"Coolest thing I ever did," say Disney marathon participants
There are marathons and then there are Disney World Marathons where 25,000 participants run through the parks and Cinderella's castle to the cheers of the public. Beginning at Epcot and eventually returning to Epcot the race covers 13.1 miles.
So when Katie Glover, 17, a Chase High senior and a self-proclaimed Disney World fanatic, heard about the race she asked her mother, Karen Smith Glover, if she'd take her.
Karen said she'd been asking Katie to run with her for quite a while but Katie didn't want to until she heard about the Disney World Half-Marathons.
"I asked her if she'd take me," Katie said.
Karen told Katie they would start training and if by July 2012 she could run a half-marathon, she would register them for the January 2013 event.
That was all the motivation needed, except perhaps, to take a few friends along.
She invited classmates Montana Bright and Ashton Hunt, to go along.
Montana's mother, Sherry Bright, was planning to go but while training she sustained a foot fracture and had to quit. Montana decided to concentrate on her dancing, leaving Ashton, Katie and Karen to begin training.
Montana and Ashton's mother, Starlyn Hunt agreed to go along to cheer the group along.
"This was one of the coolest things I've ever done," Katie said. "Running through the castle with everyone cheering you on and with trumpeters playing on top of you, was awesome."
But a 13.1 mile run wasn't a walk in the park for the threesome. Although Ashton plays volleyball, Katie and Karen were somewhat non-athletic.
They knew it would require rigorous training and discipline so, for eight months they trained.
"We did it the race in under two-and-a half-hours," Katie said. "But we stopped about nine times to take pictures with characters, and each line for pictures was about five minutes long. In total, our time was almost three hours and fifteen minutes."
"You really had to keep pushing yourself harder and harder to get to the end," Katie said. "Toward the end I was getting really tired and my knees were starting to hurt, but at the end there was a choir singing and you knew you could make it."
Katie said the marathon and racing with her mother, is something she'll never forget.
Karen echoed her comments.
"I'll always treasure this time we had together during her senior year before they are all gone," Karen said.
"It was a great experience. . .It was one of the coolest things I've ever done."
Ashton hadn't planned to run until she was persuaded. "Katie Glover is a Disney fanatic and when she found out we could have that opportunity and that it was a way for her to get back to Disney, we felt the experience of running at Disney would be better and so we started training."
"The actual race, it was very hard but it was well worth it," Ashton said. "It was an awesome experience to run through the parks at Disney World."
When they started training, they ran one or two miles every day of the week. As they increased their miles, they decreased the days of training.
"When we were running nine to 10 miles a day, we only ran a couple times a week," Ashton said. One of the most challenging aspects of the race, was finding time to run when school started back in the fall. Between school, working and volleyball finding hours to run a day was difficult.
"But when we finished it felt great," Ashton said. "I was hurting, but it was just great. It was a major accomplishment for me."
Thinking back to a year ago, Ashton said she wouldn't have run one mile, certainly not 13.
The three seniors are already looking ahead to February 2014 when they want to participate in the Disney World Princess Marathon. Only time will tell since it's a year away and they'll be in college.
Karen Glover said the half marathon would be a great experience for anyone.
"It makes you feel like a kid . . .running through the castle," she said.
She wouldn't take anything for spending quality time with her daughter and her friends during their senior year of high school.
"It is something I will always remember and be so thankful I got to do before they graduated," Karen said. "I'll always be grateful for the time we were in training."
As for the cheerleaders, Starlyn Hunt and Montana, it was a different story.
They arrived at the bus stop at 4 a.m. the day of the race. "But the bus never came," Montana said.
Finally at 7:20 a.m., the bus arrived and Starlyn and Montana jumped on the bus for the ride to the race. "We only got to watch them cross the finish line. . .But it was huge — 25,000 people crossing the finish line.