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MousePlanet Mailbag for September 29. 2005

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.

Feedback for Lani Teshima

Lani Teshima replies to some letters she's received in response to her series on the Disney Endurance events (link), including the Walt Disney World Half and Full Marathons:

Mary Caughman writes:

When does your next segment appear on MousePlanet?

I'm so curious as to the topics you had said would show upƒ what to expect when we get to WDW, making smart resort choices, volunteering, etc. Where can I find that information? I'm registered and desperate!

Hi Mary – In general, they are scheduled to run once a month on the second Friday.

As a year-long series, I have been trying to time the publication of the monthly articles to somewhat approximate the timeframe in which people would start considering the various topics. That means that the information about making smart resort choices will be coming up soon, but not quite. Since January is traditionally not a busy time of year for the resorts, waiting to make reservations in the September/October timeframe has been fine in the past for the marathon.

Regarding volunteering, we just ran the article back in August (link).

If you don't visit MousePlanet everyday, just set your pointer to the main page for our Marathon series (link), and you will see the full list of articles there.


Paul Downing writes:

Hi Lani, I'm coming over from England to run the WDW Marathon and wondered if it's covered on TV and whether or not that coverage can be viewed over here.

Would you happen to know?

Hi Paul – I am pretty sure that Disney itself probably films some portions of the event for its own publicity and internal Cast TV purposes, and the local news media outlets usually cover the event in the evening news, but so far as I know, no TV network covers the event in its entirety as is done with events such as the Boston or New York City marathons.

How exciting that you are traveling all the way from the UK! One thing you can do if you have any relatives or friends coming with you, is to outfit them with a camcorder and have them try to capture as much of the weekend's events as possible.


Janiene Pape writes:

I am not much into the pasta parties but my sister is and we are both running the 1/2 Marathon January 7th.

I can not find any information anywhere on where pasta will be offered. Don't see any references to pasta parties accept private ones for teams or groups.

I have been to Disney many times but typically the pasta offerings are not huge at the restraunts.

Are you aware of any public pasta parties or restraunts you would recommend? How about Palio's?

Hi Janiene – Disney has not provided pasta party information in advance now for a few years, and unlike many other marathon events that allow you to just add tickets to a pasta party on your entry form, you usually have to wait until well into the fall before Disney makes any sort of announcement.

The last time I tried to attempt to do their pasta party was for the 2004 marathon, where the party was held at the cafe at Wide World of Sports. I was told there were plans for many outdoor tables, but poor weather meant everything was served in a very small room; not at all the type of festive revival tent atmosphere of many marathon pasta parties.

This makes it somewhat inconvenient for people who are coming in from out of town, but in general with most pasta parties, you can assume it is usually held on the days leading to the event. With the half-marathon being held on Saturday instead of Sunday, you can assume the pasta party will be held no later than Friday night. But that's just my guess.

When the pasta party is finally announced, I believe you will need to make reservations through Disney Travel. Just keep your eyes peeled for your marathon e-mail newsletter from Disney Sports for information when it becomes available.


Jason Smith writes:

I dropped the ball and failed to register in time for the marathon. There are several excuses but my question now is how can I get a number and enter the race? Do you know of a forum in which people that won't be able to run might sell their number? Thanks for the help.

Hi Jason – Sorry to hear that you missed out on registering in time. My suggestion is that you consider contacting one of the many charitable organizations that accept people into a program to participate in the WDW Marathon as a fundraiser. The marathon Web site (link) has 11 official organizations listed, and I can tell you they have a very strong presence at the marathon. Choose the organization with a mission you feel most strongly about, or contact all of them to see what their requirements are. Just click on their marathon information page, then click the link in their introductory paragraph about charitable organizations.

Be warned, you will need to add a different layer of dedication; not only do you have to train for the marathon, but you will also need to raise funds for the charity. The amount people raise is not small; I believe each individual is expected to raise several thousand dollars. But people do it all the time, and since it's for a good cause I think it's a fantastic thing to do.

As far as I know, Disney does not have waitlists for their event, but you can always click on their "Contact Us" link at the bottom of their Web page and fill out your form, explaining your situation. Although rare, they have opened registration up to more people in past years, so it's also worth checking.

As for using another person's race entry, Disney officially says the numbers are non-transferable, so there is no authorized way for someone to give (or sell) their number to you. I have seen race numbers listed on eBay, but I think everyone needs to know that one of the requirements for picking up the race packet with the race number is to show a picture ID. That means if someone just mailed you the confirmation postcard and told you could pick up the packet, you risk running into some problems.

