I kept hearing lots of hype surrounding the Meet Ups that Disney regularly holds before each of it’s races. They sounded amazing. I knew I had to at least try to get into the Marathon Meet Up, since this is the year that I am attempting the Goofy Challenge. FYI = At Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend if you run the Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday and the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday, you are considered Goofy and get a special medal for running 39.3 miles in one weekend.
So, on the advice of my good friends from #TeamRunDisney, I stalked the Disney Parks Blog at the appropriate times and had an email all ready to send once the post inviting runners to attend showed up. Turns out, the Disney server was having issues refreshing itself a little after noon, Friday, January 4th, due to the excessive traffic of runners trying to get onto the site for a chance at the opportunity. You see, they were only accepting the first 100 or so emails that they received.
I panicked as my computer kept giving me a blank screen, until my iPhone5 saved the day! It refreshed the site faster than my PC, and allowed me to read all the details, get the email address and hit send almost right away. After the email was sent, I had to wait till 2pm to see if I made the cut.
Well, as you can tell from the title of this post, I was one of 100 or so runners selected to attend the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Meet Up! Goal accomplished. Now, the story begins.
I was so excited and sent out a bunch of tweets! Look who tweeted me back!
I am doing the GoofyChallenge with Runner’s World magazine, and so excited to meet Bart Yasso! Bart is the CFO (Chief Running Officer) of Runner’s World!
On Friday, January 11th, our alarm went off at 4:30 am and woke us from a sound sleep, in our comfy beds, at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I laid in bed for a bit as my family got up and ready to head to the 5K without me. Like a good Mama, I had all of their clothes laid out the night before so there would be no issues come morning. Hubby fed them breakfast in the room, and they were off to catch the bus to the 5K. I slowly got up and about, as I had a cold since Monday and was pretty stuffed up. I got myself dressed in my new Team Sparkle outfit, and headed downstairs to find the cab I arranged, the night before, waiting to take me to Hollywood Studios.
In the cab I was fumbling with all my running belts, got my favorite Amphipod belt out, and had it ready to go. The driver dropped me off in the cab lot of Hollywood Studios, I paid her, and got out. OOPS! Just as I realized I left my favorite running belt behind, I turned to see her drive off. I made my way to the entrance of Hollywood Studios where I was checked in by greeters, signed a waiver, and then given a nice white RunDisney 20th Anniversary t-shirt to put on.
The energy was incredible, even though it was only 6:30am. Disney had Donald, Mickey, and Goofy waiting for us on Hollywood Blvd. ready to take some pictures.
Goofy was first, I took this as a good omen!
Then came Donald! I was glad I got there early enough to get a shot with all three! I met some pretty cool RunDisney fans in line too! Like Krista, who is a co-author of a book I have been wanting to read for a while now, Magical Miles: A Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World. I also met Pam and Christine who I recognized from reading their blog posts. I also made some new twitter friends, like Mandy, who is also from the Mitten State.
Soon it was 7am and the RunDisney team was all lined up.
Bob, Tony, and Darrell from Disney Sports greeted us and gave an introduction of all the stars Disney had on hand for us! Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, New York and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers, Runner’s World columnist Bart Yasso and athlete/television host Dick Beardsley, the Brazilian runner Adriano Bastos, and my local girl, Desi Davila, olympic runner.
They announced that we would start the morning off with a group run. Well, actually 2 group runs. One with a 9 minute/mile pace and the second group, lead by Jeff Galloway with a 12 minute/mile pace using run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds. Normally, I would have chosen the 9 minute/mile group, but seeing how I was sick, and was not able to run at all all week, I took it conservative and went with Mr. Galloway’s group.
The first group was off!
We started headed towards the Sorcerer’s hat, but turned off towards the Tower of Terror.
Then the Rock n’ Roller coaster. By this time, lots of folks, myself included, were just kind of running at their own pace as the group spread out taking photos.
Back up towards the Hat.
There were a few opportunities for some character photos too, as we weaved our way through Hollywood Studios!
I LOVE Minnie, and she loved my Team Sparkle Skirt too!
We even did some group shots in front of Toy Story Mania!
Soon, the sun was coming up and we were getting a preview of the weather we would have for the races on Saturday and Sunday. It was getting warm, but I was loving and welcoming the heat. My run was going well and I was feeling good when I was running. I must even say the humidity helped my sinuses clear up a bit.
As we made our way towards the Back Lot, we arrived at Lights, Motor, Action. They had a food truck waiting to feed all the hungry runners! Due to my allergies, I brought some snacks with me and enjoyed them after making a new friend.
Yep, even though we run the same trails at times, I have never gotten a chance to meet Desi Davila and speak to her personally until now. Desi is part of the Hanson’s Brooks running team and in my area, Hanson’s is the best running store around. They even have a team to support their local runners, Hanson’s Yellow Team, which I joined last year.
We talked about all sorts of things, especially how crazy it was to go from running in snow at home to running in the sun here! After taking some time to chat, it was time for the main show to begin! As we were being welcomed to the Meet Up, the directors truck from the show came barreling out of no where!
So cool! One girl, who was a senior in High School where he was a freshman, even brought her yearbook for him to sign! Joey is doing the Goofy Challenge too this year!
Next came some more speakers. Disney went all out for the 20th Anniversary, and even teamed up with New Balance, the official Running shoe of Walt Disney World, to make a special shoe for the occasion.
I love the Minnie shoes, but since they are stability, I did not get any from the expo. Speakers from New Balance educated the crowd on how to choose a good shoe, and how not every shoe is for every one. They also promised to make more styles of Disney shoes, as these were a hit! They only produced 1,000 pairs each of the Disney styles and, of course, sold out with in hours of the expo opening and had to overnight more from California for the Expo! A few lucky fans even won a pair at the Meet Up!
The stars gathered for a question and answer session, and it was so cool to listen to the words of wisdom these runners had for us!
I was busy tweeting away, and taking it all in, along with the majority of the crowd.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in the women’s marathon the first year it was introduced, had the crowd in awe! She was a pioneer in women’s running and paved the way for us today!
Disney announced that this was the first year that the majority of the runners were women! That is a great trend that I sure hope continues as more women discover what an incredible form of fitness,stress relief and fun running can become!
Just when we thought it might be wrapping up, there were more surprises in store! Former NFL Linebacker, Eddie Mason came out and discussed proper training, core strength and told us to listen to our bodies.
Drew is recovering from a broken clavicle, so he was not running this year, but talked about his shows, the Price is Right, running, and Disney. For anyone out there who might end up playing Plinko on the Price is Right, be sure to drop the coin down the middle.
After the speakers everyone was invited down for some more photo opportunities with the speakers, and of course, the characters.
I stopped by and spoke with Mr. Galloway. He is so nice and personable, and remembered my family from when we met him at both Disney Princess and Disneyland. I told him the kids have both now completed a 10K and he emphasized how important it is, and how proud of me he was for setting such a good example to get the next generation moving.
Next, my good buddy Bart Yasso and I from Runners World! I didn’t know it at the time, but this is the first of many pictures over the weekend.
WIth that, the event was over.
As we walked towards the exit, RunDisney gave us a goody bag filled with a 1 day park ticket, iFitness belt, H2O products, a cliff bar and some New Balance cool red laces. It was an event to remember and I am so happy I was able to participate.
View my other posts from the Walt Disney World Marathon Race Weekend!
2013 Walt Disney World Runner’s World Challenge and Expo Recap
2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap
2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Review