Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Art of Spectating

How do you “prepare” to be a spectator?  You could just show up, that’s fun, too.  But, I like to be ready. 

This year at WDW Marathon Weekend, I’m concentrating on “spectating”.   It will be a short trip, arriving on Friday and leaving Monday.  I will be there for the half and the full and I will get to see my Dopey runner get her “pièce de résistance”.   (Of course, I’ll add a lot of fun stuff between the races.  After all, I’m at Disney World!!)
This year, I only joined the ChEAR Squad for the marathon, not the half.  The ChEAR Squad package can be picked up starting Wednesday.  My kids have the signed waivers ready to get it for me and I'll be able use the fun stuff for the half, as well as the full.  I also stay at the host hotels, because I cannot imagine trying to drive into WDW the morning of the race.
So, what do I do to plan?  If you want to be at the start line and see your runner take off, you must rise early.   Yes, you must be on those early morning buses that the runners use.   Make sure you check the times these buses start and stop because they do stop running to keep the roads clear.  Besides rising early, just like the runners, make sure you have a quick snack for breakfast because there are no restaurants or stores open that early.  I’ll probably pick up something light for breakfast at the hotel the night before.

Last year's swag
I like to be a member of the ChEAR Squad, so I get to bring the waterproof blanket with me.  It has a handy strap, which makes it easy to carry.   It could be cold at 5am, and if you feel like sitting in your spot while you’re waiting, it protects you from the morning dew on the grass. I will also have the clappers to be sure to make a lot of noise as the runners, especially mine, go through their journey.
Wear comfortable shoes.   If you plan on visiting multiple spots to view, you will be doing a lot of walking.  (But, who doesn’t do a lot of walking at Disney, and therefore, must wear comfortable shoes?)

Bring water.  That strong sun warms up fast and if it’s anything like last year, you’ll need it (forecasts are looking warm!).  On marathon day, I’ll be in the ChEAR Squad section, and they supply cold drinks!
Bring your camera/phone.   You will want to take some great pictures.
Track your runner.    Sign up to track your runner here.  Know their anticipated pace.  Why is this important?  With all the moving around you may be doing, you need to anticipate when your runner will be at specific spots.

Review the course map (links to Course Maps can be found below) and transportation in advance.   Choose which locations are going to be your viewing spots.   My first spot is the castle (mile 5.3), so after the start, I head towards the monorail.   The Magic Kingdom opens at 5:30 am to allow spectators to enter.   You do not need a ticket to get in.   (However, if you want to view the runners in any of the other parks, you will need admission to the park.)  You can also find points on the roads near the Transportation Center.  If you make arrangements with your runner in advance, and they stop for the picture in front of the castle, you can get some amazing shots of them with the castle in the background.  Then, I head back to Epcot to catch the transportation to ESPN stadium (between miles 19 and 20).  You can also find spots near the other parks, hotels, etc.   It’s all about reviewing the maps and transportation.  For the finale, I will be at the finish line when my runner crosses.
Signs done!
This year, I’m bringing signs.   It will help your runner find you in the crowds and, as I saw in the 5ks, some were fun to read as you pass.  You can make signs at the Expo, but since I’m arriving so late, I’m bringing some with me.
Bring your strong voice!  Runners appreciate the cheering they hear, even from strangers, especially towards the end of their long runs.  

Finally, have fun.  Disney helps you get caught up in the spirit of the day, even if you’re not running.   Talk to fellow spectators.   You’ll meet a lot of nice people who are doing exactly what you are doing ---cheering on your runners.   Enjoy!

WDW 5K and 10K

WDW Half Marathon

WDW Marathon

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