Hey There! My name is Jaimee Dietz and I was asked to write about my experience as being a spectator at this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. This was my very first time going to marathon weekend so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I went to support my friends who were running the Family Fun Run 5k, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon and even the Goofy (the 1/2 on Saturday followed by the full on Sunday).
First off, I had the opportunity to see the Family Fun Run 5kers early, 4:30 AM to be exact, Friday at the Epcot parking lot, which is where all the runners congregate before heading into their respective corrals. Even though I wasn’t running, I could feel the excitement in the air. There was music blasting, a photo opportunity with Mickey and Minnie, and just a great time of seeing some old and new friends.
As the time approached for the runners to start the 5k, I then headed over to Hollywood Studios with James Hansen and Mary Jo Collins for the Run Disney Marathon Meet up. In order to be a part of the meet up, you had to follow the link in @runDisney‘s tweet announcing the event to sign up for a chance to attend. They only allow a certain number of participants, so it was very exciting to be chosen to go.
We met at Hollywood Studios and ran 2 1/2 miles through the park followed by the opportunity to meet some inspiring runners, including Jeff Galloway. I even had my picture taken with celebrities Joey Fatone and Drew Carey. This was also my first time going to this event and it was so much fun. I would definitely do it again if I get the chance.
Saturday was an even earlier start where I got up at 2 am to see the Walt Disney World Half Marathon runners get ready to start their trek through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. This race also started at the Epcot parking lot. I know this is insanely early but it was completely worth it.
After we left the runners, my friends James and Stephanie and I started our adventure by heading over to the Magic Kingdom via the monorail. This was the most practical way to get over to MK rather than driving a car. The whole process took about 30 min. To see the runners through MK, you don’t need a park ticket because technically the park is still closed. Main Street USA was breathtaking that early in the morning, because all the buildings were lit up with the sun rising behind them. They even had Cinderella’s castle all lit up with the Dream Lights. I could only imagine being one of those runners turning the corner to run down Main Street and see that glorious sight that is Cinderella’s castle. We stayed there for about an hour or two and then headed back over to Epcot to see our friends finish.
Taking the monorail back to Epcot was a little time consuming but we were in no rush so it really didn’t bother us. What was really neat and unexpected was as we were riding the monorail we could see the runners below. When we arrived back at Epcot, we headed over to the area where the resort buses are located to grab a spot to watch the runners head towards the finish line. Seeing my friends finish and wearing their medals proudly was so awesome and inspiring. It even made me proud for them.
Sunday was another amazing day being able to see some of my friends run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We made our way to the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot to watch the runners come through the end of the race at mile 25. I saw a lot tired and weary faces but also determined faces knowing that they were nearing the end. Some had smiles and some had tears in their eyes. I tried to cheer for everyone, strangers and friends alike, clapping, yelling, and ringing a cow bell!
Overall, I was so thrilled to be able to have this experience being a spectator at Marathon weekend. It was extremely inspiring seeing all different types of people running. One of the most touching moments was seeing a man carrying the American Flag while running down Main Street. It was such an amazing sight to see. It filled my heart with gratitude. Another very special moment was seeing a few men dressed in full firemen garb carrying tanks and all.
This weekend will definitely be a weekend I will never forget. You don’t have to be a runner or interested in running to enjoy marathon weekend. It’s so fun and exciting just being in the midst of all the Marathon Weekend activities. But be careful, you might just get inspired to hit the pavement and sign up for a race of your own. I’ll be running my first half marathon in February, the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon and I’m also training for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge at Disneyland later this summer.
So get out there and cheer for those runners! You never know where it might lead you!Follow us for more updates: