I ran this local charity race for brain cancer for the fourth time this May (previous runs were Melissa's Race 2019, Melissa's Race 2021, and Melissa's Race 2022; I also participated virtually in 2020).

Melissa's Race is put on by Melissa Vosburg, Inc, a charity devoted to supporting brain cancer research through awareness education and fundraising.

Training & Goals
I haven't been training or really feeling well for some months, since before my Graves' Disease diagnosis back in January 2024. The night before the race I was feeling really down. Arthur agreed to come along with me which made me feel a lot better. I'm glad I participated but with every race I feel less and less like a runner and that makes me sad. I'm not sure I'll ever get my fitness back. So for this race I just wanted to walk it, try to keep a brisk pace and see where I ended up. 

Race Day: May 4, 2024
Arthur and I headed out around 6:20AM to make our way to Sanford, just down the road from our home. We found a good parking spot and made our way to the start area. I picked up my packet and left my bag with my run club tent. 

I was excited to see there were a few 501st at the race for May the Fourth. I was wearing one of my favorite race shirts, from the inaugural Dark Side Half Marathon, so I had to get a photo with the bad guys doing good.

I was in the second start wave, and I made sure I was in the back since I'd be walking. It was about 66°F at the start with 94% humidity and clear sunny skies. I crossed the starting mat at 7:06AM.

Mile 1: 16:59
I felt alright heading out on the new course (I think it was new last year but I missed that run). With the staggered start the field always opens up quickly which is nice; I could keep to the right to let others pass and ease to the left easily when my walking pace was faster than others. The first mile takes runners through streets of downtown Sanford before the course becomes an out-and-back along beautiful Lake Monroe.

I found some club mates walking together and joined them for a bit before moving on, wanting to see how fast I could go if I was really trying.

Mile 2: 16:05

Mile 3+: 16:32, 2:04
The run back is in full head-on sun, but I was feeling alright and the sun didn't seem to bother me like it usually does. I had my watch alert me if my heart rate reached a certain threshold, and it hit the high rate a few times during this mile. My pace was all over the place during this mile as I would slow down and concentrate on my breathing with each alert. My heart rate wasn't close to being dangerously high; I'm trying to keep it relatively low, even during activity, to protect my heart as my meds are being adjusted to stabilize my thyroid function.

This is a well-organized local race for a very good cause. On course support was great as always. There were volunteers throughout, including lots of cheering spectators and two water stops, one of which we hit twice. The support afterwards is very good as well, with treats for runners and several local vendor booths with the freebies, contests, and giveaways. On a personal level, there is always a great turnout from my local run club so I see a lot of friendly faces at this annual run. Recommended.

Chip time: 51:38
Placement details: 44/63 in Age Group, 607 overall out of 840 finishers
Race Amenities: Nice cotton logo t-shirt, nice suncatcher finisher medal for all, drawstring backpack
Cost: $33.50

Branded photos (c) Almost There Photography

The third annual Springtime Surprise Challenge Weekend took place at Walt Disney World from April 18-21, 2024. I had planned to participate in all of the race events for the third year in a row, but my plan didn't work out. Here's my recap for the 5K, the only race I was able to attend.

I was on holiday in South Africa during registration, and I didn't expect to have the Internet access or the time to get online during registration. However, on registration day the stars aligned for me and I was able to get in for the challenge. I was extremely excited to be in for the Springtime Surprise Challenge for the third year in a row and I was looking forward to starting my training plan later in the year.

A few months later, in December 2023, I had a health setback which derailed my training. Only cleared to run in April, I still planned to participate in the weekend as much as I could, with the idea to walk all events. I figured I could finish the 5K, hoped to finish the 10K, and guessed I would pull myself or get pulled off of the 10-Miler course. 

