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Spectating the Walt Disney World Marathon

by Meghann on January 12, 2014

I had one of those deliciously rare weekends where I was on my own. My brother-in-law was in town for my father-in-law’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Steve!), so Derek spent the entire weekend with them eating steak, drinking beer, and playing golf. It was a boys weekend, which was fine by me. Sometimes it’s just plain nice to have a weekend to yourself.

I took full advantage of a little “me” time by seeing Frozen in the movie theater for the first time since it opened.

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Yes, I may have been the only childless almost thirty-something woman in the matinee showing, but it was so worth it. I loved everything about the movie. I loved the storyline, I loved the animation, I loved the characters, I loved Olaf, I loved Kristen Bell as Anna (who knew she could sing?), and I loved Idina Menzel as Elsa because, well, she’s amazing.

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Yes, I downloaded the soundtrack as soon I got home. Would you have expected anything less? It’s been on repeat since yesterday and I’ve just about got it memorized. Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman…

As an almost 30-something adult, I give it two thumbs up.  If someone asked me to go see it again in the theater tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Since I knew I was on my own this weekend, I had planned to go to the Walt Disney World Marathon expo to try my hardest to score a pair of the New Balance Run Disney Cinderella shoes….

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Aren’t they beautiful?!

But I decided to be a good little runner and get my 7 miles I needed to run in. This was my longest distance since Wine & Dine Half (for some reason I keep saying Ironman Florida, I think I keep forgetting I ran a half marathon a week later). The run was slow and I was still pretty sore from CrossFit, but I’m glad I got it in.

Instead of going to the expo on Saturday, I decided to make some signs and cheer a few #RunDisney friends on at the marathon this morning.

I ran into Walgreens after dinner Saturday night to grab supplies. I really, really had to pee so I spent all of 30 seconds looking at the options (they had a surprising decent selection), and just grabbed what looked the easiest. Of course I got to the register and ended up spending $25 on poster supplies that way (what the heck?!), but I did come home with some pretty cool stuff.

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The biggest chunk of change was this awesome poster making kit that came with stickers, scissors, glue, letter cut-outs, stencils, etc. The kit was way overpriced at $15.95, but it had a lot of cool stuff in it that I will keep for future poster making.

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Of course, I used nothing from the $15.95 kit because all I really needed was in the $5.95 sign kit.

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This came with a poster board and cut outs. Even better, it had a cling sheet that secured everything in place so there was no need to mess with any glue.

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Now, what to say? I wanted to do something about photos since most Disney races are about the photo opps. I thought about a sign where I would offer to take people’s photos, but everything I came up with sounded a little creepy. Instead I thought I would appeal to everyone’s humor side.

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Perfect.

The plan was to cheer for runners in Magic Kingdom. When I ran the race in 2010, Magic Kingdom was near the halfway point of the race. I figured that meant most runners would be running down Main Street about 2+ hours after the start, giving me plenty of time to get to the park if I left the house at 4:45. Unfortunately I never thought to check an updated course map for 2014. The course had gone through a complete transformation in the last two years. Now Magic Kingdom was at mile 5.3, a little earlier than I was expecting. Whoops.

I arrived on Walt Disney World property just as the first corral was being released. Of course, all the roads around Magic Kingdom and Epcot were closed. How the heck was I going to park? I consulted RunDisney’s spectator page and they stated Epcot’s parking lot would be closed 5-7, but all traffic would be rerouted to Magic Kingdom. Since the main entrance was closed, I wasn’t exactly sure how we were being rerouted.

So I drove around Disney property for 20 minutes, seeing if the roads would eventually take me anywhere. Eventually I did find a “Magic Kingdom Detour” sign, which brought me passed the entrance to Fort Wilderness and through the back entrance of Magic Kingdom (aka the Ticket and Transportation Center). I ended up parking in the reserved “Diamond Lot” at the Ticket and Transportation Center (free for all spectators!!), just feet away from the runners.

