Posts Tagged by ChEAR Squad

Being a Spectator at a runDisney Race – Star Wars Edition

I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I’ll say it again…Spectators are the BEST!!  There have been so many races that I have been feeling pretty low and all it took was for that one spectators to say “Good Job!” to get me back in the game.  Earlier this year, Christina (who you might remember from the Avengers Half Marathon) was a spectator at the Star Wars Half Marathon and captured all the fun on the other side of the ropes.  Loving the signs!

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Being new to the running world, I’ve only been on one side of the course.. The runner side. But what about the thousands of spectators? Obviously some of them are there to cheer for their family, friends, or teammates. Or like our amazing friend Peggy Sue, they are out the cheering for complete strangers and putting smiles on runners faces with their creative signs. So for the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon I decided to head what is going on on the other side of those racing fences.

I’ve been a part of Team Muscle Makers for a couple races and so I decided I would go and cheer them on.. But where? Should I make signs? Research was necessary.. I went through my pictures because I knew I had taken pictures of signs that had motivated me along the course. I also Googled race signs. Who knew there would be so many results? My favorites, “Smile if you aren’t wearing underwear” and Peggy Sue’s “Complete Stranger, I’m proud of you!”.

I’m a crafter at heart so I had to make my sign noticeable and perfect. I made one really big sign that said “Team Muscle Makers On a Scale of 1 to 10 You’re 13.1” and a smaller sign the had “Mickey Loves Team Muscle Makers” on one side and “#whyirunDisney” on the other. I also made a handful of smaller signs with just marker in case anyone decided to join me at o’dark thirty to cheer on the runners.

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Since I’m a huge Star Wars fan, I had already planned to go to the expo (hello, merchandise!) but I had never really paid attention to the Expo Speaker Series at either of my two previous runDisney races. I had no idea that they actually had a speaker just about race information. Wow, was that helpful! They went over a lot of stuff I knew but they talked about the course in good detail so I had an idea of what direction everyone would be headed and about what time. I was ready!

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I left my house about 3:30 which was much earlier than I needed to realistically but I wanted to get there early and find my spot. I went over to the family reunion area and visited with the runners I knew and helped take our team photo.. Team Muscle Makers had 80 runners in the Half (our largest team ever) and raised close to $80,000!

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At 4:30 when the corrals opened for runners, I started to make my way through Downtown Disney to find myself a spot. My original plan was to find a spot along Harbor Blvd but being that it was Mile 4-6 of the course I didn’t want to be standing out there alone in the early hours. So I headed for the esplanade in between the two parks. Walking I met a couple of other women who were trying to find locations to cheer for their boyfriends, and we settled on a spot right outside the Disneyland main entrance (about mile 1.5).  By this time is was maybe 5am, so we chatted amongst ourselves, with the Disney security guards who were keeping the course clear, and I made sure the settings on my camera were right. The space quickly filled with spectators and Star Wars themed signs.

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Finally, it was race time! Fireworks went off and we patiently (or maybe not so patiently lol) waited for the first runners. I knew it wouldn’t take long for the wheelchairs and the elite runners to get to us and I was ready. Boy are they fast!! The costumes were great and everyone was having a blast but I quickly realized that my signs couldn’t really be seen and it was too crowded through that stretch to get good photos. I quickly moved about 50 feet across the esplanade to where the runners where exiting Disneyland to head to DCA. It was a much better spot and I was able to cheer on my friends from there. The sunrise was amazing!

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Once the balloon ladies passed me I decided it was time for breakfast. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the finish line to see the elite runners cross anyway so I headed to Starbucks. When I was finished there, I headed to my next spot where I planned to watch the rest of the race. I stationed myself about mile 12.9 right after the crossover that way there would be no one blocking me in. I got there just as the sub-2:00 finishers were coming in.

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While I was cheering from that vantage point I got to see some amazing costumes coming through, including some I don’t know how they ran 13.1 miles in! There were several Leia in gold bikinis (mostly guys!), rebel fighters, an AT-AT, and plenty Jedi and Vaders. While I was cheering, I met more and more spectators including a couple of little ones who were there to cheer one their mom. I handed them over some of my extra signs and they were happy to cheer on the runners too! I stayed there until the bikes came in with the last runners, and then packed up and headed for home.

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Being there and cheering everyone on was amazing! And it really reinforced something for me. Runners come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and skill levels.  And no matter where you fall in any of those categories, everyone is encouraging and welcoming. Im proud to be a part of an amazing community and that’s #whyirunDisney.

