A Runner’s Take on Doing a runDisney Marathon
Thinking about doing a runDisney race? Get a runner’s take on doing a runDisney marathon to lend some perspective.
My husband is an avid runner and he likes to do at least three races each year. He usually does a marathon every other year.
I bring the cowbells and help the kids make signs to support him in his races. I am not a runner – so I can give you some insight as a supporter.
Disney has just announced the dates for the 2022 marathon weekend – taking place from January 5-9, 2022. Here’s what it was like for my husband when he ran the runDisney marathon.
Registering for the marathon
My husband signed up online to get a bib. If you’re looking for a bargain marathon experience, this isn’t the one. But, you get what you pay for. It’s the best race event my husband has ever done – and he’s done a lot.
When you buy your bib, you can choose to do one race or multiple races. If you do the half marathon and the full marathon, you’ll get medals for each of those plus the “Goofy Challenge” medal.
If you choose to do all four races – the 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon – you’ll be doing the Dopey Challenge. So you’ll get six medals – one for each race plus the Goofy and Dopey Challenge medals.
Where to stay
My husband decided to go to Orlando a day earlier than the kids and I so he could spend good time in the race expo. It also meant he could rest his legs a little bit before the big race.
He stayed on-site at the Pop Century Resort for the first night, then moved to Coronado Springs Resort when we arrived. Staying on-site at a Disney resort is really the way to go with runDisney events.
Talk to your MickeyTravels agent about your runDisney plans. Sometimes your travel agent can get you a package with a bib. Or you can get your bib yourself, and work with your MickeyTravels agent to get your hotel and park tickets.
Just a note – you pay for the abuse – race registration doesn’t get you theme park admission.
runDisney has a great race expo. There’s no shortage of options to spend money. You’ll find lots of running and fitness-related vendors including all of the official runDisney merchandise that goes along with the event.
Most of that runDisney merchandise is available in the hotel gift shops, but this is the most complete. Some runDisney merch is in the parks but not much. You’ll also find race merchandise in World of DIsney in Disney Springs.
But get that merch when you see it – it was gone about two days from the hotel about two days after the marathon.
Be prepared to get up early – like 2 a.m. The race starts at 5:00 a.m., so a good amount is run before the parks open. There are buses from every hotel to take you to the starting area. They leave early – at 2:30-3:30-ish.
You’re going to start outside of Epcot and finish inside Epcot. For the marathon, you go through all four theme parks and Blizzard Beach.
There are fireworks at the starting line for every heat. It took my husband half an hour to get from his corral to the starting line.
This is a mostly flat course. So if you’re a first-time marathoner, this is almost as kind as it can get. There are very few hills – and they’re gradual and short. If you’ve been to
Walt Disney World before, think about how flat the area actually is – your legs will be punished less for this race.
The race route is clearly marked. You will always be near another runner – you won’t be left behind and you won’t lose your way.
There are music and entertainment posts at most of the mile markers.
There are characters waiting for photo opportunities at most mile markers.
All along the race route you can get water, Gatorade, Vaseline – all the aid you could need. The best race, ever.
For the marathon, there’s music, fireworks and the energy is high. If you’ve done a big race before, you know what it’s like. Here the energy is as high as any other but the fun factor is much higher. It’s a Disney production.
Unique Disney World experience
As the race time crept into park operating hours, many runners would leave the route to hop on rides, then rejoin the race.
The coolest experience was running through the Magic Kingdom with the holiday lights on, and no one in the parks. If you’re a Disney fan, it’s one of the best experiences you can imagine.
You get routed through the roads that are backstage that you usually don’t get to see.
At the finish line there was more fanfare. And there was no shortage of bathrooms, water or aid. You can hit a massage station for an extra fee.
Supporting your runner
If you’ve got family or friends coming to the race to cheer you on, there are designated cheer zones. Most likely you’ll have your supporters go to Epcot to see you near the race finish.
I found that there were some challenges getting around the parks during race hours. I ended up letting the kids sleep in, and we headed to Epcot to scope out a spot. We moved around a bit and then found a nice place where we could stand or sit near Spaceship Earth.
Naturally, there’s an app you can use to track your runner throughout the race.
My husband has a tradition of eating sushi the night before a race. So we followed that and ate at Tokyo Dining in the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. Remember, your MickeyTravels agent can make your dining reservations 60 days in advance of your vacation!.
After the marathon
We ended up doing a full day in Epcot after the race. Adrenaline made that feel great on race day, but less great on Monday morning.
If you want to do the marathon and dodge the crowds, go to the parks after the marathon. Room rates are cheaper and there’s more availability after the race weekend than before.
Wear your medals on Sunday and Monday in the parks to get lots of congratulations and maybe even some little perks here and there.
Doing a runDisney race
All in all, my husband loved doing a runDisney race and would love to do one every year. Everything about the race was done well.
Communication about the event was excellent. They sent lots of emails in advance letting you know what to expect. Race times, preparation, transportation – everything you need to know.
The shirt is great, medal is great. Top notch race swag.
This is easily the best organized, best staged, best produced race event that my husband has done and that you’ll probably do. It’s a Disney production – so you can expect the very best.
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