectating sound so fun! You got some great pictures, too. And Sarah is a MACHINE! Sounds like a great day.