Today I have a guest post from a friend, Kristin, who attended the marathon trip with me. She’s sharing her perspectives and lessons learned from spectating a Disney race. And after reading this I have even more appreciation for my friends and everything they went through to watch me run!
The day of the marathon, I woke up early. Not as early as Becky, but it was definitely still dark outside. Before we’d headed to Disney, our group of friends had figured out where we were going to space ourselves along the route to spectate. I had one of the earlier places, so I’d arranged for a cab the previous night, since I didn’t know if Disney transportation would be operating for non-runners before dawn.
I told the cab driver I wanted to go to the Polynesian, and he said, “OH. That will be difficult, with the roads closed for the marathon.”
Lesson 1: Because of road closures, there will be a lot of traffic and a lot of detours. Make sure you give yourself plenty of extra time to get around!
Lucky for me, I’m always sort of paranoid about being late, so I still had enough time to get to the Polynesian before Becky ran past. In fact, I managed to get to the Ticket and Transportation Center right around the time she started the race.
Lesson 2: RunDisney has text alerts that you can sign up for. They’ll tell you when your runner starts the race.
Once I was at the resort, there were big signs pointing to the race route, and lots of other people going the same way to cheer on their family members or friends, so I knew exactly where to go. Becky was keeping us up-to-date with her progress via text, so I headed out to get a spot when I knew she was getting close.
Lesson 3: Pick a place with a decent landmark. I was trying to text Becky my location, and wound up saying something like, “I’m by the monorail, where it gets closer to the building and does a little curve, sort of?” Not the best description. Luckily she was able to spot me as she went past!
Once Becky had passed me, I headed over to Epcot so I’d be able to see her again near the end of the race. As I was walking toward the monorails, we started getting frantic texts from our friends who were preparing to meet her in Animal Kingdom.
Lesson 4: Give yourself extra time to get through the parks! Disney has “crosswalks” for guests who need to traverse the parks while the race is going on, but it will take you a lot longer than normal to get from one place to another. Add in all the extra people in the parks who are trying to spectate the race, and you might find yourself at a standstill for a while.
To give the Animal Kingdom spectators more time, Becky went on Expedition Everest. I mean, I know that was a sacrifice for her 😉
I managed to get to Epcot not too long after Jason (who had the earliest spectating spot, back at Magic Kingdom). That’s when we started getting more texts from the folks in later spectating spots.
Lesson 5: Getting between the parks may be very difficult and time-consuming.
Once Becky had passed Animal Kingdom, Mercedes and Christa tried to get a bus directly to Epcot. Unfortunately, so many other people were trying to do the same thing that the line was about 3 hours long! Mercedes and Christa were smart enough to take a bus to another resort, and then change buses to get to Epcot. It took a while, but they made it before Becky finished the race.
While we were waiting, we did some character meet-and-greets with our “Team Ginther” shirts, texting the pictures to Becky as encouragement while she was going through the “boring” part of the race route. Finally, she passed the last group of friends in Hollywood Studios.
Lesson 6: Not all Disney transportation options will be available on race day.
The original plan was for Vince and Cass (who were spectating at Hollywood Studios) to take the Epcot Resort boat to the “back entrance” of Epcot. We were hoping they’d be able to make it in time to see Becky finish the race. Unfortunately, because the marathon route goes along Crescent Lake, the boats weren’t running until afternoon. They had to take a bus, which (due to road closures and traffic) took significantly longer. They did manage to meet up with Becky in the Epcot parking lot after she finished the marathon, though!
Lesson 7: Relax and have a drink.
Trying to organize all the spectating for the marathon was stressful, and I think we all enjoyed having margaritas while we cheered Becky to the last mile of the race. And I’m pretty sure she enjoyed being able to sample our drinks as she went past, as well!
Have you ever spectated at a race? What was your experience like?