Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Ashley Rodriguez
Where else can you get a high five from Mickey or ride a roller coaster in the middle of the run?
When we asked readers to tell us what makes a Disney race different, the responses flooded in. From personal stories of hugs and selfies with legendary characters to meeting up with friends to grab a beer in Epcot, one thing was clear—Disney races are about having fun.
One runner we spoke to—Melissa Peterson, of Atlanta, Georgia, who will run her first Disney race in February—said the race series’ “reputation precedes itself in and outside of the running community.”
“I’ve known about it for years,” she said. “I absolutely can’t wait to taste that magic.”
Here we’ve compiled some of our favorite reasons to run Disney.
1. Getting Support from Your Favorite Characters
Spectator support is everything during a race and can provide a perfectly timed boost of energy when you need it the most. But seeing your favorite Disney character in the crowd? Priceless.
“What other marathons have places to stop and take pictures with your favorite [Disney] characters? Or have the green army men from Toy Story telling you to pick your knees up as you’re struggling up the overpass?” said Nicole Donnelly, of Cooper City, Florida. “It’s not just running a marathon. It’s running a marathon using the magic of Disney. Anyone can do it. All you need is faith and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”
2. Grabbing a Beer in Germany
Or a margarita in Mexico. Take your pick. The last mile of the course runs through Epcot, and many runners (who can stomach it) use it as an opportunity to start the celebration early.
“My family met me at mile 26 in Epcot with an awesome frozen margarita—and my husband crossed the finish line with a sombrero,” said Ara Jimenez, of Miami, Florida. “I don’t even think about setting a PR. Too much fun around.”
3. Taking a Break to Ride a Roller Coaster
Expedition Everest, anyone? Because it’s not cool enough just to run through Disney World—you get the added perk of being able to hop on a roller coaster without the long line.
“[Expedition Everest] in particular is marathoner friendly—it’s right on the course around the halfway point. It’s a great distraction from what’s ahead,” said Lauren Bailey, of Washington, D.C. “My strategy at Disney is to always PR in fun.”
4. Making You Forget 26.2 Miles Is Really Far
Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned marathoner, the distance can play mind games on anyone. But the atmosphere of Disney—full of excitement, theme parks and childhood nostalgia—helps 26.2 miles feel less daunting.
“Only Disney can make you forget just how long 26.2 miles really is,” said Juliette Fahey, of Deerfield Beach, Florida.
5. Letting You Be a Kid Again
Other than on Halloween, when else do grown-ups get to channel their inner Tinker Bell and Aladdin? Costumes aren’t just accepted at a Disney race, they’re encouraged. So is dancing. And singing.
“It’s pure magic,” said Ruthie Serrano, of Montgomery, Alabama. “The Disney marathon helps you run 26.2 miles by making you feel like a kid again. [You’re] running each mile excited to see what entertainment Disney has in store for you just around the corner. Or ‘just around the river bend…’”