Full disclosure, I did NOT run the Marathon! However, the day was exhausting!
Waking up for the fourth day (fifth if you count the day we flew down) at “dark o’clock” was seemingly easy. We quickly prepped for the day. While I was not running, one of my hotel mates was going for Dopey. So, up and at ‘em! Out the door and parked at Epcot® by 3:45 am!
Getting up in the middle of the night had become quite routine, almost… regular… to my brain. Once we arrived at Epcot® we easily found the WDW Radio Running Team peeps. I was excited to cheer and, frankly, NOT run. However… seeing everyone ready to run started to give me pangs that I should be running with them. (I had not trained for that run, and should not have done the marathon.)
A little after 4am, we headed for the Magic Kingdom® Park. Since I had never cheered, I followed the group. We were at the Magic Kingdom just prior to the 5am opening. I knew this was a major cheer site. Once the cast members allowed people inside, it was a foot race to the rope line. As you can imagine, everyone wants to be on the rope line. We were able to stake out a good area right where we wanted to be for maximum visibility.
Modern technology was a real asset. By tracking the runners, we knew when they passed the 5K point. The Magic Kingdom was just past the five mile mark. We knew when our runners were near. Seeing the runners enter and come running up to the rope line was exhilarating for us too! Hugs, cheers, and lots of encouragement means a lot when you have miles to go. These moments seeing your friends makes the journey all the sweeter.
After the Half Marathon, Beci put forth a challenge. Five dollars to the Dream Team for each “sweaty hug” given to Lou! We did our best to spread the word before the marathon began. Watching our teammates come into the Magic Kingdom and give Lou the BIGGEST hugs… was hilarious! Lou was a very good sport… although I think that sweatshirt may have to be burned!
We cheered for everyone! Every runner, whether you know them or not, deserves your shouts and applause. We stayed as long as we felt we could. At some point, if you are going to see your teammates before they cross the finish line, you need to move on to your next position. I did not make a list, but I think we saw everyone.
Our group headed to Epcot® next. I know some people like to make three or four stops to cheer. I had not cheered before, so I went with the two position plan everyone else was doing. Lou had said that the team would be at the United Kingdom Pavilion.
We positioned ourselves near the red telephone booths. This was where the runners would reenter Epcot®. It was around mile 25. At this point, we could give the runners hugs, cheers, and maybe, just maybe, the motivation they needed to finish strong. I had no doubt that our runners would finish! I wanted to give them a cheer along the way!
I have to be honest with you. Cheering is not for everyone. We got up by 3am and stood almost the entire day until after 1:30pm. Over ten hours standing still can take its toll on your legs. A few of us made a point to step side to side or knee bend to give our legs a break from standing completely still.
I was so happy to be a part of the marathon… especially as a spectator. Cheering others was a way to give back to those who have cheered for me in the past.
A few days after marathon weekend, a fellow cheerer asked me what was crazier… running… or cheering?
My answer? Running is harder… but cheering… is crazier!!! Cheerers get up as early as the runners. They stand for hours so that you know they are rooting for you. All of this… and NO medal! I think we should change this. Cheers to you, WDW Radio Cheerers!!!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
So, what about you? Are you a runner? A cheerer? Have you done both?
I would love to hear your tips for future cheer experiences!
Liz has been visiting Walt Disney World since she was five years old. She is always looking for a nook or cranny of Walt Disney World has yet unexplored. When not in Walt Disney World, Liz is a teacher in the Chicago suburbs.