Walt Disney World Marathon 1/9/11 – Orlando, Florida.
I did not stay at a Disney resort and did not use their pre- or post-race transportation so I cannot comment on how well that worked out.
I stayed at the Galleria Palms in Kissimmee, about 4 miles from the start. Nice hotel with direct easy access to the park, friendly staff and comfortable rooms. The in-room fridge was perfect for the pre-race food I brought with me.
The expo and packet pickup the day before were well-organized and had a large selection of vendors. I was there near the end of the day and there were minimal lines. There is a lot of walking – the venue is large and parking is well away from the buildings. Not many items in the packet – mostly coupons. Race shirt is long-sleeved and colorful but ‘unisex’ and seems a little on the large side. I do wonder why so many races refuse to have gender specific shirts.
The instructions for arriving at the race in the morning seemed exceptionally early but I am glad I did as recommended. Traffic was steady going into the parking areas. No fee to park at Epcot. The start was very well-organized and managed with obvious gear check areas and many, many porta potties. A longish walk to the starting corrals but many more porta potties there, too. Starting corrals were large and clearly marked and did not seem over crowded. No spectator areas at start.
Start about 39 degrees, light wind, 8 waves from a little after 5:30 AM. Fire works send offs to all waves.
The entire race was very well-organized, there was thorough course support, many fans, and all the volunteers and park staff were upbeat and very encouraging. All the staff were well-informed. Many people would call out the runner’s names from their bibs – I found that very motivating. It was an easy course on asphalt and concrete. Not many hills – just a few gradual inclines – we ran up an onramp and over a few roads. Run through the four theme parks and down many back roads. Run through a few smelly service areas and right by the sanitation plant. Parks were closed – no rides or attractions were operational but there were guest facilities and shopping available for the spectators.
Post race food: water bottle, banana, muffin, power bar, and power aid. A little more food selection would have been nice. Space blanket with Disney logo. The finisher’s medals are big, heavy and as much bling as anyone could want. This year, the finishers received a free admission to the park of their choice. As you had to produce your medal, you got to wear it around all day and lots of people yelled out congratulations. This was fun as I usually just take the medal home and put it on the wall and it’s never seen by anybody. Once in a while, it’s fun to show off. Even more fun to show off in a group!
The official race website has a great deal of participant and spectator support info. The website seems well designed and easy to use and answered nearly every question I had before the race.
Overall, I’d give this race an A. It’s very big and commercialized but very well done and a huge amount of fun.