Having just returned from the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I am happy and exhausted! Being a runner and a chEARleader, I have experienced the best of both worlds. Since the Walt Disney World Half Marathon got cancelled (the race I was supposed to run), I was only a spectator this go around, but I always have the best time doing it! If you’re going to support your favorite runner at their next race, I’ve got come some tips for cheering for runDisney races!
Sign up for runner tracking with runDisney for your runner’s event. It usually becomes available a couple of weeks before the event. RunDisney will post a link to sign up or you can text them the bib number you want to track. Then you will get text messages when your runner crosses the 5K mark, 10K, etc. They will also tell you their pace and their expected finish time. This way you can look out for them, because sometimes it’s a sea of runners, and you don’t want to miss them! The links are found on the runDisney page under the specific event/race and then under the Spectators tab.
Choose Your Spectating Spot With Your Runner
Let your runner know where you’ll be! Then they can look out for you. As a runner, when I’m having a hard time on the course and I’m hitting a wall, knowing I’ll see a friend somewhere helps me push through. My friends and I usually pick a spot towards the end-ish for that last extra motivation. We’re usually around mile 11 for a half marathon. For the Walt Disney World Marathon, we chose Animal Kingdom for mile 14. We had snacks for our friends like mini Coca-Cola cans, Uncrustables, Starbursts, Cheez-Its. Whatever they wanted, we had!
My friend Bonnie even had an Earl of Sandwich for me during my marathon last year! Best sandwich ever!
When our last friend passed us in Animal Kingdom, we headed to Epcot to cheer on the last mile. Which brings me to transportation…
Check your race guides or with the concierge at your Disney hotel if you’re relying on Disney Transportation. They told us buses wouldn’t run until 8:00 a.m., so we decided to drive to Animal Kingdom in the morning. However when we left at 7:15 a.m., we saw Disney buses running to the theme parks.
Leave adequate time if you’re spectating in two spots. Driving from Animal Kingdom to Epcot took us about 35 minutes due to race traffic and road closures.
Make Your Race Signs
One of my favorite things about spectating is making race signs! Since Steve Harvey first made an appearance at last year’s race, we’ve adopted Celebrity Corner and now blow up pictures of celebrities with different sayings. My friend, Diane, always likes to invoke pop culture to make people laugh! This year, Mariah Carey, was a hit. I had to go with motivational and Captain America. There was a shout out to Hamilton fans, and of course, Kevin Bacon. Though some runners wanted real bacon.
It’s such a great experience cheering for other runners, except when you’re offending people with your controversial race signs. I know how much it means to have that support on the course. The people you know, the people you don’t know, the strangers, the sense of community as a whole. I love it! Have a great time and don’t forget to set up a place to meet your runner in the finish line area of that’s where you’ll be meeting again. We usually choose a letter of bag check and meet there.
You can also choose to purchase a ChEAR Squad Package from runDisney, but I like to save my dollar bills for snacks!