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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Best marathon cheering spots

Marathon finish line

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, I'm returning to a topic that's high on my priority list:  SURVIVING the full marathon!!!

Ok, actually I'm talking about some of the best places for spectators to cheer those runners on (believe me, I'll need all the cheering I can get!!).

So without further adieu, here are some of my suggestions for spectator spots along the course (and a few places to avoid).

The starting line
Forget about it.  The race starts at around 5:30 a.m. and you really can't get to the starting line since it's out on Epcot Center Drive.  If you want to pep up your runner, your best bet is to be a the pre-race meeting area where runners will be warming up, checking bags, etc.  Once the runners are called to assemble at the starting line, that's your cue to move to your next spot.

Epcot - full marathon part 1 (and half marathon finish)
Once the race starts, runners (and half marathoners completing their race) will enter Epcot near the Living Seas Pavilion and run along the West side of Spaceship Earth, down to World Showcase.  Half-marathoners will turn around and head back toward the East side of Spaceship Earth and out to the finish line (see below for my comments about the finish line).  Full marathoners will continue into World Showcase, turn left and run along the promenade and go backstage just before the Germany pavilion (based on the map provided by Disney).  Good viewing places along this leg are anywhere in Future World by the fountain.  There's plenty of space for lots of spectators.  I'd be careful about venturing down into World Showcase itself -- it can get a little tight along the promenade, especially by the Mexico pavilion.

Following the Monorail...
After leaving Epcot (and once the half marathon starts), runners will again head down Epcot Center Drive, and will turn north onto World Drive, running through the Magic Kingdom parking booth and through the parking lot to the TTC.  Unless you have the ability to get to this part of the course, I'd recommend against trying to find a spot along this stretch until the TTC.
There are a few possible spots to cheer on runners at the TTC, especially right at the entrance.

Approaching the Magic Kingdom
After passing the TTC, runners will return to World Drive, pass the Contemporary and will turn left into a backstage entrance to the Magic Kingdom.  While it might sound like a good (and convenient) option, the Contemporary is not a good spot for spectators.  The main reason is the runners use the southbound (far) lane and spectators can't get close to the course, so you're cheering from a distance at best.  Also, forget about trying to walk to the Magic Kingdom -- can't happen.  Disney cast members won't allow it.  You have to use the monorail.

I'm running right down the middle of Main Street USA...
Probably the best spectator spot of all is along Main Street USA.  I recommend staying on the West side of the street (the Emporium side), as you can easily see the runners go down Main St. and then walk to the hub to see runners pass through Cinderella Castle and turn down Liberty Square.  Depending on the time of the morning, you might not be able to go down to Liberty Square or Frontierland, so if you want to see your runner(s) go through the Magic Kingdom, you need to arrive about an hour in advance.  Oh, and you just might see a bunch from WDW Radio Running Team cheering on runners here.  This is the traditional spot for Team WDW Radio.

The Grand Floridian
After heading backstage from Frontierland, runners turn south on Floridian Way and head to the Grand Floridian.  Like the Contemporary, this might not be the best of viewing spots as it's hard to get close to the runners.  It's a little easier here than the Contemp, but not much.

Here's where we part company...
From here, half marathoners will continue down Floridian Way onto World Drive and back onto Epcot Center Drive for the return to Epcot and the finish line (see Epcot above).  Full marathoners, however, are only halfway home.  The full marathon course turns right onto Bear Island Drive and heads to Animal Kingdom.  Like the leg approaching the TTC, this is probably not the best place for spectators.  Head onto Animal Kingdom, if you really want to.

Animal Kingdom
After making it through the relatively uninteresting portion of Bear Island Drive, runners will enter Animal Kingdom from backstage around Asia and run in front of Expedition Everest, the Nemo theatre and into Dinoland USA and then backstage again.  That's it for Animal Kingdom (based on the official race map).  The runners do make a brief appearance at the main entrance before heading back out onto the road.   If you really want to see runners go through Animal Kingdom, I'd suggest watching from Dinoland USA where you can easily leave the park afterward.  All-in-all, Animal Kingdom isn't the best place for spectators, based on the limited availability to the runners.

Another dreaded stretch
Here we go again, another uninteresting stretch of plain ol' road called the Oseola Parkway.  The runners will come close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, but not quite.  Not the best leg for spectators -- skip it.  We'll see you in the Studios.

Hollywood Studios
Ahh, something interesting at last!  There are a ton of great spots here.  The runners enter from backstage somewhere near the Animation courtyard (it's hard to see on the official map), and run through Pixar Place, down the Streets of America (an awesome place for spectators!) and down Hollywood Boulevard (another awesome spectator spot!). 

Almost there!
After leaving the Studios, runners follow the walkway to the Boardwalk, run in front of the Yacht and Beach Clubs and proceed to Epcot's International Gateway.  All along here are outstanding spectator cheering locations, so take your pick.

Epcot, the Sequel
Home at last! Runners enter Epcot from backstage in between the Canada and UK pavilions and run all the way around World Showcase, passing in front of every pavilion before running through Future World on the East side, exiting Epcot and ending at the "thank heavens I made it" Finish Line!  There are plenty of great spectator locations all along World Showcase, with the exception of the Mexico pavilion -- that area is too narrow to allow for good spectator viewing locations.  Likewise, there are plenty of great spots in Future World.

As for the finish line, I really don't recommend it.  Most of the finish line spectator areas are reserved for those who purchased Disney's CheerSquad packages.  Besides, the finish line is a zoo.  You're far better off cheering on the runners from somewhere inside Epcot and then meeting up right after the race ends.

So there you go -- a quick overview of some of the good (and not-so-good) places to watch the 2012 Half and Full Marathons.

To those who are running this year -- good luck and I'll see you in the full marathon!

1 comment:

Lori said...

Great picture!! That was an amazingly cold day but worth it to spend time with you during your first half marathon. You will do a great job during the full. I'll be there cheering you on at the beginning and then hopefully I'll see you again on the course when I start my half of the relay.
Keep Moving Forward!!