Volunteering at a runDisney Event

by Rebecca Foreman
AllEars® Guest Columnist

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 8, 2016 Issue #859 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

Rebecca ForemanI love volunteering for runDisney races! However, volunteering positions are rapidly becoming as difficult to register for as running the race itself. With the Star Wars Half Marathon coming up next month, along with all the races scheduled throughout the rest of the year, I thought I'd offer a few tips on how to volunteer and also what to expect as a race volunteer.

Exactly how do you sign up to be a volunteer?

First of all, you need to know that volunteering for these runDisney races is open to everyone age 14 and up.

To begin, you'll want to set up an account in www.active.com. This is the account that you use to sign up for all runDisney race and volunteer events, so have your password handy.

Second, bookmark the website, www.rundisney.com/volunteer/. This is the official site for volunteering for runDisney events and registration starts here. You can sign up for email notifications for sign-up dates. This is a good idea. When you are on the main page of this site, choose the race you want by using the Volunteer for Select an Event space under the pictures. DO NOT use the Events button at the top of the page; this is for runner sign-up.

Sign-up is usually 3-4 months before a race, on a Tuesday, at noon. You want to be on the volunteer site, on the race event page, ready to sign up as soon as it opens. The words Registration is Open will appear in the Registration section when time to register. Clicking on this will take you to your active.com account sign in page. After signing in, you will be taken directly to the race volunteer page. The first page is general information and waiver acknowledgement. The next page will be for specific Expo and race sign ups. These are set up by days, so know ahead which day you plan to sign up for. The Expo will have a choice of by shift times. The kids' races and the 5K and 10K have only one general sign up button on the race day. The half and full marathons are more extensive. The shifts are set up from earliest to latest and by assignment name. You can sign up for more than one race or Expo shift over the weekend. If the assignment becomes full, the words Wait List will appear. You can still click on it to be put be wait-listed, in case someone cancels.

Be sure to include an email address for your registration, so that you can receive updates. A couple of weeks before the race, if it has not been emailed to you, you might want to do an internet search for race volunteer pdf. I haven't found an exact website, but you can do a web search for sports enthusiast overview (name of race, year) pdf. This overview is a volunteer booklet similar to the race booklet runners receive during race weekend. It contains a lot of helpful information and instructions for volunteering for the weekend. If you don't receive it or can't find it, you can request it to be sent to you at the email address given at the beginning of the article.

If you use a wheelchair or have special needs, I highly recommend that you contact runDisney at [email protected]. They will help you decide which assignment will be the most fun for you. (You can also use this email for any questions you might have.)

If you have two or more people who want to volunteer together, you must all register for the same race shift. For the 5K and 10K, you should show up together for check in, so you can choose the same assignment. If you want to volunteer together for a half or full marathon, you will need to decide ahead of time what you want to do and be sure to register at the same time, and then send an email to the above address to let them know you wish to be together on your shift. Just remember, you must be flexible, they will do their best to accommodate your request, but there are never any guarantees.

Once you have signed up, your name tag, with shift and parking instructions will be mailed to you about 30 days before the race. You will also need to make sure you print and sign the volunteer waiver you will find on the volunteer page, under Waiver. One waiver will cover all volunteer shifts. You need to bring all of the above with you for your shift. When you arrive and sign in for your shift, you will meet up with your team leader, who will give you instructions and take you to your shift location. This is also the person who will sign you out at the end of your shift.

Transportation is NOT offered during the race weekend, so be prepared to provide your own. Expo parking is at ESPN, where the Expo is located. Parking for 5K and 10K races are at the race locations, mostly Epcot. Volunteer check in and parking for half and full marathons will be off site, and you will be bused in to the race from there. Also, be aware that traffic routes can change due to road closures, so give yourself extra time.

At the Expo, there are normally two shifts per day. When you show up for your shift, you will receive your assignment, from handing out race packets and t-shirts to printing waivers. Expect to stand pretty much the entire time, although you are usually given a rest break. The hours are during the day. For every hour you work the Expo, you get 1 point, when you accumulate 16 points, you will be mailed a park ticket. Parking is at ESPN.

The kids' races are usually at ESPN. Expect to stand most of the time, outside, in the weather during the middle of the day. Bring sunscreen and proper weather gear, like a hat. For every hour you volunteer, you receive 1 point. When you accumulate 16 points, you will be mailed a park ticket. Parking is at ESPN.

