If you plan to participate in a RunDisney event, here is everything you need to know about the Disney Marathon Weekend that happens every January.
Whether you’re a runner or spectator, the Disney marathon weekend is filled with fun!
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Every January, Walt Disney World hosts a major marathon event.
I’m not talking about watching every episode of the Simpsons on Disney+. This is an actual marathon that you get to run in actual Walt Disney World.
RunDisney is an amazing way to experience the magic of Disney World in a completely new way, and you don’t have to run a whole marathon to do it.
There are events of all kinds for all ages. You can even go as a spectator, just to appreciate the uniqueness of the RunDisney races or to cheer on a friend.
As the wife of a marathon runner, I can tell you that being a spectator is more fun than you’d think!
If you plan to participate in a RunDisney event, here is everything you need to know!
Disney Marathon Weekend Events
The events at the Disney Marathon Weekend include the actual 26.2 mile full marathon, as well as other running events with different race distances, such as a half marathon, a 5k race, and a 10k race, held on consecutive days.
Disney Marathon Course
The Disney marathon course goes through the Walt Disney World theme parks, where you can enjoy live entertainment throughout the race, as well as possibly spot your favorite Disney character!
The start line and finish line are both in Epcot. Along the way, you’ll run through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, and Hollywood Studios.
RunDisney Marathon Swag
Part of the fun of participating in a marathon is the swag available to the runners!
For each race, you’ll receive a finisher medal, a t-shirt, a personalized bib, and a printable certificate of completion. There are also refreshments and entertainment throughout the course and after the race.
In addition, guests this year also received a virtual goody bag. The virtual goodies consist of sweepstakes, free downloads, health food coupons, and promotional materials.
Disney Marathon Challenges
In addition to the four main race events, there are also race challenges to complete.
You can do a combo of the half marathon and marathon to complete the Goofy Challenge (which gets you a special Goofy medal), or you can participate in all four races for the Dopey Challenge (named after everyone’s favorite of the Seven Dwarfs, of course)!
Disney Marathon Virtual Races
If you can’t actually be present for the Disney Marathon Weekend, that’s okay too. You can even run a virtual race.
That means you can run a local trail or even on a treadmill at home and still be part of the magic.
You can sign up for each event virtually, including the Goofy and Dopey challenges.
Important Information About the Disney Marathon Weekend
When is the Disney Marathon Weekend?
There is only one Disney Marathon Weekend each year at the Walt Disney World resort, typically held each January.
The dates vary from year to year. This year’s event took place from January 6-9, 2022.
Each day of the marathon weekend has a different race event, so that those attempting the Goofy or Dopey challenges are able to do all of the races associated with their challenge.
When Can You Sign Up for the Disney Marathon?
You will be able to sign up for next year’s event starting this July and ending in December.
This gives you several months to plan for and work out the details of your trip. Plus, it’s nice to have time to complete a training program ahead of time.
Signing up early also gives you more time to take advantage of the Disney payment plan if you’re planning to visit the parks as well as run the race.
What is the RunDisney Expo?
All marathons typically have an Expo, which is held in the days leading up to the race. This is where in-person participants will get their race bib and sign a digital participation waiver.
When you sign into your RunDisney account, you’ll get your Expo check-in pass, which you will need to present when picking up your race materials.
The Expo runs during the week leading up to the Disney Marathon Weekend and ends the day before the final race event. Do note that Expo hours change daily and some days are shorter than others.
When you get your race bib, make sure you fill out the emergency information on the back.
Disney Marathon Start Groups
In order to keep the flow of runners even and steady, a marathon race will typically divide participants up into start groups.
These groups allow runners to start in waves, so that all participants aren’t lined up at the start line at the exact same time.
Your start time group is determined by the estimated finishing time you provide at sign up and it cannot be altered at the Expo.
If you believe you may finish the half marathon in less than 2 hours, or the full marathon in less than 4 hours, you must provide proof of time from a previous race that was officially timed. If you expect your finishing time to be longer, then you don’t need to provide proof of time.
You can also use your time in the RunDisney marathon, which is a USATF certified course, as a qualifying time for other races, such as the Boston marathon.
Because the races take place in the early mornings, prior to the theme parks opening to guests, all race participants are required to maintain a minimum pace of 16 minutes per mile.
This is to ensure participants can complete the course prior to theme parks opening.
Disney uses pacing cyclists at each mile marker to help runners stay on track, and they will wave a red flag when participants are moving slower than 16-minute miles. If you can’t finish the full 26.2 mile race, you can be shuttled back to the Family Reunion area.
Running for Charity
You can partner with a charity organization as part of a fundraising campaign for your race. There are several organizations to choose from.
Aside from achieving your big goal of running a marathon or half marathon, this can be a great way to make an impact in the world.
Important Race Policies
There are some noteworthy policies you’ll want to be aware of for the RunDisney events.
You must wear your bib at all times during the race. If you remove your bib, you will be escorted away from the race by security as a safety measure.
Many participants like to dress up as their favorite Disney characters, but all bibs must be plainly visible, unaltered, and pinned down on all four corners, regardless of your attire.
All fees and donations are nonrefundable and, with the exception of donations, include separate processing fees.
You may be refunded if Disney denies you access to an event, which is at Disney’s sole discretion.
You can transfer your race assignment as long as the race you want hasn’t sold out, but you cannot transfer your bib for any reason.
If you pre-purchase merchandise at the Expo, you’ll want to be sure to pick it up at the Event Merchandise location at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
Disney will not deliver merchandise that you don’t pick up at the end of the Expo, so don’t leave anything behind!
Age Requirements for Disney Races
Minimum age requirements for the Disney Marathon Weekend races are as follows, for both in-person and virtual participants:
- 5 years old for the 5k
- 10 years old for the 10k
- 14 years old for the half marathon
- 18 years old for the marathon, Goofy Challenge, and Dopey Challenge
If you are looking for kids races, then the 5k, 10k, or half marathon may be your best bets, depending on the ages of your children.
Other RunDisney Weekend Events
Besides the big Disney Marathon Weekend that kicks off the new year, there are other events coming in 2022.
- The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend starts on February 24.
- The RunDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend begins March 31 and celebrates “Yestermorrow”.
- Then on November 4, there is even more to come later in the year when Disney announces their 2022 Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Each event throughout the year has a unique theme. Last year’s Wine and Dine was Disney villains themed.
Stay tuned to RunDisney to get updates on signing up for future events.
Participating in the RunDisney Marathon Weekend
If this is your first time running a big race, it doesn’t get much more fun than running through the Disney theme parks, with the incredible sights, sounds, and energy they provide.
Whether you sign up for a single race or take on one of the challenges, you’re sure to have an amazing time!
Be sure to save this article for later by pinning it to your favorite Disney board on Pinterest!