In the end, the parking situation was great. I was able to walk right on the monorail and hop off at Magic Kingdom. All of the gates were open and the park was free to all spectators (the whole park wasn’t open, we could only stand in Main Street). It was actually pretty cool to be there before the parking officially opened, especially since Cinderella’s Castle was still lit up in holiday lights.

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However, the crowds were INSANE. There were a zillion spectators all crammed together, trying to spot their runners. I’m not sure if this photo does it justice, but it was crazy.

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I was tempted to give up and just head back to Ticket and Transportation Center to spectate, then move on to Epcot, but I decided to stick it out. I stood behind a small crowd and held my sign up the best I could above everyone’s heads. Eventually a family member of friend would see their runner go by, give them a hug, then move out of the crowd. Inch by inch, I slowly moved my way to the front to cheer on my friends.

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I hadn’t signed up to track anyone via texts alerts (though I heard they were pretty accurate this year), so I was relying on social media updates on where everyone was. I saw Heather come through…

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and she looked great!

Unfortunately that’s the only photo I got of a friend. Ugh. Worst spectating friend ever. However, I need to give a shout out to Stephanie, Stephanie, Megan, Amanda, Megan, Rachel and anyone else I saw on the course today. Everyone looked great out there!!

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See how the crowds thinned out?

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I wanted to stay in Magic Kingdom until the last runner came through, but my stomach was eating itself from the inside out. I needed food and I needed it stat. They were selling pastries, coffee, and popcorn (random) to spectators, but I needed real food. The Polynesian has the best quick service breakfast around the Magic Kingdom resort area so I hopped on a monorail and headed there for breakfast. I forgot to take a photo, but I had the largest breakfast platter available at Captain Cook’s and ate it all.

While eating breakfast, I made friends with someone from California who was cheering on her fiance. We decided to cut over to Epcot together to watch the final runners come in. We took the monorail to Epcot, which was fairly empty.

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I knew my friend Jackie was going to be at Epcot, so I connected with her and we decided to take advantage of the empty park by riding Test Track

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For the record, I had no intention of riding the ride with my sign, but when I went to leave it on the other side the attendant told me it was okay to have it in the ride. I couldn’t resist trying to hold it up for the photo.

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Close. Very close.

From there we headed to the world showcase to cheer on more runners.

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I think my sign was a hit. I had a lot of comments on it and a lot of points and laughs. Runners would go by and say “So true!” or “Wait, is there really a photographer ahead?!” I’m telling you, runners love picking up the pace and hamming it up for the camera (this one included).

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I waited with Jackie until her husband ran by.

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And by “ran” I mean stop, take a selfie with his daughter, pick her up, give her chocolate he had saved for her from the course, and basically win father of the year award. Seriously, awesome dad. 

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Then I said my good-byes and started my walk to Hollywood Studios (I walked and held the sign so people could still read it as I walked). I was able to score a FastPass for Toy Story Mania and I was not going to let it go.

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I’ve been on Toy Story Mania at Disney’s California Adventure, but never the one at Hollywood Studios (the lines are INSANE and FastPasses usually sell out early). Yes, it’s the exact same ride, but it’s good to finally say I’ve been on the one at “my” Disney. The ride is SO MUCH FUN and I got the added bonus of beating the random stranger I was paired with. Sweet.

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After Toy Story and Star Wars, I headed back to Epcot for lunch.

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LOVE the Moroccan Quick Service Restaurant.

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Saw Santa working off his Christmas cookies.

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Then finally headed home felling exhausted. There were still runners on the course when I left Epcot around 2 – more power to them!! I hadn’t run at all and I felt like I was going to fall on the sidewalk and crash.

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CONGRATS to all of the Walt Disney World Marathon finishers today. You guys seriously lucked out with weather (a high of 65 instead of the predicted 81!) and did such a great job. Way to inspire us.

Of course, now all I can think about is registering for Dopey in 2015 now. Seriously, I’m so inspired. Dopey is RunDisney’s latest challenge: 4 days, 4 races.

  • 5k on Thursday
  • 10k on Friday
  • 1/2 marathon on Saturday
  • Full marathon on Sunday

Total: 48.6 miles! 6 medals!