Expo: April 18, 2024
Everyone participating in a runDisney event needs to go to the Expo before race day to pick up the event bib(s) and shirt(s). Merchandise from runDisney and other vendors is also available at the Expo, which takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

I picked up my bib and shirts, and had a look around at the official merch and expo vendors. For this event I didn't do any of the photo ops; it seemed extra crowded when I was there and I wasn't feeling my best after a hot volunteer shift earlier in the day, my first back at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey since December.

I always want to do Star Wars mashups for these races; for the Neverland 5K I wore a simply themed performance top that mashes up Peter Pan with Admiral Ackbar: Never Grow Up It's a Trap! along with a Peter Pan styled visor hat.

For the Adventure is Out There 10K I had planned a black and white Russell/Wilderness Explorer mashup outfit with Star Wars logos. I didn't come up with a mashup for the 10-Miler and planned instead to wear my own I Just Can't Wait To Be Done t-shirt. I miss those Star Wars races so much! 

Race Day: April 19, 2024
I woke up with my 1:50AM alarm and was ready to hit the road at 2:15AM. I had the car parked at Epcot at 3:04AM. I was able to get a photo with Duffy and then stood in line for Peter Pan for the remainder of the time,  but they closed the line before I reached the front. I headed to corral E and watched the pre-show until it was time to start.

It was 66°F with 94% humidity when I crossed the start line in the first wave of corral E at 5:29AM.

Mile 1: 16:00
That's perfect Disney pace LOL! I jogged only a little bit here and there during this first mile, mostly to keep out of the way. Walkers should keep right and runners left, but there are a lot of different paces and I ended up walking far to the left a lot of the time, passing other walkers but getting in the way of runners at certain points. As always I did my best to stay out of the way of others.

Mile 2: 17:50
I didn't stop for any character photos but I took a few on the fly. A took a few videos as well but nothing good came out. I wasn't feeling great but tried to look like I wasn't dying when I went by PhotoPass.

Mile 3+: 18:35, 4:14
By the end of the race I was sweating profusely. About a week before race day I had blood draw to check my thyroid numbers. I didn't find out until after race weekend that my numbers had shifted from hyper- to hypothyroid, which may have contributed to my general lousy feeling during the 5K and following days.

After the Race
Was the finisher chute longer than usual? It felt like it. I continued feeling icky as I made my way out, getting my medal, lots of hydration, and runDisney snack box (with a new design -- I don't know when the redesign took place but the boxes were new to me). I skipped all post-race activities (finisher photos, adult beverage, character photos, etc) in favor of heading straight to my car to head home and rest. 

Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 2AM I felt sick and went back to sleep. Later I took a COVID test which ended up being negative. A few days later I was feeling better, but I was bummed about missing the 10K and 10-Miler altogether. When I found out the results of my blood test, I wondered if my hypothyroid-trending condition contributed to my exhaustion and sickness. My doctor adjusted my medication and I'll test my blood again in a couple of weeks to see if I can get back on the right track. 

Garmin time: 56:40
Race Amenities: Nice themed medal and race shirt
Cost: $485 for the three race challenge, of which I only did the 5K. Most expensive 5K ever

My last in-person race was the Fountain of Youth 5K in my hometown back in November 2023. Since early December I've had a health issue that sidelined all training, caused me to miss several races, and generally made me feel rotten physically, mentally, and emotionally for several months. I'm still working on my treatment, but at the beginning of April I started to feel more like myself for the first time in months.

Graves' Disease
My training plan was to start ramping up my miles in mid-December to prepare for the Springtime Surprise 10-Miler in April. At the start of December I experienced a sudden, unexplained elevated resting heart rate. My primary doctor sent me to the ER following an abnormal in-office EKG. Going to the ER was scary, and so was the unexplained high heart rate. In the ER, an EKG done with more advanced equipment was relatively normal, and the doctors there determined my heart was strong and I was not in immediate danger. I was to follow up with my primary doctor for further investigation. Meanwhile, my annual routine bloodwork came in with some values showing a problem with my thyroid. I had several more blood tests and a thyroid ultrasound. Finally, a visit with an endocrinologist determined I was experiencing hyperthyroidism, and later I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease. A beta blocker helped with my heart rate and I started medication to work on normalizing my thyroid function. The meds take a while to work and I was not cleared to do any exercise activity during this time. 

