January 12, 2014. 50-60 degrees, pleasant, perfect race weather. A storm front passed the night before. (lots of standing water in the ditches)
Parking / Transportation: Free parking available at Epcot in lot near start. Alarm set for 2:15 am to get a decent spot. We also enjoyed a peanut butter english muffin and coffee. If you were staying on Disney property a shuttle bus was available. After parking, needed to go through security to get in. Bomb dogs were doing their jobs.
The pre-race set up was different from the 5k/10k as they needed to shuttle more runners. Bag check was open, and then encouraged to “hurry up & wait” in a holding area. Then with about an hour or so, we were allowed to make the trek to our corrals. Near the corrals were lots of port-a-potties. The music playing from the DJ was heard all over the starting area. Same as the half marathon. The announcers humor was getting old at this point, but it was the last race.
Approx 25,000 runners.
Start: Corral start, lettered A through P. Assigned bibs based on submitted times. I was in Corral H, Josh in C. Could start in your assigned corral or a lower letter. Many TV screens set up, so runners in the back could see the announcements coming from the starting stage. However the screens were few and far between, hard to see from my corral. I had a Honey Stinger Waffle as I waited. After the National Anthem, some encouraging words from Mickey, the first corral was off, on time, with a fireworks salute. My corral was about a half hour after the first.
I enjoyed waiting in my corral on this day, as I was able to chat with 2 women who were conquering the marathon for different reasons. I knew this race was going to be a good one from the start as I shouted Hi, to Bart Yasso on the side near the start.
Course: It was dark at the beginning, but never a problem to navigate. The weather was perfect. Today’s race took us through the Magic Kingdom, around the speedway, Animal Kingdom, Wide World of Sports, Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk & Epcot, using the Disney back roads to get us there.
Magic Kingdom: Miles 5-6. Same set up as the half marathon. However I pushed it to get here before the sun came up. The rush running down Main St, with spectators lining the course and the castle lit up in the background is why I came back.
Speedway: Miles 8-9. Probably the steepest terrain was running under the speedway. Once on the speedway we were treated to a car show. Lots of older cars and motorcycles set up around the edge. If you were lucky you could run on the banked sides.
Animal Kingdom: Miles 12 -13 Entering the back roads to this park were fun, lots of live animals to stop and take photos with. This is also about the time the parks started opening up to the public. I was lucky enough to hit Expedition Everest just as the park opened, that meant I was able to ride the roller coaster. I was alerted to this, so I made sure as I ran by to check to see if it was open, and the cast member invited me in. THIS WAS AWESOME! I think I smiled for the next mile.
ESPN Wide World of Sports: Miles 17 ish – 20 ish. This part of the course is when completing a marathon gets tough. I was excited to have something to entertain me. A band greeted us, and we made a loop around the track. Seemed like we kept turning and looping around the grounds. Passed a baseball game in progress with some cheers from the participants. Then we entered the baseball park, where the Atlanta Braves take spring training, we ran around the entire ball park as spectators cheered from the stands.
Hollywood Studios: Miles 22.5 – 24. I hadn’t been to this park since I was in high school, it was MGM studios then. I took my time and walked most of this park and tried to enjoy it. The spectators were great in this part, or maybe it was because I was walking with a smile, but I heard lots of “GO ANGIE!” cheers. It was also nice that this point, we had 2 parks to run through, when mentally the miles can get tough.
Disney’s Boardwalk: Mile 24. Nice to have something to look at other than back roads. Lots of spectators.
Epcot: Mile 25 – finish. By now the park had been open for a while, so once I was in Epcot I planned to enjoy the park. However when you are alone, hard to know where to go and what to do. I did take it all in. I was alerted to stop for a grapefruit beer in Germany, so I did. There were others in line, and when asked about my bib, I told them I was still running and bumped to the front of the line. That beer was delicious! I got back on the course with a beer in hand, and a smile on my face. I was thinking, how can I stay longer in this park, I am having a great time. The cast members were great in this part, always cheering.
There were plenty of water and lemon-lime Powerade stops, always in paper cups and each drink was in a different patterned cup. No food stops. Volunteers made sure you knew which beverage they had. One of the hazards was caused from the cup debris, the others were the speed bumps, tight turns and narrow paths (allowing for bumping into others). All paved surfaces, no pot holes or cracks in the pavement to trip over. Did have to run in the grass areas where it was crowded, but made sure to avoid the standing water. Always felt safe. Each mile marker was marked with a character board and clock.
Spectators were plenty in the areas they could access. Lots of bands with dancers and cheerleaders. High fives for everyone.
There were plenty of Medical tents, the most popular scent wafting from the tent was Bio-freeze. Also available were sunscreen, vaseline, water & band-aids.
Food stops were on this course. The banana at mile 11 was so delicious that I had to stop at mile 18.5 and have another one. There was a candy stop, but the giant bag of fruit snacks was too big to take along. The bite size Hershey candies were great! I also grabbed some Twizzlers from some spectators.
Character stops: I can not remember the order in which the characters were stationed on this course. There were plenty available for photos. Did not encounter any problems with a character taking a break. The lines got shorter the further they were stationed on the course. In reality, a long wait could have been 5 minutes, by the time I was near the end, there were no lines. The worst part about the lines were the group photos, then each one needed an individual photo. The character handlers were all friendly and happy to take a photo with my phone. Some of the stops were the same as in the half.
Finish: Clearly marked with a banner and clock. Medals placed around your neck. Table for water and Powerade. Dopey participants were directed in one direction. Received Goofy & Dopey medal. Proceeded to get finishers photo, then on to post race snack box. (banana, corn chips, processed cheese dip, rice cake snack, skittles, Clif bar and Craisins) Massages were also available by the minute $5, $10 or $20.
Post race: photos with characters available. Champagne, beer, food available for sale. Run Disney merchandise for purchase. Picnic tables to sit at.
Overall: Relatively flat, laid back for a marathon. Great first timer’s race.
Personal: This was the most fun I have had at any race. My goals were to get to MK in the dark, ride Everest, drink a beer in Epcot and finish. I felt great! I made witty comments along the way, which apparently no one else appreciated. For me it was awesome, I really enjoyed the time. It never felt like I was running a full marathon. I never felt like I struggled. I was prepared to endure and I did. I am DOPEY!