The Casual Runner

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon (Part 1)

2017 Cigna runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon hosted by Mickey Mouse

January 8, 2017
Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

We have TONS of coverage of the 2017 runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon coming your way! Here is a quick guide so you don’t miss any of it:

Can’t get enough of this great event, including the Dopey Challenge & other race events? You can check out our past coverage of the 2015 Walt Disney World Weekend now:

Why I Decided to Run This Race

I decided to run this race while I was running the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon: I decided that if I ever stop running this race that will be the end of running Marathons for me. So, I will keep running it!

However, Mike wanted nothing to do with running Goofy again as he made a blood oath (okay not legit blood swapping) with our friend Helene that, in 2017, he would be running ONLY the marathon (NO challenges!).  Shortly after finishing the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon a group of us realized that the 2017 WDW Half Marathon would be the 20th Anniversary of the race and we HAD to run both!  So we signed up for Goofy once again! Editor’s note: They then proceeded to drag Mike kicking and screaming into registering for Goofy as well, so he was really the victim here.

The Race Expo

I ended up having to go to the expo 2 1/2 times and I had a different experience with the expo each time.  Mike and I went shortly after the expo opened on Thursday afternoon and were very pleased with not having to deal with the craziness that we were told existed the day before.  

We started by going to pick up our bibs for Goofy in the H.P. Field House. I was shocked that Goofy only had three bib pick up booths compared to the lined wall of Dopey bib pick up booths.  Goofy definitely isn’t quite sought out after anymore, but I’m okay with that because that means more merch for me!

After picking up our bibs we took a picture with our bibs right next to the booth to verify that, at the end of the full, it was in fact us running both races in the challenge.  Next it was time to pick up our race shirts, which for challenge participants were in the same building as their bibs. It was then time to head to the Josten’s Center for all things merchandise.  We were able to come up the stairs out of the H.P. Field House and go right in the main entrance of the Josten’s Center without any wait or delay.

First stop on my shopping trip was to head straight to the Official runDisney race merchandise booth.  We expected there to be long lines (and were pleasantly surprised when there were no lines at all), so Mike went off in search of the New Balance Rewards check-in location and met up with me.

It seemed to be very well stocked, seeing as it had opened to crazy crowds of runner-shoppers the day before.  The only thing that I did not see at the expo that I had been looking forward to was the official race-specific shoe ornament that will be featured at all runDisney races this year, fortunately I had a friend get it for me the day before.  I predict that this will be the most sought after race merch this year!

Next, Mike had a few essentials to pick up: Body Glide and Clif Shot Bloks. On the way for searching for those we stopped and checked out the runDisney medals released for runDisney’s Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon & Rebel Challenge and the Glass Slipper Challenge. I am signed up for the Princess Half Marathon next month so I definitely had to take a look at that medal, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the Princess 5K medal with Mrs. Potts and Chip on it (from Beauty and the Beast).  So as Mike decided to head to look for his race day essentials I decided to ask runDisney if there was any chance I could get a Princess 5K bib. Guess what?!?! They had them!  I was one happy girl to get to sign up for this race and for signing up I got a free runDisney grocery bag.

The last stop of the merchandise booths I had to go to was for my Fitletic belt.  I absolutely love my running belt especially because it has holders for GU’s that I can just pull off the belt without opening anything else.  However, I felt after running last year’s marathon I needed an extra pocket to help with holding food.  I was in luck, I could buy an extra pocket that snapped onto my belt without having to buy a brand new belt.

Alright it was time to get me and my wallet out of this expo!  We headed up the stairs to leave the expo and as we were doing so I tapped Mike on the shoulder to let him know I found the @WDWToday booth and, to my surprise, at that exact moment he was tweeting at them!  We stopped over to say hi and, wouldn’t you know, they had just tweeted us back right before we said hello!  “It’s a Small World After All…”

You may think that this is where my expo story ends, but don’t forget, I still went back 1 1/2 more times!  I went back with my friend Kelley on Friday after she flew in so that she could get her bib before running the Donald Duck Half Marathon.  Everything ran just as smoothly for her with one exception…when we attended the expo in April 2016 for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge we were routed all the way around the sports field and brought in a downstairs entrance of the Josten’s Center.  For reasons passing understanding, they did the same thing at this expo. I felt that this was completely unnecessary and that the expo was no more crowded Friday than it had been Thursday.  Last note on this trip, Kelley was also able to obtain a 5K and 10K Princess bib through runDisney so we are very excited to get to be running our favorite race weekend together once again!

