Walt Disney World Marathon 2024

The Walt Disney World Marathon is the kind of race to put in your bucket list to run once in your life time. No more than once I would say. It takes place in all 4 Disney parks in Orlando, in a time of the year, right after Christmas and New Year’s, when we eat the most and exercise the least. It feels more like a fun run than an actual competition, since there is a lot to see and it’s totally OK to do multiple stops to take pictures with the characters in the course.

It is indeed the most well organized marathon I ran so far. From the Expo to the finish line, everything went smoothly. We stayed in a Disney resort, which made the experience even more relaxing. From there, we took a free bus to the Expo in a nearby sport complex. It occupied three sport arenas and no matter how many runners were around, the queues were kept to a minimal. Following a clear path, the runners went to the first arena to get the race kit, to the second arena to visit the expo, and to the third arena to shop the official merchandise. When finished, our bus was already waiting outside to bring us back to the resort.

In the early hours of the race day, a long line of buses was waiting for us outside the resort, giving the assurance we needed to be at the start line on time. During the walk to the gathering area we could seek medical assistance, buy official merchandise, buy food and drinks, take pictures with characters, and drop our stuff off. The gathering area was organized in 6 groups (A, B, C, D, E, F) and each group contained 3 waves. It helped to spread the runners, preventing agglomerations in narrow spaces.

In the course there were too many aid stations and all of them handled the load beautifully. Before every water station, there was a medical station as well, with all medication and attention a runner would need during a long distance race. The flow after the finish line was also smooth, with runners grabbing the medal, water, hydration drinks, bananas, a box of snacks, and a Mickey’s ear hat, followed by the drop-off trucks, and the buses back to the resort, all in a single walk. The logistics they put in place was indeed out of this world.

However, it had its drawbacks. The exact course and elevation profile are not available and if we want to minimally plan the race we have to do some research based on information shared by other people. But no plan can resist to waking up at 3am to get ready and take the bus to be at the start by 4am. I never had to wake up that early for a race. It turns out they want the runs to have a minimal impact on the parks’ functioning after their opening time. Despite crossing all the 4 parks, the course is more iconic than exciting. The majority of the run is done in parking lots and the highways that connect the parks. To help alleviate the monotony, Disney spread characters and music performances throughout these long sections, but what really distracted runners from the pain was the Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life, and the Spaceship Earth.

Despite these issues, I had a lot of fun! It may sound dubious, but I’m sincere when I say that I had a wonderful experience that I don’t plan to repeat again. I ran it for the fun and for the iconic moments, but I enjoyed other races more for half the cost.

Number: 11
Time: 04:25:16
Best Marathon Time to Date: 03:56:04
Elevation: 101 m