My post won't be nearly as important as what Jared will be posting later on this week, but I hope you find it informative.
I was hoping to run the Disney Half Marathon this past Saturday, but things didn't unfold the way they needed to for me to accomplish this goal. So instead I signed up to volunteer at the 10k on Friday. That meant that we had to leave on Thursday morning, so that I could be up and at Epcotat 3 am. It's about a 7 1/2 hour drive from home to Disney World.
Little side note; we stayed at Saratoga Springs, Beth and mine first time in a deluxe resort, and it was beautiful. The resort is wide open, which is a good and bad thing in my opinion. Four bus stops, and it was a walk to the lobby from most rooms. At the same time it's tranquil, so the walks are peaceful. Water features are everywhere and help cancel out the noise of children screaming in the pool areas, of which there are 4.
We stayed in the Carousel, and had a one bedroom. This ended up saving us some money, because we had a small kitchen, and we were able to cook lunch and dinner a couple of times.
Back to the races! Like I said before I needed to be at Epcot at 3 am, and no buses were running yet, so the volunteers drive themselves there. My shift was from 3 am to 11:30 am, according to the email I received before arrival, so I was in for a long morning.
I went in to the volunteer tent and signed in, got my assignment for the morning (water station 1) and gathered a volunteer jacket, some breakfast and a drink before heading over to the briefing area.
The water station I was at was at Mile 1.6, and the team leader told us that most the runners would not be getting anything so early. So we made 12 tables of water 2 layers high and 4 tables 3 layers high.
|The voluntEARS that were at water stop 1|
We had a very energetic group of volunteers, that chEARed and passed out water. One thing that the team leader did not take into account was the humidity, and by time the first corral made it to us, they were getting water (Jeff Galloway, runDisney consultant, grabbed water from me, which was a surprise). The table I was at was the first one out if water, and as water ran out, we closed the table and moved down to help the other tables.
We actually ran out of water for bottle refills in the middle of the last corral, so we had to do the best we could in getting water to the runners. Most of the runners that we chEARing for, turned around and chEARed for us as well, even though we had a small part of their big accomplishment that day. Once the last runner came through, we were done for the day, so at 7:30 I headed back to hotel to get some sleep.
Jared came in early afternoon on Friday. We met him at the expo after he got signed in for the Goofy Challenge and then explored the rest of the expo.
Saturday morning was an early one as well. Jared was in corral P and needed to be there by 4:30 am. So we got up and met him in the bag check area and just chatted. He went on to the corral and we walked to the start line. If you want a good spot to chEAR from, make sure you get there early, or you will be in the back of the groups. But luckily, being that corral P was the last to start, by the time Jared came through we had a great spot.
|Our view of Main Street USA for the 1/2 Marathon|
Once we saw him off, we all hopped on the monorail to make it to see him in the Magic Kingdom, where they would run down Main Street, and then around Tomorrowland through the castle, and out Frontierland. We made it to Main Street in time to see a lot of different costumes, and enough time to catch our breath.
|Tuba Guy in Magic Kingdom|
Jared came in, bragged about a picture op he had, and continued on. Now, I should also mention that we had our text on to track where he was so we knew how much time we had to get to another park.
Back to the monorail to get to Epcot and the finish line. Once again, if you want a seat at the finish line, get there early. We were lucky and found a place to sit. And right as Jared approached the Half Marathon finish line to the worst song in history (in my opinion), Sweet Home Alabama.
|Finish Line for the 1/2|
The rest of the day was spent resting and casually going around parks. We only rode 2 rides while there and we did them on this day, Soarin' (Beth and mine favorite) and Haunted Mansion.
Reservations for dinner was at Via Napoli that night and had to go through a good down pour that stopped as soon as the resturant was in sight. If you have never been, I would recommend this place, the oven baked pizza is the best!
We got to talking before heading our seperate ways, and came to the conclusion that we would meet up at MK in the morning instead of getting to Epcot to wait for the start.
We woke up at 5:30, and boy was that a mistake. We made it on the bus, but that didn't leave as fast as they normally do. So when we made it to Epcot, we had to dash for the monorail to get to see him at Main Street. We made it to the platform at the Magic Kingdom station, just as he was running down Main Street. We missed him, so we had to plan our next stop.
We headed over to Animal Kingdom, and found a spot to chEAR there. It took a bit longer, and I'll let him tell you about that, but we saw him and encouraged him as much as we could.
|Santa running off some cookies in the Marathon|
|Jared on his way through Animal Kingdom|
We got back on a bus to Hollywood Studios. This is my biggest plug! Give yourself ample time to see your runner, the roads are closed for runners, and this makes it hard to get from one place to another. It was about 30 mins to get from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios. There was a stop at ESPN in between that we chose not to take.
I got to doing the math and it was going to be near impossible for me to get from Hollywood Studios to Epcot in time to see him cross, so we chEARed in for a while, got to see our Dopey friend Kristin (she ran every race this weekend), and headed over to Epcot via the boats.
|Kristin and Jason at the 10K|
We had to actually go through the park, which was an experience that I would say to avoid at all cost because they have different places marked off for the runners to go, and it's hard to navigate as a spectator. We did see Mary Poppins out and she was chEARing on the runners while posing with park guests for pictures.
|Beth and myself with Mary Poppins|
Being at the finish line is a treat among itself. You will see the most motivated people cross that line. One lady had just got done with Chemo and ran the race, another lady was in full Firefighter gear, in which she ran the Dopey in. So many inspiring people crossing that line, and then Jared comes through, which was a great and inspiring thing for me to see my friend accomplish so much this weekend.
We ended our trip with Wishes, and good conversation with Kristin, and 'Ohana. We are talking about doing the Everest race in May, but I am for sure doing the Tower again in October.
Once again we congratulate Brittney, Jared, and Kristin for running and finishing your races!
Keep an eye out for Jared's post about his experience, and a special article for Kristin about the Dopey!