Happy Thanksgiving! Today I’m sharing some thankful thoughts from Avengers Half Marathon weekend. You know, the LAST runDisney weekend at Disneyland. Sob! But still… so thankful for it and runDisney.
I know, I know.
Isn’t Shenanigans OVER this yet? Apparently, the answer is no.
I’m getting there, I promise, but I guess I’m still in mourning.
It really will be OK. Right?!
Thankful Thoughts From Avengers Half Marathon
Someday I’ll get around to really writing down what the races meant to and for me, but I’m still not quite there yet.
I am going to share some stories today (with permission of course!) from other runners who were there that weekend and what runDisney meant to them at Disneyland.
Here are three of dozens of posts I saw on social media following the completion of that race weekend. I hope you love these stories as much as I do.
MJ’s Facebook Post
Still processing the last Disneyland run..for who knows how long.
Most important over all these years is my runDisney family. You guys are what made these races so special.
For that I am thankful.
Going into the race I knew I wanted to do something different… something special.
So I started dead last. I waited til everyone else crossed the line..then waited some more.
For those wondering it was just over 43 minutes. I got put into the spotlight and onto the jumbotron for one final time..sorta fitting.
Only there was no one to watch except for those in the family reunion area as the race announcers egged me on about being the last person to start.
As the cameras turned off, race staff and crew were all hugs and tears. A sign that even they have no idea if/when the races will be back.
I took my time, stopped for all the photo ops, and even got to see many of you along the way!
“When can we do this again?”
Nicole B’s Facebook Post
I’m home, decompressing, recuperating, ruminating on, and processing what was my last Disney race weekend (as it stands now.) While I’m grateful for, and in need of, the break, it’s been an emotional, wonderful, and often times, bittersweet goodbye. I tried to take the weekend all in and savor the experience without thinking about the future and how this is “the end” and managed pretty well. I only a few choked up moments here and there until the very end of the half marathon.
When I saw Patty (who had been cheering all the runners the entire length of the race) near the end of the course and heard her sniffle when I gave her a hug, the reality of it all finally settled and I started to cry. I tried to pull it together when I saw Lyn, and Todd and a slew of others just before mile 13. I did my best to put on a smile as I wiped away more tears while I held my mom’s hand as we approached our final run Disney finish line together. I tearfully thanked the characters, cast, crew and RunDisney people, some of whom I’ve been seeing for a decade, as we made our way to the very end. I finally lost it when I saw my favourite doctor Laura, working medical right past the finish line. I’m not sure which of us was sobbing harder while we hugged.
Talking with Kiley, Victoria and Cindy afterward, I realized that while I’m sad about the end of the Disneyland races, Kiley summed it up perfectly. The tears were mainly for all those random, wonderful moments with friends and all the people that made the runDisney race weekends what we love and enjoy. That final step over the finish line meant I was saying goodbye to 10 years of all those lovely chance encounters with friends during a shared love of Disney, running, Marvel and Star Wars.
Over the past decade, so many strangers in lines, in corals, on course, in costumes, and/or behind the scenes became my friends. Half the enjoyment of the race weekends were the serendipitous “hail fellow, well met” moments of running into those people. Some people I may never see again as we only saw each other and socialized solely at the races. Some people, I’m grateful to say, became closer friends outside of the race weekends. And some even became family. And while I posted before that this doesn’t have to be goodbye, that we CAN still see each other in other environments, there was something unique and special about meeting and catching up with friends at the races, and I’m sad to say goodbye to that.
It’s going to be strange, going into the new year without a race weekend to look forward to. It’s going to be weird, not planning a slew of running costumes every couple months. And it’s going to be hard, seeing others in Florida and Paris still continuing the RunDisney journey, while mine has come to an end. But this has been a year of great change for me, and I’m hoping much like Semisonic sings, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” that something wonderful and lovely will begin with this new, and bittersweet, ending.
So to my friends reading this, thank you. Thank you for all the memories. Thank you for all the fun and the laughter and the hugs and the happy tears. Thank you for the conversations in expo lines and corrals. Thank you for the creativity and the great, and unique, joy of doing group costumes. Thank you for helping me push through miles, crossing finish lines, for the love of running costumes, for the victories, and for the company on and off course. Thank you for the late night crafting, and early morning photos, for the jumps into character lines and all the unplanned and unexpected moments that made race weekends what they are. Thank you for all the experiences and the journey that has been the Disneyland races. Thank you for becoming, and being, my very special runDisney friends.
This adventure may have come to an end, but I can’t wait to see what other adventures await us together. And you know we’ll have other adventures, especially if it involves dressing up and taking all the photos. Love you and so grateful to you all.
Rod H’s Facebook Post
Seeing all the great posts about Avengers weekend and as a proud father of my 16-year-old daughter here is mine.
I am in charge of the bicycle escort team for all runDisney weekends at Disneyland. We escort the elite runners and wheelchairs.
At the age of 11, my daughter Emma started escorting wheelchair athletes giving them support and pointing out hazards at every marathon weekend since then.
She has had a dream for some time of riding the 10k as an escort for the lead wheelchair and then jumping off her bike and running the race.
Last week she received approval from the race director to do this challenge and she is so excited for her dream to come true. I am very proud of her for being so dedicated. She would be able to support and encourage the great athletes and still run the race.
We got to Disneyland at 3:15 am to pre-ride the course, look for hazards and warm up. This was a good thing because when the gun went off, Emma and I were escorting a very fast Paralympian who completed the 10k in 26 minutes.
At the finish, she quickly switched to her running shoes. Then runDisney staff escorted her over to the starting line for her to join the race and do the course for the third time of the day!
Sunday morning she was joined by her friend to run half marathon and they both had an amazing time!
It was hard to think these events are over for now but for my team and I it could not have ended on a better note!
Thank you to all of you that have these events so magical over the years!
Anyone else crying?
No? Just me?
I’m good with that. Ha.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!