Missed Races
In early April I was cleared to exercise. I had been taking 2-3 mile walks 2-3 days a week starting in mid-March, but I had to keep it very slow to make sure my heart rate didn't get too high. I participated in the Springtime Surprise 5K on April 19th. I had hoped to at least start the 10K and 10-Miler, even if I couldn't finish them, but I was sick the morning of the 10K and it wasn't worth the risk to me and other participants to drag myself to either start line. I was extremely disappointed to miss completing the challenge. Since I got Graves' Disease I've missed the Reindeer Run at SeaWorld with Arthur and my in-laws, and a couple of local races (Lake Helen Stress Buster; Arthur ran the Ivy Hawn 5K in my place; I picked up my MeStrong swag to complete virtually later). I also missed the WDW Marathon Weekend Half and Disneyland 5K and Half, where I hoped to earn a Coast-to-Coast medal. Missing those runs and the west coast trip really bummed me out for many weeks.  

Going Forward
After several months on thyroid medication, my numbers in late April showed hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid function versus elevated). My doctor is adjusting my meds to find the best dose going forward, with regular routine bloodwork being taken to test the results. Now my plan is, as long as I feel okay, to ease back into exercise with some low-impact training, using my standing desk bike and going back to water aerobics classes. I'll see how I feel doing this for a while before hitting the pavement. I've got a couple of races on my calendar that are walker-friendly so I hope to be able to complete these in-person. 

Have you ever run a Disney race using a charity bib? I feel like I've done a lot as a runner, but that I'm missing something by not having had this experience. As we are deep into Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I've been thinking about charities that partner with runDisney to offer bibs for fundraising.

Little Personal Story

I was on vacation in South Africa during registration for the 2024 Springtime Surprise event weekend. I participated in the first two and I'd like to keep up with that streak (in my mind a continuation of the Dark Side Star Wars races, somehow). I had assumed I would not be able to register on the day of, due to notorious power outage issues (load shedding) in the country, and the fact that my husband and I would be in a fairly remote location in the far north of Kruger National Park at the time. So I found a charity that I liked, and planned on registering via the charity once we got back home. However, at the time of registration, we found ourselves taking a break between game drives back at the camp. The afternoon's load-shedding was over. I logged onto the runDisney website via my phone, and was able to register for the challenge. I was shocked! It meant that my plans to run using a charity bib would have to wait until another time.

(I know that I can raise money for a charity while already having a bib, but that's not the same as relying on the charity for your bib. I've gotten last-minute bibs from charities a couple of times in the past (Wine & Dine 2017 and Princess 2022), and that's also not the same as raising money for a runDisney bib).

Participating in a runDisney race through a charity entry bib offers a unique blend of fitness, fun, and philanthropy, creating an unforgettable experience that extends far beyond the finish line. Here’s why running for a cause at Disney is not just a race, but a rewarding journey that makes every stride count.

Charity Bibs

Finding Charity Bibs for runDisney Events on runDisney.com
Visit the Charities & Travel Providers page on the runDisney site to get started. Depending on what time of year you're checking, the page may default to a different weekend than the one you're looking for. Use the drop-down menu to choose your desired race weekend and scroll down to see the Participating Charities.

Other Ways to Find Charity Bibs
There are several runDisney market, trade, or shopping groups on Facebook. You can check these groups for charities that have bibs available. Closer to the registration deadline, about a month out from race day, some charities will try to unload their extra bibs, sometimes with reduced or even zero fundraising commitment. Groups include runDisney marketplace and RunDisney Run Public Market.

