NEW YORK, April 9, 2013—The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna registration opened today at noon EST. All of the weekend’s races from January 8-12, 2014 are expected to sell-out, especially the new Walt Disney World 10K and Dopey Challenge, which runDisney anticipates filling-up in a day according to a spokesperson there.
Last month, runDisney announced as new to the race weekend the Walt Disney World 10K and Dopey Challenge, an event that dares runners to complete four races on four consecutive days for a total of 48.6 miles: the Family Fun Run 5K on Thursday, a new Walt Disney World 10K on Friday, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, and the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday.
As registration opens, Disney’s running branch has announced another slate of changes for the 2014 edition of the race meant to enhance the overall experience for runners.
“I run our races myself. It’s the best way to see what kind of experiences that your guests are getting,” said Faron Kelley, Director of Communication and Marketing for Disney Sports, in a video addressed to runners. “It gets a little tight out there. I think we all realize that and we’ve heard that from you.”
As a result, runDisney is implementing a few new changes to help give runners more room to breath.
“We’re going to take a couple thousand less runners over the race weekend, trying to make sure that, really, there’s more space on the course,” Kelley added.
Specifically, Disney is lowering the total number of entrants for the weekend by 2,000 runners, allocated largely to the half marathon, which received the most runner feedback about crowding. This is an unusual move in a day and age when half-marathons and marathons are more popular, and more crowded, than ever. Most races like to see year-over-year growth, but runDisney has always placed an emphasis on runner experience.
“When we see there are issues, we make changes to make that better,” runDisney race director Jon Hughes said when interviewed about the behind-the-scenes planning for Disney races.
In addition, the vast majority of runners must supply a proof of time. Any runner who plans to finish the half marathon in 3:15 or less or the marathon in 6:30 or less must verify their anticipated time. Kelley said this will help ensure that runners of similar abilities will be corralled together with fewer bottlenecks forming on course. No corral changes based on proof of time will allowed after November 1.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Disney is adding additional corrals to spread runners throughout the course more evenly and to help ease crowding.
For the first time in 20 years, more women than men ran the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon, accounting for 57 percent of the field. It’s a growing trend in the sport.
“We’ve got to take care of our ladies,” Kelley said.
So this year, women’s cut tech shirts will be available for the 10K, half, full, Dopey Challenge and Goofy Challenge in addition to the usual unisex tech shirts that runners receive as part of the registration kit.
Showing off race “bling” has become de rigueur with the explosion social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. So Disney is designing new medals for all of the weekend’s races, including the half marathon, marathon and Goofy’s Race and A Half Challenge. Dopey Challenge runners will get a medal inspired by the dwarf himself and Walt Disney World 10K finishers will receive a medal fashioned after Minnie Mouse.
Finally, runDisney announced that the 2014 marathon course will remain the same as the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon, which included the addition of the Walt Disney World Speedway and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to the race route for the 20th anniversary celebration of the race. Both proved to be popular enhancements to the course amongst runners.
The Family Fun Run 5K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon courses will also be the same as last year. Details for the new Walt Disney World 10K course in Epcot are still being finalized.
For more information or to register for all the weekend’s races, visit runDisney.com.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ web show about running. She has completed six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.
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