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ChEARing at the 2014 Disneyland 10K

ChEARing at a runDisney race is not only motivating for the runners, but for the chEARers as well!  Hey, it’s what got me to run my first race!  As a runner, I love when spectators get creative and make signs, wear funny outfits and simply give out high fives.  All of the effort they put into chEARing us on is one of my favorite things about Disney races.  Jenna (who you might remember from her Disneyland Half Marathon recap) is no exception!  She recently chEARed a few friends on at the Disneyland 10K with some super fun signs and has some great tips for spectators.

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When I was chatting with my friends Andy and F.J. making plans for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, I snuck one little secret plan into my itinerary. While I did run the 5K on Friday, there was no way I was ready for back-to-back races. Unlike my friends, I didn’t register for Dumbo, and not running the 10K on Saturday left a gap in my race morning schedule. I could have slept in, I suppose, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun!

Instead, I woke up just a tiny bit later than the runners and got ready to cheer my heart out!

While still at home, I studied the course map and figured out what I thought would be the best places to watch. Unfortunately, the runDisney site is a little vague on viewing locations, but I thought I could fit in three viewing locations without crossing the course while runners were on it.

I decided to make signs to show my support. I made three custom images and taped them to a tri-fold foam core board.

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Sign 1: A picture of Patsy and Edina from Absolutely Fabulous which F.J. had posted to the Team Mousejunkies Facebook group. This one got some confused looks, but a couple of people at least smirked. Grade: B-

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Sign 2: A picture of Sissy from the movie and TV show Sordid Lives with a comment about how crazy most people think Dumbo Double Dare runners are. No one knew what this sign was. It was very specific to my friends and I decided to switch from it pretty quickly. Grade: D+

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Sign 3: A picture of Andy and F.J.’s Shiba Inu, Akai, done up in the style of the Doge internet meme. This sign proved to be pretty popular. Everyone loves Doge. Even if they don’t know Doge, they love fun dogs. Grade: A+, with extra credit for being personal.

On Saturday morning, I studied the more detailed spectator maps in the race weekend program, then headed out with my sign. I followed the runners and immediately got misdirected.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a volunteer in front of the Lego Store.

“I don’t really think there is a place where you can watch the start.”

I checked the program map and confirmed that the starting line was listed as a viewing area.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a Disneyland cast member a little further down.

“Well, the starting line is that way. Follow the runners.”

Hmm. I ran the 5K the previous morning and I didn’t remember anything like that near the actual starting area.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a security person waving runners toward the race start.

“Starting line is this way. Follow the runners.”

By this time it was about 5:00 AM and I knew I was running out of time to find the mythical viewing spot.

“I’m looking for the place listed in the program where you can watch the runners at the starting line?” I asked a runDisney staff member who saw me aimlessly wandering through a darkened parking lot with a sign in my hand and asked if I needed help.

He promptly pointed me to the spot in Downtown Disney overlooking the tunnel the runners go through right after the race start. I found the area, but it’s very small- only about 15 feet wide- and it was already full of spectators. I realized that not only was there no room for me, there was no way anyone was going to see a sign above them in the dark!

On the other hand, most of the coffee and snack places in Downtown Disney open early on race mornings. A quick trip to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express and it was time to take my coffee down to the next spectator spot on my list.

The next viewing spot was outside the main entrance to Disneyland (known as “the Esplanade”), where the runners go from one theme park to the other. This is one of the places where the route for the 5K is very different than the route for the 10K. During the 5K, you actually exit California Adventure through the main gate, run across the Esplanade between the two parks, and then enter Disneyland in front of the train station. In the 10K, runners bypass the DCA main gate and head back stage for a bit before running through a quick corner of the Esplanade, and then into Disneyland.

Soon, we heard the race staff calling out that the first wheelchair participant was coming. The wheelchair leader flew through in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment. The spectators whooped and hollered. Then the first runner was coming through, bringing more cheering from the crowd. After several runners had passed, the staff announced the first woman runner was approaching. The cheering was punctuated by a few calls of “Go, girl!” I noted that the leading woman was dressed as Tinkerbell, complete with wings. Not only was she the first woman on the course, she was the first costumed runner on the course!

My first sign got some confused looks and then some smiles. My big worry was that they would think that I actually had booze to give them. No such luck!

I cheered on the pack as they ran through the short space on the Esplanade. Whenever I recognized a costume, I called it out by name. “Woo! Go, Jessie! Go, Captain Jack! Go, Mary Poppins! Run, Buzz Lightyear!” When there were no costumes, I cheered, “Woo! Go, runners! You look great! You’re awesome!”

