If I had to describe volunteering at the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon I’ve have to say it was BANANAS (I know, I’m so creative).
I woke up at 2am and had flashbacks to marathon training last year. How did I do that for 5 months??? I guess the 2am wake up was just practice for May – I am a little rusty at being sleep deprived! I made it on the road by 2:40 and got to the Downtown Disney parking lot by 3:15. It’s pretty amazing how much faster the trip is on I-4 at 3 in the morning.
I checked in, picked up my volunteering jacket and snack bag and headed to the bus. We were instructed to be in our bus by 3:45 and I got there by 3:30. And then I waited, and waited, and waited.
Oh so healthy snacks…
Turns out they couldn’t release our bus until they closed the road we were going to be on and they had no intentions of doing that until 5am. Awesome.
Thankfully, I am not shy and started chatting with some of the other volunteers – including Karen who I hung out with for the majority of the day (her hubby was running Goofy!). We finally made it to our site by 5:30 and after breaking in the porta potties (first time ever! ha) – the set up began. My food stop? Yep. Bananas.
There were about 30 of us spread out across a 2-lane road with 10 tables and who knows how many bananas — I’m thinking at least 5-6 pallets.
As for my location on the course – I have no idea where I was. All I can tell you that is that we were at Mile 11.5 behind the nursery on a stretch of land close to Animal Kingdom – near the dump. Thankfully, the only time you could tell it was the dump was around sunrise. For some reason it was really stinky then and then after 10-15 minutes it was fine again. Who knows, maybe the wind changed!
By 6:05 the first wheelchairs were coming through and by 6:20 the first runners.
Those blurs are people. They were flying!
As expected, the first group of runners skip the bananas, but from 6:45-9:45 it was a blur. At first, I joked that nobody wanted my bananas (I made the mistake of being on the left side of the road after a big curve that had most of the runners coming in at the right), but once those pace groups hit was madness. A good kind of madness.
I have to say, the runners at the WDW Marathon are some of the kindest. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “thank you” and “you guys are awesome” and “you made my day!” I think of other races I’ve been in and while I know that everyone is grateful for the volunteers, it’s never quite as vocal. It was also nice to hand out bananas this year instead of chocolate. While the chocolate is a fun treat I got a lot of weird looks at mile 23. This year I think I heard, “I love bananas!” at least 100 times.
Of course, there’s always those who don’t appreciate the food or are particular about it. Immediately after our stop was medical followed by water and Powerade and there were a handful of people who were annoyed that bananas were first. There were also people annoyed by the ripeness of the bananas (in my opinion they were pretty perfect – not green and not too yellow). I also switched out quite a few bananas for people – which kind of made me laugh. Well, you can’t please them all!
(Picture stolen from Jeannie!)
Before I knew it we were wrapping things up and posing with Pocahontas, John Smith, and Meeko. This is the closest I will ever get to snuggling with a raccoon.
PS – Meeko is a little thief. He tried to steal a bunch of bananas.
After picking up my complimentary park ticket (a perk of volunteering, but definitely not the reason I do it!) and finding a Starbucks (COFFEEEE), I headed home. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to go to spin, but in the end I knew if I went I wouldn’t regret it. And I was right – it was a kickass class. Plus, when we got home the kids went down for a nap and so did I. Sometimes afternoon naps are the best.
We ended the night with sushi and thai takeout and a beautiful sunset.
What a great way to end a great day… does tomorrow really have to be Monday?
Also – are you running the Princess Half Marathon next month? I’ll be volunteering at that race too. Hope to see you there!