Anticipation has reached a fever pitch and today the official 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Event Guide has been released. Here’s the scoop on the race courses!
As always, the published maps are almost invisible to the naked eye, but I’ve had a look at the courses with my magnifying glass and have a few thoughts.
This is the same course for the recent Wine & Dine. Starting from the back of the Epcot parking lot, the first mile is a bit dull in terms of stuff to look at, but we’ll be full of plenty of anticipation and will be busy trying not to step on the other runners.
Once we hit the entrance to Epcot near Mexico, it’s all fun ’till the end. A loop around the World Showcase Lagoon should yield a few character stops. During the Wine & Dine they were in Norway, France and near the UK.
Another great photo op is as you cross the bridge back into Future World. You’ll get an awesome view of Spaceship Earth on the way to the finish line.
Rumor has it that the sculpture of Te Fiti has just been installed in Moana: The Journey of Water which is still under construction. Not sure if we’ll get a glimpse at this angle in the dark, but it’s possible.
The course makes a right turn and heads backstage between Mission: Space and Test Track and snakes to the finish line on the other side of the parking lot. Woo-hoo!
Starting from the same spot in the back of the parking lot, the course heads in the opposite direction. We get the boring highway running out of the way up front with a couple of zig-zags and hairpin turns, then it’s back to the park.
Passing behind The Land and into the park to run in front of Journey into Imagination, the course takes a right into United Kingdom and briefly backstage to re-emerge near the Skyliner station.
After a loop around the Boardwalk, the course heads back through the International Gateway into Epcot. A spin through the back of France drops the runners back on the the main concourse around the World Showcase Lagoon.
Once back in Future World, the finish is the same as the 5K – by Test Track and behind Guardians of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to the fun-filled finish.
The start for the Half Marathon is moved out to Epcot Center Drive. We get a lot of the boring highway miles out of the way early as we head up to Magic Kingdom.
In Magic Kingdom, its the iconic run up Main Street and then a spin adound Tomorrowland and through Fantasy Land and through the Castle for the best photo op of the course.
The course heads through Adventureland past Pirates of the Carribean and then behind the soon-to-not-be Splash Mountain and out of the park on the quest for the water treatment plant…
From there it’s pretty much a straight shot back to Epcot, except for a little loop-de-loop right at mile 10.
Off to the Epcot parking lot and then finally sweep across Future World to our now very familiar finish line run.
Once again we start out on Epcot Center Drive and do A LOT of looping around on the highways before there is much to see. To be completely honest I really like it this way. I like to get the dull stuff out of the way first so that there’s more to look at late in the race when I want to die.
Between mile 2-3 the course passes through Future World and then do ANOTHER loop around the Epcot parking lot. I really hope they have a lot of character stops and distractions planned here because it’s a long run up to Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom course adds a bunch of interesting sharp turns and I am expecting tons of course congestion. The good news is that we should see most of the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Next is the long jog through the waste water treatment plant again and the we head towards Animal Kingdom. The AK loop is a little interesting. We head through the park and past Everest (yes, you can ride if the park is open). Instead of exiting the park through the front gate, the course doubles back and makes a complete loop to the back of the park.
The next piece of the course is a bit controversial. The route I have run in the past went through Wide World of Sports (which I hated HATED), but instead this year, we head to Blizzard Beach. Yeah at first that sounds great, but if you zoom in, it’s just the Blizzard Beach parking lot. Really. With tons of turns and zig zags. I think I am underwhelmed.
Finally, the miles are starting to wind down and its just a quick hit at Hollywood Studios. The course really only kisses a corner of the park, and it doesn’t even look like we run Hollywood Boulevard. I’m OK with this for 2 reasons: A) by the time most runners get here, the park will be open and the race does complicate operations on the narrow streets. B) by the time most runners get here they just want to get to the finish line as fast as possible. Screw the sight seeing.
Finally, we head back to the Boardwalk and into Epcot through the International Gateway. Taking a right and heading the long way around the World Showcase Lagoon, finally we are so close. Don’t forget about the margaritas in Mexico. I am sending a runner ahead to get in line for me so that I can cross the finish line with a margarita in hand (before the Balloon Ladies).
That’s it! One more pass through Future World down our familiar finish route, past the gospel singers and we are there! Marathoners! Goofys! Dopeys! Hoooray!!!!
Castaway Cay 5K
I’ll be honest, I have no frame of reference here. This race is for lucky guests who are cruising on the Disney Wish immediately following Marathon Weekend.
I think the course at Castaway Cay is always the same. There is actually a running for every cruise that stops here, but this is THE running – meaning the only one with a non-rubber medal. Have fun, lucky cruisers! Maybe some day I’ll get to join you.