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Why I’ll Be Registering for Marathon Weekend… And You Should, Too.

Guest Author: Danielle Swanson

Waking up at 2:30 in the morning to go run for over 13 miles never sounded like my idea of a good time. The fact that I got to wear a tutu made it a little more bearable. Knowing I’d be running all over Walt Disney World turned it into the stuff dreams are made of.

Marathon Wkend 2013

In one month, runDisney will be opening registration for its signature event, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. During race weekend, scheduled for January 9-12, 2014, more than 25,000 runners will descend on the parks with ESPN Wide World of Sports becoming race headquarters. Along with Olympians, celebrities, and a few thousand other characters, I’ll be registering for my fourth Marathon Weekend, signing up to run 39.3 miles over the course.

Marathon Wkend 2013 Hallalujeh Choir Marathon wkend 2011 Half Mary Poppins

I wasn’t a runner as a kid or even for a long time as an adult; to be honest, after having babies, just thinking about the treadmill about made me pee. And I’m never going to be one of those tiny people, the thin, sinewy type that everyone thinks of when they think of runners. I have chunky thighs that jiggle when I run in those cute short shorts real runners wear, and my arm fat waves with the wind in my tank tops. Even though I’ve always done some sort of physical activity, when I started running, twenty seconds seemed like an eternity. Now, here I am, crazily planning on taking on two hours one day and five the next, chunky thighs, arm fat and all.

Marathon Wkend 2013 Runners greet villians Marathon Wkend 2013 Mickey Hot Air Balloon at mile 19

However, a couple years ago, one of my friends suggested we register for a Disney half marathon, and my life hasn’t been the same since. It’s been a lot of work. Some days, my program has required me to run for four or five hours; others I’ve had to find a way just to squeeze in a short speed run. Like the postal service, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” has kept me from putting on my trainers and running. But the work has been worth it. At Disney, I’ve been able to see things that only a number of visitors ever get to see: Cinderella’s float up close, the Pirates of the Caribbean boat, Everest at night (the wee hours of the morning, actually), all the villains lined up, a car show on the Disney speedway, and my face up on the screen at the ESPN stadium. When I cross the finish line and a volunteer puts a medal around my neck, I feel like a real athlete, like I’ve accomplished a great feat.

Marathon Wkend 2013 Medal and Tutu Marathon Wkend 2012 Half Medal Marathon Wkend 2011 Half Medal

While my running started as a goal to run at Disney, it has turned into so much more. I’ve made friends at home and abroad, traveled to other locales to pound the pavement, and become a healthier, better me. I know that 39.3 miles is going to be no easy task, but I have faith that knowing I’m doing them at Disney will make the training – and the actual race – that much easier.


The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by “Magical Mouse Plan Travel


  1. Best of luck!

    I loved my first Goofy experience and will run the Goofy again in 2015. Running the half or full in 2014.

    I am sure you will do great!


    • Thank you! I’m both excited and nervous. I love running Disney, but dang, 39.3 sounds like a long distance. Good luck in your own training!


    • I am both nervous and excited! I know how great Disney races are, but at the same time, 39.3 miles still seems insane. I guess so did 26.2 at one point.
      Congrats on completing the Goofy and good luck on your future races!


  2. I’m looking at doing the (my first) full for 2014 and then Goofy for 2015. My first Half was 2012 and my third was this year’s half. My fear is the dramatically higher prices that seem to be appearing on this year’s races.


    • Congratulations on your past halves and good look on your future races. You will love the marathon; it’s the best place to run your first one. I’m so glad I did mine there. All of the support from the volunteers and other runners really helped me making it through those terrible last few miles after I hit the wall.
      I agree. Disney prices are already steep. I’m hoping they don’t go up much more. It’s one of the most expensive races, but at least I do feel like I get my money’s worth out of it. Plus, I love the ample supplies and medical personnel they provide.


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