By Don Gworek
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is one of the biggest group events in the Orlando area with a registration of more than 50,000. This is the size of some of the major conventions that come to town. When you factor in non-running guests who join their family members on the trip, it’s easily 100,000 visitors coming to Orlando for the weekend events.
The weekend included a health and fitness expo, marathon, half marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Buzz and Woody’s Best Friends 5K and Mickey’s Marathon Kids’ Fest.
The HP Field House also hosts speaker sessions. Picture here is Dave McGillivray, Director of the Boston Marathon, who moderated this session. In the background are the senior management team for the Disney Marathon Weekend. The young lady to the left is an audience member who was brought up on stage and given a medal as an ice breaker – a congratulations for taking the first step months ago and committing to doing one of the events.
This is how this same area looked for the 2011 Marathon Weekend. The smooth area has been painted with the finish line graphic. Note Spaceship Earth at the center top. To the left, with the large windows, is the VIP viewing area for the race finish.
Here’s a video summaring all aspects of the marathon. What follows are a series of images that show more than the video will allow, with additional detail and descriptions.
There are a few 5K races at Epcot each year. You can see a smattering of backstage along the course. To the right is the chilled water plant. Nearly all of the Epcot air conditioning is operated out of this plant, which circulates very cold water to air handlers throughout the park show buildings.
The half marathon starts at 5:35 a.m. So a large percentage of the participants run the course in darkness. Sunrise isn’t until about 7 a.m. One of the cool things is running up Main Street at the Magic Kingdom with the Christmas decorations blazing brightly.
The full marathon starts with a four-mile lap of Epcot, in darkness, before heading north to the Magic Kingdom. The extra miles in Epcot mean we arrive at the Magic Kingdom at sunrise. What you see here is what we see as we run through the castle and down the ramp. Note the thousands of family members and friends at the hub, hoping to see us run by.
By the time the full marathon reaches Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the park is open for ticketed day guests. The yellow cones mark areas for the runners, the other side is where guests will walk to the park attractions.