Forget three: 20 is the magic number. Especially when you’re talking about Disney magic.
Registration for the 20th anniversary edition of the Walt Disney World Marathon, the original Disney running event that started them all, opened last week. In honor of the race’s 20th anniversary, ‘20’ is the watchword for the weekend. The event will feature a special 20th anniversary Mickey Mouse medal, special entertainment at the 20-mile marker and a new post-race party at Downtown Disney. Race organizer runDisney expects the marathon to sell out with a field of—you guessed it—20,000 runners for their biggest race yet.
“I have worked with dozens of groups that put on multiple events,” says Jeff Galloway, runDisney’s official training consultant, who has run every single Walt Disney World Marathon since the inaugural event in 1994. “I’ve not seen any group that’s been more responsive to making events better year after year than the runDisney group.”
The Walt Disney World Marathon is the marquee event during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna from Jan. 10-13, 2013. The weekend also features kids’ races including the Mickey Mile, the Family Fun Run 5K and a half marathon in addition to the marathon. Daring runners can opt to tackle Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge by running both the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.
Since the inaugural Walt Disney World event in 1994, Disney running has grown from one race with 8,200 runners to a series of seven major running weekends throughout the year at both Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California including the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler. The 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend alone had 56,000 registered runners.
Disney races are best known for touring runners through Disney theme parks, and the marathon takes runners through the parks’ most iconic attraction: Cinderella Castle.
“When you run through the breezeway of that castle and you come out and there’s Main Street, it’s a great feeling,” says John Phelan, entertainment show director for Disney Sports. “I really think about the people who are running a half or a full marathon for the first time, and our job is to make them do it and get through it and have fun.”
Phelan is the man in charge of orchestrating runDisney’s elaborate on-course entertainment, which includes everything from music and live-performers, parade floats and hot air-balloons, to acrobats on trampolines, cheer squads, and, of course, Disney characters.
The most popular entertainers? “Mickey and Minnie are always very, very popular,” Phelan says. No doubt, the world’s most famous mice will be on hand in their tracksuits, ready to cheer on runners.
Early bird pricing for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is now in effect through June 19. Registrations for the marathon or half-marathon starts at $150, while costs for the 5K begin at $55. For more information visit www.rundisney.com.
Karla Bruning is a veteran journalist and running nerd. She has completed four marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.
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