What the Running Community is All About

As many of you have heard by now, runDisney had to make a difficult decision last week: to cancel Saturday’s Disney World Half Marathon due to forecasted thunderstorms before and during the race.  My heart sank when I heard the news Friday evening, but it sounds like the best, and safest, decision was made.  With this race having been my first half marathon back in 2014, the race holds a special place in my heart.  Like me, many people run their first major race at Disney World.  Traveling to Disney for a racecation is also a major expense.  And during marathon weekend, many complete the half marathon as part of the Goofy and Dopey Challenges.  For Disney to cancel a race is a big deal.

The infamous "Weather Update" logo from runDisney that was used several times last weekend as they posted updates online about the canceled half marathon

The infamous “Weather Update” logo from runDisney that was used several times last weekend as they posted updates online about the canceled half marathon

These signs were posted around the resorts as word started to get out about the canceled race Photo Credit: Elizabeth McKay

These signs were posted around the resorts as word started to get out about the canceled race
Photo Credit: Elizabeth McKay

In a situation like what happened last weekend at Disney, many people could have easily been extremely frustrated and upset by runDisney’s decision.  I know that I would have.  Although there was lots of thunder and lightning during the early hours on Saturday morning, later on in the morning the weather cleared up enough and it was safer for people to be outside.  Because of having to reopen closed roads, and the impact on the parks themselves, I completely understand why delaying the start of the race wasn’t an option, but so many people still wanted to be able to earn their Donald medals.

I was so impressed by how people came together on Saturday to virtually run, but more importantly, cheer on and support the half marathoners who chose to run around the resort or on the treadmill in order to earn their medals.  Kudos to them for turning a situation that was out of their control into a more positive outcome.  It was a joy to watch the events unfold on social media as people shared photos and videos of the impromptu virtual race and the aid stations that were set up at various resorts.

Bradshaw Ellie crossing the "finish line" that was set up by cast members at her resort Photo Credit: Bradshaw Ellie

Bradshaw Ellie crossing the “finish line” that was set up by cast members at her resort
Photo Credit: Bradshaw Ellie

I was incredibly impressed how the “Pop-Art Half Marathon” came together.  Sarah was down at Disney to run the marathon on Sunday and to support her husband who was running the Dopey Challenge.  She had plans to be out during the half marathon to hand out candy to runners along the course.  When the half was canceled, she found herself with a lot of candy, and set up shop at Pop Century to hand out candy to the runners, including her husband, who decided to complete their virtual half by running around Hourglass Lake.

What was incredible to see was how her kind gesture exploded as others donated water and more food to create a full on water/aid station.  Parents brought their children out in costumes to create “character stops.”  The “Pop-Art Half Marathon” that developed throughout the day was as close to a Disney race as you could get.  And it was an incredible sign of what the running community truly is all about – runners coming together to support one another.  I was so moved on Saturday, and couldn’t have been more proud to be a member of this community, as I was scrolled through my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.

The food/aid station set up at Hourglass Lake, all started by Sparkly Runner Sarah Photo Credit: Sarah from Sparkly Runner

The food/aid station set up at Hourglass Lake, all started by Sarah
Photo Credit: Sarah from Sparkly Runner

In a world where there is so much hate, the support that everybody showed one another at Disney on Saturday gives me hope that there is still more good than bad in this world.  It was truly amazing to see how the running community came together on Saturday to support one another, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of this network of runners!

QOTD: How would you react if a race that you were supposed to run was canceled?

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43 Responses to What the Running Community is All About

  1. I would have been really upset about the race being canceled. Personally, I think we are becoming overly cautious about everything–more and more events being canceled based on a forecast, instead of waiting to see how things play out. Disney has no control over the weather, and a rainy race certainly isn’t part of the Disney experience. But to cancel based on the chance of lightning? If anything, this experience might make people think twice about signing up for a Disney race. That’s a lot of $$$.

    Just my opinion.

    • Disney races are expensive, and while it might have been overly cautious on their part to cancel the race the night before, it did save them the headache of trying to move tens of thousands of people to safety in the midst of a thunderstorm.

  2. kookyrunner says:

    I definitely think that Disney made the right decision. From what I read on social media that morning, the weather was horrible – wind, rain and lightning. I also love how the running community came together and made their own “pop-up” half marathon. The running community is amazing!

  3. I thought it was great to see so many people coming out to support their friends that chose to run anyway. We runners do have each others’ backs for sure

  4. Lesley says:

    I would’ve been upset, but seeing the radar shot, I knew Disney was making the right decision. They had over 20k runners to think about, and as they said, there’s very little coverage to act as shelter on the course. I figured there would be runners out doing the race on their own, but I know people were disappointed to not run through the parks.

  5. Chaitali says:

    I loved the stories about how everyone came together to run several alternative races that morning! It really was a great example of community pulling together.

  6. laurenruns says:

    Thankfully I’ve never had a race cancelled! I’ve dealt with delays, and with triathlons that have been modified… sometimes shortened and once where it was switched to a duathlon. I just keep moving forward– no, maybe I can’t meet the goal today if the race format has changed, but I can put my best effort out there! And with the most recent change from a triathlon to a diathlon, it made me want to brush up on duathlon pacing as I clearly was not ready for that! I raced the first few miles as if that was it, then struggled on the bike and 2nd run!

