Race Recap! The 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon

2024 WDW Marathon - finish

Hello and welcome back to yet another trip report! It’s time for the best part: of this trip report, and the whole year – the Walt Disney World Marathon. Find all the entries in this report here. Onward!

And then, a second miracle: much like the night before the WDW Half, I was able to battle through my brain’s natural tendencies to Freak Right On Out and get some real sleep. Not, like, a lot, but way more than usual. I popped up with my alarm and busied myself prepping my race outfit with reasonable cheer despite the early hour. Erika was right behind me, and we skipped off into the night.

The race bus dropped us off at the start before 4am, and we busied ourselves with our legally required Spaceship Earth selfies. As we headed toward the staging area, Erika recalled how it was about this time last year she decided she would be unable to start the marathon. Fear not – this year, there would be only triumphs!

We didn’t bother with any of the staging area rigamarole, instead heading straight to the corrals, where I bid Erika adieu and headed into corral B. Most of the prerace chatter was the same as, oh, pretty much any other runDisney race. Except for one critical item: the national anthem was sung by none other than THE DAPPER DANS!!! The entire crowd went WILD. Please make this a regular thing!!!

I mean, with a kickoff like that, how could the race day possibly be anything but incredible? I crossed the start line with a light heart.

The first, parkless mile on the road of the race is for taking stock. Despite my 7.1 + 6 miles the day previous, I was feeling unexpectedly good. Not set-a-PR good, obviously, but strong. I focused on dialing back a bit lest I suffer from flagging energy on the backend as I headed toward Epcot.

For this course we were inside of Epcot in under two miles, but only barely – I feel like we dipped in, skimmed the bottom of World Showcase, and dipped out again. Tease!

From there we braved our first chunk of roads, albeit with the usual entertainment and character punctuation. This early in the course the photo lines were still pretty long – but I always stop for Goob! (Who didn’t have much of a line anyway. Don’t you people listen?!) The wrangler CM walked away just as it was my turn for a photo; luckily the PhotoPass pic turned out okay.

2024 WDW Marathon - Goob

Soon enough we were headed toward the Magic Kingdom, carefully making our way across that big downhill portion near The Contemporary and passing by the TTC, where I made a line-free bathroom stop. Inside mile eight we entered the park proper and made our way up Main Street in one of those moments that really encapsulate what makes runDisney worth it. If you’ve never run toward Cinderella Castle at the urgance of a cheering crowd, have you even lived?!

I’m fairly certain the MK portion of the course was very slightly tweaked this year, as after Tomorrowland we ran under the Tron arch (nifty!) and through Storybook Circus before ending up back in Fantasyland.

There was a Princess & The Frog photo stop just before the castle with Louis and Naveen, the latter of whom I had never gotten, so I stopped. “Come on, Ghost Host,” Naveen said just before putting his hand on my sweaty shoulder. Felt bad about that but I can’t have been the only one, right? 😅

2024 WDW Marathon - Naveen and Louis

Then onward I went in classic fashion, through Cinderella Castle and then off to my side for another desperate stab at a castle pic that wasn’t terrible. And, um, I got a good one?! What a race!

Next up was Liberty Square, where I had hoped for a shot with the Haunted Mansion to go with my race costume but it was too far away. Instead I ran on through Liberty Square and Frontierland before parting with the park in Adventureland.

This moment of sadness was eased by Flynn Rider, who after my picture sent me off with the information that he liked my costume colors. Tangled increases in my esteem by the day. I saw later Rapunzel was at that stop too if you were lucky, as was Tiana with Naveen. Alas, somehow I missed both. Is it me?

2024 WDW Marathon - Flynn Rider

Now we were on mile ten, and road warriors once again. We traipsed past the monorail resorts. At mile eleven it started to rain. At mile twelve, it started to REALLY REALLY rain. Like, hardcore. As in, I had to stop and walk for no other reason than there was TOO MUCH RAIN IN MY EYES and I COULD NOT SEE. I was afraid my contact lenses were gonna be washed out; that’s how much rain there was. With none in the forecast! Florida, am I right?!

I could see where there should be characters, but they were hiding in their trailers. The Adventurer’s Club set was there, abandoned by the adventurers. The situation looked grim, yet no one was grinning. Not the Ghost Host, that was for sure.