That said, I have personally seen it done successfully, although it is a very unique circumstance and one that I think will not work for most people. A person I know was registered for the WDW Marathon and had already purchased airline tickets and booked a hotel room, and was going to WDW to both run the marathon and have a regular WDW vacation. The person experienced a running-related injury (as sometimes happens) and was ordered by the physician not to do the marathon. Since this person had already made all the travel and vacation arrangements and was not going to cancel the trip, the person posted an auction for the running number on eBay, explaining explicitly in the auction, that that person would be present at the Fitness Expo to personally pick up the race packet, and that the race bib would be given to the successful bidder in person.

The person also was not doing it to make money, so posted both the regular bid and buyout prices for the price of the original registration, just to recoup losses. Someone successfully bid on the auction, and the transfer was made at the Fitness Expo itself.

If that doesn't work for you, have some cheer – Disneyland just announced this week that there will be a brand new Disneyland Half-Marathon a year from now, in September. It will be an inaugural event, and extra early bird registration will supposedly be available next month in October. Keep your eyes peeled to our Monday Disneyland Park Update columns and we will make sure to announce when we know anything more.

If you are absolutely stuck on doing the WDW version, there's always 2007!


It appears that signing up for a fundraiser is not the only way to get a number. Tom Buchta writes:

I am registering through MarathonTours.com as they still have entries into the marathon. I had to pick my arrival date/time to submit their form. I will soon be allowed to officially register. One thing I didn't consider was packet pickup. I already purchased my flight. I'm scheduled to arrive in Orlando Saturday at 6:50 PM. Do you know how late packet pickup is open? I will be staying on the Disney grounds (All-Star Sports)ƒ can I have them deliver it to my hotel? Also, what time do you recommend I get on the bus for the marathon Sunday morningƒ is 5 AM too late?

Thanks and I appreciate your Web site.

Hi Tom – Although they do not officially advertise the information, you can indeed pick up your packet on the morning of the event. They just don't publish this because as you can imagine, if thousands of people procrastinated to do so on the morning of the event, they would easily become overwhelmed.

This past January, a person I know was flying in late on Saturday and was in a similar situation. He was able to pick up his number on Sunday morning.

My recommendation is to make arrangements in advance with the marathon organizers so you can be sure of when and where you need to pick up your packet.

Thanks for your information about marathontour.com.

[Lani adds an additional note for Tom that she forgot to add in the original reply: The event starts at 6:00 a.m. but they ask that you get to the area by 4:00 a.m. or so. A 5:00 a.m. may not exclude you from getting there in time, but it is cutting it too close for comfort. A strong recommendation is to plan on leaving your hotel room no later than 4:30 at the very latest.]


Patricia Sheahan writes:

I've been wondering about water/Powerade, nutrient stops along the half-marathon. Do you know where they will be located (mile markers, etc.)? I don't want to have to carry water with me!

Hi Patricia – According to the official WDW Half-Marathon Course Map provided at Disney's Web site, there are a total of nine water stops for the course. That's quite a lot, and some of them are actually the same stop area on the out-and-back portion of the course.

In my experience of three WDW marathon/half-marathon events, Disney is one of the best when it comes to keeping those water stops staffed. They have yet to run out of water or Powerade. If you are doing the half-marathon, more than likely you will be fine without having to carry your own. Even at a slower pace, you will be done by the time it gets real hot.

The map notes that the food station is at mile 10. That's about right. I don't know what they will serve; I think they serve cut up fruit, whereas on the full marathon course, they add some energy gel packs—but only at mile 19 or 20, if I recall. For a half-marathon, you should be fine with just the water and Powerade. They will serve you snackable munchies (like muffins or cookies, some fruit, bottled water and Powerade) after you cross the finish line so you can re-energize.

I'm so happy to hear that you've signed up for this event. Happy training!

Patricia replied back with some more observations:

Thanks for your speedy reply. I'm like Pooh—I like to know where my food is going to be. I have never done a half-marathon before and didn't know if that was too long to wait for nourishment or whether I should carry an energy bar with me. (I truly expect to make it at least that far!) Of course, concerned about the 16-minute-mile pace—we just did a 5K and our pace was around 15.5—but I felt like we were really walking as fast as our 50+ year old legs could take us! I suspect I may have to break out the jog occasionally, but my husband (who is walking with me as well as a group of friends ranging in age from late 30s into the 60s!) says he ain't running. I don't expect him to stay with me throughout the race, though—he can walk faster than I can anyway.

