Yesterday, I ran my FIRST marathon ever, the Walt Disney World Marathon.
It was typical of other runDisney events, so I knew what to expect:
- WAY early bedtimes the night before
- Convenient , but EARLY bus rides
- A lot of smiling runners
- Pre-run party with snacks you have to buy
- Convenient gEAR check in so you can have a change of clothes after the race
- A nice snack box at the end of the race, a banana, and waters galore
The race route is the only Disney race that runs through all four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and finally through Epcot. You also run through the Disney Speedway and ESPN Wide World of Sports. I loved it!
The finish line and start line are both in Epcot which is convenient if you’re staying off site and you have to drive to the start line. The ticket is to arrive EARLY. Traffic usually starts at 3:30AM so plan accordingly! The course is NOT flat. There are several steep inclines and declines – the Osceola Parkway overpass (twice), under the Disney waterway just before the Magic Kingdom, the entrance to the Disney Speedway, and let’s not forget the little ramps here and there in all of the Disney parks. There are also spots on the course where the the terrain is uneven, for example, the exit ramps have very steep grades and your left leg hits the ground about 1/4 foot higher than your right. A lot of people choose to run on the grass on either side of the ramps, me included. This course is also thinner than the other Disney races only because of how long the course has to stay open. Disney cannot close all of the roads and so a majority of the course is one lane wide. There was a lot of bumping and running on grass. Don’t expect to get a personal record on this race!
Since this is a runDisney race, there are character spots at almost every mile marker AND unlike the Princess Half Marathon, the lines weren’t so long. It’s still a good wait, don’t get me wrong! The volunteers had it down to a science getting through the lines. It was about 45 seconds per runner. Very good.
This race has the most food and fuel handouts of all of the runDisney races. Refreshments were every two miles up until the halfway point, and then I swear they were every mile after that. Powerade is always offered first, then the water tables. At mile 14 and mile 20, bananas were offered. At mile 22.5, Hershey’s chocolates were handed out (I took one even though I’m lactose intolerant)! GU is also handed out twice, but I ran past those. They make me poop something serious. HAHAHHA! Some sponsors and spectators were handing out snacks too, like Swedish fish and animal crackers and pretzels.
This race is friendly for spectators, too. Check out the places below. My husband and my kids choose to wait at Epcot, right before the finish line. It was perfect!
My Personal Experience
I went into this race not for time, but for fun. This was my first marathon so I wanted to just finish. I knew I would stop for photos and maybe a ride or two, but I wanted to keep my running pace at 8:40-9:00. My plan worked. What DID NOT WORK was how much I ate the day before. I usually don’t fuel so much before any run and I don’t know why I changed it. I made two LONG pit stops, if you get my drift.
This race went by fast for the first 18 miles, then I think I hit a wall at 20. I wasn’t tired, but mentally I wasn’t all there. I kept thinking, wow, this is the most you’ve ever run. Be careful. This thinking made me walk more. Ugh. Mile 21 to 22 was so long for me. Then, when I saw the 22-mile marker, something clicked in my head. “Hey, you only have four miles to go!” I picked it up. I ran past folks and it felt great. I texted my husband as I got into Epcot, and that’s when my tears started flowing. “I’m going to finish and strong!” I ran through the World Showcase and as I got to China, I told myself that I’m gonna run fast my family so they can see how fast I am. Hahah! I turned it up once I got to Mexico and I didn’t stop. I got to Spaceship Earth where they were and I just kept yelling, “I’m HERE! I’M HERE! I’m HERE!” I ran so fast that Ryan wasn’t able to tape me. 🙂 I sprinted to the finish line just like my sister does and I was done! The tears flowed again when the volunteer placed my medal on me.
The volunteers were awesome. Walking to the start line at 3:45AM one volunteer was singing and saying “I’ll be your sunshine right now since it won’t be up for another four hours.” Others were smiling and clapping. All through the course, they cheered us on and they filled our water bottles at the water tables. The best time I had was when I picked up my gEAR bag after the race, and they stopped everything they were doing and sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I cried again!
After the race, I met up with my husband and my kids and ate at the Electric Umbrella. I wasn’t that hungry, but I forced myself to eat a nice burger. I changed my clothes and I instantly felt better. We walked around for a bit and rode the Land’s boat ride. I definitely recommend walking around after the race to keep yourself loose.
I gotta hand it to my husband. He managed to pack all of our stuff at the hotel and get the kids up and out the door in time to see me finish at Epcot. They didn’t eat breakfast, so they were scarfing everything down at the restaurant and I had to laugh. Without my Ryan, I don’t think I could have done this race. He supported me every which way. In the car on the way home he asked if I was done racing, and I told him “no way!” And, to my pleasure, he had a huge smile and a twinkle in his eyes. I think he’s proud of me!