~ A special thanks to runner/writer Amy Swindler Edwards for this post!
“We’re all a little mad here.” The Mad Hatter’s words ring true as I reflect upon the Wonderland known as runDisney. As we all know, Disney runners possess a secret super power known as the ability to function with little to no sleep. The same can be said for runDisney volunteers.
When I first started running Disney in 2011, I didn’t know how far down the financial rabbit hole I would travel. However, this is a topic for another discussion. This summer I decided to give back to this wonderful organization by volunteering for the Disneyland Half Marathon. To be completely honest, the free Park Hopper ticket incentive motivated me to get my tired self out of bed before the sun. I should also mention here that I ran or rather ran/walked the 5K and 10K the previous two days. My magical superpower kicked in when that alarm went off at 2 am. Yes, I was exhausted but somehow the word Disney sparks interest that makes us all achieve more than we thought capable. Although Disneyland is close, that 3 am call time was difficult.
With my snack box in hand, I set out to hopefully sleep another few minutes in my car. Nope, it didn’t happen. After waiting around for awhile, my group went to the finish line for water duty. I really needed some serious Disney magic at this point because I was trying very hard not to fall asleep. After waiting around for what seemed like hours, the first runner crossed the finish line. I have to admit it was pretty cool seeing these elite athletes achieving a feat I could only dream of. Once the runners starting coming in, my magical no sleep superpower kicked in. I made a lot of new BFFs that day since it was hot!
runDisney was trying out a new system but failed to mention it. A lot of volunteers were disappointed that their Park Hopper ticket would not be given that day. However, runDisney honored their emails and provided passes to those volunteers who came and picked them up the following day. My E ticket did arrive the following day.
Apparently, I am a mega superhero because I volunteered again for Avengers Half Marathon Weekend. Being the Disney freak that I am, I couldn’t pass up another free Park Hopper pass. However, there was no way that I would be waking up earlier than a runDisney race so I volunteered for expo duty.
Expo duty is the way to go for race volunteering. First, you get to sleep in (sort of). Second, they feed you (and not just a snack box either). Expo prep is a closely guarded secret. runDisney pretty much puts the fear of the Red Queen into you. They won’t chop off your head but you will be asked to leave if anything gets leaked. I have to admit that I enjoyed expo duty much more than race day duty. My first shift consisted of stuffing bags with safety pins and Cliff bars. It did get tedious but our team worked quickly and efficiently. My second shift consisted of prepping race shirts during the expo. At this point, I was starting to resemble one of the dwarfs. You may know him as Sleepy. The volunteer leads must have noticed and took pity upon me because I got a behind the scenes assignment. I should also mention that I ran/walked the Captain America 10K and would be hopefully completing the half marathon the next morning.
runDisney really hooks you up if you work an expo shift. There was a full-on feast of sandwich foods and salads. No grey stuff but the orange stuff was delicious. I was experiencing the Alice syndrome of “eat and drink this.” We all know that runners are supposed to be careful and eat right before a run. Well, I wasn’t going to pass this up. The following morning, I beat the balloon ladies and earned my inaugural Infinity Gauntlet medal despite gorging myself on the delicacies.
Please be kind to the volunteers and thank them. They really do work and do a lot of behind the scenes prep that may go unnoticed.