  7. Marcia says:

    Glad to hear people pulled together and made the best of a disappointing situation. I can totally understand what a bummer it would be to spend so much time and money training for and traveling to a race then have it cancelled. That said I wish my first marathon (Chicago 07) would have been cancelled due to the heat rather than stopped only after hundreds had been taken to the ER and one person died. It’s a tough call and you’re going to tick off people either way so I go with better safe than sorry.

  8. jljohnson says:

    I think I would have been upset that the race had been cancelled, but understanding as well. I ran a race a few years ago that continued to be held despite the deluge of rain that was in the middle of it. While there was no thunder or lightening, it was still dangerous as runners could barely see through the pouring rain, aid stations were packed up, and many of us didn’t finish. Myself included. I’d always err on the side of caution and quietly stew about it.

    But I LOVE what these runners did to make it work. That’s just fantastic!! 🙂

  9. Rachel says:

    My friend was supposed to run her second half marathon and first distance race postpartum at Disney. I felt so sad for her that it was canceled. She still had a good time because it’s Disney and all, but still. Tough situation for all involved.

  10. MCM Mama says:

    I just love the little kids in costume being the character stops. So awesome!

  11. Amy H. says:

    I think this was such an awesome response to a really bad situation. I was so enjoying seeing everyone’s posts about their virtual runs and the aid stations/support that was happening everywhere. The “character stops” were the cutest!

    I also think it was good of runDisney to provide some compensation options. I was surprised, too, because I’ve never heard of them giving money back or allowing for race swaps!!

  12. marywdw says:

    I was part of the crowd that was supposed to run on Saturday and I had planned it as my 7th half on the 7th for my 21st (lots of 7’s there!). It was really great seeing everyone running around the resort areas. I felt lazy for choosing to go get a drink at midnight for my 21st and go to the parks the next day instead of running the 13.1 miles around the resorts. I was very sad the race was cancelled but again it’s better than getting us all in the corrals and then having lightning start.

  13. amazing to see everyone supporting everyone and turing something crappy into something good, runners are awesome!

  14. I just found your blog! I was supposed to run my first marathon in NYC in 2012, the year it was cancelled. I had just arrived at the expo from Arizona only to find out we wouldn’t be running. That was rough!

    I was also at Disney this last weekend for the 10K and full. The weather on the morning of the half was pretty terrible. I don’t know that people realize that Florida has the highest amount of lightning strikes in the country so they take that threat really seriously. I learned that at the 2015 Wine & Dine when they delayed and then shortened the course due to lightning. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  15. I agree with you, its nice to hear of stories like these to know there is still plenty of good in the world! A few running forums I am on so many had mixed feelings of it. I get it you train and spend a fortune you want to run. That was my biggest fear when I used to travel for races because it is a thousand or more dollars for one race trip. Living out west we don’t really get races cancelled for weather, at least I’ve never heard of it happening. But we don’t get the hurricane type weather so it makes sense in this instance. I ran a race in Oklahoma once that when I got around mile 18 I heard the officials and support talking about wanting to cancel it because they were freezing and the rain and hail had been so relentless the entire time. All it did was light a fire in me to pick it up those last 8 miles so I could finish and not get pulled. I literally made it with only a few minutes to spare, they called the race and forced everyone else off the course about 10 minutes after I finished, but that’s the closest I’ve come to having a race cancelled. If in the event it fully happened, I would hope I would have the mindset to keep on the positive side like some did at Disney! Thanks for sharing the great running community story!

  16. My heart sank, also, Friday evening when I saw the news of the cancellation. But when I got on the computer Saturday morning and saw all the pics of the “virtual” runners, I almost cried. I thought it was amazing how it was most of the runners who threw it together, but so many others came out and joined the party to support them.

  17. I thought it was amazing how everyone came together! I felt so bad for all the half marathoners, goofy and dopey challengers, but I love that so many people got out there and earned their medals! I was surprised Disney called off the race so early, but it seems like they gave everyone some great options for the inconvenience.

  18. I probably would have been devistated! For me, that probably would have meant my whole family be there and an extremely expensive vacation. I completely understand their reasoning and would have probably just run somewhere on my own. Nothing like a running community to pull together when needed!

  19. This virtual run that the Disney Half Marathoners did was amazing. I loved seeing all the social media posts about it.

    If a regular race was canceled, I would probably run the distance at some point anyway, but not on the official day, and not as a virtual. Most races wouldn’t provide the medals for it. However, for these people who trained for their first, or for Goofy or Dopey, I think it was admirable that they still logged the miles, even if they wouldn’t receive an official time for it. It speaks volumes about the heart of a runner.

  20. Proof that there is still a little bit of good left in the world!

  21. I REALLY felt bad for those folks who traveled there Only to run the half marathon. The good thing is that at least they are at disney and the entire trip was not a waste.

    I too was amazed at all the positive stories I read on social media. These runners really had a good attitude towards a less than ideal situation but they made the best of it!

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