Why Run With a Charity

Combine Passion with Purpose
runDisney events attract thousands of participants each year, drawn by the magic of running through the most magical places on Earth. Opting for a charity entry bib allows you to blend your love for running and Disney with a deeper purpose. It transforms your race into a mission, supporting causes that make a significant impact in the lives of others. Whether it’s raising funds for medical research, education, or social issues, your participation carries a sense of accomplishment that transcends personal achievement. Finding a charity that resonates with you personally is a great way to give deeper meaning to your training and run.

Guaranteed Entry
Highly coveted runDisney race spots fill up quickly, but charity bibs offer guaranteed entry even when general registration slots are sold out. This not only secures your spot in popular races but does so in a way that benefits others, while relieving the stress of having multiple devices open on registration day. You don't have to take registration day off of work when you've already got your bib lined up!

Extra Motivation
Knowing that every mile you run is raising awareness and funds for a meaningful cause can provide an extra motivational boost. This sense of purpose can drive you through training slumps and inspire you to cross the finish line, regardless of the race’s physical and mental challenges.

Enhanced Race Experience
Many charities provide additional perks to their runners, including training plans, meet-ups, team t-shirts, and special gear. Some even offer race-day benefits like cheer squads, and post-race celebrations. Being part of a charity team also connects you with fellow runners who share your commitment to both running and your chosen charity cause, creating a sense of community and camaraderie.

Impact Beyond the Race
The funds and awareness you raise through your runDisney charity race entry have a lasting impact, supporting the charity’s mission long after you’ve crossed the finish line. This creates a legacy of your participation, knowing you’ve contributed to a cause that continues to benefit from your effort and dedication.

Personal Growth
The journey to a runDisney race, especially through a charity entry, is an opportunity for personal growth. It challenges you to set goals, work towards them, and ultimately, achieve something significant not just for yourself, but for a community in need. This journey can be transformative, offering lessons in resilience, empathy, and the power of collective effort.

Charity Shout-Outs

Charity Shout-Out: Sparrow's Nest
I got a last-minute charity bib with no fundraising commitment for the 2017 Wine & Dine Two Course Challenge from Sparrow's Nest of the Hudson Valley. They are listed as a charity partner for Wine & Dine and I would like to give them a shout out!

Charity Shout-Out: AFSP
One of the charities that speaks to me personally is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They are currently listed as a partner charity for every upcoming runDisney event, and they still have bibs and fundraising needs for the upcoming Springtime Surprise weekend.

Charity Shout-Out: Team MSAA
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America reached out to me late last year to promote their participation in upcoming runDisney events. I haven't been able to give a shout-out until now. MSAA has bibs available for the sold-out Disneyland Halloween Half Marathon Weekend.

Have You or Will You Run For a Charity?

Participating in a runDisney race with a charity entry bib is an enriching experience that marries the joy of running with the fulfillment of giving back. It’s an opportunity to make your miles more meaningful, surrounded by the unparalleled magic of Disney, all while contributing to a greater good. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a first-time racer, choosing a charity bib is a powerful way to make your runDisney experience truly magical!

WVR's fifth annual club race took place on Sunday, November 19, 2023. The Central Florida Legends race event offers three distances: a marathon; a half marathon; and a 5K. All of the races take place on our beautiful mixed-use trails here in Volusia County with a start/finish at my beloved local park Gemini Springs.

I volunteered for the inaugural event in 2019, and ran the 5K virtually. Last year I participated in the 5K in person. A lot of this recap is pilfered from the 2022 Fountain of Youth post, as it was a similar fun experience.

Training & Goals
Looking back at last year's post, the situation with my knees and overall fitness is virtually the same, if not worse. I got my quarterly knee shots the week before race day. I hadn't been running on my bad knees at all; they felt a bit better after the shot, but still not great. I keep trying, though.

Race Day: November 19, 2023
I biked over to Gemini Springs at around 6:40AM. I wanted to get into the park before the marathon started at 7AM and this gave me plenty of time. I stowed my bike and watched the marathoners start their race before picking up my own packet.

I chatted with some friends and loafed around until the half marathon started a half hour later. At 8AM it was time for the 5K to start. It was 64°F with clear skies as I crossed the start line.

