Disney Marathon – A Different Perspective

I’m pretty sure I’ll never run the Disney Marathon. No offense to it and those that run it. I’ve heard great things about it – how awesome it is to run through the parks to the finish in Epcot. But too many backroads and backlots, paired with too much money makes me hesitate. Never say never – but it’s just NOT on MY list. I WILL however, volunteer at the Disney Marathon again (or pretty much any other Disney race). It was a great experience.

My volunteering experience was a day full of chilly hands, stiff legs, a raw throat, and LOTS of fun. It was also filled with thousands of fruit snacks and bars of Hersey’s chocolate. Disney doesn’t fool around. They also get it right when it comes to organization and friendliness.

Sunday began at 3:15. *Yawn* I had to check in by 5:15 and I got there 20-30 minutes early after hitting ZERO traffic and having absolutely no problems parking. I flashed my badge, grabbed my jacket, and bagged breakfast (banana, granola bar, trail mix, and water) and then, found my bus.


I knew absolutely nobody and thought I might end up spending the whole day being anti-social. I felt like everyone knew everyone! Then I remembered I was hanging out with a bunch of runners. Within 20 minutes we started talking races – and I made 10 new friends. It also helped that a few of them were friends with Victoria. I love her, they love her — we bond. And take pictures with superheroes.You know how it goes.


{I seriously LOVE this picture so much. Sorry I have to keep reposting it!}

We got to our station by 6 (Food Stop #4 – located in the backlots of Hollywood Studios) and had an hour to set up before they expected the first wheelchair runners to come through (they were so spot on with their timing, it was almost scary). We laid out the tables, opened the fruit snacks (Buzz & Woody themed, of course) and found the chocolate (for about 10 minutes we thought that they skimped this year and didn’t have chocolate. It was SUCH a relief when we found it!).


{setting up — or maybe just wandering around looking confused}

We started cheering for the wheelchairs around 7, the first men came in around 7:30, and the first woman at 7:45. {I have to admit, I was SO excited to see those fast women.} Aaaaaand They wanted NOTHING to do with us. We were not surprised. There were some faster guys (we’re talking sub 2:30) that were interested and their faces were HILARIOUS when they saw what we were giving away. A few of them took the fruit snacks and then threw them down 10 feet later. I say – beggars can’t be choosers!


{SO MUCH CANDY. Amazingly, I ate NONE of it}

The best part of the race started when the not-so elite runners started coming through and we got to work! I got to finally meet DadJovi (who finished in an amazing 4:00:00 with a bum knee!) and my friend Tracy who ran her FIRST marathon (she also caught me slacking off and trying to warm up in the sun!).



{my view – we were 100% in the shade — but how gorgeous is that sky?}

It was really awesome seeing so many people smiling and kicking ASS in this marathon — and hearing so many people saying thank you and that they LOVED our food stop. I have to admit, I loved it too!

The last runners came in around noon, we cleaned up, and 15 minutes later we were back on the bus.


I was exhausted, losing my voice, and starving – but felt so energized by everyone running. In fact, I was so inspired I squeezed in a quick 3-miler shortly after getting home and scarfing down lunch (the only big fail with Disney is that they were supposed to provide a box lunch — and they ran out) – 3 miles in 26:20. Coincidence???

A few things I observed/learned while volunteering…

  • Bibs with names on them are AWESOME! I loved being able to shout out names.
  • Even though I FEEL like I’m running super fast – I look like a turtle compared to people who can keep up a 6:00 per mile pace.
  • When your hands are cold, holding chocolate is hard
  • People are REALLY picky with their chocolate choices. Even when they are at Mile 23 during a marathon.
  • It’s totally normal to meet your blogmate’s husband during the race, and feel like you know them, right?
  • You can buy cowbells at a tractor store that’s just down the street. And that there’s a tractor store just down the street.
  • Some people just really want Gu’s. Sorry folks.
  • Disney has REALLY awesome employees. Everyone was so incredibly nice and just kept thanking US for volunteering. Honestly, I felt honored that I was able to volunteer. It was SUCH a great experience!
  • You CAN hear “Caution runners. Road narrows and speed bumps ahead.” for 6 hours and somehow manage to NOT go insane. You just have to scream really loud to drown it out!

Have you ever volunteered at a race? What was your favorite part?


    • Michelle says

      I’m not sure I’d eat it either – that was the LAST thing I wanted at Mile 23 (I really just wanted it to end by that point!). We did keep the chocolate out of the sun – so it wasn’t melty!

    • Michelle says

      I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t race if it’s on your list! I have to admit, I’m very spoiled with Disney right here in my back yard. It IS a local race (the race director, John Hughes, owns the local running store) and I love that it brings people down to Orlando! I did run the Wine/Dine Half and it was really fun – and their medals are KICK ASS.

  1. Teresa says

    Thanks for volunteering ! I ran The Donald on Saturday and The Chip & Dale Relay on Sunday. Had a great time!

    PS – We met/had dinner in Savannah. Are you doing ING Miami?

    • Michelle says

      I’ve been wondering how you’ve been since Savannah! Which part of the relay did you run? Did I see you???

      Yes definitely running ING Miami (the half) — you? I’m ready to race again – can’t wait!

  2. Diane says

    I love volunteering! The best job is handing out medals at the finish. Complete strangers are so happy to see you (or maybe just to be done…?)

    I’ve run the full Disney marathon and you pretty much got it right. The fireworks at the start and the lights at Epcot were awesome, but the roads between the parks were so DULL!! Maybe if your group was there the year I ran I would be writing a different comment!

    • Michelle says

      We talked about how awesome it is to hand out medals – I’d definitely like to do that someday!!

      I do wish Disney could make the race more exciting – but that really ISN’T an exciting part of Central Florida. I guess they could send people to Downtown Disney and run through there. Maybe they thing people want to see that other side of the park?? Ha ha.

    • Michelle says

      Yes – definitely!! I’m glad you said you’d never do Disney again either. I LOVE Disney – but I don’t think that race is for me.

  3. says

    I love the picture of you and Kelly! There were a bunch of my group members out there – glad you had such good company. :)

    I couldn’t eat the chocolate either. I tried, but I had to spit it out. I felt bad about that but it was either puke or keep moving. I choose to keep moving.
    Victoria @ Running Peanut recently posted..Bling Bling

    • Michelle says

      Yes! I had lots of fun with your group members :) Thanks for sharing them — hee!

      I can’t imagine wanting to eat chocolate at that point either, so I was surprised at the number of people grabbing for it! I do think that the fruit snacks would have been pretty tasty, but ridiculously hard to open.

  4. Prudence says

    I volunteered for a USA Triathlon event in Burlington, Vermont by working the packet pick-up area. The athletes were vying for National Championship titles. It was so cool to be in the presence of these incredible athletes! I even saw Tara from The Biggest Loser!

    • Michelle says

      Congrats on finishing!! And thanks for running it so I could cheer you along. Are you planning on moving back to Orlando soon?

  5. says

    We are trying to move back Orlando as soon as possible. It will probably take us a year to 18 months to get the job situation together. We lived there for a long time and a good portion of our family is still there and we miss them.
    Heather recently posted..I Ran A Marathon!

  6. says

    Looks like you had a great time! Volunteering for races is lots of fun. I was on the information team for the Disney Princess Half last year and worked at an aid station at the Chicago Marathon as well. I love cheering for and supporting all the runners. Afterwards I always feel motivated to go run too!
    Cate recently posted..A Last Minute Trip Home

    • Michelle says

      Oh man, volunteering at Chicago must have been awesome! I love cheering too — it makes me love the running community even more.

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