It's dark on the shuttle at 3:45 in the morning. You get the feeling that you may have been here very recently. There are people all around you yet it is still pretty quiet. The shuttle slows to a stop and you get off only to merge into the flow of what will soon become more than 18,000 people, all of whom are here for one thing: To finish the 2008 Disney World Marathon. Now, the feeling begins to clear – you were here recently - just yesterday as a matter-of-fact when you arrived for the start of the Half Marathon. Oh, wait, that was just me– the one who took all of those “stupid pills” back in October.
You step off the shuttle trying to avoid a puddle. The ground is wet from the overnight rain and you wonder where you are possibly going to find a dry spot to nap until you are called through the Gear Check tent to the Starting Area. As you walk the red carpet (yes, red carpet here at the Disney Marathon) into the Staging Area you notice that the ground appears drier. Could it be that the water has been vacuumed up or blown away? Only at Disney would the Staging Area be dry for the athletes. You stake out a piece of pavement with the rest of your group: “Team Tally” from the North Florida Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. You lean and prop against each other or curl up on the ground with your gear bag for a pillow. It will be about two hours before “The Mouse King” starts the race. All too soon the announcement comes to pass through the Gear Check tent into the Starting Area. You find “your letter,” leave your dry and extra gear with an exceptionally perky and chipper race volunteer. You meet your group on the other side and now the anxiety starts to build. The lines at the hundreds of porta potties are long, but you find one that seems short and moving with a purpose. Then, with that taken care of, you move with your partners to the corrals near the actual starting line. At the corrals you are checked into the corral by another race volunteer to make sure that you are in the correct place for a safe start and strong finish. There is music blaring and jumbo-TRON screens showing music videos; people doing the “Soldja Boy” all around you; and you can see the starting line from your place in the corral. Wow! Will this start be as sensational and exciting as for the Half?
You get your gear, and you find your family. You hug and kiss and begin to babble incoherently about the run. You can't help it. Then you make your way to the Team in Training tent where someone is waiting to lay eyes on your healthy finisher face. Once you have signed in, you are handed yet another memento: Your TNT 26.2 lapel pin. This will be a medal that you can wear nearly everywhere you go. Wow! Then you see what must be the most awesome post-run snack ever: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They rock. Add some chocolate milk and you can't lose.