I stumbled upon this old post I wrote for a now defunct Disney blog, so I thought I’d reshare.
One of the most memorable and proudest moments of my life came when I crossed the finish line at the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon. Despite my best efforts, my marathon crumbled at mile 15. The moment I realized I had humongous blisters on both heels was heartbreaking. I decided to walk the rest of the 11.5 miles (yes, my Garmin measured the course as 26.5 miles). While I did eventually finish, I’m now constantly seeking redemption.
Now to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about the Disney marathon, other Disney races, and other general marathon questions…
Should I stay on-property or off-property?
There are certainly pros and cons to both. If you have a loyalty rewards program with an off-property resort or are staying with friends to save money, then by all means. But also make sure that you have adequate transportation to and from the race AND the expo. I personally stayed at the Hilton Bonnet Creek (as a perk of being their official blogger for the event) for the 2011 marathon, but had I been a “regular” guest there, I would have had to pay for a cab to the expo. There was, however, transportation to and from the race start. If you drive to the race start, be prepared for road closures. Figure out how you’re going to get to the race in plenty of time in the morning. One big perk of driving there yourself is to have a cooler in the trunk full of ice cold beverages and snacks to fill your now empty stomach after running 26 miles. My personal preference is to stay on-property, and always has been since I’m a huge Disney fan! I truly believe that the magic sort of ends when you get on the bus to go to an off-property resort, but that’s just me. But anyway, all Disney resorts (during the WDW Marathon Weekend in January. Check the website for host resorts for the other race weekends) have transportation to and from the race and the expo. The ultimate place to stay is on the monorail route. Since the monorail picks you up at the race finish, you can jump on the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then on to one of the monorail resorts (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, or Polynesian).
What happens if my timing chip stops working and doesn’t record my time?
This actually happened to me. My timing chip stopped recording my time after the 10th mile. Many of my friends were texting me to see if I was okay and reassuring me that “Did Not Finish” trumps “Did Not Start”. I was so confused until I found my results online. But no worries! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with what you were wearing, your projected race finish time, and your bib number. They fixed mine within two days!
Do my friends and family need to pay park admission to watch me? What else do I need to know about being a spectator?
Magic Kingdom is the only park spectators can get in to for free on race day. Here’s what I would do if I were a spectator:
1. See my runner off at the race start. You can’t actually walk with them to the start.
2. But when they leave to go to the start, take the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center. The runners will come right through TTC, so grab a spot there.
3. Once they run by, catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and grab a spot on Main Street.
4. Catch the Resort Express monorail to the Grand Floridian (and in a hurry!). The runners will run right by the entrance to the Grand Floridian and the golf courses.
5. Catch the monorail back to TTC and then back to Epcot for the finish.
(For the full marathon, you can also see your runner just outside of Animal Kingdom, inside the Wide World of Sports, outside of Hollywood Studios, and along the Boardwalk area, but you might need to enlist a cab driver to help you get around!)
If you’re a spectator, please help by carrying a bag for your runner filled with Gatorade, water, sandals to change into after the race, and anything else your runner might like to have during or after the race. I personally like to have a chocolate bar in my bag.
Take lots and lots and lots of pictures! The official race photos are really expensive, so be your runner’s official photographer!
How was the marathon different from your training?
During my first time marathon training, I lived in Delaware and dealt with some extremely cold temperatures and snow, so the weather was slightly different. Also, due to injury and overall life stress, I didn’t exactly train as I should have. I did the long runs every single week, but I didn’t do enough mid-week runs, and I didn’t do any cross training. Big mistake! The blisters I spoke of earlier in the post did not come from new shoes or new socks, so I’m not sure what happened. But it goes to show that anything can come up during your race that you did not expect or train for. However, I was told afterwards that the medical tents had stuff available for blisters. I wish I would have stopped!
Other tips for Disney marathoners
1. Plan to meet up with your family/friends in the family reunion area at the finish at a very specific place. You might be out on the course longer than your phone battery can last, so don’t depend on having your phone to call your family and friends afterwards.
2. Carry a camera or a phone that is also a camera. You will not want to miss out on taking pictures with the characters or of the race in general.
3. Thank your supporters and the volunteers over and over again!
If you have anymore questions for me, leave a comment or email me at withasideofmagic at gmail.com
Good luck and enjoy every minute and every mile of your Disney race!