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. You are going to love the WDW marathon. The parks are spaced apart just enough to give you a motivational kick. It is a great firt timers marathon. Just a warning, don’t be discouraged about running through the parking lots to get to the parks. It isn’t as bad as some would make you think. Go to for a great podcast about distance running.

  2. It’s not really the parking lots that I’m so worried about. It’s more the long roads. I think the transit from Animal Kingdom to MGM will be tough.

  3. how’s training going? this is my first marathon. getting v.excited but also a little nervous. live in UK so training lately has been in cold/wet conditions. Hope it’s not too hot on ‘the day’! now up to 20 miles (just over 3 hours) not sure where the other 6.2 miles will come from but people keep telling me i’ll get carried’s hoping. I just want that medal!

  4. You’re a little further along than me. I’m up to 18 this week and then 20 the next before tapering down. I’ve got some pain in the right side of my butt that I’m hoping is not too serious. I’ve got an appointment with my chiropractor on Friday. Hopefully, a simple adjustment will have me up and running again. As it is now, I don’t think I’d make it much more than 6 miles.

  5. your going to love the wdw marathon, it was my first last year, dont worry about the miles, if your running 20 miles now, the other 6 will come from just the excitement of it all. the medal is a wonderful reminder of the day. Dont forget to bring a small camera, lots of people have their pics taken with all the characters along the way, you feel like your a part of Disney. Have fun, wish I were going this year !!

  6. I have registered to run the marathon and will not be able to this year. I hate to waste my spot and wondered if anyone would like to take my place. They can’t change the name on my registration, but someone can use my number to run. Let me know if you know of anyone who is interested.

  7. oh my goodness!!!! Jill I am doing this for the first time and I based it on wanting the metal too!!! I am so excited.

  8. I thought you needed photo ID to pick up the packet? I have a friend who can’t run for health reasons and would love to find someone to take her place.

  9. That is true. The number is non-transferable and a photo ID is required to pick it up at the Race expo. If you miss this year, you are guaranteed a spot in next year’s race, but you have to pay again.

  10. Hi! disney will be my 2nd marathon and i’m excited (NOT excited about the 6am start, though!) i ran my first marathon in 3:30 but all of my training runs (including 3 20-milers) were at 8 minute pace too. i’ve done the same thing this time around, perhaps a little faster even and am thinking i definitely underachieved last time around. any ideas on what pace i can hope for if my long runs are at 8min pace?? thanks and good luck!

  11. This is my first marathon. I just started running the day after my husband finished the marathon last year. I never ran before in my life. I worked pretty hard all year. Last week, because I lifted something stupid, I woke up unable to walk, or stand up without terrible pain. I have worked with a chiropractor and a pain management doctor ever since. I even had a MRI. I have a bum disc at L5-S1 but I am feeling better, and going for it. Please pray for me. I want to finish more than anything even if it is in 7 hours!

  12. funny …we are all so different yet so rhe same. I am a first timer also and decided that disney was the best pick. nice temperate weather,well kept surroundings and of course…THAT metal!!!

  13. Oh, yes, that medal. Which by the way I got !! Yahooo, the back held up and we made it. One of the greatest days of my life!

  14. I was one of the many who completed the 1/2 marathon but when we got to the part to pick up our Donald Medal, they did not have any. What kind of people would not make sure that everyone received their Medal at the end. Instead we were told to give our name and it would be mailed but when we went to do that they said that they new who did not receive them. I have been emailing them everyday this week and still have not been given any answers. If anyone has any answers for me, please respond. This is my 2nd year doing the 1/2 and maybe the Last….

