This year, my Princess experience was a bit different for me. I've run in several Run Disney events, including the Inaugural Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles) last month. But this time, I was a volunteer during the Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon.
People may call me crazy for that 2am wake-up call and I didn't even get a
medal, but what I got was truly magical. Feeling the excitement as I drove up to EPCOT at 2:45am Saturday morning, I saw all the buses lined up to head out and start picking up runners. As I watched the buses head out, I felt the pre-race jitters. Plus, I got to hear the microphone checks from that famed overpass near EPCOT and the DJ's warming up near the start. I began by helping the "Banana Group" set up for at the Finish area. My bananas were all lined up facing the same direction and stacked nicely. On Saturday, we were 100 Volunteers shy of what they wanted even though they accepted extra people knowing there will always be some no-shows. We all worked extra-hard to make sure that everything was taken care of to the best of our ability.
After setting up bananas, my true task for the day was to put wristbands on the Glass Slipper Challenge participants. They would need to wear these wristbands through the next day in order to show that they completed the 10K and get the extra medal after completing Sunday's race. I met so many wonderful volunteers and new friends. I truly want to volunteer more often when I am not running. As Disney fans, we make the most magical experience out of what we have, so I was excited to see the fireworks start for every corral and celebrate every victory when runners finish. I got to see the race winners, wheelchair athletes...and was so thrilled to have been a part of this. Sunday, we were to park at Blizzard Beach tocheck in and take a bus to EPCOT. Depending on what your job is and where you are stationed, you took the bus numbers in your credentials and the instructions. I was to take any bus # 1-9 and meet under the "Simba Sign." We also had to "check out" and take the Volunteer Bus back to Blizzard Beach when our job was complete. FYI: You do need your own transportation to be a Volunteer, as
buses do not start as early as our Check-In times. I also did not request late check-out, so I packed up my car at 2:45am to head out when my shift was complete.
By being a volunteer during the Princess Half Marathon, I had the best Team Lead ever in Kem Sprawls! From now on, I will look at race finishes in a different light. I have never noticed straight rows & labels facing out...this is truly "The Disney Way" of perfection.
Kem had wonderful specific plans, got us all together to discuss each step and we had a great group even during the "fire-drill" fast paced parts of our jobs. My task on Sunday was to pass out Princess Mesh Bags to the Finishers. Volunteer opportunities don't "seem like" hard work...but you do have to get up early and do a job. In return, you get magical moments, inspiration, water, snacks, coffee (Sunday only) & I got a race box both Saturday and Sunday. I grabbed a banana and some water on Sunday when I needed it and Run Disney does take good care of everyone. I also got a really nice light jacket with the race logo on it. I got to keep both jackets (one from Saturday and one from Sunday with each race's logo on it.) I even earned a 1 Day Park Ticket for my weekend of service.
By Volunteering and asking for the fun facts, I learned:
- There were 3,000 Total Volunteers for the entire 4-day event
- 8,800 people ran the 5K
- 10,000 ran the 10K,
- 25,000 registered for the Princess Half Marathon
- 6,000 people registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge
- 6,000 registered for the Coast to Coast medal in this race weekend.
- 90% of the packets were picked up
- 21,000 people started the Princess Half Marathon
- 4 people were swept at mile one
When you volunteer for Run Disney events, you are a part of something magical. I was so thankful to have the opportunity to congratulate so many people that I know after they had just completed the race and being just a small part of this wonderful event.