The purpose of this series is to help you get prepared to run the races in Disney from every angle. A couple of years ago I was scheduled to run the New York City Marathon. Of all the things I was doing in training, the thing that was on my mind the most was transportation before and after the race. Many times we let these things that have nothing to do with the race impact us mentally. Just to set your mind at ease I wanted to cover getting around from place to place on race weekend.
One of the biggest advantages of staying on property during marathon weekend is how your options open up for transportation. If you are staying off property, you need a car. Simple as that. On marathon weekend there are quite a few places you need to go. First, you will need to get to the expo. You will also want to find the best method to get to the start line. You need to determine how you will leave the finish area and go back to the resort. Finally, if you and/or your family will be cheering runners you will need to know how to best get around property the day of the races.
The bus will be your most popular mode of transportation for getting to and from the expo. On race day the bus will also be your answer to get back and forth from the resorts. The bus will take care of our transportation options. Disney's pros are getting people to and from on race weekend, so remove that worry from things to be concerned about on race weekend.
The monorail is the most famous and really popular transportation option while at Disney. If you are staying around the Magic Kingdom area resorts this is another option for you to get to the start area and return after the finish. This is also a great option for you to get from place to place as you are cheering for runners. It can easily get you from the Epcot area and back and forth from the Magic Kingdom area. If you want to cheer at the Magic Kingdom the monorail is also the answer to get you there. The later in the race it gets, the more crowded this gets as well.
Here is a different option for you as there are plenty of boats on property. Boats will probably be the most helpful for those watching and cheering on runners. There are plenty of boats around the Magic Kingdom and resort areas to help you get around. There are many great cheering sections around the Magic Kingdom resort areas, but we will get to that in a later week. In the Epcot resort area, you will find plenty of water transportation options that can help you get around and help you get to the Hollywood Studios. You might find this as a nice post-race transportation option as well.
If you have a car at your access, that is the next best option, but you can also find yourself a taxi if anywhere around the property. Disney does their best to help get you around on race weekend. As a runner I know there are plenty of things that are on our minds during a race weekend. How we get around should not be one of them. I can assure you that you should rest easy on this one.
So, back to the course… We left off just at hitting mile marker #17.
The next 3 miles will be a different experience. It was hard to describe it the first time I came through here. It felt a bit like I was running in circles. It was not awful, but it seemed like we would never get out of this area. You have entered the front section of the Wide World of Sports Complex and for the next mile you spend most of the time running around fields. I am guessing these serve as either football or soccer fields. You will eventually make your way around a track. Running a track in a marathon is not the most uncommon thing I have done. I have actually done it a couple of times. Right after you come out of the track you will hit mile marker #18.
It seems like right after hitting mile #18 you transition from football fields to baseball fields. You also begin to realize just how big this complex is. A couple of years ago during the 20th anniversary of the marathon I was surprised at how many cheering fans made it out to this area. I was really impressed with the crowd support at this point! About a ½ mile into this lap I remember a food and water stop. I remember because that banana tasted amazing! Before you know it you will hit mile marker #19.
Soon after this mile marker you will make your way into the Baseball Stadium where the Atlanta Braves host spring training. This is a cool experience. The only down side is running on the dirt, because once we got out of the park plenty of runners me included had to stop and get little pebbles out of our shoes. Good luck trying to convince your legs to bend that way 19 plus miles into a marathon! Soon after you exit the park, you will make your way back onto Victory Way and you will see Mile Marker #20 just ahead of you.
Your state of mind at this point during the race can really vary. Your mind is usually just in agreement with your body. Have you fueled properly through the race? How are your glycogen levels? If you have stayed on top of it, you will probably be feeling good. If you have let it slip, you might be slowing down. Even though there is food and calories being offered on the course, I would encourage you to have your own and follow a strategy. If you fall behind on calories you will regret it. You have to stay ahead starting before the finish. I can testify to that. Races where I had a strategy and stuck to it were good races. Other races are the events I struggled in greatly. Food is not provided early in the race so it is easy to get behind on calories early. Bring your own and hit it early.
At mile #20 you will see this in action. You will see a lot of folks struggling and others doing really well. I would encourage anyone right now to be testing this in your training. We are just weeks out from the marathon and you have your longest runs ahead of you still. Test it , test it and test it again. Don’t be the runner who is struggling those final 6.2 miles. Get calories in your system and see what works.