Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

( 155 reviews )
99% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Orlando,
    United States
  • January
  • 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Riley Fickett

Massachusetts, United States
15 56
"Race Review: Walt Disney World Marathon 2022 ✨ Goofy Challenge Day 2!"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Riley Fickett's thoughts:

Today I will be talking about Day 2 of the Goofy Challenge at the 2022 Walt Disney World Marathon! Make sure you check out my review of Day 1 at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon if you haven't already!

Marathon day started a little bit later than Half Marathon day for me because I let myself sleep for about 30 more minutes. That doesn't sound like a lot, but in runDisney time that extra 30 minutes means EVERYTHING! πŸ˜‚ I woke up around 2:15am and got myself ready. For the Marathon, I wanted to dress like the man himself - GOOFY! I figured it was only appropriate since I was doing his challenge and whatnot πŸ˜‹

I was out the door by 2:45am, on the bus by about 2:55am, and got to the start staging area around 3:15am or so. Still quite early, but I didn't feel as rushed to get to the start. My legs were in rough shape after Saturday (which I go into detail about in my Marathon vlog!) so all I really wanted to do when I got to the staging area was find a place to sit and eat my breakfast of a granola bar and a banana. I still took some photos before settling in, but it felt so nice to just sit on the bleachers and take in the atmosphere!

Like the Half Marathon, I made my way over to the start staging area around 4:30am. It was a muggy morning and it was supposed to be really warm that day, so I did not have to wait long before they sent us on our way. I think I was running by about 5:15am, so much earlier than the Half Marathon. A cool moment for the Marathon is that I ended up very close to the start line with my wave of starting group 4, so I got front row seats to the starting fireworks which was so incredible! An amazing way to start my race!

Unfortunately I had a hard time pretty much all the way through this race. During the first few miles I was feeling pretty nauseous and the humidity really wasn't helping. I knew early on that this marathon was going to be tough, so I stopped and walked whenever I felt the need (which was awesome) and used character stops for breaks. As you'll be able to tell through the photos in this post, I stopped A LOT πŸ˜‚ It really was so stinkin' humid through the first 10 miles or so, so I tried really hard to get as many miles behind me before the sun got too high in the sky.

The start to the marathon isn't the most entertaining part of the course. It's tough to really enjoy your surroundings when you're running in basically pitch black darkness, but I think they did a pretty good job of putting out a lot of characters during these miles. You do run through a bit of Epcot in these first few miles but because it's so dark you basically can't see anything haha. Luckily the day started to break around mile 7 for me which made the race a bit more interesting. It's nice to actually be able to see the folks around you!

Magic Kingdom isn't until about mile 10 on the course for the Marathon so I didn't get the same magical moment of seeing the castle lit up in the dark, but I definitely still teared up coming into the park and turning to see the castle πŸ˜‚ Something about the crowds, the music, and the sight of Cinderella Castle after putting in so much effort to get there just gets me so choked up everytime! I hope that the joy I feel running down Main Street never fades. πŸ’–

I didn't spend as much time in Magic Kingdom as I did during the Half Marathon since I still had SO MUCH left of the race to run and the sun was rising quickly, but I did take my time getting a couple of character photos and just taking in my surroundings. Running through Magic Kingdom will literally never get old!

I actually got a pretty solid castle photo from Photopass during the Marathon! Not only do I look like I'm feeling 1000x better than I actually was πŸ˜… but this photo makes me giggle so much because I'm totally Mike Wizowski-ing the two men running behind me πŸ˜‚ I hope they got these on their Photopass app as well and laughed!

I saw Goofy in Liberty Square and of course I HAD to stop! This was the cutest character interaction I had. He absolutely loved my outfit and gave me a little round of applause πŸ₯° It was so so cute and it's another moment I will never forget! πŸ§‘πŸ’™

There were a couple more photo opportunities before leaving the backstage area of MK that I wanted to take advantage of. I knew that the next stretch of highway was going to be a long one headed toward Animal Kingdom, so I was basically trying to delay that experience for as long as possible πŸ˜‚

I felt really great going through Magic Kingdom, but mainly because I was so distracted by how much fun I was having haha. Really once we exited the park and we hit mile 12, panic kind of started to set in. I had already been on the course for so long, we had so much further to go, and I felt pretty terrible. Luckily I didn't really feel that nauseous anymore which was a major plus, but my feet and legs were really in shambles. On top of that, the sun was starting to get higher in the sky and it was already so warm. I was really questioning whether I would be able to get myself to the finish line at this point.

