Disney Marathon Draws Record Number of Runners Despite Freezing Weather

By D. Channing Muller January 12, 2010, 3:25 PM EST

The starting line of Sunday's marathon

Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Disney Marathon Weekend
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The 2010 Disney Marathon Weekend took place in Orlando on Saturday and Sunday with more than 55,000 runners participating despite the freezing temperatures, which dipped into the 20s. The full marathon on Sunday served as the final of six races—including a half marathon and Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge—that took place throughout the weekend, and had the largest turnout in the weekend’s history.

“We changed the course for the 2009 race and [used that] as a test year to make sure it could handle more runners and then increased the capacity for this year,” said the marathon’s event manager, Michelle Maready, who added that capacity, and participation, for the half and full marathons each increased from 17,500 in 2009 to about 23,500 this year.

The events began on Thursday with Disney’s Health and Fitness Expo, which continued through Saturday at the Wide World of Sports Complex, and the Pasta in the Park pre-race party at Epcot that night. Races started Friday morning with the Disney-Pixar Up and Away Family Fun Run 5K at Epcot followed by shorter kids races later that day. The half marathon and first part of Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, in which runners compete in both the half and the full marathon, took place on Saturday.

With the freezing temperatures bringing sleet and even snow to the area on Saturday, Maready and her team sent additional pre-race emails to all runners, alerting them to the forecast so preparations could be made and made announcements at the Fitness Expo on Thursday and Friday. Additionally, she worked with the teams at each of the medical stops along the race courses to ensure they had additional blankets and other supplies to combat the cold and hired 20 extra buses to transport runners from their hotels to the starting line.

“We thought runners would wait longer to get to the start because of the colder temperatures, which would have taxed our bus team, so we tried to anticipate that,” Maready said.

In the end, Adriano Bastos from Brazil won the men’s marathon title for the sixth consecutive year, the longest streak in the event’s 17-year history, and Lisa Mizutani from Japan secured the women’s title for her second consecutive year.

Cigna served as the event’s presenting sponsor. Other sponsors included Clif Bar, Dasani water, Champion sportswear, and Dole.

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