  15. I also finished the 1/2 marathon and did not receive a medal. I was told the same thing as Vickie was…and that if we were staying at one of their resorts, they would contact us there so we’d know where to go to collect it. Never received word. Got home Tuesday night to a message in an email telling me to pick it up on Sunday (the 13th) at the awards ceremony. How funny is that? There isn’t a single computer for public use at the resort, yet this is the way they choose to communicate with me. I shot them an email back and although they did not respond, they did send my medal out the next day day via UPS overnight and I received it yesterday (Friday). You may say ‘All’s well that ends well’, but I was a bit let down seeing the multitudes walking around with their medals hanging from their necks and mine was bare. 🙁

  16. Got on the bus at 3:30am for the marathon but the driver didn’t know how to get to the site. Instead of a 10 minute ride, we drove around for an hour trying to figure out how to get to Epcot. The driver didn’t have a radio to call anyone, the taxi driver wasn’t any help nor was the policeman that was directing the traffic. No one knew how to get there. It was funny at the time but soon began to get really scary. Everyone thought they were gonna miss the start. In the end, everything turned out fine and we eventually found our way to Epcot. Thank you to the lady with the cellphone for trying to get a hold of someone for directions. Code word is “Bus Ride” for those that were there. All in all, it was an awesome venue.

  17. Jennifer,

    Glad to hear that you received your Medal. As of 1/22/08 still have not received any word via email nor have I received my medal. If you have any contact number or email addresses please send them to me. I have sent several emails to different addresses and still nothing. I am very disappointed in Disney.


  18. Awesome marathon account. I ended up finishing in 6 and a half, 45 min slower than my first marathon – will train better, but still, as you are, proud that i finished!!! I, too, think I could have gone forever IF THEY CUT MY LEGS OFF!!! 😉
    Congrats on a great run, really! Hope to see you next year!

  19. My son-in-law ran the Disney World marathon and it was such an experience for him that my husband, son and I signed up for the next one. Then I remembered – I’m not a runner! As in, there would have to be a Popeye’s Chicken at the end of the block to get me to run. So we all went to our local runners club/store. Had consultations, bought the right shoes, signed up for classes. We then decided the best place to start would be the Disneyland Half marathon. We’re signed up and start training today. I want that medal! I will be so disappointed if they don’t have them to hand out. I want to walk around Disneyland with it around my neck beside my husband, son-in-law and son.

  20. I have a question for you all. Since I’m new at running, I’m not too proud to admit that I will likely walk a good deal of the time. When I registered, one the of questions was whether or not I was a walker. Is this what it means or is there a separate category (allowing more time) for those who are incapable of running? I don’t want to get in the way of the true runners by getting put into the wrong corral. But I also don’t want to get put into a walk-a-thon corral.

  21. Hi Pam,

    I don’t remember such a question when I registered for the 2008 WDW marathon or the 2009 WDW half marathon. Perhaps they do have a separate category for walkers in the Disneyland half marathon.

    In any case, I wouldn’t worry about being put in a corral that’s too far up. If it’s your first time and you don’t have any proof that you deserve to be in a higher corral, you’re probably going to be in the last corral anyway. That’s what they did with me.

    So, if you plan on doing any running at all, I wouldn’t call yourself a “walker”.

  22. Ok Guys this is your chance to be in the cover of a runners book, well. I need a few photos of runners with an interesting Disney background, please email them to me and please be advise that the budget is limited so if your pictures is cool I will get back to you for more details. I’m working on a book about the 50 most amazing marathons in the world, so please take a minute and go through your files and send me a cool picture. If Mikey is there that is also cool.

  23. Hi,
    I’m registered for the WDW 2009 Marathon. It will be my first question. Does anyone one know what type of food they provide on course? I want to try to train with the types of food that will be available.

  24. @ HGB

    I remember Clif gels at mile 16 and candy bars at mile 23. I believe there was fruit at mile 14, but I think I was running with my eyes closed at that point so don’t quote me.

  25. First marathon and just cant wait. Ive been training since last October. training in the cold months in jersey is tuff. running outside in 25 degree weather is no fun but is worth it for the experience. But the treadmill is just not the for me . anyone has any tips please let me know as it is my first marathon. I CANT WAIT.
    where r we going to celebrate with the clubs in pleasure island closed.

