It was a Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World!

| January 13, 2014 | 7 Replies

This weekend was an exciting one for runners and their friends and family at Walt Disney World. This is the 21st year for the Marathon Weekend. Disney has added  a 10K and a new 4-day 48.8 mile Dopey Challenge to the races this year.

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I was at the start line in the Epcot parking lot  for the Family Run 5K bright and early on Thursday morning to cheer my daughter on. It is always amazing to see how many people come to Florida for these races.  There were over 7,000 runners in this race alone that were part of the 4 race Dopey Challenge.  It was fun to see the people in their costumes.

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It is fun and strange to hear them playing non Disney music at these events. You look around and you are in Disney but the music sure isn’t Disney. I do have to say that if they had sign up sheets the day of the event I would sign up in a heartbeat!  They do such a good job of getting everyone warmed up,  inspired, and ready to run their races.

It was fun to see all the costumes and props that people run with. You saw people in Disney character costumes, a runner in full firefighter gear, but the most awe-inspiring one was the gentleman carrying the flag for a fallen soldier friend.

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Running guru Jeff Galloway was there on behalf of runDisney. He reminded the runners to be sure and take walk breaks throughout their run.

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Soon it was time for the runners to group in their corrals. The faster ones are in the front, the slower ones are in E.

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How many runners can say they arrived by monorail and got to run through a Disney theme park?

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The first to start the race were the wheelchair athletes. They quickly brought the first group of runners up to the start line.

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Ok, you knew it was coming.  Here is my rant again about people using iPads at Disney events. I had a woman next to me elbowing her way in to get pictures. If you want to get a good picture, get there early enough to get a good spot. Don’t just feel you can push your way through the crowd. A little courtesy would be nice when trying to get a picture.  Look around you and see if your iPad or tablet is blocking the view for someone else. Take your pictures and put the iPad down. You do realize that the pictures are not going to be as good as if you had used a “real” camera?  PS: learn how to use your iPad before you are standing there trying to take pictures.

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The last group of runners had not left the start line yet when we got word that the wheelchairs had finished. Gradually we all moved over to the finish line to watch the runners arrive.

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The 5K runners don’t have a chip on their bib so there was no way of knowing where my daughter was on the course.  I kept looking for her.  Finally I got a text message that she would be there at the finish line in a few minutes.  I was glad that she was wearing pink so she would stand out.

Here she comes!  I was so proud of her! She had finished the goal she had set out for herself.

After I saw this race I really am seriously thinking about doing the 5K next year.  What do you think?  Should I go for it?

I know that one of our bloggers, Aaron DelPrince, ran the full marathon and he will be writing a blog about his experience soon. We also will be talking about the Marathon weekend on this weeks DIS Unplugged Podcast.

Congratulations to all the runners this weekend.  What a accomplishment!  I hope you all are very proud of what you achieved this weekend. I know you have inspired me to challenge myself.

My daughter Katie wanted to add her experiences to this blog.  So here she is.

Never in my 31 years did I ever think that I would call myself an athlete, let alone a runner.  I have always wanted to make a change in my life but I wasn’t sure how to do it and stick to it.  So I did some research and found out what would work for me and my lifestyle.  That is probably the most important step in doing anything. Find out what works for YOU!    

I had initially downloaded the Jeff Galloway app and I found out that I just didn’t like it. I didn’t feel it was motivating enough for me. I did some additional research and found the Ease into 5K app. The app is very detail oriented and easy to follow.  I used my app about 3 times a week and kept to the goal and some more of what they recommended to build up endurance.  This app will also interface with your social media accounts so if you are like me I am keeping a picture diary of my workouts.  I am keeping the pictures in a folder so I can reference them a year later to see the difference.  Again, it goes back to what makes you feel good.

When the race started I was towards the front of the corral, but I didn’t know that because there was no indication as to where we would be lead from. So that might be my first piece of advice. Find out which way your corral loads into the chute for the main event.   

Once you hear the command to start running/walking, make a mental note of the time or have a watch to time yourself. When you are out on the course, you will not see an individual time; it’s giving the overall time and that is more than likely when the first runner started.  Also, don’t look at the number and freak out like I did. I did the quick calculation and it showed I was doing a 21 minute mile.  I had trained on my treadmill at a 13:30 so I was bummed I wasn’t maintaining the pace.  Disney wants you and tells you to train at a 15 minute pace but the max allowed is a 16 minute pace. But once I got onto familiar grounds, I was picking up pace because I knew what was ahead of me.  Running somewhere where you usually walk is pretty amazing.  Also I will tell you there will be characters along the route.  Plan accordingly because the lines could be long. I heard that the line for Dopey and Snow White was 45 minutes.

runDisney is a very good host at putting on running events.  They are a bit on the expensive side but the entertainment and overall atmosphere is worth the price of registration.  The only thing I will tell you is that if you do a 5k you get a medallion.  It is not the heavy gold plated ones. It is made of rubber. 

Also be prepared to not have any merchandise for your race. I only saw 1 thing that was for sale for the 5k runners. But all in all, it was the best experience so far that I have ever had at Disney. I am strongly thinking about doing the 10k next year during marathon weekend so this might be my official start of training again. But please don’t hold me to it.

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Category: Disney World

About the Author ()

Kathy Werling discovered Walt Disney World later than most people but has made up for it. Living close to the theme parks hasn't gotten old yet for her. Kathy is an accomplished photographer and is always out finding new and different things to photograph in the Orlando theme parks. Kathy is also part of the Orlando DIS Unplugged Podcast team.
  • Lori

    I say go for it. Nothing beats a Disney 5k it is fun and enjoyable(as races can be).

  • CrazyAuntie

    Go for it, Kathy! 5K in 2015!

  • Carmen

    Yes! Go for it Kathy!

  • Hope

    Awesome as always Kathy! Congratulations Katie!

  • Stephanie Marie Robinson

    Kathy, I’m glad your daughter had such a wonderful experience! She’s truly a role model for beginners looking into running. Good luck to the both of you!

  • Nicole Ruggiero

    It was a great time! Love that you got a picture of my brother and sister in law crossing the finish line with their arms in the air….very grateful that you didn’t get me crossing the line a few minutes later

  • Lindsey John

    Katie- CONGRATS! Absolutely do the 10k. No matter what your speed, you are still lapping me on the couch. I’ve never met you, but the HUGE smile on your face says a lot. You. Can. Do. It! The same for you too Kathy! You guys are such an inspiration!