Luckily once we got to about mile 13.5, there was a bit of tree coverage and shade so we weren't in the direct sunlight for most of the way to Animal Kingdom. Not to mention that just like the miles leading up to MK, the lined the roads leading up to AK with plenty of character stops and entertainment to keep the fun going through the tough miles! I didn't get too many photos along the way to Animal Kingdom but I did get quite a few video clips, so make sure to watch my vlog to see what I saw along the way 😊

Finally making it into Animal Kingdom was a welcome distraction! I'm disappointed that this year Expedition Everest was closed for refurbishment during Marathon Weekend because I totally would have taken advantage of the opportunity to sit down at that point in the race πŸ˜‚ I was hoping to find a Simba waffle to snack on because I have heard of folks getting snacks and drinks while in AK (I definitely saw quite a few folks with beers!) but I didn't really feel like stopping to wait in line at the concession stands so I just kept it moving.

The few miles after exiting Animal Kingdom were quite brutal. It was all highways and zero tree cover. All we were doing is baking in the sun for about 3.5 miles before making the turn to Blizzard Beach. We did get wet sponges at mile 19 which were honestly life savers. I was bummed because there were so many Toy Story characters (prob one of my top 3 Disney movies!) along this stretch, but I did not want to wait in line for characters in the blazing hot sun when I already felt pretty terrible. I did snap a selfie with Bullseye though because when do you ever see Bullseye out?!

Eventually we turned right toward Blizzard Beach and honestly this is where I started to break down mentally. My feet had never hurt so much during a marathon, I was hot, I was sleep deprived... I straight up was not having a good time πŸ˜‚ There was a moment right before mile marker 21 where I was just in tears because of how bad I felt, and a man checked in with me to make sure I was okay. I love how supportive the running community is and I appreciated so much that this stranger checked in on me in this moment. Even though I felt terrible, I told him I would be okay and that I appreciated him. Another unforgettable moment. ✨

I was still hurting pretty badly all the way to Hollywood Studios. As soon as we entered by the Tower of Terror, I knew I had to sit and take a break in the shade on one of the benches. I sat down for about two minutes or so to kind of collect myself before hopping back out into the sun and running through the rest of the park. I will say that Hollywood Studios - both in the park and outside by the skyliner - had GREAT energy and even though I felt terrible, the energy really did perk me up a bit. I knew I only had a few more miles to go before I could officially be done!

Eventually I made my way into the Boardwalk area, which then leads you into Epcot again! The crowds in these areas were so fantastic. Even though the park goers looked slightly confused, so many of them were cheering for runners which was so encouraging! I actually saw two park goers wearing Patriots jerseys, so I made a point to scream "GO PATS!" as I was running by which they really enjoyed 😜

At this point of the race (miles 24-25), every step was agony. I was actually trying to actively avoid the Photopass photographers altogether but they still managed to beautifully capture my pain as we made our way through world showcase πŸ˜‚

I knew that Shannon was waiting for me at the finish line and I was SO DANG CLOSE so I kept telling myself to keep moving forward. I could NOT wait to get to the finish so that I could finally sit down πŸ˜‚ Honestly when I turned the corner and saw the finish, all of the pain left my body because I was FINALLY AT THE END! If you look at my finish line photos, you would not be able to tell how awful I felt. Again, NEVER TRUST SOCIAL MEDIA! πŸ˜‚

I was so so SO happy to be done with that race! As much fun as I had, I felt terrible basically the entire time and unfortunately I was a lot more focused on finishing than enjoying the moment. A lot of how I was feeling was totally my fault and 100% preventable, and I've learned a lot of lessons through my first Goofy Challenge experience, so I definitely think I need to go back so I can do better next time!

I waddled my way through the finisher's chute, grabbed my Marathon medal, my finisher's Mickey ears (which, by the way, is my favorite thing that they do for marathon finishers!), and my Goofy challenge medal, and wobbled my way to find some shade to sit in while I waited for Shannon to come find me. My phone almost died and I was pretty concerned it was going to turn off and we wouldn't be able to find each other πŸ˜‚ but thankfully we found each other and could kick off our celebration together!

The Walt Disney World Marathon is a challenging marathon, and I really wasn't expecting it to be. I think the biggest challenge is being mindful of the run with all the distraction around you. It's so easy to forget to fuel, it's so easy to spend way more time on your feet than you're used to, and generally it's really easy to underestimate this marathon because you're at Disney. My biggest lesson from the weekend is to take better care of myself. It's a race weekend and even though I want to pack all the fun I can into my time at Disney, that's going to have some serious repercussions when it comes to race day. I know when I return I will be approaching these races VERY differently!

That being said, this race was incredible. Running 26.2 miles through the parks was amazing. There were dozens of characters and entertainers stationed all around the course, the volunteers were all so lovely and cheerful and encouraging, and the runDisney community is unlike any other. The way these races make you feel keep you coming back, and I cannot wait for my next runDisney race. Maybe Marathon Weekend 2023? 😏

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