Sheriff Reportedly Threatens to Disqualify Walt Disney World Marathon Runner and Detain His Wife, Chases Him Down Course

Brit Tuttle

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Sheriff Reportedly Threatens to Disqualify Walt Disney World Marathon Runner and Detain His Wife, Chases Him Down Course

During today’s Walt Disney World Marathon, runners took to the 26.2-mile course to make their way through the resort. Unfortunately, some runners and spectators claim to have experienced less-than-magical treatment from a reportedly “aggressive” county sheriff monitoring the event.

Sheriff Reportedly Threatens Disqualification for Walt Disney World Marathon Runner

In a post shared to the runDisneyRun Facebook page, runner Ryan Lahiff shared his experience with the county sheriff in question.

A digital rendering of the course map for the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon.

According to Lahiff, his wife attempted to watch the Walt Disney World Marathon from outside of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, at the right turn from Western Way to Buena Vista Drive (near mile marker 19 in the course map above), which was on the marathon’s course.

While trying to watch the marathon from that area, where other spectators were also standing, the sheriff reportedly told Lahiff’s wife and other families that the area was off-limits for race viewing. Later, the sheriff reportedly threatened to “detain” Lahiff’s wife after he stepped off the course to kiss her, chased down Lahiff to get his bib number, and threatened to have him removed from the event.

Read Lahiff’s full post:

Ryan Lahiff runDisney Facebook Post Aggressive Sheriff
Image Source: runDisneyRun on Facebook

Congrats to all the runners this weekend!

Unfortunately a disappointing story to share from today’s marathon – my wife & I are staying at Coronado Springs, she couldn’t make it to the start to cheer me on so we’d scoped out that the course ran right past the hotel, at the right turn from Western Way onto Buena Vista drive, right before the 19 mile marker and the run down to the parking lot of Blizzard Beach.

We’d checked with the hotel, they said they’d been told families could cheer from the roadside, I checked the event guide, it didn’t say anything about this stretch of the course. But when my wife and a few other families arrived they were confronted by an immediately aggressive county sheriff.

Firstly he told them no one could spectate in this stretch, even though within sight were about two dozen other spectators. Then he said it was a dangerous position, even though both roads were completely closed to all traffic.

When I arrived I stepped two feet off the course to kiss my wife before being shouted at by the sheriff, who ran over threatening to have me immediately removed from the event. When I told him (mostly politely) that he had no reason to do that, he chased me down the course to record my bib number then went back and threatened to “detain” my wife. My wife said the sheriff had already berated another supporter who tried to give her boyfriend/husband dry socks, again the sheriff claimed they could be handing over contraband & that today’s marathon is a qualifier for the Boston & Chicago marathons and any outside assistance would see the runner immediately disqualified.

Now I’ve run races big & small all over the country and the world, and from my experience the police are always amazing – they go out of their way, often in awful weather conditions, to support hte runners and their supporters, but today was beyond unnecessary. Needless to say it put me in a pretty foul mood for the last 7 miles of the marathon and I immediately went and spoke to the event staff at the information tent at the finish so they also had my bib numbre and the info from my side.

Everything this weekend has been amazing, even in testing weather conditions for the event organisers & competitors – situations like this are’nt what I associate with RunDisney events, hopefully the sheriff is found and “educated” on some of his false information…

Ryan Lahiff

Another Facebook group member, Haley Bombard, commented on Lahiff’s post, corroborating his story with her own encounter with the sheriff. She was spectating the Walt Disney World Marathon and not running, instead hoping to watch her mom from that same area near Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Haley Bombard runDisney Facebook Comment Aggressive Sheriff
Image Source: runDisneyRun on Facebook

i also tried to watch from that corner considering the sidewalk is public property and the officer was rude beyond rude ! even when i explained i was just trying to see my mom he threatened to have my [sic] physically removed. i left of my own accord and told others to walking that way whom swiftly turned and just went further up the road cause he couldn’t leave his car… out of all the times ive [sic] gone to see my mom run today had to have been by far the worse in respect to sheriffs and cast members being rude. i get that im [sic] 20 and not all younger adults have manners but i was beyond surprised at the attitudes of everyone.

to the mom who gave me a hug after a cast member at epcot berated me for being confused on where the runners were, thank you for making sure i was okay

Haley Bombard
Walt Disney World Marathon Spectator Viewpoints

On the runDisney Expo website, spectator viewing tips for the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend read that “for your safety, spectator viewing on our open roadways and overpasses isn’t not allowed.” This double negative is likely incorrect, and is meant to say “is not allowed.”

The tips section also says, “For our athletes’ safety, please don’t hand out any food and/or beverage items to athletes along the race course.” While this doesn’t necessarily say “no handing out dry socks,” it is possible that offering any items to runners during their race is frowned upon.

According to the chart above from runDisney, there is no designated spectator viewing for the Walt Disney World Marathon near mile marker 19, where Lahiff and his wife were told by Cast Members at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort it was okay to view the race.

The identity of the sheriff and his county were not confirmed in the Facebook post, though based on the location of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, it’s likely the sheriff was part of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

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