The 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon

I am officially registered for the Walt Disney World marathon. It’s still about 6 months away, but already it is 80% full. The first time I looked at the course map, I got a little nauseous. I’m a Walt Disney World annual pass holder. I’ve been there many times. I know just how far that is. The good thing is that I can picture most of the course in my head.

The course starts on a road just outside of EPCOT. It continues around the front of EPCOT for over a mile before actually entering the park through (I believe) its main entrance. I’ll pass mile 2 in the shadow of that Giant golfball called Spaceship Earth…only there won’t be a shadow because it will be dark. I’ll pass mile three somewhere on that nebulous border between Future World and the World Showcase before heading out of the park. Mile 4 will look awfully familiar because it covers almost exactly the same ground as the first mile, only in a different lane of the divided road.

Miles 5,6, and 7 are open road miles enroute from EPCOT to the Magic Kingdom. Mile 8 will take me around the Walt Disney World Speedway and through the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I’ll hit mile 9 in or near the transportation and ticket center. Then, it’s a run along Topiary Lane in the shadow (the sun will be up by now) of the monorail tracks along the shores of the seven seas lagoon. I’ll briefly run under the Seven Seas Lagoon and past the Contemporary resort before hitting the 10 mile mark.

Mile 10 may be the most magical of the whole experience. The 10th mile winds across the front of the Magic Kingdom, into the park, down Main Street USA, through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland before turning left and proceeding right through Cinderella’s castle. It then moves through Liberty Square, past Adventureland and through Frontierland before exiting the park right at the 11 mile mark.

Miles 11,12, and 13 will have me cruising past the Grand Floridean and Polynesian (my favorite) resorts. Halfway through, I’ll begin one of the toughest portions of the marathon. Miles 13-15 travel along a remote road that borders a golf course. Crowds are apparently quite light on this portion of the course and there’s the smell of a sewage plant to deal with. Mile 15 marks the entrance to the back side of the Animal Kingdom where I’ll run past some of the animal holding areas. By mile 16, I should be near Expedition Everest and in the guest areas of the park.

Miles 16 and 17 traverse the Asia and Dinoland USA portions of the park before taking us out through the parking lot, past the main entrance, then to the 18 mile mark. I’m betting that miles 18-22 will be the toughest 4 miles of the marathon. The sun will be getting higher in the sky and there will be no shade on these open road miles. I’ll cover two overpasses – some of the only “hills” in this marathon.

At the 22 mile mark, I’ll be close to entering the Disney/MGM studios theme park. I’ll enter near the Tower of Terror, run along some backstage areas, and hit the 23 mile mark before running past the giant Sorcerer Mickey hat, straight down Hollywood Blvd and out the front of the park.

From the front of the studios, I’ll be about a 5K away from the finish. I’ll hit a narrow pathway that runs along a canal to the Boardwalk resort. I’ll hit mile 24 just before the boardwalk. Then, I’ll continue left past the Swan, the Dolphin, the Yacht Club and the Beach Club resorts. After the Beach Club, I’ll head back into EPCOT once again, passing the 25 mile mark near France. I’ll pass Morocco, Japan, America, Germany, Italy, China, Norway, and Mexico before heading back into Future World. In the shadow of Spaceship Earth (it will definately be light out now), I’ll pass the 26 mile mark. With only 0.2 miles to go, I’ll try to straighten up for my photo op at the finish in the EPCOT parking lot.

It’s so easy typing it out. I think it will be a monster on the day of the race. With a little luck, I’ll finish in about 4 hours. It will feel good to finish no matter what my time is, though.

**EDIT** A lot of people who are running in ’09 have been hitting this page, so I thought those people would be interested in my race report from the 2008 Walt Disney World marathon. I’ll be around in 2009 running the half marathon, so give me a shout if you’ll be there that weekend too!

Okay, enough day dreaming. Here’s today’s workout:

Planned workout

1 mile warmup

2 miles at 9:32 pace

1 mile walking

2 miles at 9:32 pace

1 mile cool down

Actual Workout

1 mile warmup

2 miles at 9:32 pace

1 mile walking

2 miles at 9:32 pace

0.65 miles cool down

Today was a good workout. I was able to achieve something I’ve never done before. I completely zoned out. It was a little like I was asleep, but I was running. I ran a half mile stretch of the workout without even knowing it. It was like I was outside of my body. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing – either that or I was about to die and I suddenly got pulled back into my body by the somewhat uncomfortable transition between Aerosmith’s “Jaded” and REO Speedwagon’s “Keep Pushin'”. In any case, between walking and running, I covered almost 7 miles today without feeling the need to collapse afterwards. That bodes well for my 7 miles on Saturday. If I can stay cool, I should be okay.


  1. Approx how much should you save up for this marathon, if you were to stay for at least 3 days? Any suggestions? I want to run in the 2010 Disney marathon.