Who wants to do it with me? Registration opens in April!

 

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life January 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Woot! What a fun post, M! I’ll be there in 2015, but “just” Goofy for me! 😉 i’ve done a lot of thinking about it: http://outrunningthemonorail.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/why-i-will-not-be-running-the-dopey-challenge/
Krissy @ Shiawase Life recently posted..Recap: Inaugural Walt Disney World “Minnie” 10K

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2 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 12, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Sounds like a great weekend! I saw Frozen and loved it — even though I’m 30 with no kids 🙂
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3 Becky @ Olives n Wine January 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm

First of all, I need those shoes!! Second of all, I have never been to be to a Disney Park and I would LOVE to visit one and run a race all at the same time. I’m totally going to look into the 2015 races 🙂
Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..The Big 2-9 Birthday Wishlist

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4 Mrs. Swan January 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Hubby is planning on the marathon in 2015. He did 2011 and 2012 ( I think- I am a bad wife of a runner LOL)
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5 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I really hope to do this marathon one day! It looks so amazing – it is on my “bucket list.”
Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Weekly Recap: 1/6 – 1/12

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6 Christine @ BookishlyB January 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

I always appreciate a wife who relishes in the occasional husband-free weekend. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Now that I’m pregnant and not doing races I’m trying to “give back” to the community too- I want to spectate a race and plan to volunteer at the Surf City race in Huntington next month. It’s important to be on the other side sometimes!
Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Spring Syllabus

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7 Elizabeth @ Positive Change January 13, 2014 at 4:35 am

I can’t wait to be a spectator for the race! I ran this weekend (marathon) and it was so great! Looks like you had a great day of fun!
Elizabeth @ Positive Change recently posted..Silent Saturday ~ Disney Edition!

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8 Kristy @ Southern In-Law January 13, 2014 at 5:03 am

Oh how I wish movie tickets were that cheap in Australia! We went to the movies on the weekend to see The Hobbit and it would have been $19.50 each, but luckily we had some free ticket coupons a friend had given us! I am desperately wanting to see frozen though!

I need a pair of those Cinderella NB’s! So cute! (And I don’t usually even like blue!)

I’m not a runner, but I am a Disney lover so I really want to do a Disney marathon one day (it may just be the last thing on earth I do, good thing there’s paramedics at disney haha)
Kristy @ Southern In-Law recently posted..Recipe: Sauteed Garlic Asparagus

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9 Danielle @ It's A Harleyyy Life January 13, 2014 at 6:43 am

Looks like a fun event!

I saw Frozen this weekend as well! Loved it!

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10 Runner Girl Eats January 13, 2014 at 6:44 am

I always say “Disney races are overpriced, who would pay that?!”, then I read recaps like this and it all seems magical and completely worth it.
Runner Girl Eats recently posted..The funniest group run I’ve ever had

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11 Angela@ Fit to Inspire January 13, 2014 at 7:39 am

I want so bad to run a disney race!! they look like so much fun! the princess 1/2 has been on my radar for as long as i’ve been reading your blog!
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12 [email protected] January 13, 2014 at 8:06 am
13 [email protected] January 13, 2014 at 8:35 am

4 races in 4 days is too much for me, that is all you! 🙂 The Disney races sound like so much fun, I’d love to do one someday.
[email protected] recently posted..November StrideBox Review

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14 Catie Neal January 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

Dopey Challenge was awesome! I’m definitely registering again come April. The bling was great, plus it will be the 10 year anniversary of Goofy!

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15 Amanda Elizabeth January 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

It always amazes me when i see people running in costumes….I am so particular with running outfits I can’t imagine running in a costume with a wig!!! Disney is so fun!
Amanda Elizabeth recently posted..Weekend Recap

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16 Katie January 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

I’m doing the princess half in 2015 with my friends and cannot wait!
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17 Kristin @ A Mom on the Run January 13, 2014 at 10:27 am

Thank you for coming out and cheering! I saw your sign and laughed.. I think in Epcot, though at this point my brain is still all fuzzy and I’m not entirely sure!
Kristin @ A Mom on the Run recently posted..Goals for 2014

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18 Laurigig January 13, 2014 at 11:23 am

Saw on Twitter or Instagram you would have your sign in the Magic Kingdom and it was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing in the park. It made me happy when I found it and being on my fourth race for the weekend, yes I was on my way to becoming a Dopey, happy was good! Thanks so much for being out there, I love spectators. You should definitely do it next year, had a great weekend and I know I will be there in 2015.

