If you’ve ever run a longer distance race, you know how much influence that the spectators can have on you. There are those that say “You’re almost there!” only a mile or two into a race and can get you in a tizzy (which, by the way, isn’t so funny when you’re running a half or full marathon) but then you have those who uplift you with their cheers and encouraging words and posters.
And that is what this post is all about.
If you’ve been following my blog since I started back in 2012, you know that I ran the 2013 runDisney Princess half marathon as my very first one. This race was nothing but exciting for me…to run further than I’ve ever gone before AND to do it at the happiest place on earth…what could be better?? Being that this was my first big race with spectators along the course, it was a lot of fun for me to see the signs and the smiles on their faces as they cheered all the runners on.
But one spectator really stood out to me (and sadly, I did not take a photo of her during the Princess half) but right outside of Epcot at around mile 12, I saw this woman sitting on a scooter with a sign that said “Hello Complete Stranger…I’m Proud Of You Too!” It definitely brought a smile to my face and helped give me that extra push that I needed to finish the race.
As I became move involved in the runDisney community I learned who this super spectator, or ChEARleader in Disney language, was. Her name was Peggy Sue, and she was as part of a runDisney race as the Disney characters who lined the course. Her daughter also runs and she would travel with her to all the runDisney races that she could, and she always had her tried and true sign as well as some goodies in the basket of her scooter.
Fast forward to Labor Day weekend 2013 when I flew out to California to participate in the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare race (that’s a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday). I ran the 10k with my friends Lena, Brandi, and Brandi’s mom, and as we approached mile 6, there was Peggy Sue, sitting on the course with her sign. We cheered for HER as we ran passed as we always loved seeing her at races. The next day during the half, Brandi and I were coming up on mile 12…it was hot, humid and we were ready to be done with the race. Who did we see at mile 12? None other than the infamous Peggy Sue :) We ran up to her and graciously accepted the Starburst candies she offered to us and I was able to grab a selfie with her.
This year I ran the Wine and Dine half marathon (affectionately called the Splash and Dash by the participants). If you didn’t already know, it rained during the ENTIRE race. When you’re a slower runner like me, that’s a lot of time in the rain and wind with wet clothes and shoes on. I don’t think I’ve ever been so miserable in my entire life. As I was running along the Boardwalk area in front of the Yacht and Beach club resorts, I looked over and saw Peggy Sue…sitting on her scooter with a poncho on at 2 a.m. cheering for us runners in the rain. While I didn’t stop for a picture, seeing her made me smile and I finished the toughest race I have yet to run.
Sadly, that would be the last time I would see Peggy Sue at a runDisney race. She had been battling cancer for quite some time and passed away this morning. The runDisney community has been saddened by this loss but we know that as we approach mile 12 of each and every runDisney race (or mile 25 of the full) Peggy Sue will be there in spirit with her sign “Hello Complete Stranger, I’m Proud Of You Too!!”
If you want to see how one person can have such an enormous impact on hundreds of people, click here to see a video that a fellow Disney Pacebook runner, Jennifer, has made in her honor/memory.
Peggy Sue’s favorite Disney character was Jiminy Cricket, and the song he sang in Pinocchio is perfect for the encouragement that she gave all runners that both knew her and didn’t know her.
Thank you Peggy Sue! You will never be forgotten
Until next time,