  2. @ Lori

    As a ballpark, the entry fee will probably be around $120, I’d budget at least $150/day for hotel if you’re staying on property (highly recommended for race day transport), $60-$70 per person per day for park tickets if you want to go to the theme parks and $50/per person per day for food (minimum). So, for three days, one person you’re looking at about $800 plus the transportation cost to actually get there.

  3. Thanks for the word, Brian. Training has been going pretty good so far (officially started on the 9th). The hardest part really is just going out and doing the mileage, which is of course the whole reason. Probably the more miles I get in, the better I feel about this whole thing and I start to look up other events I might be able to take part in (currently looking at 5). The WDW Marathon is a definite now since I’ve already registered myself. After a couple weeks of running, I really don’t see why I won’t be able to complete the run 3 months from now. That is if I tone down my pace a little since I think I’m pushing myself a little too much (my old track/cc racing mentality). So far, the runs I’ve had already:

    9-Oct ~ 2mi @ 10:10 (7:30)
    12-Oct ~ 2mi @ 10:10 (7:30)
    14-Oct ~ 2mi @ 10:10 (7:25)
    20-Oct ~ 6mi @ 10:10 (8:30)
    22-Oct ~ 3mi @ 10:10
    23-Oct ~ 3mi @ 10:10 (9:13)

    Of course, there’s the date I ran, distance, pace I was suppose to run and if applicable the time I actually ran it in parenthesis. My last run yesterday I’ve felt the best so far. After finishing the run I wanted to go for more, but figured not to overdue myself. I’ve always had shin splits in my track days (a lot of toe running in spikes), but after 18 miles so far I haven’t felt them at all.

    I need to find a decent means of getting some icing, though. About a half hour after my 6-mile run I suddenly missed my track days in college with the ice baths/whirlpools. I am planning on getting some heat packs to take on the road if/where I go as well to help with warming up. I signed up for my first Half-Marathon in Dallas on Nov. 2nd since I’ve been feeling as good. It’s close to me, not too expensive, and it’d be a good time to see where I’m at before I book flights/hotels…most likely run around 11:30 pace. Hopefully try and weed off of my iPod somewhere before then which will be the hardest of all (I’m pretty sad the USA T&F is enforcing against them) and slow my runs down.

    I don’t know, I guess I was just curious if you had any more food for thought as I go forth with this? 15+ mile weeks start Sunday.

  4. I just suggest cooling it on your pace. Just because you can run faster doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You definitely want to stay well below your lactate threshold at this point. The faster pace puts more impact on your legs and that will take its toll as you add more mileage.

    For icing, I typically fill the bathtub with cold water to cover my legs, then dump in a 20 lb bag of ice. I sit in that for about 20 minutes – but only after my longest runs. For other runs, it helps a little to run the cold water over your legs in the shower before turning the heat up.

  5. I just registered for the marathon last week. I am extremely excited and so nervous. This will be my first marathon, but hopefully not my last. It’s comforting knowing there are many people who feel the same way as I do and who are doing this for fun as well.

    I am being realistic about this marathon. I workout 5-6 days a week, which has kept me in pretty good shape. I was running a few days a week with a running partner until my schedule made me pressed for time. I started back up 2 weeks ago and did 5 miles in 45 minutes. Not too bad for taking 3 months off.

    My plan is to run and walk through this marathon. My goal isn’t time, but just to complete it and have a memorable experience. It is a shame I am doing it on my own and can’t share the experience with friends, but I will have a story to tell them for years to come. Who knows maybe it will encourage them to tackle the next one with me.

  6. Don’t worry, Jennifer, you won’t be completing the marathon alone. There will be 18,000 others participating with you and the length of a marathon is plenty of time to make some new friends.

  7. Just finished my first marathon yesterday, the DRC Half in Dallas. Went out hoping for somewhere around a 2:30:00 finish but ended up moving up to finish at 2:07:53 (chip time). It was the longest distance I’ve ran at one given time before, so I’m definately happy with my results. Still plenty of work to do beforehand after hitting that wall at mile-10, but I can’t wait till the Disney Full in ’09 now!

    Again, thanks for the words of advice Brian.

  8. Can anyone tell me what to do or what to look out for when parking my car at the start for the Disney Marathon 2009?

  9. Does anyone know if you can transfer from the marathon to the 1/2? I know for some other marathons you can, but wasn’t sure about the WDW.

  10. I’m running my first goofy challenge next weekend. Does anybody have any information regarding transportation to and from the Expo for packet pick up if staying on property? we are staying at the Wilderness Lodge. Thanks!

  11. Best of luck to you and all of the other runners in the 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

    I wanted to let you know Brian, that I have found all of your blogs extremely interesting to read and very insprirational. I am not a runner, but you have made it tempting to start.

    I also wanted to let you know that I have written a story on about your blog. I am attaching a link if you are interested in reading it. I would love to hear about your experience during this year’s half marathon and possibly write a story on you during the race.

    Feel free to email me at and I will be at the Marathon Weekend to cheer you all on! Happy Running!

