Be sure to read my recap from the WDW Half Marathon too!
Saturday afternoon post half marathon recovery by the pool was exactly what GoodGuys needed. After a few hours poolside I made my way to ESPN Wide World of Sports to visit the race expo. At the expo I went by the runDisney booth and met Jeff Galloway! He has been an icon in the running and marathon world for decades. The next person I met at the expo was Ali from MSPRun! We made our way around the displays and picked up a few things. I was happy to pick up the runDisney Vinylmation figurine and start my collection off the right way, this was not the only one I picked up over the course of the weekend. After a few circles of the booths we stopped at Champions Stadium to rest and chat a little. Saturday night the GoodGuys headed to Downtown Disney for a German prerace meal and entertainment, then back to the hotel for another early night’s rest, but not before taking a moment to mourn the Bronco’s overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Sunday morning’s 2:15 wake up came quick but was welcomed by us all. Out of the hotel just after 3 and a much easier time of parking put us at the bag check tent just before 4. This was the last time I would see the rest of the GoodGuys so I wished them well and good luck. Sunday was all about Team #runDisney, a facebook group of runDisney runners from across the world. A large group of us met prerace for a group photo. Then we were off down the gravel road toward the corrals again. Sunday I was able to start in Corral A to help avoid the same congestions from the day before. This also allowed me to run the marathon with Ali and Matt.
The fireworks went and the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon was underway. The first handful of miles were along the same route as the day before, wrapping through parking lots, the Transportation Center, and into the Magic Kingdom. This was the only time during the day I separated myself from Ali and Matt as there wasn’t a line for a picture with Cinderella’s Castle as a backdrop, but I quickly caught up.
Inside Mile 8 the course changed from the half as we made our way through the tunnel entrance and on to the warning track of the Disney World Speedway. Along the banking and front stretch were dozens of classic, sport, exotic, and muscle cars… not mention photo opportunities with Lightning McQueen and others. Miles 9-11 ran down a long backstage Disney road leading past the sewage treatment area and into the Animal Kingdom. It was during this stretch that the 3 of us changed our race plan to a run 4 minute/walk 1 minute approach. Inside the kingdom we passed quickly by the Mt. Everest ride and stopped off for a picture with Rafiki before making our way to the Osceola Parkway across to Victory Way and on to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Mile 17. This was one part of the race I was really looking forward to. We had one lap around a track and wrapped between soccer and baseball fields, passed an enormous Mickey Mouse hot air balloon, and into Champions Stadium, spring training home of the Atlanta Braves, for a lap around the warning track. Leaving the stadium and sports complex put us just a few tenths of a mile from the highly secret Mile 20 surprise! Disney is good at the overhype and this was no exception. The spectacular featured a handful of giant character human puppets along with a stage featuring Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto for a photo opportunity. Our race, however, carried on.
The next park along the course was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was a quick visit entering from backstage the Tower of Terror and through the center of the studio past the giant Sorcerer’s Hat landmark and quickly out to the lake south of Epcot. As we left Hollywood Studios we decided to run through without the walk breaks and finish strong. Miles 24 and 25 wrapped around the lake along pathway, sidewalk, and finally the boardwalk before entering Epcot just around the England area. Stopping only for a photo with Aladdin and Jasmine the three of pushed on through Epcot and out to the finish line. We crossed the line three wide all finishing with a net time of 4:41:11 and collected both our 20th Anniversary Marathon medal and our hard earned Goofy Challenge medal. Following a few pictures the three of us went our separate ways and I waited for all the GoodGuys to finish up. In total all 6 GoodGuys finished the challenge and took their medals. Following the race was a trip back to the hotel for a small celebration and a little rest and recovery for a day of Disney Parks ahead.
Overall, I think runDisney puts on a very fun race with a lot to offer all of the participants. The crowd support was thin through the bulk of the race held on the roadways but always exciting in the park. The character photo opportunities provide something to runners that can not be acquired at any other race in the country and the race course truly showcases the happiest place on Earth.