Okay so this would make for an epic story. So you go to Disney for the WDW Marathon weekend planning to run the half. Maybe you are even a little more ambitious and you decide to run Goofy. I am a sucker for challenge medals, I feel you. But then a storm comes in and Disney cancels the half that you trained so hard for (or didn’t, I know I didn’t train as much as I should before my first half). Either way, you are heartbroken and disappointed. (I remember the feeling when I had to go out of town on a family emergency and miss what should have been my first half.)
So, the half is cancelled and Disney gives a few options.
- Option 1: A full refund for their race registration in the form of a Disney Gift Card.
- Option 2: Two One-Day Park Hopper tickets.
- Option 3: Transfer registration to another runDisney half marathon race in the U.S. within the next 24 months, subject to availability.
All of these sound like awesome compromises. Personally I would either take the tickets or the race registration. Oh but wait… there is one more option.
- Option 4: There is limited availability to run the full marathon on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 during the regularly scheduled race.
I am still 70 days away from the Shamrock Marathon Weekend that I am training for with a team of about 200 people. Last week’s long run I ran 8 miles, I am training for the half. The people training for the full marathon were running 12-14 miles. It is still over two months out and these beasts are already running half marathons as part of their Saturday routine. Running a full takes so much training, patience, and research for most people. A half marathon is a huge accomplishment, but to truly run/complete a full marathon is just athletic. It is a milestone I hope to achieve one day, but I don’t have the discipline to train for it just yet. I know if I tried one now I would hurt myself or possibly put myself in a position where I do not finish.
Now you are giving 25,000 people the option to just transfer over from a half marathon to a full marathon with less than 48 hours to prepare. There are some people who will have NO PROBLEM doing this. Some people signed up for the half because it is just a training distance for them and that gives them enough energy to explore the parks and enjoy Disney. I get that, but those aren’t the people I am talking about.
I’m talking about the people like me. Who are given a challenge and someone says “yeah you can do it!” and they think…. hey maybe I CAN do it. Who maybe didn’t fully train for the half distance, but know they can at least run/walk it. Plus, it is DISNEY- the adrenaline and Disney magic will give them the extra push they need to finish the race. They get that adrenaline surge when they start thinking about the possibility, then they see people switch to the full on a whim on Facebook and think that maybe they could do it too. These are the people who are risking injury and that caused this vent.
I love the running community. Without it I probably still wouldn’t have completed a half marathon. I saw the stories of so many people’s journeys and thought “if they can do it, why not me?” There is so much support and motivation in almost every post. But in this case I just can’t see anyone justify telling a stranger “yeah you can do 26.2 when you only planned for 13.1!” “You can do it, I have faith in you!” One post read “I don’t even know you, but I believe in you!” Woah, believing in someone is one thing. But maybe say, I don’t know you, but I believe with the proper training you can do it….in 2018 or 2019. Disney will let you defer to another year. I get that airfare is expensive and hotels aren’t cheap, but do those costs really outweigh the potential for injury?
There are some runners say that they will just stop after 13.1. I can’t imagine running my first marathon and just seeing people start to drop out around me. I would start doubting myself. I would listen to the pain and try to give in. Maybe not at 13.1, but maybe at 15 or 18. One of the girls who switched said that her longest run ever was 15 miles. What makes her think that going the extra 11 is no big deal?
I don’t know what to say when I see these posts. I told one girl to stay safe and listen to her body. No one wants to be that debbie downer in a group of encouragement, optimism, and Disney magic. The truth is, I don’t know these people and what they are capable of. It isn’t my place to judge what their body can and can not do. I don’t know though, there is something about this situation that is unsettling. I wish all the runners the best, but I think it was a bad call from disney allowing people to switch over, no questions asked. Maybe let people switch IF they can submit proof of a previous marathon within 3 years or something. I don’t know. There has to be a safer way.