January 18, 2013

WDW Marathon ChEAR Squad Recap

One of the parts of marathon weekend that I was most anticipating was the marathon.  And now that you've read our recaps, you know that I didn't run in this race (I'm not sure a marathon is for me).  But you know that my amazingly awesome mama not only tackled her first marathon on Sunday, but did this running on legs tired from a half marathon the day before.  I was really excited to cheer for her and many of our other friends running in the race.

Disney offers several options for the ChEAR Squad - bronze, silver, gold and platinum.  These offer different levels of cheering support.  Bronze is FREE (woo!) and includes an electronic newsletter with spectating tips.  Silver includes the newsletter and some gear (blanket, clappers and t-shirt).  Gold includes all of the silver items plus a 1 day park ticket, reserved areas and entry into the finish line grandstand.  Platinum includes all of the items in the gold package plus the Race Retreat at WDW events or breakfast and parking at Disneyland events.
Great signage around the Polynesian!
We opted to go the bronze route - the weekend, after all, was pretty pricey for starters!  I scoured the course maps and the WDW resort maps to best determine the exact location and mileage along the course for our spectating.  Given that we were staying at the Polynesian, it was an easy decision - we decided on the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) at mile 4, the Polynesian at mile 7.7 and EPCOT at mile 25-ish.  I made some posters before we left to help facilitate our awesome ChEAR Squad!

On the morning of the marathon, Dad and I went back to bed for a little bit before we got up to head to the TTC.  We were out the door and on our way to walk the short distance over there by about 6:10.  It was already pretty crowded when we got there so we worked our way through the crowds to find a good viewing spot.  It was totally energizing watching all the runners blaze by.  While eagerly awaiting Mom's arrival, I spotted a few of our running buddies - Leah, Malinda, Heather (and Bobby), Matt, and Krissy.  We spotted Pam, waving and yelling our heads off. 

Armed with our signs and pompoms, we walked to the other side of the Polynesian to watch the runners come down Floridian Way around mile 7.7.  My Dad mentioned it was much more crowded than the half - I guess the marathon is the main event!  We were easily able to find a spot along the mesh fence for good people watching.  The crowd just flew by - it was narrow on this spot on the course which made it a bit challenging for seeing your friends and family.  The pace groups always included a very dense crowd - I only hoped Mom wasn't near one!  And just like at TTC, while watching for Mom, I spotted some running buddies - Lisa, Katherine, Jenn, Megan, and Scott.  After yelling and screaming (yet again) for Mom, we were off to our next spot.
Head ChEARleader
We grabbed breakfast and coffee at Captain Cooks and took a quick break to clean up a bit.  At around 8:30, we headed to EPCOT to catch the finish.  Once we got into the park, we meandered around trying to find a good viewing spot that was in the shade.  We found a great area in the Norway Pavilion that offered great views of the course, a bench and some shade - jackpot!  There was a group of other women cheering with us which was great.  Mile 25 was a much different spectacle than 4 and 7 - you saw the fatigue on people's faces and in their stride.  People were walking; people were sweaty; and they were DOING IT!  It was impressive, but I can honestly say it didn't make me want to run one.

I had set up my text alerts to track many of our friends (and Mom!) and was constantly checking those and Twitter to figure out people's locations.  We finally got notice that Mom passed the 20 mile mark...then we waited some more.  During this long wait, we did lots of cheering and pompom waving.  If you run a marathon, wear something noteworthy or with easy-to-read text on the front.  It was a lot easier to cheer for say, "Go Gators" than "go man wearing a random orange shirt!"  Just my two cents... 

And soon the fun began - I started seeing people I know.  I watched Leah come through and then I recognized one of two women in matching outfits - our buddy Tara, runDisney's diet diva!  I was excited to recognize her in the crowd and happily yelled some cheers for her.  She was smiling and practically skipping through EPCOT - you could tell she was having a blast.  I couldn't get my phone out fast enough to photograph her, so you can barely see her in this photo. 

After a little while, we started really focusing on the passing crowd as we knew Mom would be coming soon.  But we started a bit too late...amazingly Dad spotted her as she was passing us.  We yelled her name and I ran to catch up and caught a quick shot of her passing by.  She looked strong and seemed happy - awesome.

Overall, it was very easy to spectate and with all of the tools available, saw a lot of people we knew along the course (but sadly missed Corral G!).  A little pre-planning certainly helped and we had a good idea of our runner's pace, which made figuring out her arrival at each location a bit simpler.  If you're spectating a runDisney race, there are some great resources for you:
- The spectators tab on the runDisney website
- Great signs at the resorts near the race path
- Runner tracking which is offered free of charge.  This includes text, email, facebook or twitter alerts.  This is great if you're moving around the course to calculate the time to see your runner.
- Interactive Spectator Tool



  1. My husband is an expert spectator :) Love the ChEAR squad!

  2. Thanks so much for this recap on the Marathon! I've thought so much of you and your Mom from this weekend. So happy for the two of you...and amazed at the ability your Mom had to do the Marathon after the 1/2.... WOW!!! :c)
    Yay for the Fab Cheer Squad too!!! :c)

    1. It was awesome having my family on the course cheering for me. The crowds are terrific and make the race so special.

  3. I remember seeing your signs!!! But had no idea that was you lol! Looks like you had a lot of fun! Thanks for cheering!

    1. I got a lot of strange looks...my crazy Minnie hood didn't help as an identifying factor! :) Loved it - you guys looked awesome!

  4. Awesome! Hey! Cheering in a costume shows your love and support! I did my spectating post today too,jinx! ;)

  5. I was actually running with Jenn!

    I love the parts of the races that have a lot of spectators, it's great to have so many people cheering you on during the run. Another good tip along the lines of runners wearing something bright is spectators wearing something bright! My family got BRIGHT orange t-shirts made with Mickey running and "Team Danielle" on the front and it's always so easy for me to spot them during a race! (Big signs, etc. help too!)

    1. I thought you might have been with her (I realized that at least 5 minutes after you were long gone ha)! :)

      What a great idea to do t-shirts! I will definitely do that in the future. Turns out pink pants aren't a great distinguisher when you can really only see waist up behind the guardrails and fences!

  6. Thank you so much for ChEaRing for me, Christine! It was really cool to hear a "Go RunFastMama!" out there on the course!

  7. My pleasure! I had a great time on the course picking out people I knew...at the TTC one lady let me go right up to the front of the pack because she thought I knew a lot of people...the online running community hase it's perks! ;)

  8. I think I remember your signs! There were lots of signs, but those pink ones stood out in the crowd! Thanks for chEARing! It definitely helped, especially everyone that we saw and heard from mile 22 to mile 25! This was my first marathon and I have to say, those were the hardest miles of all the entire 26.2!

  9. Awesome recap! We are staying at the Boardwalk and the kids are going to come down and see us as we pass the Boardwalk. I'm really excited about seeing them- hopefully it will be what I need for that final burst to the finish!