Sunday, February 3, 2013

WDW Marathon Meet Up '13 - Hollywood Studios

Toward the end of the meet up with my main Duck and Minnie herself!

The WDW Marathon weekend social media meet up was billed as the biggest and the best yet and boy was it ever! Just getting into this meet up was an effort like no other. To say that runDisney's social media lovers became stalkers is an understatement! Picture us all tracking 4 different media outlets watching on a minute by minute basis for 2.5 days and you begin to get an idea of what we were all like. By the time the RSVPs were emailed on Friday January 4th were were all exhausted and too many of us had not even been for a run in that time frame. That afternoon I seriously felt like I was freed from my computer and I headed out for a much needed run!

The dilemma for most of the meet up hopefuls was the scheduling of the event.  It was in direct conflict with the Family Fun Run 5k! I was one of those runDisney lovers who had been planning for a year to go "Dopey" at this years Marathon weekend (5k, half and full). I had my heart and wallet set on it in fact. But is was not to be, although I did consider sticking with the 5k for a brief second.  I asked myself if I was running the 5k how much would I miss the meet up - answer 90%...and the reverse...I would only miss the 5k 10% while I was at the meet up.  So I passed on the 5k this year!

The meet up was at Hollywood Studios this year.  We were asked to arrive at 6:30, but we made sure we were there a little earlier just to have even more time to socialize and get our social media going! They gave us all special 20th Marathon t-shirts to wear after we got signed in. Any extra gear was loaded onto a cart to head to destinations unknown (the event location). To our surprise the characters came out in their track suits to meet us and take pictures! I have never seen adults line up more quickly than they do at these events!

Big hugs for Goofy! My weekend was all about the Goofy Challenge! (runDisney Photo)

Near the ticket gates at Hollywood Studios showing off my runDisney 20 shirt!

Goofy and me posing for the cameras! (runDisney Photo)

Oh Mickey...

...the excitement is contagious!

Looking good Donald in your track jacket!
Of course there were plenty of other important folks at the meetup, so that I recognized immediately and some who I was less familiar with, but would get to meet and even run with that morning.

Check out all these familiar faces standing in a group!

Me and Mickey ready to race!

Tony Morreale with runDisney PR kicked off the program.

Of course Bob Hitchcock was close at hand and had a few thing to say as well.

Bart Yasso from Runner's World

You all know Jeff Galloway!
 I went over and asked Jeff a follow-up question from his Expo presentation the day before. I tried to say I would ask him a question during the formal portion of the meet up, but he wanted to chat right then and there! Nice guy all around and he loves to just talk! Well anyway so there we were just chatting about race fuel strategies and I turned around...and you know how I said lines form fast...well there were probably 20 people waiting to take a picture with him! When I went to ask him the question he was just standing there by himself!

More lovely ladies! Karla Bruning is in the silver skirt. 
After the opening comments were over and the characters had taken their leave of us it was time to run 2.5 mile! We divided ourselves into 2 groups: 9.5 minute milers and 12 minute mile run/walkers. I went with the first group and we were off and running. All of my shots are "action" shots! I know we were sub-9.5.

Professional shot - Love ya Pluto! (runDisney Photo)

Toward Tower of Terror.
Sisters Malinda Ann Hill and Leah Conner are on the left in their now signature yellow Alex's Lemonade attire. 

U-turn in front of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
Oh Minnie! Love the running dress! (runDisney Photo)

Just keep running...

Photo stop with Woody and Buzz in front of Toy Story Mania! (The fast half of the 9.5 group)
I am between Buzz and Woody with just the hem of my Minnie dress showing.

Photo stop with Woody and Buzz in front of Toy Story Mania! (The other half of the 9.5 group)

The first half of the 9.5 milers again...take 2! (runDisney Photo)

Costume design anyone?
We knew we had arrived when we made it to the Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show venue. They had our belongings there for us and well as drinks and sandwiches!

Breakfast has arrived! The ESPN food truck had hot breakfast sandwiches!
Ready to serve!
I went with the egg and cheese.
The wrapper came in handy because every time I wanted to stop eating and talk
I just wrapped it back up and put it in my bag.

An organizational meeting in action!
Check out those New Balance Mickey shoes on Bob Hitchcock!

The 12 minute run/walkers arriving!

My buddy Marcia Barton! Love the silver skirt!
Where did you get that? (top question of the weekend)

Desiree Davila Olympian and Distance Runner
Guess who I ran with, just her and me for the last mile or so from the Toy Story Meet Up until the Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show venue where the meet up presentation took place? Desiree Davila! We chatted about everyday was absolutely fabulous! Desiree ran for the USA at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and holds the fastest time for an American woman at the Boston Marathon which she set in 2011 2:22:38 !!!  When runDisney PR asked me what my favorite part of the meet up was I said it was running one on one with Desiree taking about our love of running.

New York and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers. 

Jeff Galloway (runDisney Photo)
runDisney Mom Lori from the Disney Moms Panel

Mary Jo, Lori, Me and Karla

Josh Rowe from New Balance marketing. Check out the Providence Friars cap!
It is the little connections in life that can make all the difference!

Tony Morreal  in operations mode

Just get me to the gospel choir!

Yep...we are going to run around that field.

Singer, dancer and actor, and now runner, Joey Fatone arrived on a stunt truck!

Bob and Joey

Joey and Bob

Josh Rowe telling us all about New Balance and the partnership with RunDisney.
The New Balance runDisney shoes...the ladies version...inspired by Minnie Mouse of course!
860v3 runDisney edition
All of us sitting in the stands listening to Olympians tell us about themselves and running.  (runDisney Photo)

Jeff GallowayBill RodgersJoan Beniot SamuelsonDick Beardsley, Bart Yasso & Desiree Davila
athlete/television host Dick Beardsley

Runner’s World columnist Bart Yasso

Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson

Drew Carey
He did not run this year due to injury, but I did see him at the start line of the half!

More character time!

Adriano Bastos

Character sign language

She loved my costume!
Karla, Pluto and Minnie (I mean me)!

Dance party time!

Thanking my dance partner! One of my favorite photos of the whole trip!

There is always time to thank the chefs! These two were on their way to work.

Jen, me and Marcia after the event.

Goodbye for now!
So was this the biggest and the best runDisney social media meet up? I would say yes hands down! We had an amazing time and were treated to an event that did not disappoint! We even got swag bags with items from the event sponsors! It included a one-day Magic Your Way park ticket good during the event, and iFitness fuel belt, some H2O products and a Clif MoJo bar (eaten on the way to the expo!)  Was it the largest event? Yes: there were 100 RSVP guests plus whoever Disney invited.  They gave away 3 pairs of New Balance runDisney shoes as well as runDisney gear and even a race entry to next years race! The only thing I was missing at the end of the morning was my Family 5k medal, but you had forgotten all about that hadn't you and so had I.

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