I kept looking for Andy and F.J., knowing that they would be running together and what they would be wearing. Suddenly, I spotted them. “WOOO!! Go Andy and F.J.! YAY!” As far as I know, that was the first they knew that I would be up and cheering for them. I saw F.J.’s head snap around and the guys waved quickly, but that area goes by a little too quickly for more than that.

I switched my sign to the next in the stack and took it down to the next spot, Downtown Disney. Both the 5K and the 10K routes run through about a quarter mile of Downtown Disney at the very end of the race. I positioned myself near the fountain in front of La Brea Bakery, right after the runners exit Disneyland. I soon found out that I’d put myself in an area with an excellent echo, so my cheers were amplified even more. It was also getting light, which helped immensely!

The only reaction to my second sign from everyone who looked at it was confused looks. Sordid Lives is an LGBT cult classic, but not exactly widely known. I realized that this was probably the only chance I had for my sign to be seen by Andy and F.J. as they ran and I had to make it count. So I switched the sign to Akai as Doge. Sorry, Beth Grant!

It was awesome to get to cheer for the 10K runners! I saw so many Dumbo Double Dare bibs. I saw people in fantastic, meticulously planned costumes. I saw lots of people in regular running clothes. I saw a single-leg amputee running on a blade.

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And I saw so many people recognizing and smiling or laughing at my third sign. A lot of people love Doge and the sign turned out to be a huge hit. One guy yelled “So mileage!” as he ran past and later, when he was walking past after the race, stopped and said, “That sign is so great! I love it!”

Soon, Andy and F.J. rounded the corner and I cheered louder than ever. The looks on their faces when they saw and recognized the picture were priceless. After the race, F.J. told me he teared up three times during the race: running through the castle, at the finish line, and when he saw the sign. “It was like having Akai with us!”

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After my friends passed, I moved up the route a little bit to the 6 Mile marker to continue cheering and wait to meet up with the guys. When they made their way to me, they took over the sign holding and joined in with the cheering. We stayed through the last runners, yelling “It’s just around the corner! Go, runners! You look great! Keep going!”

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And when we saw the last few people coming through on golf carts, we applauded them for their effort. It’s got to be so hard to get so close to the finish line and not finish, but just getting out there and trying is a feat that most people won’t achieve and wouldn’t dream of attempting.

Some tips for spectators at Disneyland races:

  • Have fun making signs! The bigger the letters and shorter the message, the better. Make it personal, but make it something everyone can recognize and enjoy. (Cute pets are universal.)
  • Some of the Downtown Disney coffee and snack places are open early on race days (e.g., Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express).
  • Pick your on-course spots carefully.
  • During the 5K, the best spot to watch is along the route on the Esplanade between California Adventure and Disneyland.
  • For the 10K, you can watch from both the short stretch along the Esplanade (closer to the left of the entry is best and most visible) and along the route in Downtown Disney. If you can only do one, pick Downtown Disney.
  • The Half Marathon has a number of places where you can see runners, but keep in mind that you may have a hard time reaching some of them due to road closures. The City of Anaheim website publishes detailed road closure information about a week before race weekends. The most popular spot seems to be the halfway point (in the current race route, that is in front of Ganahl Lumber on Ball Rd.). I can tell you from personal experience that gummies, licorice, and other favorite running fuels are a welcome treat at that point!
  • The 5K, 10K and Half Marathon all have bleachers available at the finish line. For the Half Marathon, this seating is reserved for ChEAR Squad Gold and Platinum packages.
  • If you can, stick around to cheer for runners who are finishing at the back of the pack. That encouragement means so much to people who are struggling to finish.
  • Show appreciation for the costumes! You never know when you will run into something like this marvel. She’s the Tiki Room. Best. Costume. Ever.

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Registration for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Opens Tomorrow!

Are you ready to run off to the second star to the right and straight on til morning?  For the fourth year, runners will don their wings and soar through the Disneyland Resort over Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, but in 2015 the events will take place May 7th – 10th instead of in January, and will include Kids Races, the Never Land 5k, Tinker Bell 10K, Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the all new Pixie Dust Challenge!

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Registration for all of the races opens tomorrow at noon EDT and if you want to run you better not only have speedy legs, but fast fingers as well!  This race weekend has notoriously sold out quickly, but now with the addition of the Pixie Dust Challenge it will go even faster!