Shift times for the 5K and 10K will be on the schedule mailed to you. You will choose your assignment when you check in at the Volunteer Tent at the race. The earlier you arrive, the more choices you have. Expect to stand for your entire shift, many assignments being outside, in the weather and very early. After check-out at the end of your shift, you will be mailed a park ticket in 4-6 weeks. Parking is at the race location.

If you decide to sign up for a half or full marathon, you choose your shift and assignment at signup time. For these races, you WILL need to pick up a separate race credential packet, either at early pickup or at the volunteer packet pickup at the Expo. Expect to stand the entire time, many assignments being outside, in the weather and very early (except for the Wine and Dine half, which is very late). After check-out at the end of your shift, you will be handed a park ticket. Parking location and directions will be in your credential packet.

Here are a few more miscellaneous suggestions. Volunteer registration is months before the actual race weekend. Even if you are not sure you'll be able to go, sign up anyway. You can cancel if you need to; there is always a Wait List. And if the shift you want is Wait-Listed, sign up anyway; you might get lucky if someone cancels. Times given for your shift are the longest you will spend on your shift. Many times you are let go earlier. All shifts include snacks. They usually consist of things like chips, bars and water. I highly suggest you eat before your race shift and keep your snacks in the clear bag you are given to take with you. The Expo snacks are actually closer to meals. And I really suggest you bring some tissue or a bit of toilet paper. If you have a shift where your only toilet option is a portapotty, you may be glad you tucked some extra tissue in your pocket. If you like doing research, you can find ways to look up course maps and see where you might like to volunteer.

My first volunteer experience was as Runner Direction for Expedition Everest 5K obstacle and scavenger hunt, where we guided runners through the parking lot to the post-race party. There was not much runner interaction, as the runners were tired and just wanted to go to the party. This entailed lots of standing outside in the weather. This was a night race, so the hours were from very late to very early in the morning.

Second was at the Expo handing out 5K shirts at the Expo for the Wine and Dine weekend. This is completely inside the whole time and during daytime hours. It was very fun and interactive with enthusiastic runners.

Next was for the Marathon Weekend. For the Half Marathon, I was at the SAG Tent. This is where runners who are pulled from the race are brought. The runners receive medals (which I renamed Starter Medals) and medical assistance. This was very early to mid-morning. We had a tent and several chairs to use while waiting for the next wave of runners to come through. The Full Marathon was spent at the first shift for the Gear Check Tent, so was a very early shift but inside a tent. This was where runners could drop their clear gear bags to pick up after the race. This was fairly quiet until the racers headed to their corrals. Second shift returned bags to runners. There was only a little interaction, as the runners were in a hurry to get to their corrals and were concentrating on being ready to run.

For the Princess weekend, while I ran the 5K, my sister gave out medals, which were lined down each arm. The 5K medals are made of rubber, but the rest of the race medals are made of heavy metal, so be aware that they can get very heavy. This shift was very early and outside the whole time. She said this was extremely fun and interactive, congratulating the runners as they crossed the Finish Line. I volunteered for the 10K at Water Station 3, located at the Boardwalk, a beautiful location. This was a very early shift and outside. It got busy only when the masses came through. You can get wet. This assignment was the one where the runners were most grateful and we were constantly thanked for our volunteer service. For the Half Marathon, my sister and I chose Race Start Corrals. Volunteers make sure the runners enter their correct start corrals. You must be experienced with this shift in order to be at higher corrals. We were happy to be at the last corral. Only the last corral allows for any enjoyable interaction with the racers, as we didn't have to deny runner entry and we could charge up the crowd as they passed.

As for the coming Star Wars weekend, my husband and I have chosen to return to the Expo. We both truly enjoyed interacting with the excited runners, especially welcoming the newbies and giving them tips to help them enjoy their races even more. Well, being inside during daytime hours and surrounded by shopping doesn't hurt either.

The last, and most important things to remember about volunteering for any runDisney event: be flexible and, above all, have fun! The more enthusiastic you are, the better time everyone will have.

= = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = =

Disney PhotoPass is now staffing runDisney events

Trip Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Tips for Registering for runDisney Events

Planning a "Run-Cation"

UPDATE: Passholder registration for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November has been delayed until next Tuesday, March 22, at noon Eastern. Registration for the general public opens the following week, on March 29. Likewise, registration for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon has also been delayed: early registration starts on April 5, and open registration on April 12.



During the first of her two runDisney races, Rebecca Foreman decided that it looked like the volunteers were having so much fun, she had to try it for herself. She was right, and is now hooked! Walt Disney World holds a special place in her heart as the best family trip taken when she was a child, and it still gives her that nostalgic, magical feeling every time she is lucky enough to get there.


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.