Walt Disney World Marathon Breaks Records Before Races Even Start

More than 55,500 expected runners – Disney’s largest marathon weekend field ever – are registered for the 17th annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA Jan. 7-10, 2010.  This year’s capacity field tops last year’s record by 10,500 registered participants and aims to place the marathon weekend as the top combination race weekend in the country.

A record 55,500 athletes have registered for the variety of events that make up the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  In 2009 the Walt Disney World Marathon was the eighth largest in the nation and the second largest combination race weekend.  The main event – Sunday’s 26.2-mile journey through Disney’s four major theme parks – starts at 5:40 a.m. near Epcot.

Runners can look forward to VIP treatment as new “More Magic” options have been added.  A pre-race pasta party and a post-race private celebration are new ticketed events available to those in attendance.  On Thursday, Jan. 7, the Pasta in the Park Party at Epcot will give runners and their friends and family a chance to “carb load” before the race and see a special viewing of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” a nighttime fireworks display.  After the marathon on Sunday, the chance to ride select attractions and unwind with a live DJ and Disney characters is available when Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosts a private Victory Lap Celebration.

The VIP Race Retreat package is available again this year offering special race-day upgrades for participants and their friends and family, such as exclusive meet and greets with Disney characters and pre-registration for next year’s marathon.

“Our ‘More Magic’ features are all about giving the guest VIP treatment in a way that only Disney can,” said Disney Sports Area Manager Kathleen Duran.  “Starting and ending the weekend with exclusive events inside the parks is a great way for our runners to share the race experience with their friends and family.”

Another annual highlight returning this year is Brazil’s Adriano Bastos. Bastos is chasing his sixth straight Disney marathon victory and seventh overall.  He won his first marathon in 2003 and has won five in a row since 2005.  Last year he crossed the finish line in 2:20:38 – roughly seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher and 20 seconds faster than his finishing time in 2008.

In addition to Sunday’s 26.2-mile marathon, the weekend features a half marathon on Saturday.  The whole family can participate in events such as the Disney-Pixar Up & Away Family Fun Run 5K on Friday as well as Disney’s Kids’ Races Friday and Saturday.  The Kids’ Races will include a diaper dash, 100, 200 and 400-yard race and the timed Mickey Mile.  There’s also Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, which involves both running the half marathon on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday.  Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge celebrates its fifth anniversary with 7,500 registered, 193 of those runners being “Perfectly Goofy” by running in all five Goofy Challenges.  The “Perfectly Goofy” runners will receive special recognition throughout the weekend.  The Disney Marathon Weekend also features a Health and Fitness Expo (Jan. 7-9) at the soon-to-be-reimagined ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  The event, which is free, features celebrity runner appearances, the opportunity to test the latest in running and fitness equipment, and a series of seminars on training, racing and nutrition.

Registration for the 2011 WALT DISNEY WORLD Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA opens Jan. 11, 2010.  For more information on the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend or to register for the 2011 event (Jan. 6-9, 2011), visit disneyworldmarathon.com.

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