Here is all of the information you need to know about Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend so you can be prepared to register tomorrow.  First let’s start with pricing:

Tinker Bell Half Marathon
Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $195 by September 2, 2014
  • $210 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $225 on or after September 24, 2014

Pixie Dust Challenge
Saturday & Sunday, May 9 -10, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $320 by September 2, 2014
  • $345 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $370 on or after September 24, 2014

Tinker Bell 10K
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $105 by September 2, 2014
  • $120 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $135 on or after September 24, 2014

Never Land 5K
Friday, May 8, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • $70 per participant by February 27, 2015
  • $80 per participant on or after February 28, 2015

runDisney Kids Races
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 9:00 am

  • $20 per participant by February 27, 2015
  • $25 per participant on or after February 28, 2015

Similar to the Princess Half Marathon, runners can register as a team if you are going with a bunch of friends.  Runners must register individually for the race and then sign up as a team.  In prior years, teams were limited to two people, but this year you can have as many as you would like for an additional $10 per runner.  Team members will receive a commemorative Team Bib with your team name on it, a commemorative team item, and a team photo at packet pick-up.  Also, instead of being limited to just the half marathon, teams can run in any of the races.

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The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo will open at 12:00 pm on Thursday, May 7th in the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall and remain open through the 9th.  You must visit the Expo to pick up your race packet and it’s the only place you can get official race merchandise.

If you’re looking for some added Disney fun before the race, the Pasta Party is a great way to get those carbs in.  This family oriented event includes a buffet pasta dinner and various character interactions with photo ops.  The party will take place at Stage 17 located inside Disney California Adventure and requires a park ticket to attend.

Pasta in the Park Party
Friday, May 8, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

With a Theme Park Ticket

  • $135 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $115 for children (ages 3-9)

Without a Theme Park Ticket

  • $89 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $69 for children (ages 3-9)

For all of you amazing spectators out there, there are various ChEAR Squad packages available for you to support your runners!  These packages are only available for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.  You can view the details of the various packages here and pricing is as follows:

ChEAR Squad

  • Bronze Package –  No Charge
  • Silver Package – $45
  • Gold Package – $69
  • Platinum Package – $99

And don’t forget, if you are participating in any of the Walt Disney World races in 2014 you will be eligible for the coveted Coast-to-Coast Medal!  But only if you are running both the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Princess Half Marathon will you get the all new pink Coast-to-Coast!

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Make sure to visit the runDisney event page for more information on all of the events taking place that weekend including details on the travel packages, transportation information, park tickets and more.

Pre-sales for the Pixie Dust Challenge sold out in 15 minutes this past week, so I’m sure the event itself will sell out very quickly.  If you are interested in participating, I would register as close to noon as possible tomorrow!

If you are looking for information on the past years of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, here are some great posts from RAD Readers who have participated:

What race(s) are you planning on flying through over Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend?  Good luck registering!!

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Registration for the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Opens Tomorrow!

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Get your tiaras and tutus ready because registration for the 2015 Disney’s Princess Half Marathon opens tomorrow at noon!  This magical race weekend will be taking place February 19 – 22, 2015 and will include the Princess 5K, Enchanted 10K, Princess Half Marathon and the Glass Slipper Challenge.

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Over 25,000 runners will once again be taking the streets of Walt Disney World to to earn the sparkliest bling in the land.  News out of the ESPN at Disney media event going on right now is that the Princess 5K and Kids races will have a Frozen theme…how fun!

As will all runDisney races events, we see another price increase for this year of 6-10% depending on the race.  Here’s the pricing:

Disney Princess Half Marathon
Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $170 by September 1, 2014
  • $185 between September 2 and October 21, 2014
  • $200 on or after October 22, 2014

Disney Enchanted 10K 
Saturday, February 21, 2014 at 5:30 am

  • $105 by September 1, 2014
  • $120 between September 2 and October 21, 2014
  • $135 on or after October 22, 2014

Glass Slipper Challenge 
Saturday & Sunday, February 21-22, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $295 by September 1, 2014
  • $320 between September 2 and October 21, 2014
  • $345 on or after October 22, 2014

Disney Princess 5K 
Friday, February 2o, 2015 at 6:15 am

  • $60 per participant by November 25, 2014
  • $70 per participant on or after November 26, 2014

runDisneyKids Races – Dashes
Friday & Saturday, February 20-21, 2015 at 8:45 am

  • $15 per participant by November 25, 2014
  • $20 per participant on or after November 26, 2014

runDisneyKids Races – 1-Mile Run
Friday & Saturday, February 20-21, 2015 at 9:15 am

  • $30 per participant by November 25, 2014
  • $35 per participant on or after November 26, 2014

Running one of the Princess Half Marathon Weekend races with a bunch of girlfriends??  If so, you can register as many people as you want as a team!  In prior years, teams were limited to two people, but this year you can have as many as you would like for an additional $10 per runner.  Team members will receive a commemorative Team Bib with your team name on it, a commemorative team item (no idea what that is, but last year it was a sash), and a team photo at packet pick-up.  Not sure it’s worth the up-charge, but if the mystery “item”turns out to be super cool it might be.

