The Disneyland half marathon weekend takes place in early Sep in Anaheim, the very 1st Disneyland of the world, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2015. As usual it has 5K, 10K, half marathon from Fri to Sun as well as kid race and diaper dash for babies.
Along the course you can see all your familiar Disney characters(Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Goofy, Chip n Dale) and cartoon characters appeared in various cartoons throughout these years, like Elsa! Here are some photos of the race I’ve just been to! Starting from this race onwards all 5K medals will be of metal too which used to be rubber only.
The Walt Disney World MARATHON weekend is held in early Jan in Orlando, the 1st race of a new year! This is the only Disney race in the world which includes a full marathon! So the event lasts for 4 days, from 5K on Thur to marathon on Sun, and the expo from Wed to Sat.
In many people’s mind, Disneyland is a theme park with a Main Street with all kinds of shops, leading to the Castle in the middle, with different zones surrounding(Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, etc). Here in Walt Disney World, this is only 1 of the 4 parks, the Magic Kingdom. The other 3 parks are Hollywood Studios, EPCOT Ctr, Animal Kingdom(not just a zoo), the marathon will pass through all of them.
With so many runners wave A starts at 5:30 am. and there can be as many waves as wave P. With 5 min between each wave the last wave starts at >1 hr after 1st wave, and time limit counts NOW, so if you start at wave A you’ve 7+1 hr to finish the marathon!
Although the marathon has >7 hr limit, I suggest not to walk too slow and beware of missing the pace markers during photo taking. I always take photos with characters early in 5K or 10K races so I can skip them in long races. I’ve seen people lining up for photos and got ejected from the race! It’s really not worth losing those beautiful medals for this!
The marathon starts at EPCOT Ctr parking lot, heading west. At 2 km it goes north and reaches the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom at 8 km. The Cinderella Castle here is used to be the biggest Disney castle in the world but not after Jun, 16 when the Shanghai Disneyland opened.
Then runners go south and reach the Animal Kingdom at 19 km. The staff will bring out the animals to the course for photos. You can meet deers, pigs, rabbits, parrots, even snakes!(No lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes please!).
I must mention one extremely special and unique feature you don’t find in ANY OTHER marathons in the world: If you don’t run too fast and pass Animal Kingdom after it’s just open, you can leave the course and play the “Mount Everest” roller coaster! There should be not too many people waiting so early and it’s fun to spare few min to try this and resume your run after!
After this you go east and at 29 km you reach the ESPN Ctr where the expo is. Then you go north and reach the Hollywood Studios at 37 km and finally back to EPCOT Ctr as the Finish.
Runners can get a medal for each of the 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon. To grab more $ Disney has 2 additional challenge medals: Goofy challenge(half marathon+marathon) and Dopey challenge(all 4 races). Application starts at the end of Apr and runners need to apply the challenge category instead of individual races separately. The fee of the challenge is higher than the sum of the races so you actually buy the extra medal and tee. The cost for the 2017 races is as followed:
Goofy challenge US$365=$2847
Dopey challenge US$560=$4368
I leave HK on Tue morning and reach Orlando on Tue night after a LONG flight. I can never sleep on plane so at the hotel I’m really tired. However the TV is showing NBA so I sleep at almost midnight! Due to jet lag I’m awake at 5 am and cannot sleep again!
Wed is expo day and from Thr onwards I need to wake up at 4 am everyday for the races. After the races I “need to” continue to play and walk in the theme parks the whole day!
So before the 4 races I’ve already planned to rest after marathon on Sun afternoon, but finally I need to skip the park visit on Sat already.
I resume my visit on Tue. As a result I’ve no time to visit the 2 Universal Studios parks which I’ve bought tickets already! Fortunately the online ticket has no expiry date and I know I’m coming again after 3 months(Star Wars Dark Side race).
It’s really an unforgettable experience to run(and play) in the biggest Disney resort in the world! The run is 7-8 hr but the memory is life time!!!
In the last passage I’ll talk a little about the remaining 3 Disney races I haven’t tried, and some other special Disney races out of the North continent, and some beautiful and special medals one can earn, which cost A LOT!