Throughout a runDisney race, there is sure to be a lot of excitement. With character photo stopsspectators and DJs pumping music, there are many magical moments. However, each race course also brings a unique experience along with it. This is our series on the best runDisney course moments!

The Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Princess Half Marathon follow the same course, taking you through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Along with characters and entertainment, there are a few moments that are sure to make you smile. Take a look!

Walt Disney World & Princess Half Marathon Course Moments

Main Street USA – Any race that takes you along Main Street USA with Cinderella Castle in front of you is an absolute magical moment! Take in the cheers from the spectators and enjoy the run down Main Street. Running through the castle is pretty magical too!

Overpass Bridge – After running along World Drive on your way back to Epcot, the course takes you up a banked on-ramp. While that part isn’t so magical, be sure to look down at World Drive once you are on the overpass! The sea of runners is an amazing sight and one that is sure to give you an extra boost as you head into the last few miles.

Epcot Area – For the last mile or so, the course takes you into Epcot. Although you don’t get to run through World Showcase, you do get a nice out and back in Future World. The energy is electric as the runners celebrate the last mile of their half marathon journey! (There is also an inspirational surprise when you head backstage toward the finish line!)

Princess Half Marathon Course Moments

The 13.1 mile journey through Magic Kingdom and Epcot is a great experience for all. Be sure to enjoy every mile and take in the cheers, entertainment and magic!


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Resort Review: Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Step foot onto the Atlantic Boardwalk, enjoying the sights and sounds of the entertainment and fun, while taking in a meal or doing a little dancing. Relax in a room overlooking gardens or the Boardwalk area. All of this (and more) is what a stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn can include!

Disney's Boardwalk Inn

This deluxe resort is located in between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, along Crescent Lake. Being close to those parks means you can walk or take a boat ride to either park. Bus transportation is available to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom or Downtown Disney.

The resort wraps itself along Crescent Lake and the garden areas, with the lobby in the center. On one side are the rooms of the Boardwalk Inn and on the other side are Disney Vacation Club villas. Room options include standard or water views and include 2 queen beds or 1 king bed with a day bed. (Note: All villas are standard views.) For those wanting the added benefits of the concierge lounge and service, those rooms are available as standard view, a larger deluxe room or the garden room suites.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn

If you are looking for recreational options while staying at the Boardwalk, there is a lot to do! Bike rentals are available to take a little ride along the Boardwalk area. Fishing and tennis options are available and the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course is close by. Enjoy a movie under the stars or head to the campfire for fun activities. There are also three pools, the main Luna pool (including the clown waterslide) and two quiet pools.

For runners, there are quite a few running paths for you to continue your training! Run around Crescent Lake, or head toward Hollywood Studios for more mileage. You can also visit the Muscles & Bustles Health Club, which has workout equipment and spa facilities.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Along the Boardwalk are various restaurants for you to enjoy. Flying Fish Cafe offers a signature meal which is great for a celebration. Big River Grille, Trattoria al Forno and the ESPN Club are also great sit-down meal locations. For something quick, head to the Boardwalk Bakery or grab a pizza from the Boardwalk Pizza Window.

For a runDisney race weekend, the Boardwalk is an excellent location for the Walt Disney World Marathon and Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekends. The Walt Disney World 10K course goes along the Boardwalk, which is great for spectators. The Walt Disney World Marathon and Wine & Dine Half Marathon courses pass by the Boardwalk Inn, on their way toward the Yacht & Beach Club, another plus for spectators. From a runner perspective. staying at the Boardwalk during Wine & Dine Half Marathon is very convenient, as you can walk back to your resort after the Finish Line Party!


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Best runDisney Course Moments: Walt Disney World Marathon

Throughout a runDisney race, there is sure to be a lot of excitement. With character photo stops, spectators and DJs pumping music, there are many magical moments. However, each race course also brings a unique experience along with it. This is our series on the best runDisney course moments!