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Team RAD Represent!

As with all runDisney events, participants must stop by the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo to pick up their race bib, t-shirt and shop ’til you drop!  The expo runs from February 19 – 21 and will be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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If you’re looking for the ultimate VIP experience over Princess Weekend, then the Race Retreat may be for you!  For an extra $120 (yowza!!), you will have access to various pre and post-race amenities, such as a temperature controlled tent, snacks, private bathrooms (might be worth the $120 for this!), changing tents, character meet & greets a commemorative item and more.

There are also various dining events over the weekend that you can attend.  The first event is immediately following the 5K on February 21st with an all new Breakfast.  Here you can enjoy a breakfast buffet with items such as quiche, breakfast burritos, french toast and more, as well as special character meet and greets and photo ops.

Returning for 2 nights this year (February 21st & 22nd) is the Pasta in the Park Party.  This family oriented event takes place in the World Showplace Pavilion inside Epcot and includes a buffet dinner of pasta (duh!), character meet and greets, and a reserved viewing area for Illuminations.  Pricing for both of these events is as follows:

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Breakfast
Friday & Saturday, February 20-21, 2015 from 7:00 – 9:00 am

  • $39 for Adults (10 and up)
  • $26 for Children (ages 3 – 9)

Pasta in the Park Party
Friday & Saturday, February 20-21, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm, Illuminations at 9:00 pm

  • $54 for Adults (10 and up)
  • $30 for Children (ages 3 – 9)
  • Children under 3 are free

And let’s not forget the most important part of any race, the spectators!  There are 4 different ChEAR Squad package levels available and range from a newsletter at no cost to the platinum package that includes entry into the race retreat.  Take note that the Gold & Platinum pages are available for the ONLY the Half Marathon.  You can get all the details of the packages here and the pricing is as follows:

ChEAR Squad

  • Bronze – No Charge per package
  • Silver – $39 per package
  • Gold – $65 per package
  • Platinum – $120 per package

Make sure to visit the runDisney event page for more information on all of the events taking place that weekend including details on the travel packages, transportation information, park tickets and more.

Pre-sales for the Glass Slipper Challenge sold out in under 2 hours this past week, so I’m sure the event itself will sell out very quickly.  If you are interested in participating, I would register as close to noon as possible tomorrow!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I LOVE Princess Half Marathon Weekend and I already registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge last week during the AP & DVC pre-sale.  2015 will be my 4th year participating in this race weekend and I’m excited to be doing it again with my good friend Amanda.  It’s a very special tradition for us 🙂

Each year has been a different experience for me and has had it’s own set of challenges.  You can read all of the details here:

2014

2013

2012: My FIRST Half Marathon!

Will YOU be a Disney Princess in 2015?!?  Hope to see you there 🙂

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A Celebration for the Final Finishers

A common fear that many runners have is not finishing a race.  We are always worried about staying on pace and occasionally look over our shoulders for the dreaded “Balloon Ladies” and sweeper vans.  What you may not know is that finishing last in a runDisney race is often as big of a celebration (if not bigger!) as it is for the winners!

Since race spectators mean so much to me, I often like to stay after I complete a race and cheer on the runners that are still coming in.  Well that’s if there is enough time left after I finish!  After the 2014 Princess Half Marathon, I made a point to spend some time cheering the runners on and I really wanted to see the last few come in.  I’ve heard they do something special and I wanted to see if for myself.

It was SO inspiring to see these final runners coming in.  You could see that many of them were struggling, but pushing through the pain.  Many had tears in their eyes and huge smiles on their faces as they saw the finish line in the distance.  And of course, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy were there in their regal attire to give them that last little push!

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I just LOVE how Mickey is bowing to the Princesses coming by!  The woman below had hurt her knee and was wearing a brace, but man was she determined to finish.

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Then came the final finishers.  I overheard that the woman in the center had recently lost her 2 children in a fire and she was completing this race for them.  She was arm in arm with her 2 friends and you could just see the mix of emotions on their faces…joy and sorrow.  It was incredibly emotional.  The characters ran to meet them and they all walked to the finish line together.

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The strength she showed was simply amazing and bravo to runDisney for highlighting that.  A half marathon is a TOUGH journey and no matter how long it takes you to complete one, it should be celebrated.  Those final runners show incredible perseverance and deserve that medal as much as the first place finisher.

Have you ever seen the final finishers at a runDisney race?  What have you overcome to finish a race? 

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