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19 Caitlin January 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm

that’s a really cute sign! i think this would be a great race to spectate; so many fun costumes to see!

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20 Ashley January 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I had a friend who ran the Dopey. so inspiring!

LOVE the sign, btw 🙂

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21 Heather January 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

So so glad you spotted me on the course, and got a picture, what a great surprise! Dopey was tough and I won’t be doing it again but you should go for it!

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22 The Suzzzz January 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm

I am NOT a runner, never have been, but I want to be. If I were ever in shape to do a marathon, I think the Disney one would be my first choice, it looks like a blast. You’re sign was fantastic, and don’t worry about being a 30 something with no kids at a Disney movie. I’m 34 years old and childless and saw it at a matinee a couple weeks ago and thought it was great.
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23 Natalie @ Free Range Human January 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I’m not sure if running four races in four days would be something I could do, but running a Disney World race is definitely on my bucket list!

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24 Katie @ balanced RD January 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

It looks like you had such a fun day!! It is so nice to have a day to do exactly what you want all day 🙂
Katie @ balanced RD recently posted..Planning for the Week Ahead!

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25 Kaitlin January 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Those are adorable signs! I have thought about doing a Disney half but wasn’t sold on it. Your pictures make it seem quite magical 🙂
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26 Kayla January 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I realllly want to do the Dopey Challenge next year!!
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27 Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff January 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I think the Dopey Challenge sounds so fun! (And I had a great time reading everyone’s updates on twitter this weekend). PS. I think it’s fantastic that you went down to cheer. I love the crowd support and random funny signs when I’m running races.
Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff recently posted..Weekend Recap # 2

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28 Melissa January 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I ran Dopey and it was crazy but amazing! I was actually thinking about you and decided that an Ironman is harder than Dopey, so if you could do an Ironman I could totally do Dopey. And I did! It was our first trip over to Disney World (I live by Disneyland) and we had a blast!
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29 Andrea @ With a Side of Magic January 13, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I didn’t see you, but thank you so much for spectating!!! I’m officially Goofy!!!
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30 Meghan January 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

I did the goofy last year. 100% doing the dopey next year!!!!
Meghan recently posted..Silent Sunday.

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31 Stephanie January 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

It was sooo awesome to get to see you!!! Thanks for the great boost. And I loved loved the poster. I may have to borrow that idea the next time I spectate.

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32 [email protected] January 14, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I think I would drop dead if I tried to do the Dopey BUT Im definitely looking forward to running at Disney again soon! Random thing- I saw you in a friends photo that she took as she was running up Main Street. Small world. 🙂
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33 Megan @ I Run For Wine January 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

It was so awesome seeing you!!! You should do Dopey next year – especially as it’s an anniversary Goofy medal. It was such an exciting exhausting experience.
Megan @ I Run For Wine recently posted..runDisney 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon recap – Dopey race 4

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34 Gabby Bladdick January 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I love your whole Disney-filled weekend by yourself! SO fun!

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35 Alyssa Ast January 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I loved your post! It looks like you had a blast and are such an inspiration. Personally, I just started running, but it’s already changed my entire life. Michael Blauner (http://michaelblauner.com/) is actually the reason I decided to start running. His book is really helpful. I look forward to following your journey. Glad I found your site!

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36 Caitlin January 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I totally saw you out there with your sign but I was too gassed at Mile 25 to say anything. Thanks for coming out! I want to do the Dopey next year too. 🙂

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37 Stephanie @Cat Lady Runs January 16, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I saw you out on the course running down Main Street and loved the sign (I was dressed as Cheshire Cat) The weather was absolutely beautiful and I feel so lucky with how the race turned out 🙂
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