52) Walt Disney World Marathon, Disney World, FL, 7th Jan 2018

Time: 3:04:20 Place: 59/20,025

A bucket list marathon and an excuse for a weekend at Disney World.



Very little race specific preparation. Hawaii had been the goal race so I had a recovery week in Hawaii, followed by a medium mileage week over Christmas and then a low mileage week prior to the race. I had heard and read that it was a fast and flat course but I knew that spending the day before the race exploring the Parks wouldn’t be ideal preparation.

We flew down Friday afternoon and went to packet pick up on the way to the hotel. All very organized and efficient. We stayed at the Swan hotel as it was cheaper than the other resort hotels, yet still near the start and on the official Marathon bus route.

Saturday was spent exploring the parks, mostly walking.

Race Morning

The official information said to be on hotel shuttle by 3:30am for the 5:30am start. I decided to risk a slightly later one so after a cinnamon bun and coffee (limited places to buy pre-race breakfast) I was on the bus at 3:45 and got to the drop off point at 4. I had a cliff bar to supplement fueling. There was a walk from drop off to bag check and then a long walk to the corrals, but plenty of portajohns around bag check in the race finish area.

The Race

I was in Corral A so after the first quarter of a mile the field had spread out enough to run at my own pace. It was still dark but the highways were well lit. I had decided to aim for 6:50 pace which would be a PR and hang on as long as I could, making sure I didn’t get carried away in the first half as I did in Hawaii.

There were a few Disney characters out on the road side in the first few miles but the highlight of the race was coming into Magic Kingdom and running through cheering crowds towards the illuminated Cinderella’s castle. I stopped for a photo with one group of characters but ignored most of them. After Magic Kingdom, the long stretch on the roads was tough, though regular illuminations along the way broke the monotony. I reached half way in 1:31, which was perfect pacing but I was beginning to feel the effects of the previous days walking in my legs. Animal Kingdom was fun (stopped once for a Lion King photo), but the following road section to ESPN Wide World of Sports was hard work. By mile 17 I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace so backed off a bit and high fived characters running through the park. I was still running ok and passing people so was able to enjoy the last two parks. The race route went by the Swan hotel at mile 24 so my wife was able to see me go by but the final mile through Epcot was very quiet until exiting the park and finishing beside the grandstands.

Fueling: Gatorade and water from aid stations. Used gels for fuel (at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 23)

Learning points

I was very happy with my time. I could have run quicker if I had spent the previous day preparing but that wasn’t the point of the trip. Flying in on the Saturday for the race Sunday and having Monday to explore the park would have been a better way to do it if this was a goal race but I didn’t want to use vacation days.

Even though it wasn’t a goal race I should have done more mental preparation.


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