  26. Doing the WDW marathon in 09, does anyone know if you can use headphones or an ipod?? i thought I read that they weren’t allowed, I don’t know that I could make 26.2mi without my ipod. Thanks!

  27. @Lisa

    Headphones are officially banned from the WDW marathon. It’s not really enforced, though. I saw hundreds of people wearing headphones in this year’s race.

    Having said that, I encourage you to run without them anyway. There are 18,000 fellow runners to entertain you on the way to the finish and they have music along the entire route anyway. Heck there was one point this year where the course split and you could choose between country and 80’s pop for a half mile stretch.

    Try running with a pace group. The pace group leaders are great at keeping conversation going between those in the group and the whole thing becomes a team effort with cheers, jokes, songs and advice.

  28. It is great to hear about everyone’s experiences running the WDW Marathon. I’m signed up for 09. This is the first real physical activity that I suffered a knee injury 21 years ago. I’m a bigger guy too so this is going to be interesting. A friend talked me into joining our local chapter of USAFit and here I am.
    I’m trying to take it easy to start my training so that my body can get use to it and I don’t get injured. Does anyone have any advice for a complete newbie? I will finish this race if it kills me but I would very much like to train so that I can enjoy it.

  29. @Graydon

    I suggest starting with one of Jeff Galloway’s programs. His are known to be gentle on newbies. He’s run every WDW marathon so far, so it’s likely you’ll be able to thank him in person.

    Check out the program to finish here:

    It’s a 32 week program, so you’d be 7 weeks into it already. Take a look at week 7 and see if it’s about at your level. If not, then I suggest working through some of the early weeks and then switching to Hal Higdon’s novice 1 program once you’re 18 weeks out (sometime in September):

    Finally, don’t forget to do strengthening exercises for your legs. These will help you avoid shin splints, IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis and the other common running problems.

    Good luck, and keep me posted on how you’re doing!

  30. I will be running my first marathon at WDW in 09!! I’m really excited and feel the butterflies at the same time. I’m training now for a half-marathon in Sept. I got my training program from…very encouraging!

  31. I will be running my first marathon at WDW in 2009! I am really excited and really nervous! I have been training for a half marathon in September. The longest I’ve run now is 16.5 miles, so I’m trying to boost that. I’m using a marathon training guide that I got off from a running website.

  32. Do you have any hotel reccomendations? We are hoping to stay in a Disney hotel/resort but we are worried about catching the bus for the early Half M start. Any feedback is welcome. This will be our first time for the Disney half plus the first time to take our kids to the Disney park.

  33. @ Robin

    There will be special marathon weekend transportation running from all Walt Disney World resorts on the mornings of both the half and full marathons. You won’t have to rely on the normal Disney buses.

    If you stay at one of the monorail resorts, you might want to check about transportation. I believe the monorail will be running to EPCOT for the start rather than buses.

    In any case, if you’re staying at a Disney resort, you won’t need to worry about transportation. Be aware, however that the last bus will usually leave the resort at around 4:00 AM. Because of road closures, it took the bus nearly a half hour to get to EPCOT last year.

    As far as which one to pick, the Polynesian is great if you’ve got some spectators who don’t want to get up and catch the bus with the runners in the morning. They can get up much later and simply walk to the transportation and ticket center to view mile 4-5 of the half and mile 8-9 of the full. Afterwards, they can take the monorail to EPCOT for the finish. It’s pretty expensive though.

    I’ve stayed at almost every Disney resort and they’re all great. Rooms are always clean, and there are plenty of amenities. The “luxuriousness” increases with price, though.

  34. hi – i’m looking for someone who has a spot in the circle of life 5k that they can’t use. i’d very much like to enter it as it would be my first 5k, and my husband is running the marathon (his very first!) as well. please contact me at if you can help. thanks!