Mile 1: 14:26
This race is mostly a simple out-and-back for 5K runners, with a bit of a lollipop circle as we head back to the star/finish line. The half and full have a small detour through Green Springs Park on the way out and keep on the trail for the entire way back.

Mile 2: 14:33
The course runs right by the road to my house, close to where the water stop was just into the second mile. I'm on this trail multiple times a week but I rarely go in the other direction.

Mile 3+: 14:37, 3:22 (my Garmin came in at 3.24 miles, very similar to last year)

After the Race
There were plenty of treats for runners, including beer, donut holes, chicken tenders, and bananas. I watched the finish line for a while, listening to the music and stylings of race DJ Travis Sinsabaugh and enjoying delicious beer from Central 28.

It's always fun and wholesome spectating a race -- you should try it sometime if you haven't already! I got to see the first few marathoners come in (the winner was pushing a stroller!!!) as well as some first time 5K runners, many happy half marathoners, and proud pacers.

I also took the time to visit with all of our race's awesome vendors and sponsors, and filled out my passport to enter a raffle. I didn't win but I think the passport/raffle idea is a great way to get participants to check out the sponsor tents.

It's my awesome club's big race! It offers very good course support, excellent race management, a fun after party, and very good swag with unique age group awards. Highly recommended.

Chip time: 46:54
Placement details: 10/18 in Age Group, 201st place out of 258 finishers
Race Amenities: Long sleeve tech shirt, nice finisher medal, swag bag and freebies from vendors
Cost: $39.81

Race branded photo (c) Almost There Photography
Friends photo (c) Marieann Bannan

I participated in the second annual United With The Blue 5K in Lake Mary, Florida. The race director is a WVR club mate and the event honors law enforcement fallen officers and raises funds for two related charities: Law Enforcement United and Team Blueline.

I had to participate last year virtually due to a conflict; I was happy to participate in person this year.

Training & Goals
I've been having a lot of knee pain. I meant to try easy run:walk intervals as my knees would allow.

Race Day: November 5, 2023
This race takes place on the Cross-Seminole Trail from Front Running Sports in Lake Mary. It's a familiar out-and-back course on a popular multi-use trail that several local races use. It's an easy 15 minute drive from home and I was able to find a great parking spot, pick up my packet, and stow my stuff before the race started. I had bad timing as I apparently missed our club group photos by a minute.

Mile 1: 14:57
After a short walking warm-up, I mixed in some short running spurts, but my knees weren't having it. 

Mile 2: 14:52
I did my best power walk for miles 2 and 3. 

Mile 3+: 15:11, 2:19
There were a lot of walkers on the course, so I didn't feel too alone. 

After the Race
There were treats for runners at the end of the run, including candy, munchkins, half bananas, and beer from Tactical Brewing Company. WVR won a trophy for having the largest team. I stayed for some of the awards ceremony before heading home. 

This is a good race that supports a great cause. It's a nice run on a beautiful local trail. Recommended.

Chip time: 47:15 
Placement details: 5/11 in Age Group, 155th out of 200 finishers.
Race Amenities: Tech unisex t-shirt and finisher medal for all.
Cost: $21.19

All photos (c) Almost There Photography

I participated in the 2nd annual Monster Mash-N-Dash at our hometown brewery Central 28 on Saturday, October 28th. The race took place on our awesome multi-use trail in DeBary with a start/finish at the brewery. Some participants dressed up for the Halloween holiday run and there was complimentary tasty beer for (over 21) finishers. I participated last year as well, and a lot of this recap is pilfered from that one, as it was a similar fun experience.

Training & Goals
Looking back at last year's post, the situation with my knees and overall fitness is virtually the same. I had been experiencing very bad pain in my left knee for about a week and a half prior to race day. My Garmin was set to :30 running :90 walking intervals.

