I realized that I have written much about the race, but I have never really completed a review. In writing this review I have tried to be objective and keep emotion out of it. You can be the judge.
- Pre Race Organization is excellent. All of the pre race packet pick-up and expo are held in the Wide World of Sports Arena. There is plenty of parking and signs to tell you where to go. I have never had to wait in line to pick up my number, and get my packet.
The Expo is good, full of energy. Lots of activity, music, noise, and crowds. It definitely adds to the excitement of the race. It has basically the same type of vendors that you would see with any large race, but the crowds definitely add a buzz of excitement to it.
- Race morning organization is great. There was no confusion at the start, no stress, just line up and go. The only problem is that while the race starts at 5:50 am, you have to account for a 15-20 minute walk to the start and time to get the bus, monorail, or park your car. Disney requires that the latest bus that you can get is 4:00 am so that you can get to the start on time which is early. Even if you drive, you still have to get there, park your car and walk to the start; 4:30 is probably the latest you want to get there. So……plan on getting up early and doing a bit of waiting. Disney does provide some entertainment at stage and start areas, so it will not be too bad, but it is a long wait!
- Pre and post race food No pre race food (not even water), so plan on bringing whatever you need before the start of the race with you. The post race food is plentiful, but basic after race fare. Muffins, granola bars, bananas etc. Soda and water, nothing special.
- The spectators are great and line the majority of the course. There are many spectators in several different areas. All of them are very enthusiastic and are great for support. There are a few areas that do not have spectators (primarily from the Grand Floridian to the Animal Kingdom, mile 13.5-15) but the areas that do have them make up for the ones that don’t.
- The medals. The medals are great. You are at Disney so of course they would be Mickey Mouse!!! Very cute.
- The course is the best part of this race. Running through all of the parks is amazing. You get to see some areas you have never seen before as a tourist, and around every corner a vacation memory always comes to me. Disney always does a great job of lining the sidelines of the race with bands, DJ’s, characters, animals, singers etc. There is always something to look at or be entertained by and you rarely have to wait in line to get your picture taken with Mickey, Minney and the rest of the characters that are out to greet you. The course is flat and only has one short turnaround.
- Crowded Course—This I have noticed more and more each year. The course is very crowded. Last year 13,000 people ran the marathon and you could feel it in certain locations. There were two or three times that I had to stop running due to traffic jams. The majority of the race is wide and open enough, but be prepared for a few bottlenecks. This is not a PR race. The course has too many people and distractions, but it is super fun.
- The aid stations are awesome. Disney is about the best I have seen on this front. 23 aid stations all filled with more than enough volunteers. There is water/Gatorade almost every mile along with stations that have bananas, gels, and candy. There are several medical tents. You never feel that you are out too far from aid at any point in the race.
This is by far my favorite race (even when you take into consideration the super early queue time). It is so much fun, the organization is right on, and the support is great. I would recommend it to any marathoner. Because of the crowds and many distractions I would not recommend this for anyone’s PR, but definitely for a fun non pressure race. This race is perfect for those runners who want to run for the fun of running.