Lastly, time to talk about the worst trip of them all, the half trip.  I call this a “half trip” because we dropped Kelley and her husband off at the expo on Saturday after the cancellation of the Donald Duck Half Marathon so she could process her refund for the race.  We were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for lunch and so we drove them over to Wide World of Sports so that they could make this happen.  The usual 10 minutes that it would normally take us to get there took more than half an hour (including more than 20 minutes at a dead stop at the intersection of Victory Way and Osceola), plus another half an hour to get out of there!  Kelley said it only took her 10 minutes once entering the complex to get her refund, but they took a bus to the Polynesian after that and it took the bus over 40 minutes to get out of the parking lot!  I know a lot of insanity was going on that day, but Disney has got to figure out a better traffic flow for that complex!

Swag Review

For the marathon we received a blue long sleeved shirt with Mickey Mouse on it.  I was highly disappointed in this shirt.  It has the exact same design concept on it as the previous year, with the exception that it says 26.2 miles on it and it’s a larger logo.  Come on runDisney, I know you can be more creative than that.  We also received a green long sleeved shirt with Goofy on it, same design concept as the previous year. We also received a luggage tag this year in the same shape of the Donald Duck Half Marathon Medal as a special bonus for the 20th Anniversary of the race, which was a nice addition.  The only other thing in the bag was a small Cliff Bar that I had no interest in eating.  

The Gear

I had every intention of running this race dressed as Figment, unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans for this race.  After we left Ohio for Florida, the race temps for Sunday kept dropping and dropping.   Come Saturday morning the weather was predicted to be in the 30s with windchills dipping down into the 20s.  I thought I had come to Florida not stayed in Ohio! Fortunately my brother drove over from Clearwater on Saturday and brought gloves, hand warmers, and ear warmers for me. Being a Floridian, he had zero interest in hanging around to cheer us on in those temperatures!

In addition to those, I ran with a green running tank base layer, followed by a Run and Ride long sleeve race shirt (as a throw away shirt, because I have 3 of the exact same shirt and I already abused the heck out of this particular one), then the outermost layer was my purple Wine and Dine 2015 zip up jacket.  On my bottom half i wore black yoga pants, yellow mid-calf swiftwick socks, and Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes.

Side Note: As the race day temps were going to be so miserable, Mike decided to abandon his plans to record a video while running the marathon. We’re sorry, but you can still check out our 2016 WDW Marathon Course & Race Highlight Video.

The Pre-Race

On this trip we took a long runcation that involved needing a rental car (we do not usually rent cars when we stay on Walt Disney World property).  We opted for driving the rental car instead of taking the event transportation and Mike and I left our hotel at 4:00am to head off to Epcot’s parking lot.  Traffic was not bad at all and we got to park in the lot closest to the pre-race party!  We waited in our car until about 4:40am (in the warmth!) and then headed off to the bathrooms and the corrals.  I had packed mylars from previous races, but I quickly realized when we got out of the car that I forgot to bring them with us, oops!  Time to activate the hand warmers and head to the corrals.

We found our friend Jason before walking the almost mile it takes to get to the corrals from the pre-race party.  He was starting a corral behind us and we were coming up with a race plan where I would run on the left so he could find me on the off chance we would meet up.  Once Mike and I were in our corral (he was kind enough to drop back a corral) our friend Meghan met up with us as Mike had planned on running with her as their pace and race plan matched up perfectly.

Along the Course

The fireworks went off and it was time for Mike, Meghan, and I to start running.  I had decided I would stay with them as long as I could.  I always like to run as long as I possibly can before I start my run/walk/run method.  So we’re off… we ran along Epcot Center Drive to the first water stop (which was right before the 1 mile marker) and I was feeling pretty good with their pace. We stopped for our water (there was no Powerade at this stop) before it was time to start running again to the mile 1 marker. I was like, “okay I’ve ran a mile straight (give or take) and I’m ready for my run/walk/run.” So I bid them farewell and I was ready to take on the next 25 miles by myself.  

Sadly, this is where we need to stop for now. But don’t worry, there are PLENTY of great stories coming your way in Part 2 of my race review which is live now!

Read the exciting conclusion to this article now!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!