Race Day: October 28, 2023
I cycled over to the brewery on race morning, but I misremembered the start time. I left home at about 7:30AM for what I thought was an 8AM start. I realized my mistake while on the trail close to the brewery, so I just kept biking the trail to kill some time.

After my bonus 6 mile bike ride, I got to the brewery around 8:30AM. Still plenty early, I was able to stow my bike and pick up my packet with ease. I met up with some club mates before the race began. There were a lot of runners from WVR at this one; the brewery has long been a favorite of the club.

Mile 1: 14:23
I started with my intervals after a short walking warmup.

Mile 2: 14:14
Each time I started running, my knee protested for the first couple of strides before settling.

Mile 3+: 15:19, 1:23
I was suddenly just not feeling it during the last mile. My heart felt like it was racing, and had a little feeling of nausea, so I walked the last third of the course.

After the Race
It was a festive atmosphere, with the costumed runners, many familiar faces, and tasty brewery beer flowing. I stayed for the awards ceremony, where WVR was well-represented.

Afterwards there was a costume contest, where my friend Marieann came in second place in the individual competition (see photo below -- she was a great Cruella de Vil!).

The course is fast, flat, and safe with very little time on the sleepy industrial area road to and from the brewery. There was one water stop at around mile 1.3 that we hit twice. Decent swag for runners includes a soft cotton race tee and unique finisher medal, and of course craft beer at the finish. This fun brewery run is a good event on our local trails, and I'll continue to have it on my calendar when I'm able, even if I have to crawl. Recommended.


Chip time: 45:12
Placement details: 11/20 in Age Group; 188th out of 278 finishers.
Race Amenities: Soft cotton race t-shirt, unique finisher medal, tasty craft beer.
Cost: $31.93

This inaugural race event followed another new Volusia County Schools (VCS) race event put on earlier this year that I was sorry to miss: the Volusia County Schools Home Run 5K

While the earlier event benefited VCS track and field programs, this Volusia County Schools Trails to Success 5K was meant to support VCS employee health and wellness.

Training & Goals
Due to persistent and very depressing knee pain, I have been struggling for a while. I took a break from running over the summer to save my knees for a big holiday to South Africa. Now that I'm home, the idea is to ramp up my mileage to prepare for two half marathons at Disney in January. It's not really going very well. I signed up for this race knowing I'd need a 3-miler this weekend. I hoped the atmosphere would give me a boost. It's hard to resist races at Gemini Springs, just a short bike ride away for me. I planned to try my easy current interval of choice for the race: 30 seconds running and 90 seconds walking.

Race Day: October of 15, 2023
Cooler days finally started to reach central Florida! I biked over to Gemini Springs in the pleasant, cool dawn. Packet pickup was easy, but finding a place to park my bike wasn't -- the tree I usually used was being crawled all over by a bunch of kiddos. After stowing my bike and gathering my packet, I took a walk over to the fishing pier for a moment of zen and was delighted to hear the familiar PUFF of a manatee coming up for a breath.

I watched the sea cow feed on spring fed vegetation for a while and listened to its gentle breaths before heading back to the race in time for the start. It was about 70°F with 88% humidity and sunny skies when I crossed the start line just after 8AM. 

Mile 1: 13:56

Mile 2: 13:37
The turn-around was unmanned. I didn't notice any race volunteers or personnel on the course except for the water stop and at the main intersections between the park and the multi-use trail. This was a little bit disappointing; I think a well-supported race should include staff or volunteers on the course in case of any problems with the participants.

Mile 3+: 14:18, 1:00 (my Garmin came up a bit short at 3.08 miles)

Shortly after I finished, I said hi to a couple of WVR pals before biking home. 

The trails around Gemini Springs are great for races. This was for a good local cause, but the lack of course support wasn't ideal. I might run this again but I'm not comfortable recommending based on this experience.

