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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. :)

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marianne January 11, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Looks like a fun day, even if it was long and tiring. Hopefully you can run the race in the future.

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2 Meg January 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm

What a fabulous and rewarding experience! Thanks for sharing!

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3 Justy2003 January 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Looks like a fun day! And you got some freebies out of the event, awesome!
Wow, after seeing bleeding nipples, people passing out, and limping, I dunno if that would encourage me to run a marathon!

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4 Ryan January 11, 2009 at 2:17 pm

What an awesome thing you did today! It must have been cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Disney Marathon for reference if you run it in the future!

Oh and…Ooo yay I’m glad you found your Arnold Thins! I picked up some more today, actually. They are good with everything!

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5 Laura January 11, 2009 at 2:17 pm

That sounds like so much fun! I think it’s great that you stood out there so early cheering on people you don’t know. :) I’m sure they all appreciate it. That’s so sad that they take everyone who didn’t finish back on a bus. I would feel so devastated!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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6 Julz January 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm

WHAT A FABULOUS DAY!!! It’s so empowering, I’m sure, to see other runners and to be on the OPPOSITE side of the race, as well… I feel so sappy, but I’m SO PROUD of you Megsters! Honestly, you’re an absolute gem. I have never met another runner who enjoys volunteering and supporting other runners, in addition to running in races, herself (or himself, for that matter!). I cheered on family friends who raced in the IRON MAN KONA a little less than two years ago when I lived in hawaii and it was unbelievable! NOW THAT WAS ONE LONG RACE! Ha! :)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday =]

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7 Angela January 11, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Wow what an amazing experience! Thank you so much for showing us what it is like to be a volunteer. :) Truly inspiring!

I have never been to a race before, but I will certainly be thanking everyone I see on my half marathon race day. :)

Angela
http://www.ohsheglows.com

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8 VeggieGirl January 11, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I’d say losing your voice is well worth all you did, girl!! Be proud of the volunteering and the experience!! I’M proud of you :-D

Have a fabulous Sunday afternoon!! Enjoy your well-deserved nap!!

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9 Angel January 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm

What a fantastic day!!! Now I have to sign up to volunteer with you next year, unless you are running it, of course. Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader!!

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10 Marissa January 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Wow! That looks likeit was a lot of fun!!!

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11 everydayrace January 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm

man you have had a very running-centric weekend! i am super jealous.i cant wait to volunteer with you at the next race.

bloody nips??? ewww

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12 Shelby January 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Looks like so much fun!
Rest up hun =)

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13 Erica January 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

So glad you enjoyed it! Sounds like the runners really needed you and loved having you there! Yay for a free park ticket!!

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14 Sharon January 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Wow, what a fun time volunteering! Glad you had an awesome time! What a cheerleader!

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15 Danielle January 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Sounds like you had a fun and tiring day volunteerring. Yay for a free ark pass and yay for for doing something nice for other runners!

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16 sweetandnatural January 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

It’s so great that you volunteered for that today! And I’m glad you had a good time.

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17 sweetandnatural January 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

It’s so great that you volunteered for that today! I’m glad you had a good time AND got a free park ticket!

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18 Heather Eats Almond Butter January 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Wow, sounds like a great morning. That was really awesome of you to volunteer and stand there cheering for 5+ hours. So many people never realize that races would not happen without all the volunteers! Looks like they treated you well – windbreaker, snack pack, AND a park pass! Score! (I think I might have given in to the Butterfinger :) )

Have a good night. Meghann…take care of your throat. Maybe some hot water and lemon? Arnold’s sandwich thins. I’m jealous. Can’t find those anywhere in Nashville. :(

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19 Sara January 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Wow, it sounds an awesome time! And a free park ticket is a pretty nice thank you for volunteers. Ya gotta love those Disney folk! :)

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20 Meredith January 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Wow! Sounds like an amazing day!!!! It looks like you had good weather for it too!

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21 dailygoods January 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

sounds like you had a great time! you are definitely inspired me to want to volunteer for the avon walk in dc :)

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22 Melissa January 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm

You have no idea how much your cheering means to those runners! Well maybe you do, but you are an awesome person to spend your day motivating others. Have fun in the happiest place on earth. I love tink!

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23 Lindsey (Mrs. LC) January 11, 2009 at 5:07 pm

wow, sounds like such an awesome day! Let me know the next time you think about volunteering for a race, that’d be fun to do together!

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24 sals January 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm

I ran the Disney 1/2 marathon yesterday, and the cheers of the volunteers along the route definitely got me through to the end! It was a fabulous run, though. Volunteering sounds fun as well!

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25 Erin January 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Good for you! You’ll get a whole new appreciation for the screamers when you are in your next race:)

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26 ksgoodeats January 11, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Aww that sounds like such a great day! I was seriously smiling reading this – you made a big impact on those runners today :) Good for you, Meghann!!

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27 biz319 January 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

What a great day! Glad it all worked out – I bet it would be cool to see the first people get to mile 21!

I trained to walk a marathon with my brother, and ended up getting bronchitis TWO DAYS before the Chicago marathon! I asked my doctor what to take before the race, and he was like “I don’t even want you to go to work on Monday!”

Sadly, my brother Charlie (www.backtothefridge.com) had to walk it by himself! At least he can say he did it!!

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28 jane January 11, 2009 at 6:52 pm

That was really great of you to volunteer and cheer the runners on! I participated in a half marathon this past fall and there weren’t a whole lot of fans, but every time we passed a group, they really made me smile and push onward! Sometimes I think it takes extra effort to be a volunteer cause you wake up just as early, are out for even longer hours sometimes (not that i’m that fast, but i know there were people behind me that the crowds had to stay for) and don’t get the pride of a medal and a PR. I hope you do feel accomplished for helping all the participants have a super race!
Have you ever done a marathon or half? Are you training for anything?
Have a great day!

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29 Lindsay January 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

WOW – your day was surely eventful – that must have been so cool to be there w/ all the action – go you! what a great thing u did!

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30 ttfn300 January 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm

what a rewarding experience :):)

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31 Sarah January 11, 2009 at 7:51 pm

wow, what a day! did it inspire you to want to run a marathon yourself?

i’m so impressed with your butterfinger restraint (but please tell me you did not throw it away and instead brought it home, chopped it into small pieces, and put it in a baggie in the freezer to save for future dessert embellishment??)

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32 Meghann January 11, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Sarah – i have plans to run a Marathon this fall!! :) And yes this made me even more pumped for it! And I did bring the Butterfinger home and put it in my chocolate stash (See next post)

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33 Missy (MISSY MAINTAINS) January 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Looks like a fun day! Very rewarding!! I love that people run dressed up as Disney characters! I miss Disney World so much!!

So glad you found the Arnold’s Sanwich Thins! They are my favorite!!

http://www.missymaintains.blogspot.com

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34 Allison January 11, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Holy cow! Your day sound absolutely amazing – I got goose bumps reading about it – how totally awesome! Good for you for volunteering! Glad you enjoyed yourself so much!

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35 lauren January 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

so fun you volunteered! doesnt it inspire you even more to see all those people doing it? I think i saw above you are planning to do one this year…yes!

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36 MaryBe January 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Thanks so much…I feel like I was right there with you!

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37 Heather July 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Great post! I was suppose to volunteer there this year, but had to cancel due to a work trip :(
Volunteering is so, so important for any race. I love to run the races, but it is nice to step back and watch other accomplishing their goals!
I am not surprised this was your under appreciated post, volunteering always gets pushed to the sides.
I enjoy following your blog!

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