  12. Brian , I just found this blog : the evening before my departure from Canada to Disney World …I am so excited … I am going to cross the finish line with about 50 Team Diabetes Canada members. Look for our bright coloured singlets and please cheer .I, as a walker , 68 plus, tried last year for the full marathon…keep telling my friends I set a new record : I made it to 22 miles 🙂 with 100 percent humidity …my diabetes ( type 1 ) got in the way …Saturday for me the 1/2 …I like to bring a medal home to British Columbia …all the best to all the runners .

  13. I too completed the 2009 marathon, it was my first marathon. I have never ran in a race before and did not have a lot of time to prepare. This was the most memorable weekends of my life. I’ve never been more proud of myself and to have finished within a reasonable 5:45:16. I am sore and swollen, but would do it all again and just may next year!

  14. Congrats to all! I just found this blog and am about to register for the 2010. Need lots of info..
    Brian, It sounds like know about training for this marathon. Can you recommend a training plan. I know we have about 49 weeks left until 2010, but I have been training consistently for about six weeks. Should I be weight training, or just consistently running to train? Also, about how many miles should I be training at right now? I am running 5 days a week & hit 8 miles last week.

  15. @Angell I suggest getting the Daniels Running plan by Jack Daniels from your local library or bookstore. Start building your base during the spring and summer, then follow one of his marathon training plans starting in August. Done correctly, you’ll be in great shape for the Disney marathon in January. Good luck!

  16. Hi Brian! I ran my first half marathon this past year, 2009, at Disney. With registration filling up quickly, i am debating on whether to do the half again or try for the full. I have never run a full, and trust me am not the biggest runner, but I think it would be such an accomplishment. My question is, are there people at the Disney Marathon that walk the whole thing? I guess I am scared I will be the last one finishing in the marathon!! Let me know what you think, thanks so much!

  17. @Kelly

    I’m not sure if anybody walks the whole way. You do have to maintain a 16 minute per mile pace so in theory if you walked briskly, you could pull it off. There are plenty of people who do a significant amount of walking though.

    When I did the full in 2008, I was in some pretty serious pain and I alternated a half mile walking with a half mile lame jogging for about 9 miles before walking the entire last mile. I finished in 5 1/2 hours (7 hours is the limit).

    If you can jog a mile for every mile you walk, then I’d say you can still finish pretty well ahead of the last finishers. Even if you are one of the last finishers, you’ll be in a pretty big group of people bringing up the rear…and I suspect there’s a bit of a festival atmosphere in that group.

    I didn’t enjoy the 2008 marathon experience during the event. Over time, I grew fonder of the memories. Certainly lessons learned from that experience have made me a much better runner and the memory of my perseverance has stayed with me and helped push me through other challenging situations in life.

    It’s certainly an experience you’ll always remember. If you can commit the time to train for it, then go for it…or you can sign up for the half marathon again and run with me!

  18. I am really excited about running my first marathon this year at Disney but I am worried about getting there the day of the race. We are staying outside the park, where and how do you get to the start line. Do you drive or is there a shuttle. Any help would be appreciated

  19. Dear Brian,
    I came across your website a few days ago. I am training for my first marathon Jan 9 2011 at DW.
    It is the day before my 53rd birthday! Running a marathon has been on my “Bucket List” since I was 25 years old.
    I have gotten up to 13-14 miles in the past but had to stop each time due to injuries of one kind or another. Most recently, I have taken up Chi Running and have just reached 17 miles without injury so I am hopeful.
    I wanted to thank you so much for your course description I have printed it out and committed it to memory. I am already feeling more prepared mentally as a result of your narrative. And today, when I ran 17 miles – my longest distance ever, I happily told others (thanks to you), “I made it to Dinoland!”

  20. Thanks Tina. It sounds like you’re doing great so far if you’re up to 17 miles and you’re still about 11 weeks out. Remember that you don’t gain fitness from hard workouts. You gain fitness when you recover from hard workouts. So, remember to take it slow, recover and you’ll be crossing that finish line with a smile on your face. Good luck!

  21. I’m running the Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West on that weekend. I tentatively plan to return for the WDW marathon in 2012 with the goal of going under 3 hours (that’ll be 2.5 hours faster than my first time if I can pull it off!)

  22. Wow! that’s impressive. How did you get so much faster in such a relatively short time? And hey, one more thing…I noticed you ordered the showcase countries this way: “I’ll pass Morocco, Japan, America, Germany, Italy, China, Norway, and Mexico before heading back into Future World.” And when I looked at a map to link it with your descriptions it appears that Italy comes before Gemany. Not a big deal but your blog is so good that I thought it was worth mentioning.

  23. You’re absolutely right! Italy does come before Germany when moving in that direction around World Showcase! In over 3 years, no one else has noticed that.

    If I hadn’t been injured, I might have finished the WDW marathon in a little over 4 hours. As for how I’ve gotten better since then, that’s all chronicled on this blog :).

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