Chip time: 42:45
Placement details: 7/24 in Age Group; 155/305 overall
Race Amenities: Soft cotton t-shirt, nice medal, free race photos
Cost: $29.23

Photos (c) Almost There Photography

Volunteer registration for the 2023 Wine & Dine race weekend events opened up on September 6th. At that time, what was long rumored was finally, unfortunately, confirmed: 

Thank you for considering volunteering your time during the upcoming runDisney race season! Your passion for making a difference in the Central Florida community through our celebrated charities is truly valued. In keeping with that spirit of volunteerism, complimentary theme park tickets will not be distributed. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm for our magical running community

Arthur and I volunteering at the 2019 Princess 10K

When Complimentary Tickets Were The Norm (through the 2021-2022 race season)

Arthur and I have volunteered for several runDisney race weekends at Walt Disney World. And getting the slots we wanted was tough! Before the brief Track Shack takeover during the 22-23 season, we could see the volunteer positions fill up before our eyes. Just like registering for race bibs, prospective volunteers needed to be online and ready to fill in all the necessary fields the moment registration opened up

When Volunteers Received Half Day Tickets (2022-2023 race season)

Water stop @ 2020 Marathon

The Track Shack races of the last year worked a different system -- prospective volunteers made their interest known and found out their assigned shifts, if any, close to race weekend. Changes could be requested by email afterwards. Arthur and I were lucky to be able to work a few of those race weekends as well. I don't have inside information but my understanding is that shifts for the half marathons and marathon (the longer shifts) were not filled up, and there was a scramble close to race day to get enough volunteers. For both Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend as I was on the bus to head out to a water stop, the team leaders asked if any aboard would be willing to switch to a different water stop due to lack of volunteers across the board. So with the half day tickets, filling volunteer slots already seemed to be a problem...

Wine & Dine Volunteer Registration 2023 So Far...

Water stop @ 2023 Marathon

As of this morning, six days after volunteer registration opened up for this race weekend, none of the water stop volunteer positions are full for the half marathon. Only a few positions for that longer race are fully staffed, including some Cheering Fans; Medals (giving out medals to runners); and Volunteer Check In and Check Out (both air-conditioned positions). None of the 9 water stops have been fully staffed yet. This is really unheard of in my experience volunteering at various events since 2019.

For the 10K, only one of the three water stops is fully staffed. More other positions are full for this shorter race with a smaller volunteer need.

Most volunteer positions are full for the 5K race, the event with the least available positions. Heat Sheets / Cool Core and Recycling are the only two positions available right now. This to me is also unheard of though -- in the past it was my understanding that only longtime volunteers were able to get into the 5K at all. I've never been able to volunteer for any 5K event at Walt Disney World.

If you'd like to volunteer, or you'd like to keep track of how long it takes these positions to fill up like I have, click the button below.

Is It Volunteering If Compensation Is Expected?

Volunteering for runDisney races is a lot of fun, no doubt. Arthur and I have always had a blast working water stops, from filling the cups, stacking the tables, and handing out water, to the brief clean up and break down. The early morning wake-ups are worth it for the smiles alone. 

It has been known, but never explicitly stated, that volunteers receive a complimentary full-day ticket following their volunteer shift. Prior to the Track Shack season, the tickets were issued in the mail some weeks after the race event. Last season, the half-day tickets were issued upon checking out from the volunteer shift. 

So, is it really volunteering if compensation in the form of a free theme park ticket is expected? This is a big argument I see all over runDisney fan forums online. The volunteers are there on behalf of the "honorary charity", but they're really working for a huge corporation: Disney. 

Compare volunteering for a local race versus volunteering for runDisney. You're looking at a 5AM wake-up versus 1AM wake-up. There's heading to your local park versus a potential long commute to (or hotel room at) Disney. Work a 3-4 hour shift versus a 6+ hour shift. Helping out a local charity versus working for Disney. These are some of the arguments I see presented defending the ire over Disney taking away the complimentary tickets. What do you think?

Arthur and I have decided to sit out volunteering for Wine & Dine Weekend this year. I'll be able to run a local race in person that weekend, which will be nice. And we won't have any 1AM wake-up calls.