2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Recap – The Expo

Today, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon races began with the Neverland 5K. This is the first year of this race that I did not participate. So sad. It was the very first race I participated in back in its inaugural year…2012. The journey to my first full marathon at Walt Disney World began with that 5K race. That’s when I was first introduced to the runDisney races and the first time I saw how much fun participating in the races was. So, the Neverland 5K will always hold a special place in my heart. Of course, a year later, I not only ran in the 2nd Neverland 5K, but my first half marathon at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon (AKA the race that changed my life). Even though I will not be racing in any of the races this weekend, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend will always hold a special place in my heart. They lead me to even start dreaming of the week I had last week.


Every runDisney event begins with a health Expo. With the new Dopey Challenge and the addition of the 10K race to Marathon Weekend, the Expo opened on Wednesday this year. That meant, I needed to be in Walt Disney World on Tuesday, January 7th in order to be there for the first full day of the Expo. After all, I had heard, through numberous blogs that you needed to be there early to ensure the largest options in runDisney oriented purchases. I must admit that I was a little bummed to find out that the first bus from our resort to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (where the Expo was held) didn’t leave until 9:30am… just 30 minutes prior to opening. With how crazy things were last year in getting the runDisney New Balance shoes, I really wanted to be at the Expo as early as possible. However, since I was on property and utilizing Disney transportation, I was limited in what I could do. Add to that, while I was in line for the bus to the expo, I read on Twitter of the Expo opening early. Not good.


We arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex shortly before 10am. The strategy we had for the Expo was divide and conquer. My wife decided to stand in the line to get a reservation at the New Balance booth to get the runDisney New Balance shoes. I headed out to the runDisney merch booths to make purchases.


There were two different runDisney Official Merchandise booths at the Expo. I first went to the lower level of the HP Fieldhouse to check out the merchandise that was there. Anything that had an “I Did It” and Marathon was what I wanted. I also got several other items. What I didn’t see at this merchandise area was a WDW Marathon I Did It shirt. That bummed me out. After all, if there was only one piece of merchandise I wanted the shirt was it. Anyways, I made my purchases and then texted my wife to find out where she was at in the New Balance line. She said that she was still around 45 minutes from the front.


Since my wife had so long, I headed over to the Jostens Center where the other runDisney merchandise booth was located and the site where all of the other exhibitors was located. This turned out to be the main runDisney merchandise booth to be at. After all, there was so much more at this booth that I wish I came here first. All of the same merchandise from the HP Fieldhouse was at this booth plus so much more. Even cooler was that I finally found the Marathon I Did It shirt! They had the I Did It shirts for the Dopey Challenge, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, and the Marathon all in one row with workers to find your size and give you your shirt. The person who gave me my Marathon I Did It shirt told me that I got one of the last 3 in my size. Score!


Here is the front…


And the back. I wish that the shirt was not grey. The reason I bought the Dumbo Double Dare I Did It shirt was that it was red…as opposed to the Disneyland Half Marathon I Did It shirt which was also grey. Oh well. If I only did one marathon in my life, I wanted everything I could get to mark the occasion. Between the two runDisney Merch booths, here is what I picked up…


The Mickey plush was a total impulse buy. I loved the little magnets marking each distance I’ve raced.


And more magnets…


And the shirts…other than the I Did It shirt. I got the Coast to Coast shirt as a reminder of the goal I have this year to earn my first Coast to Coast medal.


By the time I got to my wife, she was at this place in line. So, I joined her for the rest of her nearly 2 hours of waiting for this New Balance reservation. She got in line at 10am and we didn’t get our reservation until around noon. Needless to say, it was great to get to this point…


The above photo was taken after the booth had shut down for the day. When you got to the front, they had 6 tablets where you would enter your contact information. They asked for your name, email address, and cell phone number (if you wished to be contacted via text). From what I had read before the Expo, I thought they would give you some sort of estimate on when you would be called to return to purchase the runDisney New Balance shoes. This proved not to be the case. I overheard one of the New Balance workers mention that they thought the wait would be somewhere around 3 – 4 hours to the person entering their information. However, they didn’t really have a good estimate. All we knew was that, when the text and/or email arrived, you had 20 minutes to be at the New Balance booth in the Jostens Center. Something we would learn later is that each person who wanted a shoe was supposed to have a separate reservation.


