I started running after a brunch in February 2010 then ran my first half marathon in January 2011 at Disney World. A year later to the day, I ran my second marathon around Walt Disney World and through its theme parks for another 26.2 miles.
Waking up and taking a 3:30 am bus from my hotel to the race for a 5:30 am start was an early start for the race. A chilly 50 degrees made it a cold start to the race. As the flames shot into the sky and the race began, a large full moon hung over the course as we ran out towards EPCOT. After running a loop through EPCOT, we headed up the road towards the Continental Hotel and through the backstage leading into the Magic Kingdom at the 10 mile mark. Running up Main Street USA towards Cinderella’s castle before turning off into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, leading back through the castle into Liberty Square and Frontierland and back out to the backstage area.
With the race half over, a long stretch of backstage road loomed before us. While most visitors don’t get to see this part of Walt Disney World, it was a boring stretch for the run, which passed by the waste reclamation center. The smells were less than pleasant as we passed it and continued through the employee areas towards the Animal Kingdom. As we approached the Animal Kingdom, cast members stood along side the road cheering us on with some of the animals by their side. We ran through the Animal Kingdom and through the Hollywood Studios before heading back towards EPCOT. Running through the countries of EPCOT World Showcase and returning to the Future World before heading to the finish line right outside of EPCOT.
26.2 miles around the Walt Disney World property was a bit tougher than I expected. Between the cold weather before the race and the 80 degree heat by the end was rather dehydrating. Parts of the race were rather narrow as well, since Disney parks weren’t necessarily made for over 20,000 runners to pass through over several hours. Overall, my time was 5:07:04. I had hoped to surpass my NYC marathon time, but unfortunately I took an extra five minutes.
The big differences I found between Disney and NYC was the energy of the race due to onlookers. Because there was such a long stretch of the race that wasn’t open to supporters, there were no one cheering on the runners for long periods. Also because of the openness of the course, we spent a long time running by wooded areas, where runners chose to “water the trees” rather than wait till they got to the porta potties or wait on line for them.
Running Disney World was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again, after I complete the Coast to Coast again. Since I’ve run the half and full marathons, the only place to go is to run the Goofy, which would be running the half and the full in the same weekend. In the meantime, I’ve decided to take a break to let my body heal and not run any races until the Bronx Zoo in April.