A Class Act …… Run Disney

I am blessed to know runners of all shapes, sizes and levels of ability.  I can look one direction and say hello to a low 3 hour marathoner, then another and greet a 6.5 to 7 hour runner.  This is specifically why I love running so much, it’s for anyone who WANTS to do it.  Not many sports can say the same but running, yes, we take anyone, regardless of pace.  A little desire & motivation to haul your bum out the door and you too can be a runner.  That makes me proud to be part of such a diverse group.

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Run events are a lot like people.  We have good ones and bad ones.  Some make me ashamed to have been swept up into the hoopla and actually have participated, others make me smile.  Very few leave me thinking that they provided a classy event, cared  A LOT about their runners and delivered exactly what they promised in a race experience.

If you run or even know any runners, then you may have heard about a “little” event taking place this weekend at “The Happiest Place on Earth”…… Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL.  The mega travel/media/PR/experience agency RunDisney sells a very magical weekend for runners.  They even offer special gifts for booking your race & travel experience thru them.  So if you plan to “run” Disney, then don’t forget to just go to the people who know it best and book thru them so you get all the available goodies!

I must say that I have never even considered “running” Disney.  For the last several  years I have seen so many ladies running off to Disney for their dream “run”cation.  They go alone, or with girlfriends, some take the family but most just go to experience their favorite thing in the “most magical place on earth”.    It always made me chuckle cuz to be honest, I wouldn’t go within a 100 mile radius of Orlando ever again if it weren’t for the kids.  Disney to me does not mean magic, or fun, or romance, or girls getaway but instead …… standing in lines, in horrid heat and melting the day away …. all while be pawed by a toddler who is intimidated by the insane crowds but who doesn’t want to miss a thing.  My fun at Disney comes from watching the kiddos light up with excitement when something on screen becomes reality.

aby disney1_2008           aby disney2_2008 

Seeing the characters/actors take the time to talk to the little ones and give them the magical experience that we so dearly wanted for them.  (Aby – Disneyland, Sept 2004)

aby disney3_2008               aby disney4_2008

I don’t think of Disney as an adult destination and therefore would never think to go “run” Disney for fun.  However, a few things I’ve heard as of late, have made me think otherwise.  When I was at Ragnar one of my teammates, a man, kept saying that the Disney Marathon was the BEST.RACE.EVER.  He kept referring to the marathon as the best of the best.  I thought that to be odd.  Then I kept seeing everyone heading down to Orlando for their dream “run”cation and it was the same, loads of excitement and very happy people.  Now these are also people who paid a very high price tag for their race weekend between flights, hotels, and entry fees.  I was hoping that RunDisney would be able to provide half the race for the hype; I just wasn’t sure they would be able to pull it off but I was watching.  I’ve been watching all weekend via instagram, twitter, facebook & various message boards.  Looking for the one person who was going to tell it like it was …..  or maybe tell it like I expected it to be, that this was just one more race where the hype did not live up to reality.  However, I haven’t seen it.  The very opposite in fact. 

The thing that actually sold me that maybe RunDisney was actually worthy of the rep, the hype and “possibly” even the price tag was when a friend of mine had to call it quits during the marathon today, at Mile 15 due to foot pain.  She is scheduled for surgery in the upcoming weeks but went to “run” Disney as her last hurrah before having to take an undeterminable amount of time off running.   Yes, she probably should have stayed home but I think she did exactly what all the rest of us would have done.  She went with the intent to just enjoy the experience regardless of however long it took her to complete the journey. Pain unfortunately took her out of this game.  She wanted to finish, her body wouldn’t allow it.  She stopped at Mile 15 and according to her, 

“They radioed for a car and it was there in seconds.  I was taken to the car park at the finish.  Four medics met me, along with a lady with my medal.  They put a space blanket around me, wrapped me in ice and gave me my medal.  They also gave me snacks, drinks and took me to a shaded tent.  They could not have been nicer”.  See Jenny G below with her medal and also icing her feet in her Disney gear check bag.

Jenny_Disney medal

     Jenny on Ice_Disney Marathon

She also described amazing volunteers who offered sunscreen, Tylenol & Vaseline in the corrals as they awaited the start.  Then BioFreeze, Tylenol & Vaseline throughout as on course support. 

I’ve heard lots of stories about races this year.  Some races didn’t have enough medals to cover all the participants and those at the back of the pack left empty handed.  Other races were super stingy with their medals and not wanting to give them to participants who didn’t make the time cut-off.   Stories like those make me cringe.  I’m an equal opportunity runner and think that everyone who covers the distance deserves the “bling”.  It means more to some than it does others.  In fact, some people identify their success with the bling they bring home.  It lessens the accomplishment for them if they don’t have that to show for their effort.  So I was beyond impressed that the RunDisney officials not only gave her a medal, when she didn’t necessarily even expect one, but also for just being there.  For being fast and making her feel important at a point when she was not only tired and hurting but also super sad about not being able to make it the finish under her own power.  From my friend, myself and all the countless people who have had an amazing experience “running” Disney today or at any point in the past.   Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!

I officially give RunDisney a big THUMBS UP for being an upstanding organization.  Congrats RunDisney, you are officially on my radar. 

** Happy Running & Racing  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **