This last weekend was the last of the runDisney Disneyland races for a while. It’s a difficult time, but probably most difficult for a group of people that have been volunteering and then working the events for several years. I’ve been able to be part of that group for a time. Here’s some reflections on my time as race support and why it was so special for me.
There is an inherent excitement surrounding the half marathon weekends. They are fun and full of running adrenaline. It doesn’t begin at the races, but at the check-in. When I would volunteer I got to see the smiles of people who had overcome challenges to get to a half marathon point. As they were excited, I got more excited and I would spread that to everyone around. Multiply that by the number of volunteers sitting around at the booths and it perpetuated some great feelings all around.
At finish lines I had opportunities to hand out medals and bananas to people who reached that goal they may have had for a while. They had bigger smiles than when they checked into the race. It helped us cheer for them at the top of our lungs as we’d see people cross that finish line. Even at water stops we always knew how big of a deal it was for runners to be doing these races, and we would have some of the adrenaline as well.
The Disney Magic
Disney is magical, and the races have that touch to them. As volunteers, we were part of that magic to provide special moments to runners. It was fun to interact with them and find out where they were coming from to run around the magic kingdom. It was magical for them and magical for us as volunteers. We felt like we were part of the Disney team in that way.
I have met so many people by volunteering at the races. There is a special bond that is formed from being part of these events. We swap stories, we catch up, we have a good time. And it doesn’t end with the races. Really volunteering at the races became reunions for us. The races are something special when they can bring people together to serve and it creates relationships that go beyond a few hours of handing out water.
Being support at the races taught me about how to help people. It also provided inspiration to run the races as well. It was a special thing for me to do. For some runners it was to give because of getting to race. In all, whether they knew it or not, it inspired people to do something more.
Again, it is not the end of the races, but there’s a change in the air. There will be that absence. It was pointed out to me that now I’ll actually have a full three day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. day in January. I haven’t had that for a few years. It’s not a relief, but a realization. Having a very eventful, volunteering weekend has been a part of my life for a while, and a very enjoyable one. I’m sure I’ll be feeling that absence in January and those former race times after that. And I’ll look forward to the next time I can be support at Disneyland again!