Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Part 2- Half Marathon Volunteering and Expo again!

volunteeringSaturday, January 12

We are up and out of our room waiting for our cab at 2:15 am. O the things we will do to be a part of the magic!
 Our cab driver pulls up and we tell him that we need to go to the volunteer tent in the DTD back parking lot. He said he knew exactly where we needed to be. The concierge told us it was only about 5 miles away if that and it should only be a couple dollars. As soon as we got in the cab, the meter was already at $2.64. I thought, okay this must just be a service fee of some sort. I admit, we watched that meter like a hawk, just curious how accurate it was. We had reached $8 by the time we even got out of the gate at our resort. I am not kidding when I say the meter in that cab was running faster than the second hand on my watch! As we pulled into the very beginning of a parking lot, I noticed that the driver was talking on a cell phone. We were stopped. We were right in the beginning of a parking lot and I wasn’t sure if this is where we needed to be or not. I wanted to ask him, but he was on the phone. When I heard silence I asked Are you on the phone? He answered with a rude no, like i was accusing him of something. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t interrupting him. I asked if this was the spot to get out and he didn’t answer. From the time we pulled in the parking lot, he left us sit there for three more dollars worth of fare and didn’t say anything. My sister and I didn’t even know where we were, but as the meter hit $18, we both looked at each other and immediately opened our doors hoping that would stop the meter. We got out of the cab and paid what we thought was extremely high fare for going such a small distance. I admit we did give him a tip, but a small one. it turned out to be like 15% which I don’t know if that is standard or not as I don’t use a cab often, and when I have, parents or husband usually pay. Just because of the whole experience seemed creepy, I didn’t even want to tip him, but I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do. So, we are left at a parking lot around 2 something in the morning.

We see some lights and a tent off in the distance and think maybe that’s where we need to be, so we start walking towards it. We were right. We show our credentials and sign in to the volunteer tent. Some people are given flashlights and all are given great windbreakers that say Disney half marathon. We are then broken up into groups based on our assignments and briefed on our job duties. Now I must add that before we came here, we were told to keep from bringing too many personal items with us. I can understand why. With that being said, before we start our shift, we are given a goodie bag of treats and a drink. Okay, what are we suppose to do with this now. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good gesture but just a bit awkward to carry around. We stuffed ours in the front pouch of our windbreakers. That certainly didn’t make for an attractive look!

We then boarded a bus to our respective volunteer areas. We were at the start line so that is why we had to be there so early. We met some really nice people in our volunteer group. It turns out that most of them are locals and retired. We were probably the youngest ones in our group. So our bus dropped us off in one of the parking lots near Epcot. We had to walk across the long parking lot and then a path through a wooded tree line. The start line was actually on a highway. Our job was to stand on the left side of the barrier and keep spectators on the right side of the barriers so they did not run out in front of the runners. This was like the easiest job ever. Now keep in mind, even IF a spectator were to cross the barrier and come and stand on the same road I was standing on, he or she would have to cross one highway, run through the grassy patch and over to the next highway were the runners were actually running. It made no sense, but we did our job! It was nice to be at the start and see all the fireworks. They shoot off fireworks to signal the start of each corral. I think there were 7 or 8 corrals. These are timed races and if you don’t keep a certain pace, you WILL get picked up and taken off the course. The object is to stay above the "balloon" people. These are people who walk the course at 16 minute mile pace. They are at the end of the last corral. I found it odd, or maybe even heart breaking, that not even a half mile into the race, there was still a group of people who were behind the balloons. I was hopefully that they were able to pass the balloon people enough time.

