When I chose to run a marathon, I decided that only a Disney marathon would be possible. There are many amazing, inspiring marathons out there. But if I’m going to run 26.2 miles, then it better be surrounded by happy people, Disney tunes, and plenty of opportunities for breaks. I’m not the best runner. I’m not fast by any means. But I trained to finish and enjoy the experience. Another badass reason to run the Disney marathon: It’s the only race with a course through all the Walt Disney World’s parks. Wowza!

Training for Walt Disney World Marathon 2019

Whenever I start a runDisney event, I look into their recommended training programs. They have free schedules for every race length and spearheaded by Jeff Galloway. They even include training marathon programs for uniquely Disney races, like the Dopey Challenge. I like using these as my foundation for setting my schedule. Downloading their recommended PDF, I make events in my calendar with each milestone included (pun intended!). It’s a good, hopeful start before starting.

I dig more into training details in a later blog here.

Walt Disney Marathon Advice

Read the Race Details Closely

Confirm the drop-off, shuttle info, the start place, parking. Everything. Read it in advance and then again 1-2 days before just in case there’s an emergency update (or you simply forgot the details). 

I once almost missed a race completely because I misread the start place instructions. We started at Magic Kingdom, which is where I thought we needed to go. Turns out, we started at Magic Kingdom BUT shuttled over from Epcot. I started my half marathon early with a run towards the final shuttle bus to the start line!

Arrive Early

If you get there early, there are a ton of character photo opps with little to no lines. Seriously! I arrived about two hours early (we were afraid to repeat the same mistake I listed above…), and I didn’t have to wait in line at all for pictures with Mickey and Minnie. About one hour later, and the lines were uncomfortably long. I was relieved to take advantage of being the early bird.

Posing with Mickey in my Judy Hopps running costume

Bonus for being early: No stress about missing the start 🙂

Run with Others to Help with Pacing

I signed up for the marathon alone, but there are so many solo runners to meet up with. For me, I like to find and join consistent runners at an achievable pace. Every race I’ve ran, there are groups with signage listing their pace per mile and estimated finishing time. I generally find that group at my pace and run/walk alongside. 

Near the end of my race, I lost that group but found a couple with a positive mentality. We were all exhausted nearing the end, and we walked together and cheered each other on. I was worried about the Balloon Ladies, but walking with this group helped keep me going.

Free Your Mickey Ears

My very first RunDisney race, I ran with music. It was helpful in those in between miles with nothing but trees. It was a little annoying to be pulling in and out the ear buds. Honestly, Disney races are super magical. There is music playing everywhere and face characters talking to you at certain checkpoints. If Queen Elsa cheers for you while passing under Cinderella’s castle, then you’ll want to hear that.

A Disney Marathon Bonus: Ride the Roller Coasters

Riding Disney's Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom with the other marathon runners

Depending on your timing, you could run through a park just as it’s opening. For me, that was Animal Kingdom at mile 10. I felt like I was doing a great job at pacing and I wanted to reward myself with a ride on Expedition Everest. Since the park just opened, there was no line except for a few of us runners! We all giggled about it all. Who else gets to ride a rollercoaster in the middle of race?

Enjoy Every Step

For many, a Disney race isn’t not about achieving a PR. So, enjoy every character stop, BTS moment, roller coaster.

Judy Hopps running costume posing between Jody and Nick Disney characters


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