If you've ever dreamed about running through Disney World's parks in one magical day, then the 2015 Disney World Marathon is the event for you.
There's nothing quite like finishing a marathon and getting greeted by the likes of Mickey Mouse and his pals at the finish line. If nothing else, the post-race pictures with Disney's most beloved character act as an extra incentive to finish the race.
As you would expect, the Disney World Marathon is one of the most popular races of the year. It combines endurance, determination, a beautiful landscape and a little bit of magic together to bring out the best in the competition.
Here is the most important information in regards to the route, how to track runners and what to expect along the way.
Where: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
When: Sunday, Jan. 11 at 5:30 a.m. ET
Runners will see nearly all of Disney World along the 26.2-mile path, including stops in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, ESPN's Wide World of Sports and Walt Disney World Speedway.
They'll see more than Mickey along the way as well. Goofy, Donald Duck and others will be cheering them on right from the early-morning start.
You can view a complete course map at WDWInfo.com.
Unfortunately, the marathon is not televised. There is an alternative, however, as RunDisney.com explains:
Family and friends will be able to track participants with live online runner tracking for the full marathon & half marathon. Participants will have the opportunity to send split times via email, text messaging, and PDAs by registering for this service on the website. You can also sign up for runner tracking at Disney's Health & Fitness Expo.
Sure, it's not exactly the same as watching on TV, but at least this way you can see how fast the runners you care about are progressing through the race.
You can also catch a live stream of the half-marathon and full marathon on the Disney Park's Blog.
The weekend's main event is the full marathon, but there are other events to take part in as well. Check them out in the table below:
|Disney World Marathon 2015 Weekend Events|
|Thursday, Jan. 8||Completed||Walt Disney World 5K|
|Friday, Jan. 9||5:30 a.m.||Walt Disney World 10K|
|Saturday, Jan. 10||5:30 a.m.||Walt Disney World Half Marathon|
|Sunday, Jan. 11||5:30 a.m.||Walt Disney World Marathon|
For those runners who don't get enough of a thrill from running just the marathon, you can take part in the Dopey Challenge. That's when you run all four races. You'll get more than just personal satisfaction for completing the circuit. Those who complete the tall task receive six medals—one for each race, the Goofy Challenge medal and the Dopey Challenge medal.
For the more casual marathoner, you can always run through the four parks slapping high fives with every Disney character imaginable in just one of the four races. The costumed folk won't just be on the sidelines, either. Dressing up is allowed, as long as you don't wear a mask.
Lauren Harrell loves the atmosphere, as she told Lisa Richwine of Philly.com, "I love the atmosphere. People are cheering you every step of the way. And nobody judges you for dressing in costume."
Expect there to be many participants dressing up, especially when you consider that more than 53,000 runners will participate in the weekend's events, per Richwine. That's a lot of Mickey and Minnie Mouses stampeding through the parks.
There will be smiles everywhere this weekend, and not just because of the event at hand. The weather is supposed to be pretty cooperative, according to Weather.com. The only rain in the forecast is for Sunday, though it shouldn't begin until after the race has concluded.
Few sporting events can spark as much joy as a run through perhaps the most magical place in the country. It's truly the experience of a lifetime.
*All stats and information via RunDisney.com.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn