My Opinion on Running the New 2020 Disney World Marathon Course

disney world marathon courseThe Walt Disney World Marathon was this past Sunday. This was my 9th time running the Disney World Marathon. I am a Perfect Dopey the past 7 years, running all 4 races, and I have some thoughts. The marathon course in the past had some minor changes, but this year marked some more major ones. Here are all my opinions, the good, the bad, and the ugly, on the new course.

What I liked about the new course:

Let’s start off by saying that I loved not having to run for miles around ESPN Wide World of Sports. I always hated that part and it felt like it lasted forever. I also love not having to run that random out and back before we got to Animal Kingdom. I use to think I hated running on Osceola Parkway…until I ran this new course. Read below for why…

What I didn’t like about the new course:

I was initially excited about not having to run Osceola Parkway. It is long, hot, and has several large overpasses. This course made me realize something though. The new course had us run a road from the back of Animal Kingdom down to Coronado Resort and Blizzard Beach area. The mileage was almost the same as Osceola would’ve been, miles 18ish-20ish. The road itself was fine. You know what Osceola had a ton of that this road didn’t though? SPECTATORS!!! Those spectators that were always along Osceola cheering us on were amazing. The one guy with the big bull horn and McDonalds french fries was a staple along the marathon course. This new road was like a Ghost town. It was eerily quiet, no spectators and was a painful stretch to be self motivated. I think I took for granted what all those spectators brought to the course, regardless of what road we were running on. Anyone else feel this way?

Blizzard Beach was ok, but the paths were so narrow that I was stuck behind run/walk pace group through most of it. Running a circle around the hot Blizzard Beach parking lot however was miserable. 

Where was the…

Two big things stuck out in my head that we’re missing. One was the green army men. They have been a tradition at runDisney races and were missing off both the half marathon and full marathon courses. 

The other was the choir at the very end. I know the course had a different backstage area to the finish line because of construction at Epcot, but still, the amazing choir was always one of my favorite things and I know I’m not the only one.

What were they thinking?!?!?

Ok, now time for “what the heck were they thinking” category. The marathon was suppose to start at 5:00am. We didn’t start until almost 5:30am because of traffic. Can I point out that the first mile of the marathon course was through the Epcot toll plaza, which is where all that traffic needed to come in and needed to be closed down to one lane for the runners to start. That to me seems like bad planning.

Overall, I will always love the Disney World Marathon. It is a great course for first time marathon runners regardless of the changes and is always a lot of fun. While I was happy to not have to run at ESPN the other issues made it a tie for me as to which course I would rather run. What are your thoughts?

Here are some other posts you might like:

10 Thoughts While Running The 2020 Disney World Marathon

10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Run A Marathon

8 Things NOT To Say To Someone Training For A Marathon

10 Things Runners Say To Other Runners, But Would Never Say To Their “Normal” Friends

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Disney World Marathon course

5 COMMENTS

  1. Jeffrey Phillips | 15th Jan 20

    Thank you for posting this. I completely agree with all of your observations and comments. I was happy about not running on Osceola and didn’t think about the lack of crowd support until reading your post. While running I remember thinking “this seems longer than Osceola,” and you identified why. There was one point along that stretch where a I saw a sheriff shouting at people that they could only stand at the corner. He was really quite rude and it would’ve been nice to have more crowd stretched along that route.

    The one positive about running ESPN was the exit when there were crowds (usually with Smartees and Twizzlers) cheering as you exited.

    I will chalk it up to construction but I didn’t care much for the first 6 miles as the sprint across Epcot did not have many sites or characters. I prefer to get to the Magic Kingdom when I can still get a picture with the castle lights on.

    The run up to Magic Kingdom didn’t have much going on either until you reach TTC.

    I don’t like the beans, could’ve used some gel. I also preferred the Dove chocolate over the Hershey kisses.

    The biggest bummer though was the choir not being there. They are my favorite and hope they bring them back. I also hope we run past Spaceship Earth next year when the construction is done. As a guest, seeing all the runners go by is what first motivated me to do it. A part of me hopes that seeing me do the marathon might motivate someone else to try as well.

    I noticed there were only 14,000 finishers. In prior years it was 17,000 to 20,000. Did they decrease the size or did a lot of people not finish?

    With all of that being said, I still loved it and will do it again.

  2. Jenn @ Fairest Run Of All | 15th Jan 20

    I have LOTS of thoughts, but for now I’ll just say that I’m not entirely unconvinced that Disney didn’t start the marathon at 5am for exactly this reason. They KNEW they would never get everybody out of the way in time, and they KNEW the race would start late – so to mitigate the damage, they made the race time earlier with the intention that we’d start out around the normal time. Just a theory!

    • Half Crazy Mama | 15th Jan 20

      Interesting theory 🤔

  3. Marie | 18th Jan 20

    Thanks for the post! I’ve done the marathon 3 times and have done about 15 rundisney races I missed being down there (but will be doing Princess next month). Anyway. I was curious about how it would be going thru BB. And VERY sad to hear the choir wasn’t there. That was the BEST! I hated Osceola too but sad to hear about the lack of spectators. I, too, didn’t realize how many spectators were on the Pkwy until you posted! And I hated ESPN bc it was so long. Doing Dopey next year. Anxious to see if they change the course again. I was wondering how it was with the start being at 5am. Thanks for answering that!
    Really really appreciate you posting this!!! Thought about you all the entire weekend!!

    • Half Crazy Mama | 18th Jan 20

      Thank you so much! I curious about the course next year too. I imagine with a lot of the construction at Epcot being done it will change again. Good luck going Dopey again! 🙂

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