I have always said I would not run the Disney Marathon. I still hold to that but it cannot be said it is not well run and fun for many. Richie came to town and we visited at the Orlando Ale House then went out to the Wide World of Sports to check out the expo. I took #2 son so he could see what a marathon expo looks like. He gave it thumbs up. As Richie put it so aptly, I ran into a lot of people I know and we all visited. I kept introducing Richie, by virtue of his A corral placement as "my friend from Dallas who will be running with the elites tomorrow." All were dutifully impressed :)
I didn't sleep well Saturday night and got up at 4 a.m. for breakfast. I read the paper until 5 a.m. then realized I'd be late for parking and the start. Oops. I sped on out to Disney and was detoured towards Magic Kingdom parking where I just happened to get in a queue with a line of employees all coming to work. That got me some close in parking and no fee!
I staked out a spot at the 9 mile mark at the Transportation Center and enjoyed the spectator side of a marathon for the first time. Did you know when you spectate at a marathon that you can leisurely talk to your neighbors? I enjoyed that.
The leader came by mile 9 in 45 minutes. He was way ahead of #2 but as hot and humid as it was I suspect he slowed down before he finished.
Richie wanted to stay with the 4-hour pace group. His text message alert at mile 5 said he was there right at 45 minutes. Sure enough, when he came by at 9 he was just a dozen yards behind the pace leader.
From there I strolled over to the other side of the employee parking lot and took up a position at the half marathon timing mat. A high school cross country coach from my town was there listening to all the chip beeps. I joined him to wait on Rich.
A few interesting characters came by. There were two Speedomen and one Superwoman to go along with several Minnie Mouses, pirates and Goofys. Oh my.
Rich came by and I snapped his picture. I hollered his name but he was in a zone. I jumped into the street and chased him down, coming up next to him and asking how he was. It took him a moment to snap to and realize it was me. He said it was hot. I agreed. He tore open a gel and kept up his 9:00/mile pace. I told him I'd see him at the finish and let him go.
I hopped the monorail back to EPCOT where the winner had just come in somewhere around 2:25 or so. I sat in the grandstands and took in all the finish line hoopla. The Disney folks don't set aside a lot of space for spectators at the finish. It seems to be all about the runners, which is fine.
As the 4:00 pace group came across the line I saw a guy I thought to be Ritchie come in at 4:01. Same dark colored shirt and shorts, I thought it was him. Must have been his twin brother since the guy never replied to my hollers.
16 minutes later Richie was in. We met up in the post-race area and sat down to debrief. The medal was huge with a XV hanging off the bottom to signify the anniversary of the race. Richie swore off any more marathons. Okay, who believes him? He better take up NYC if they call.
While sitting there I saw Seth, a local runner I see on many Sunday mornings. He was carrying a big old plaque for having competed in his 15th straight Disney Marathon. Pretty cool.
It's just noon but I am exhausted. It was a long race just as a spectator. Good job Richie!