Again, thanks so much for your speedy reply. If figure if we walk this one, it may be a once in a lifetime thing and then we can volunteer in the future!


Volunteers make the Walt Disney World Marathon run! In response to Lani's article on volunteering (link), Teresa Hernandez writes:

Hi Lani, I am a recent Bay Area transplant to San Diego. My boyfriend and I are going to Orlando in January for the WDW marathon. This is his 20th marathon. This is probably my 8th marathon as his cheerleader. We have never been to WDW and are very excited. I wanted to ask you, I am thinking of volunteering after reading your article. Do you know how many hours that would entail? Is it an all-day thing? I have never volunteered before at a running event. Any advice/tips you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Teresa – Disney is very good in providing information for potential volunteers. When you go to their online registration page, you will see that they list not only the various aid stations and duties you can sign up for, but they also list the actual shift times as well. It appears that most shifts are at least a few hours long, and some as long as a full 8-hour shift. Keep in mind also that the start times for these shifts differ greatly depending on what you sign up for. If your boyfriend is running in the full marathon, you will want to take into consideration whether you want to volunteer while he is running, or volunteer on Saturday for the half-marathon instead so that you can try to greet him near the finish line on Sunday.

Thanks for taking the time to write, and I hope you volunteer. It's a very rewarding experience!


Kate DeVaughn writes:

I have several friends who will be running in the full marathon and I would like to volunteer. I downloaded the application. Does a volunteer have to pay park admission on Sunday to get in and do the volunteer job? Thanks for your help.

Hi Kate – I'm glad to hear you are considering volunteering for the marathon. Volunteers are an important part of an event like this, and I hope you have a good experience.

Regarding park admission, my understanding is that you do not need to pay for park admission if you are officially stationed in a location that is within a park. HOWEVER, that is not 100% guaranteed, as they do reserve the right to place volunteers where there is the most need. So it is possible that even if you initially sign up to be at an aid station inside a park, you may still get moved to another location.

I also don't know what happens when you are done with your shift. I suspect they will want to round up all the volunteers and transport everyone to a different location outside of the park, so if you want to be back in the park as a visitor, it is unlikely you will be able to do so when your shift is over. That is, you probably can't just remove your volunteer jacket and then start visiting the park.

When you do volunteer, however, you do earn yourself a free one-day park pass. So if you decide to use that to visit a park on Sunday, it will be free for you. Keep in mind it is not a park-hopper, but the pass should be good for a year so you don't have to use it during that same trip.


Regarding spectators, Jeanne Wilson writes:

Loved your site—good beginning info! My running friend and I are registered for the half-marathon on January 7, 2006. I have a few questions about race day—trying to decide whether or not to bring entire family (2 children + husband for a 12-hour-car tripƒ each wayƒ) or fly down myself.

1) How spectator-friendly is the course? Will family actually be able to see us at any point, can they move locations, etc.?

2) Is there an admission fee just for spectators on race day—do we have to buy park tickets/admission even if we won't be visiting the park the rest of the day?

Any info you can provide will help us make the best decision possible. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

Hi Jeanne – I am constantly amazed at the great questions people write in, because they all sort of point towards an upcoming article topic. Kind of like the smart kids in class who always ask the leading questions! I am hoping to cover spectator and other last-minute planning info in the November or December article.

The WDW events are not like the New York City Marathon in that spectators cannot line every street corner. Spectators are restricted to certain areas, and can only cheer from those designated spots. Those spots, however, are well identified, and spectators can shuttle back and forth around different spots. You will need to have a general idea of when you will pass specific spectator areas, so you can coordinate with your family members as they shuttle from one area t the next.

There is no admission fee for spectators to cheer on the runners, but they are not allowed to stay in the park after the marathon is over. But no, you don't have to worry about paying for park admission just to watch someone run.


Finally, Charles Evers asks about future marathon dates:

Do you know the dates for future Walt Disney World marathons? I can't make the 2006 race, but would like to make plans for 2007 or 2008.

Hi Charles – Assuming everything stays the same for the Walt Disney World Marathon and its surrounding events, they are usually held in the first weekend of January after a full or near-full week. I'm sure they want to avoid it overlapping with Martin Luther King Day, so here are my predictions:

  • 2007: Weekend of January 6-7
  • 2008: Weekend of January 12-13

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