Training for the Disney Marathon - Part 5 - Where Should I Stay?

Join Trey Brush on a 20 part weekly journey as he previews one of the best marathon's in the world, the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11th, 2015!  He will share his current training as well as his past experience from the great event.  To find all his past posts please click here!


There are quite a number of big marathons across the country.  Many of them can really cost a lot of money when taking into account the whole trip.  One big reason is the hotel situation.  One of the great things about running the Disney Marathon weekend is that it does not have to cost you a ton of money on the hotel.  There are some great places to stay that are inexpensive, but if you don't mind spending money there are also some amazing options I would recommend.

One of the big decisions you will make for the marathon weekend is where to stay.  There are quite a number of factors that go into making this decision.  The first thing you need to decide is: on property or off property.  I am sure there are many different opinions about this topic, but for me personally it is an easy one to make.  I have done both.  My preference is on property.  For those new to Disney this means staying at a Disney owned resort.  There are plenty of great hotels close by, but my preference is at a Disney owned resort.

Why? 

  • The transportation options open up.  Staying off property only gives you one option.
  • The atmosphere.  While staying on property you are always in that Disney bubble and it always feels like a special time with the rest of the runners walking around.  Walking around your resort watching others runners limping around with a medal around the neck is cool.
  • The Disney difference.  It just feels special on property.

I am going to concentrate my time on the Disney owned resorts for this.  As you try to decide where to stay, you will have a lot to think about like...

  • How many will be in your room?
  • How much time do you plan to spend in the resort?
  • How important are having dining options in your resort or close by?
  • How many days are you staying?
  • What area of property or park do you want to be close to?
  • How much do you want to spend?

So here is what I plan to do.  I will give you my Top 5.  Now, these might not be my Top 5 in Disney Resorts, but they are my Top 5 for marathon weekend.  I will give you the resort and why I have it in that order.  So here we go!

5 - Saratoga Springs Resort

Saratoga Springs Resort

My number 5 pick is the Saratoga Springs Resort.  This might surprise some of the Disney fans out there, but here is my take on this resort.  This location is within walking distance to the downtown Disney area.  That means you have close access to many great dining options.  The downtown Disney parking situation is a real mess right now, so having the option to walk to downtown Disney is a real plus in my mind.  You also have your choice of space because this is a Disney Vacation Club Resort.  They are equipped from a studio room to a couple of bedrooms.  This property is really beautiful and there are great locations around the water to do some shake out runs the day before the race.  Not only are there dining options within walking distance but there are also a couple of dining options at the resort.  I have eaten at the Turf Club before and it is a good place for a meal during marathon weekend.  (My Top 5 in dining is coming soon!)

Good option for:

  • Having a good number of people in your room
  • Spending a good bit of time at your resort
  • Dining options close by
  • Close to downtown Disney

4 - Pop Century Resort

Pop Century Resort

My number 4 pick is the Pop Century Resort.  A few good things about this resort.  The price is one of the lowest on property and it is located very close to the Expo area. This tends to be a really popular pick for those just looking for a place to sleep with a good atmosphere. 

Good option for:

  • Looking to save money on the room
  • Looking for a place just to sleep and not spending time in the resort
  • Dining options are inexpensive, however they are counter service and not sit down
  • Close to the Expo

Beach Club Resort

3 - Beach Club Resort

My number 3 pick is the Beach Club Resort.  I love this resort.  The location is amazing.  The only thing to be aware of is, for the runner itself it does not provide a great benefit in getting to the race start.  You will be relying on bus transportation.  However, if you are running the full marathon the resorts in this area all are great options for your family viewing you run close to the finish.  Your family can just step outside to see you.  You are within walking distance to 2 parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  You also have a ton of great dining options within a quick walk as well.  If you want to get in a warm up jog the day or so before the race, this area is great for that. Just be prepared for the price.

Great option for:

  • Having a good number of people on your room
  • Spending a good number of days at the resort
  • Spending time at the resort
  • The POOL!
  • Dining options are everywhere
  • Close to 2 parks and nighttime entertainment
  • For ice cream lovers!  Beaches and Cream is your place (I dare you to take on the kitchen sink after your race!)

2 - Port Orleans Riverside Resort

Port Orleans Riverside Resort

My number 2 pick is the Port Orleans Riverside Resort.  This has become one of my all-time favorite places to stay.  I love the environment and the atmosphere.  You are a boat ride away from Downtown Disney and not having to deal with the parking issues there.  I enjoy the food court options and you are within walking distance to another resort (French Quarter).  They have a fantastic pool and they are centrally located in Disney World.  They also have some nice jogging and walking paths at this resort.  One of the best things about this resort is the theme.

Good option for:

  • Spending a good number of days at the resort
  • Spending a good bit of time at the resort
  • Dining options are few, but only a boat ride away from downtown Disney. I do enjoy the food court they have at the resort
  • Close to Epcot and centrally located on property to everything
  • Not too expensive

1 - Polynesian Resort

Polynesian Resort

My number 1 pick is the Polynesian Resort.  This is almost a no brainer.  The only thing that keeps me from staying here is the price tag.  You are a monorail ride away from 2 parks.  On race morning you can just walk to the TTC and hop on the monorail.  It is a great location for your family to begin with, cheering you on and watching the race.  Great dining options at the resort and many more close by.  The atmosphere is amazing.  (Just FYI, a lot of work is going on right now at the Poly so just be aware)

Good option for:

  • Good number of people in your room
  • Spending a good number of days at the resort
  • Spending a good bit of time at the resort
  • Dining options are a plenty in the area and resort
  • Close to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot is a monorail ride away
  • Close to viewing both the 13.1 and marathon runners

So there you have it!  My Top 5 picks for where to stay on property.  So back to the 13.1 course…

Mile #10

Last week we had just arrived at mile #9.  You have 1 mile to run before you go up the overpass.  This is straight and flat.  You will have to go under the overpass before you go up.  Just before you arrive at the overpass there will be a water stop.  You have 5K to go.  I would recommend you hit the water stop.

Mile #11

After you pass the water stop you will hit mile marker #10 and turn right to go up the overpass.

Strategy

This is a tough stretch. As you go up the overpass the road is slanted down. I would highly recommend you run on the lowest part of the decline. It is your best chance at flat as you can get.  It can really mess with your body this late in the race having to worry about running tilted.  I would shorten that stride and take quick steps.  Short and quick all the way to the top.  Don’t look up, just concentrate on each step. You will make it to the top.

Once you make it to the top of the overpass, take a look to your left.  You are not the last one to pass this way!  You will probably see a lot of runners headed straight that way.  You have a nice downhill reward after getting to the top with another slight uphill overpass just ahead.  It is not as steep, so no worries.  Just keep pressing on to reach mile marker #11!  Just over 2 miles to go.

Next up….What to bring with you and what to buy?  Items to think about while traveling to run at Disney.