The 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend certainly lived up to all expectations. The entire resort seemed to be overtaken by runners…I have never seen so many in one place!! To kick off the weekend, runDisney hosted one of their infamous meetups that I was lucky enough to be invited to.
I met up with Jenn from Eat, Sleep, Run Disney bright and early and we walked over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the 6:30 am check-in. This was the largest meetup runDisney to date with over 100 people in attendance. It was great to see so many fellow runDisney fans, catch up with old friends and meet new ones! We were all given white runDisney t-shirts upon arrival, which was a nice change from the usual black shirts. Unfortunately, there were cotton and not tech shirts, which weren’t the best for that super humid morning. But beggars can’t be choosers, I am happy with any runDisney shirt 🙂
Mickey, Donald & Goofy were all there in their awesome track suits and as good Disney fans do, we all lined up to get our pictures taken. I absolutely LOVE the Studios and it was great to get this photo op on an empty Hollywood Boulevard.
We were greeted by Tony, Bob & Darrell from Disney Sports and given instructions on how the 2.5 mile run portion of the meetup was going to go. There were 2 groups, one for strict runners and one for run/walk. The runners were going to keep a 9-10 minute mile pace and Bob was leading the pack. However, I heard it was more of an 8 minute mile! The run/walkers were led by Jeff Galloway and they were doing 30 second intervals.
I had unfortunately been battling a nasty cold in the days leading up to the meet. In fact, I had a fever of 100.2 just the day before! In order to save myself for the marathon a few days later, I opted to not run that morning. I was bummed to not get the experience of running through the Studios and meeting the characters, but my health had to come first. Good news is I got some fun pics of the Galloway group starting off!
Look at some of the characters they encountered along the way!
The second half of the meet was held at Lights, Motors, Action! I walked over there with the rest of the runDisney staff and waited for the runners to arrive. It was a pretty cool entrance.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill truck was there to provide breakfast sandwiches for everyone. They looked delicious, but sadly I couldn’t have one because they all had eggs. Egg allergy fail! 🙁
We were once again welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Tammy Jacobson of runDisney, but they were quickly interrupted by none other than Joey Fatone! He made a grand entrance and came cruising in on the “director’s truck” from the show. Joey was gearing up to run the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge in place of his wife who recently sustained an injury. He answered many questions from the group and admitted to barely training and being very nervous about the weekend ahead. He also said that N’Sync won’t be getting back together, which was a serious bummer 🙁
Earlier in the week, runDisney announced a new partnership with New Balance making them their official running shoe. Members of the New Balance team were on hand to give us an overview on what to look for in a proper running shoes and the different varieties they have to offer. They also talked about what went into designing the new runDisney shoes that were available for a brief time at the Expo.
Since this was the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, it was expected that there would be a few elite runners on hand. The expo had some amazing speakers lined up for that afternoon and I was excited to see many of them at the meet up. They offered some great tips for distance running and answered questions from the audience. Bart Yasso admitted that his favorite race costume was when he dressed up like a penguin for the Marathon du Medoc in France where there are 23 wine stops along the way. Now that’s my kind of marathon!
Next up was former NFL linebacker Eddie Mason. He spoke about the importance of focusing on core strength to bring more balance to the body and how Cigna is leading this charge. Core strength is something many runners overlook, but can be just as important as getting those long runs in. He also talked about how you need to listen to your body and rest if needed. You need to let your body heal in order to get stronger. Great tips!
Our final speaker was Drew Carey who was supposed to run in the full marathon, but is recovering from a broken clavicle…ouch! He told stories about his experience at the Disneyland Half Marathon, what really goes on at the Price is Right (spending WAY too much time on this topic!) and also admitted to hating Sounds Dangerous, the show he stars in at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They really need to get rid of that already!
Bob introduced one last special guest before the morning ended, Adriano Bastos. Bastos is a seven time winner of the Walt Disney World Marathon and was going for his 8th win this year. He adorned with numerous Disney tattoos and gets a new Mickey on his forearm for each race he has won. Very cool!
Before we left for the day, the Fab 5 came back out and we were able to get more photos. I just love their running outfits! All of the elite runners and celebrities were also on hand for photos. Joey Fatone obviously had the longest line 🙂
runDisney always puts on great events and this certainly did not disappoint. What a great way to kick off marathon weekend and get everyone excited for the big races ahead!
Who would you have been most excited to meet at the runDisney meet up?
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media. My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.