In the midst of all the chaos that went on during this trip, I did run a marathon. I had some bad panic attacks and the few days before and a virus afterward, but on the day of the marathon I actually got out there and did it. I gotta say the marathon was like nothing I’d ever done before and I’m happy to walk you through my recap (every painful step 😉 ).
Like any good RunDisney event, I was up at 2:45am. Dressed and out the door by 3:15am. The treehouses at Saratoga Springs, where we stayed, are great, but they are also in the middle of nowhere. By the time we got to the main building where the race bus left from it was close to 4 and that bus was full, but we got on the next one. There was a lot of traffic though so they aren’t kidding when they say get on the bus no later than 4! I got off at Epcot around 4:45. Which was fine with me, more time on the warm bus!
I will say this was the coldest day I’ve ever had in Florida. It was around 30 degrees at the start and didn’t get a ton warmer. The wind was also harsh. My friend I was traveling with had a wind breaker she let me use and said I could throw away when I got warm, but I ended up keeping it on the whole time. The cold and wind was pretty miserable. My Megara costume had a lot of extra layers!
I got to the start an went to corral I with my friend Chrissy. It was so nice having some company at the start. We began a little after 6:00 – with fireworks at the start, of course! The course was so congested in the beginning, even for the first two miles or so, which was a good excuse to take it slow. We didn’t see any characters til we got closer to the Magic Kingdom gates. I’ve kept a running list below of all the characters out – I heard there weren’t as many as usual due to the extreme cold.
I shed one of my layers outside of the TTC and ran toward Magic Kingdom. Once there I found my husband on Main Street! Seeing him (and this time, my friends!) is one of the best parts of the race. We ran through Tomorrowland, New Fantasyland, and finally that great moment – through the castle! Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff were hanging out on the castle calling hi to everyone.
Then it was up through Liberty Square where I was super excited to see that they had Sam the Eagle out from the new Muppets show! He and a singing cast member were talking to the crowd, I loved it. Then through Frontierland I had to stop for a photo opp with a really short line – the Country Bears! It was amazing to me during the marathon how short some of the waits were. I guess when it’s 26 miles people just want to get it done and not stop for photos.
Unfortunately it was all too soon that we were leaving the Magic Kingdom, and I knew it would be a boring bit before we hit the Animal Kingdom. Luckily some characters were out to entertain – I got a photo with Mary Poppins’ penguins with no wait! And then as I approached the Polynesian I saw one of my friends, Kristin, cheering me on! She had pom-poms and everything. Seeing friends really pushed me to keep going.
At some point before Animal Kingdom there was a display from a museum with old attractions – they had the cars from Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad, and the Nautilus. It was really neat and I’d love to know more about where they were from. Also around this point we ran past the compost area which was super stinky!
As we approached the Animal Kingdom area I knew I was going to be really close to riding Everest. It didn’t open til 9am and it was about 8:50ish as I was entering the area. I stopped for two photos (with the Festival of the Lion King performers and with Meeko). I knew even if it hadn’t opened yet I would wait for Everest. The idea of riding a roller coaster in the middle of a marathon was just too cool – plus my back was hurting so I needed a sitting break anyway!
I headed straight for the single rider line and got there exactly at 9am. I was on the third train that went out that day. I was seated next to another runner who was so pumped about the ride it made me even more excited (and it turns out that we have a mutual friend – it really is a small world!). AND we were in the front row! It was crazy to look out at everything from the top and see all the places around property I still had to run. Definitely the coolest thing I did during the marathon. It got me so excited to keep going, and just what I needed!
When I exited Everest two more of my friends were waiting to cheer me on! And this time I was actually close enough to see they had all made t-shirts. They said “My favorite Princess is running a marathon” and they all had different princesses on them. And the back said “Team Ginther.” I loved it so much! Leaving Animal Kingdom was actually the best feeling of the race for me. I also passed off my hydration pack to my friends since my back was hurting so much.
Outside of Animal Kingdom I stopped for another “must have” photo opp with the Haunted Mansion grave diggers. Unfortunately after that the race got really boring. It’s a long run to ESPN Wide World of Sports and there was literally nothing on the way there. Once I got there we saw some more characters. I was going pretty slow because my back was killing me. And then it was more miles til we got to Hollywood Studios. Luckily around mile 22 there was a chocolate stop!
We entered Hollywood Studios through the back, where Oswald was waiting for photos! I made my way to the front of the park, where two more friends were waiting to cheer me on… and “ran” along side me for a little bit. Leaving Hollywood Studios was another great feeling because I knew at that point I would finish and that it wasn’t that much longer. Through the Boardwalk area and into the Epcot World Showcase. At this point I stopped two or three times to sit for just a minute. It helped me get the strength to keep going.
Less than half a mile and I found most of my friends again with margaritas in Epcot! I stopped to chat briefly, had a couple of sips of a margarita, and then plowed on. Right outside of Spaceship Earth I ran into another Disney friend – one I hadn’t met in person before! So it was pretty exciting seeing him for the first time right as I was finishing a marathon!
And then I crossed the finish line. I thought I would be more emotional, but I was just relieved to be done. I got my medal, met up with Jason, and made my way back for a nice, hot shower. I’m still not 100% sure it’s really sunk in that I completed a marathon! But I did it.
Characters on the course:
- Jack Sparrow and Barbossa
- Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater
- Jack Skellington and Sally
- Buzz Lightyear
- Donald Duck (circus outfit)
- The Beast
- Country Bears
- Dragon float from Festival of Fantasy
- Mary Poppins penguins
- Wedding Pavilion guys
- Genie in vacation outfit
- Big Bad Wolf
- Wreck It Ralph and Vanellope
- Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow
- Festival of the Lion King performers
- King Louie
- Haunted Mansion gravediggers
- Sports Minnie and Mickey
- Sports Chip, Dale, and Donald Duck
- Sports Goofy
- Joy and Sadness
- Alice in Wonderland
- Aladdin and Jasmine
- Snow White
Have you ever run a marathon? What do you think about running in Disney?