Since we had 3-4 hours to kill and were hungry, we made our way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill for lunch. The food was okay here…not great, not bad either. It was a convenient because it was where the Expo was happening.


We both loved the atmosphere. Being around all those runners was totally fun and both Brooke and I had fun chatting with those close to us.


After lunch, we headed to the HP Fieldhouse to pick up our race bibs. The lines to pick up your bibs was nonexistent…


We did have fun posing with some of the backdrops for the various runDisney races.


There was even a free Instagram photo you could have taken of yourself at the HP Fieldhouse


In case you didn’t know how the corrals were set up for the marathon, they had this to help out.


After we were done in the HP Fieldhouse, we made our way to the Jostens Center


Once there, we first went to get our race shirts…


With the official runDisney Merchandise purchased, our race bibs in hand, the race shirts in hand, and our New Balance reservation set, we had time to wander the Expo floor. It was cool to see all the latest stuff the vendors were pushing. However, I had no plans on purchasing anything from them. I did stop by the runDisney booth to see the new medals.


After spending some time on the Expo floor, and with more time to kill, we decided to check out the ESPN Wide of World Sports Complex and take some pictures. If you haven’t been to this part of the Walt Disney World Resort, you should check it out some time. The grounds are really nice.


It was nice to see the little booths set up with concessions being sold.


We thought the banners that you could pose in front of were cool. Here is the 5K banner…


Since we were doing the 10K, we posed in front of that banner…


The half marathon banner…


The full marathon banner…


The Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge banner…


And, of course the Dopey.


Since we still hadn’t received our text yet, Brooke and I then headed back to Champion Stadium to wait.


By 3pm, it started getting really boring to wait. However, with only 20 minutes to arrive at the New Balance booth and since we were relying on Disney transportation, we felt like we just had no choice but to wait.


At around 4pm, I started wandering around the stadium. This was near where they were selling the Dooney bags.


There was a caricaturist doing free caricatures. So, since we had time to kill, we decided to get in line and wait it out.


Here are the finished caricatures…


Brooke’s was pretty cool.


If you remember my story about the failed 26 mile training run, this picture makes perfect sense.


By 5pm, the wait was getting to be too much. So we headed back to the Jostens Center to see where they were on the wait…


We passed the display outside of the Jostens Center.


When we got to the booth, we were told that our number was getting close. So, they told us to get in line and wait. Finally, at around 5:30pm, I had my runDisney Sorcerer Mickey Mouse New Balance shoes! 2 hour wait to get the reservation and about 5 1/2 hours of waiting to get our turn to purchase the shoes. Being told that we would be able to purchase the shoes was a huge relief. I had thought about just forgetting about it. However, when you wait a long time for something, it becomes a challenge of patience. Getting these new shoes was the reward for waiting. Brooke got the Minnie Mouse inspired shoes.


With that, our adventure at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Expo came to an end. I was not expecting to be at the Expo this long. However, it proved to be a successful trip. After experiencing the madness that was the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo on Labor Day Weekend, I thought that this Expo was a much better experience. One thing that the Walt Disney World Resort has that the Disneyland Resort does not have is the blessing of space. This is true of their Expo’s as well. The ESPN Wide of World of Sports Complex is much larger than convention space at the Disneyland Hotel. So, everything was spaced out much better. I also appreciated the organization of everything. Having 2 runDisney merch booths was also a great idea. It was amazing to me that, in both booths, there was plenty of merchandise and not the free for all grabbing of merch that I experienced at Disneyland. If I was not trying to get the runDisney New Balance shoes, we would have been out of the Expo right after lunch. Of course, if we weren’t waiting for the shoes we also wouldn’t have ended up with the cool free caricatures either. So, I can’t complain too much. Also, the waiting proved to be fruitful in that we got our runDisney New Balance shoes. Some may say that waiting for 7 hours for a pair of shoes is silly. I honestly don’t know if I’d do that again. However, since I really wanted them and got them, I’m fine with the wait. Plus, by purchasing them at Walt Disney World, it will make the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo later this year a little more enjoyable.

4 thoughts on “2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Recap – The Expo

    1. Yep, I got the shoes! The people at the New Balance booth were grateful that my wife and I were so upbeat when we purchased the shoes. I guess, they got a lot of complaints about the wait. However, my wife and I were just thrilled to have the shoes. It was great to meet you as well. Congrats again on finishing your first marathon! Isn’t it weird to say that you’re a marathoner? It is for me, but I love getting to say that.

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