  35. Vickie, & Jennifer,

    Sorry to hear the news about you folks not getting your medals at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I just completed the Disneyland Half Marathon in Orange County California, and they had plenty — probably more than enough. I was contemplating on competing in doing the Disney World Half Marathon, but it does not sound as organized as it should be.

  36. Hi I have a spot in the WDW marathon and am not able to make it! I need to sell this thing so my family can all meet in Disneyland instead (apparently I’m not priority number one!) Send me an email if you’re interested.

  37. I’d be careful purchasing spots in the marathon or the half. They are non-transferable and photo IDs are checked when you pick up your packet.

  38. Alright, here’s the scoop. Less than a week ago a co-worker of mine mentioned he was doing the WDW Marathon…and now, I want to as well (mainly for that medal).

    As for my history, I’m not out of shape by any means. I do a lot of strength/weight training as it is 4-6 days a week. I’m in the Army and ran 2 miles in 13:15 (in the Texas May heat) after 2-3 weeks to prepare for it on my last PT test. I ran track for 10 years and cross-country for 3. The most I’ve ever ran is 10 miles continuously, though. I eat healthy, don’t smoke, and yada yada…what are my chances seriously of finishing the WDW marathon in 5 hours? I’ve never ran one before, obviously, or I wouldn’t be asking. Now that it’s at 97% capacity, I’m registering either way after I submit this.

    I picked up David Kuehls’ “4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon” and will be living by it religiously for the next 3 months. I realized there’s a month difference there, or I wouldn’t be here right now. I honestly don’t expect to run a 4-hour marathon, but I would like to set a goal for 5 hours. My mother’s cousin has ran a marathon in each of the lower-48 states. I don’t intend on fulfilling that any time soon, but living in Houston, I’m already interested in running the Mardi Gras marathon as well. If those two go well, then Chicago and so forth. In all honesty, I miss my days of track and the feeling of getting the awards. Yeah, there’s more behind the awards, but I want these medals :)…anything to push me is better than nothing, right? They’re a sense of accomplishment as any of you marathon novices have already experienced.

    I know I have a lot mileage ahead of me, I’m going to set out to see what I can do tomorrow in an hour working my way up to a 9-minute mile. If you would be so kind, lay it to me straight, I’d be much obliged. I know nothing about marathon distance running, only 5k and below…5k’s I use to run in the 18’s if that helps any.

  39. @Evan

    I think that given your history and current level of fitness, 5 hours is a reasonable goal. Your biggest challenge is to stay injury free. I don’t recommend skipping the first month of a training program. It’s the portion that builds your base so your body is equipped for the pounding and the higher intensity workouts later in the plan. For a 5 hour finish, having this base is far more important than the speedwork. If you don’t build that base then shin splints, runners knee, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis or some combination of all those will keep you from running the higher intensity stuff (and possibly the marathon) anyway. If anything, I’d say cut the month just before the taper out….or cut the first week then the 3 weeks before the taper.

    You only need to run 11:27 minute miles to finish in 5 hours. So, don’t try to push your runs too fast. You may feel great during the run, but it will catch up to you later. The marathon is about discipline. 5 hours is a long time to exercise at that intensity, so take it easy.

    Since the longest run you’ve ever done is 10 miles, you won’t have proof of time for a decent corral assignment. That means you’ll be stuck in the back of the pack. This will help you contain your excitement in the beginning. The fireworks will go off and you won’t go anywhere. It may take 10 minutes or more to cross the starting line. After that, you’ll be with a lot of people who just want to finish in 7 hours, so traffic will not allow you to go much faster than 11-12 minute miles anyway. Relish this pace (you don’t need to go faster to finish in 5) and do not waste energy trying to go around people. Things will open up around mile 6. If you can find the 5 hour pace group (they will start ahead of you) at that point, do so and let them pace you the rest of the way.

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