There are many reasons for running the Walt Disney World Marathon or Half-Marathon and here are three really good ones—known the world over simply by their first names, they are Mickey, Donald and Goofy. It just so happens that the quality of entertainment built on those three lovable characters is like nothing else in the world, and certainly unlike anything else you'd be likely to see in a typical 26.2 or 13.1-mile running event. Many runners today are looking for more than just a "Show-up?run?drive home" kind of running experience, and the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in Orlando—from January 6-9, 2011 promises to deliver entertainment and fun on a scale that only Walt Disney World can deliver.
Get Ready, Get Set, Go!
The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, presented by CIGNA, starts on Thursday, January 6 when the three-day Expo opens at noon. However, for many participants, their association with the event may have started about 18 weeks before race day if they chose to follow the training program designed specifically for the race by the official Disney training consultant Jeff Galloway. Many know Jeff as the best selling author, Olympic marathoner, and running coach known for his proven low-mileage training programs, and his RUN-WALK-RUN technique that has led thousands of runners to strong marathon finishes with little discomfort or injury.
The on-line training program is geared toward runners who have laid a training base of about 6 months, and the plan brings the runner right up to the day following the marathon. The training schedule is based on Jeff's signature three-day/week program, designed to emphasize the value of the long run on one of those days.
Jeff Galloway will be onsite at the Expo of Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend before toeing the line himself.
The Weekend Really Begins – Get Your Carbs under the Stars
The Expo, held at the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, kicks off the weekend with a series of speakers, including Q and A sessions, celebrity runner appearances, and information on nutrition, training, racing, and the latest running and fitness equipment. This huge sports complex is also the number/packet pick-up location, and includes Disney commemorative merchandize and other vendors available to all.
Once runners have picked up all their goodies and gotten their number, they can relax for a while before going to Epcot on Thursday evening for a private pasta party, featuring a DJ, and followed by a spectacular showing of the nightly IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a fireworks, laser and water show. At this point early in the weekend, runners will have already had wonderful experiences and be glad they came!
Family Fun Run and Kids Races – Diaper Dash, Anyone?
Friday starts with the Family Fun Run 5K at Epcot, where about 4,500 runners will gather for a quick jaunt. Over the two-day period at the ESPN Wide World of Sports track, a series of races for the kids will be held on this state of the art facility. These are "official" races with T-shirts and medals for the kids. They start with the Diaper Dash and work up to the Mickey Mile, depending on age group. These events are popular for all members of the family, and have drawn up to 2,500 "mini-racers" in past years.
Half Marathon, Marathon, and Goofy Fun
On Saturday at the crack of dawn the serious fun begins when 20,000 runners take off out of Epcot toward the Magic Kingdom Park in pursuit of a Donald Duck medal for completing the 13.1-mile Half Marathon. The course is mainly "Florida flat" with the only inclines coming on the occasional overpasses on the roads between the parks. The half marathon distance is steadily growing in popularity around the country, and the Walt Disney World Half Marathon now draws as many runners as the full marathon distance.