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Marathon Volunteering

by Meghann on January 11, 2009

I have no voice! I have been cheering on over 25,000 Walt Disney World Marathon runners as they passed the 21 Mile Marker for the last 5 hours! It was insane but so much fun. :)

I was very excited to volunteer today, but when my alarm woke me up at 4:30 this morning I was less then thrilled. I did force myself out of bed and had a very early breakfast to get me going.

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I picked up a Spelt Blueberry Muffin at Whole Foods yesterday that I happily had with some Cherries and a Tangerine.

I got to the volunteer parking area for the Marathon right on time and headed to the volunteer tent to check in and pick up my supplies. The tent was very organized with several hundred people checking in at once.

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Upon arrival I was given a Snack Box and a Wind Breaker.

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The snack box included an Apple, Granola Bar, Blueberry Muffin, Water and a Butterfinger.

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Let me telling you, being a screaming fan is a lot of work through out the 5 hours I was on my feet I worked up quite an appetite. I ended up eating the whole box, minus the Butterfinger.

After I picked my stuff up I headed to a bus, who drove me and the other group of volunteers to Mile Marker 21.

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Before this point, I was not exactly 100% sure what I was doing. I had signed up for “Screaming Fans” but as you can imagine that didn’t leave much explanation. When we finally arrived I understood what my duty was, to be a screaming fan.

We were there from the first runner to the last runner, cheering, encouraging and applauding all of the runners. We were a big support group that kept the runners smiling and motivated. It was an awesome job!

It was really interesting to see the whole race progress and all the different types of runner run by and their level of skill.

The first male runner ran past our mile marker around 1:54 or something close to that. He was intense, but had a funny Pluto hat to show some spirit.

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The first Female ran by about 20 or 30 minutes after the first male ran by. She was barely sweating and in great spirits. She was throwing her hands up and fists with a big grin on her face.

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The runners cam sparatically for for the first hour of standing, but then all hell broke loose. Thousands upon thousands of runners came by and I cheered and shouted for everyone of them. Each racer’s bib had their name sprawled across so we were encouraging each runner personally. They really enjoyed it and would smile as they passed and I swear some sped up as they passed. It was really rewarding.

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I saw several funny Disney outfits, great t-shirts and funny hats. I also saw bloody nipples, people limping and people puking. We even had one person pass out right after the mile marker. It was intense!

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One of the fellow volunteers had run the race the year before and was giving me the inside into the race. She said its a fun race to run. She ran with a camera and along the way took pictures with many disney characters, parade floats and various places among the parks. Running through the parks is a big highlight of the race, but each park is only about 1 mile – 2 miles long, a very small fragment of the total 26.2 total miles of the race. The majority of the race is made up of long empty roadways, which is why they need volunteers like us to cheer and encourage the racers along the race.

Many runners who passed Thanked us for coming out and supporting them. I was there for over 5 hours shouting and cheering, I never realized how hard volunteers work on the side. It makes me thankful for all of the hard work the volunteers put into all the races I will run. I will remember to truly appreciate and thank the volunteers from any future races I run.

Once the clock reached 5:53, they closed the 21st mile and sweeped all of the remaining runners who didn’t make the time on to a bus to take them to the end. It must be hard to have made it that far and to quit like that.

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I felt thankful and exhausted to be back on the bus ride back to the tent. At the tent I picked up my Thanks for Volunteering from Disney, A Free Park Ticket!

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I was STARVING by this time and raced home for lunch.

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I had a Boca Burger on a Arnold’s Thin Bun I finally found locally! Some Broccoli Slaw and 2 small Pickles.

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I scarfed it down and now feel content.

I am in major need of a nap after my long day. See you for dinner. :)

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