We got a cool announcement in both a press release and Disney video today, confirming a new course for the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2013. This will be the 20th Anniversary of the Full Marathon and Disney seems to really want to make a splash. I am very excited about this! Especially since this will be the first time I am running the Disney Full Marathon (and my second Full Marathon overall). What better way to experience my first Disney Full than on an anniversary year!
Here is a look at the new course! (Click here for the PDF version)
I ran the Disney Half this year which was its 15th Anniversary. It was definitely a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to run it again, But I think 2013 is going to be even more amazing since this time, it is the Mickey Marathon that takes the center stage.
So how has the course changed? Well, They have changed the course in the following areas:
- Arriving to the Magic Kingdom (MK) earlier: There will be no initial run through Epcot at race start when it is still dark outside. Instead, runners will run the same race route to MK as the Half Marathon runners, meaning arrival to MK at Mile 5. PROS: Getting to MK when you are still fresh and your energy is high and experiencing the park all lit up at night. CONS: It will still be dark at MK so photo ops are more difficult and some people prefer to run through MK after sunrise.
- Running the Speedway: A few miles after leaving MK, you get to run the Disney World Speedway (instead of just running past it). PROS: There are other races that have a raceway as part of their route, most notably the Indy Full Marathon, so now runners will have that unique experience of running along a speedway at Disney. CONS: Running on a banked roadway is difficult on the ankles and feet, causing runners to 'bunch up' at the base of the roadway where the road is most level. And speedways can be very HOT since there will be no shade and the surface will radiate the heat.
- Run ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex/Stadium: To break up the long run on Osceola Parkway, you get to run through the EPSN WWoS, including a run around the complex’s Champion Stadium, a major-league style ballpark that’s the Atlanta Braves’ annual spring training home. PROS: You spend some time at ESPN beyond just Packet Pickup and Expo, and you get to run a baseball stadium and likely see yourself on the Jumbotron! CONS: Stadium dust, and watch out for the rubbernecking due to runners admiring themselves on the Jumbotron!
- Less Highway Time: In the past, there was a 5-mile stretch between the Magic and Animal Kingdoms, and a 4-mile stretch between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, including the Mile 20 out-and-back. Now, the longest stretch is at the start between Epcot and Magic Kingdom (5-miles). After that, any highway stretches appear to be no more than 5K at a time, which is very cool in my opinion. I see no disadvantages here.
- Special Mile 20 Entertainment: Disney also announced that there will be something special in terms of entertainment at Mile 20 that is supposed to knock our socks off (hopefully not literally). Given that Mile 20 is where people tend to hit "The Wall" or "bonk", this could be a major energy boosting event that will re-energize runners as they leave the ESPN area and head over to Hollywood Studios. No details have been released on what this enhanced entertainment will be.
So, you still have that Full Marathon experience of running through all four theme parks, plus running through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, plus the Stadium, plus the Speedway. And finally, whatever surprises they have in store for runners as they reach Mile 20. I think this is going to be epic!
In addition to the specially-designed 20th anniversary Mickey Mouse medal for the completing the Full Marathon, Disney is planning a new post-race party at Downtown Disney. I wonder if this is something they will include in the future.
Well, I am pretty excited about all this news! I expect the WDW Marathon Weekend to live up to the hype. I expect to have a lot of fun. I expect to be dog-tired after finishing the Goofy Challenge. And I expect to love every minute of it!