Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Trip Report
Lets admit it, running is no fun. That is unless you are running in a runDisney event. We recently had the chance to participate in the greatest of all runDisney events. The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Presented by Cigna. We only ran the Half Marathon, but the entire weekends events were great. My wife and I like to Visit Walt Disney World in January anyway. This year we decided to run the Half Marathon so we could participate in the events that looked like so much fun in previous years when we had visited.
Our January trip had become a late Christmas gift to each other in years past. This time we planned a little farther ahead. We began training based on the training program we found for the race on the runDisney.com website. We trained using the Run-Walk-Run Jeff Gallaway method. We increased our long runs by 1.5 miles every other weekend. We used a path around the National Mall in Washington, DC after we reached the 5 mile training run mark. Our final long run was on December 24, a cold sleet filled day in DC.
We took an early flight down on January 11th. Upon arrival we took the Magical Express to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We booked a Villa at Jambo House with our DVC points for the first two nights and a Villa at Kidani Village for the following two. Great view from both rooms.
view from deluxe studio villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge
After check-in we headed over the The ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for registration. Disney provided transportation from Disney Resorts to the WWOS complex for the weekend. We visited the HP Field House to pick up our race packets, which included our race bib and commemorative pins. The lines for race packets inside the field house weren't bad because they were broken up by name, but to get our race shirts we had to walk over to the Jostens Center. The line outside of the Jostens Center was crazy, but it moved very quickly. Once we got our race shorts we were ready have a little fun before having to rest for the race.
We went back to our room to drop off our race goodies and headed to Epcot to visit our buddy Carl at the Rose and Crown.
1/2 Marathon race shirt, race bib, and commemorative pin
After a few beers at the Rose and Crown we headed back to Jambo House to relax and get ready for an early dinner. We had an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) for Jiko. I love the duck breast and we figured that it would be better to have dinner at our resort so we could get to bed nice and early. Dinner was great and it was a great way to relax before the race.
Breast of Duck at Jiko
On race day, Saturday we woke up at 230AM. We had a couple of Powerades and ate BLTs that we purchased the night before at Earl of Sandwich. We boarded the 300AM bus that took us to the parking lot at Epcot. When we entered the Family staging area, I was blown away by how excited everyone was to be up at 330AM. The energy was amazing. It removed any nervousness or doubt that a first timer might have. Jennifer and I were ready to get this thing started. There was a DJ on the stage. Behind him a huge video screen showing video of the mass of people gathered to run.
Jennifer and I before the 1/2 Marathon
We had to walk what felt like a mile to get to our corral at the Start line, but again the massive amount of positive energy drove us that morning. After the National Anthem, we were ready to start. Donald Duck the Con"Duck"tor of the 1/2 Marathon counted us down and we were off. Donald counted down each corral and a burst of fireworks for each group marked the beginning of the best time I've ever had running that far.
2013 WDW 1/2 Marathon Start
The entertainment on the course was great. A marching band was the first of the entertainment. Once we started to head toward the Magic Kingdom toll plaza we ran past Jack Sparrow next to a pirate ship from the Magic Kingdom parade. We ran under the toll plaza, then past the Walt Disney World Raceway, past the Transportation and Ticket Center, past the Contemporary Resort and into the Resort Bus area.
Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza
We entered the Magic Kingdom through a backstage area and ran onto Main St. USA which was lined with people cheering. I can't describe how cool it was to see the Magic Kingdom from a new perspective after all of these years of visiting under normal conditions.
Main St. USA
The race course took us through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, out through Cinderella's Castle, through Liberty Square, Frontierland and out past Splash Mountain back to a back stage area. We ran past another DJ playing music and began the leg that took us back to Epcot.
To be continued...