And then, just as I was approaching the appropriately themed Haunted Mansion mile thirteen mile marker, the monsoon eased into a drizzle, then dissipated entirely. See the pain in my eyes? YEAH.

2024 WDW Marathon - Haunted Mansion mile 13

Mile thirteen was gloriously rain-free; not even seeing the people ahead of me already exiting Animal Kingdom on the other side of the cones could mar my relief. Soon enough, I was on mile fourteen and entering Disney’s Animal Kingdom myself! Still no Festival of the Lion King stiltwalker photo stop, though. I suppose one can’t have everything.

Anyway, DAK was pretty chill. I busied myself pointing out bathrooms I did not currently need but had used in past marathons. There was one in Anandapur, and one by Nemo… just me?

I stopped for a photo with Everest, but decided against a ride this year. I couldn’t really tell you why. Sometimes your feet just keep going, you know? Maybe because the bar wasn’t open.

You know who I did stop for, though? Kevin! Much like Goob, I will always stop for Kevin. It wasn’t a proper photo op, though; the CMs kept encouraging selfies but it was tough to get the v. tall bird and my face in view. I did my best and trotted on.

After a jaunt through Dinoland USA, I was back out on the roads and mile sixteen. Here I decided to indulge myself in some music, which is a new thing for me. For many years I did runDisney with no music, instead choosing to pull my entertainment from the course. This works well enough, but I gotta say, having some music during the long parkless stretch really helped. I started with “Mama Told Me Not to Come” followed by “Cover of The Rolling Stone” for double the laughs, and it helped me keep up a decent clip at a time when morale could’ve dipped.

With the exit of the rain came the re-entrance of roadside characters, and as I’d never gotten Anna before I stopped for Frozen. “Bye…” said Elsa after I thanked them for the pic. I feel like every face character Elsa sounds like she’s on downers.

2024 WDW Marathon - Anna and Elsa

I mentioned morale, yes? I was now on mile nineteen and approaching everyone’s favorite morale killer: the dreaded Blizzard Beach parking lot. Honestly, though, I didn’t think it was as bad this year? More of a peripheral outline than the snaking course from before. Maybe I’m imagining things. Marathons are like childbirth (I hear); after the fact, you only remember the fun part.

With Blizzard Beach and mile twenty behind me, we were heading toward the fun part! Only a couple miles of roads separated me from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not that we were in it for more than like a second; the course scarcely glances off park time there. I ran past the Tower of Terror, hopped into a line-free picture with Joy, and took off again.

This part of the race is one of my favorites! You take a familiar path, past the Skyliner and down the lakeside path past the Boardwalk resorts before stomping onto the Boardwalk itself. Once there, a CM was calling out, “You’re going to finish! They can’t sweep you now! You’ll definitely finish!” I knew that, and I knew that, but for some reason it kinda made me start to get that almost-crying runner’s high feeling? Who knew!

At mile twenty-four we were back inside Epcot and on the road to happiness. But wait, what’s this? Just like last year, the wonderful Disney playlist of old had been replaced by the same dumb pop song loop that had been following us the entire way. I have half a mind to write runDisney and beg them to knock that off. We aren’t ALL Swifties, okay?!

This admittedly cramped my style just a bit, but I was still delighted to be dashing around World Showcase with the end in sight. We hit mile twenty-five somewhere in there before finding ourselves passing Spaceship Earth. The Jammitors played us out as we went beyond the berm.

Hiding behind Epcot were none other than Star-Lord and Gamora! I had stupidly missed them during the Wine & Dine Half, so I achieved redemption here.

2024 WDW Marathon - Starlord and Gamora

Then it was mile twenty-six, the gospel choir, and… done! Eleventy-billion finish photos incoming:

(Too much? I mean, yeah, fair enough.)

And would you like to hear something crazy? I had managed my second-fastest WDW Marathon ever! During the Goofy Challenge!!! I know!!!! Thank God I finished the last six miles of the WDW Half or it wouldn’t have been the same. I was absolutely elated, dumb Epcot soundtrack notwithstanding.

This recap has, in its usual fashion when I’m the writer, already gone on long enough, wouldn’t you say? So I’ll leave you here for now, and we’ll catch up with my post-race and the rest of the day in my next installment. Until then, know that it was another glorious Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Long may it reign!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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