After our shift at the start line, we made our way back through the wooded path and over to Epcot wear we were told we could do another job if we wanted. We wanted, so we gave out medals to finishers. This was such a fun experience. The runners are so grateful. We got so many "THANK YOU FOR VOLUNTEERING". People are so emotional. They want to hug you, they want you to take their picture, and some look as if they just want their medal and they are ready to collapse. We had one young man come through and he refused to take a medal! I thought maybe he felt that he didn’t deserve it because he didn’t finish the race, but clearly he had finished, I saw him come through with the rest of the runners and it was fairly early in the race so he made a good time. I don’t know what his deal was. I know there were some celebrities running this race such as Allison Sweeny, Drew Carey, that guy who played Samantha’s neighbor in the first Sex in the City movie ( don’t remember his name) and a few others, but I didn’t hear or see any of them come through. But then again, I am so horrible with celebrity sightings, I doubt I would recognize them anyway!

After our time volunteering, we had to make our way back to Downtown Disney to “Check Out” of the volunteer tent. Getting there was not a problem because Disney provided a bus to and from the volunteer tent.  After that, we were left to our own transportation. So here we are in the middle of the parking lot at the back of Downtown Disney. The most logical thing to do would be to walk through Disney’s West Side and try to get a bus back to our Disney resort, so we do that. We wait, and we wait, and we wait.  Finally a Disney bus pulls up, but tells us that buses don’t start running at this stop till 11:00am.  ( Keep in mind it is still early in the morning). Okay, No problem we will go to the bus stop that is over in the Market Place area.  We walk through a crowd free West Side and Market Place to get to the bus stop. We wait, and we wait some more. Buses are now starting to drop guests off, but are not picking any up. We see our resort bus come to the bus stop three different times and drop people off, yet we are not allowed to get on because they are not picking people up. This is becoming a problem so we tell the cast member who is directing the buses on his walkie talkie thing. He says he will send a bus for us.   We wait an extremely long time until finally another bus flashing the resort we want to go to pulls up.  We start to enter the bus as we assume it is the bus that was called earlier, but it is a no go again! This bus is only dropping off. We wait again and finally a bus that doesn’t even have our resort name on it picks us up along with another family who is patiently waiting with their luggage for some reason. We tell them what resort we want to go to and we finally get there.   We rarely have any problems with the Disney transportation system, yet we have recently experienced three accounts with in the past two months. I’m sure we will talk more about that in our post about the Disney Princess Half weekend coming up.

After getting back to the resort to change and relax a bit, we decide to head back to the Expo at Wide World of Sports.  We really didn’t get to do any shopping there last time. Also, we wanted to see if we could get a smaller marathon shirt.

When we got to the expo, the first thing we did was try to exchange the shirt. We were told that no exchanges would take place until 4:00pm that afternoon.  So we decided we would stay at the expo till then. About two hours before that we noticed some ladies standing in line for the t-shirt exchange, so we joined them by standing behind them. During this time other ladies were trying to exchange their shirts with other participants who received the wrong size. It seems as EVERYONE need a smaller size.   We had a medium and were hoping to get an extra small.  Every once in a while someone from the t-shirt booth would come over to our line and give us an update on how many they had available.  At one point he told us there were only 10 available. This cut our line in half as people were counting the ten people in front of them and figured they didn’t have a chance of getting an extra small shirt so they might as well leave. We were still okay as we were third in line. A while later he came back again and said there would only be three left. That meant the girl that had been standing in line behind us for almost two hours left as well.   I really felt bad for her because shortly after she got out of line, the shirt guy came back again and said they found a whole bin of extra small shirts and they just started handing them out.  We got our shirt and we briefly tried to find the girl that was standing behind us to tell her to go back, but we were unsuccessful.   By this time the expo was coming to a close.  We had enough time to go upstairs and have my sister’s picture taken in front of the marathon backdrop, and I signed up for runner tracking.   We did a little shopping at the ESPN store and then headed back to the resort for dinner.

Have you ever volunteered at a race?



  1. Hey, I didn't know you could volunteer for a race and still have some time left in the day! That's great to know. Thanks for the recap. :)

  2. Oh my! You two really gave it your all, ($$ included)! Thank you for your service. I hope runDisney realizes that it either needs to accommodate volunteer transportation better, or at the very least outline the how-to's. Maybe it would have been easier to jump on the race course and run home! ;)


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