The Walt Disney World Marathon includes 26.2 miles all around the Walt Disney World Resort, including all four theme parks, Richard Petty Speedway and ESPN Wide World of Sports. Therefore, it can be tough to pick favorite moments during the Walt Disney World Marathon!

Best runDisney Course Moments - Walt Disney World Marathon

Below are a few of the times when smiles are across the runners’ faces.

Main Street USA – Just over 5 miles into your WDW marathon experience, runners come upon one of the most magical course moments – entering Magic Kingdom. With spectators lined from the entrance to Cinderella Castle, the excitement is electric! Don’t be surprised if making the turn onto Main Street USA and seeing the castle takes your breath away. No matter how many times you see that sight, seeing it during a race is truly magical!

Animal Kingdom – As you get close to the halfway point of the race, the course takes you into Animal Kingdom. Even though you don’t spend a lot of time in the park, there is a moment that many runners enjoy – a ride on Expedition Everest! (Note: The attraction doesn’t open until the park opens, which is 9 am. Keep in mind many runners will get to Animal Kingdom before the park opens.)

ESPN Entrance – Around mile 17 begins the trek in ESPN Wide World of Sports. While the time inside the complex is a love/hate relationship among the runners, the fun part is the entrance and exit. For a stretch, there are runners entering and exiting at the same time. This is a great opportunity to offer encouragement to each other!

Epcot Resort Area - After exiting Hollywood Studios, the course goes along the walkway to the Epcot Resorts. This is an area that is usually lined with spectators! The boost of energy they give you is exactly what the runners need as they approach the last few miles of the race.

World Showcase - The last mile of the marathon is your victory lap around World Showcase in Epcot. The park will (most likely) be open, which means there will be a lot of fantastic spectators. The music is absolutely fantastic and the feel you get when running around the countries is truly something to cherish forever. Take it all in – your 26.2 mile accomplishment is almost complete!

Best runDisney Course Moments - Walt Disney World Marathon

While there are many parts to the Walt Disney World Marathon that are magical, these are just a few of the highlights. The great part of this course is that the 26.2 miles is broken up as you make your way through all 4 parks! It truly is a wonderful experience and one that only runDisney can provide!


eCoaching with Jeff Galloway

Many runDisney runners know about Jeff Galloway. He is an Olympian, the official runDisney training consultant and an all-around great guy. Not only can he be found at the Health & Fitness Expos (both in the speaker series and to chat with in the runDisney booth), he also runs almost every runDisney race, usually with his wife Barbara by his side!

On the runDisney website are training plans that Jeff has created. Whether you are a brand new runner or one looking to hit a time goal, there are a few plans to choose from. However, sometimes runners want a plan that is tailored specifically to them.

eCoaching with Jeff Galloway

The past 6 months, Megan has been a part of Jeff’s eCoaching program. After a rough spring training cycle, she knew that she needed the encouragement and direction from a running coach and trying out Jeff’s program came at the perfect time!

This 6-month program costs $297 (Megan did pay for this on her own) or $197 for alumni of the eCoaching program. Along with a tailored plan directly from Jeff to help you achieve your personal goal, you also receive:

  • A copy of one of Jeff’s books
  • Direct email access to Jeff (for questions and clarifications) with priority
  • Free monthly eNewsletter
  • Opportunity to ride on the Galloway Bus for the New York City Marathon start
  • Discounts on fitness vacations at Lake Tahoe
  • Meet and run with other Galloway Members at races around the world

So how did it all work? Megan began by purchasing the plan. Within the day, she got an email from one of Jeff’s colleagues with a form for her to fill out. It covered basic information (gender, age, email, etc.) as well as specific questions such as goals, current race times, sample weeks, limitations, etc. The next day, she got an email from Jeff with lots of information regarding how to approach training each week, as well as a schedule of weekend runs – tailored specifically to her goals.

It’s worth noting, this plan was much different than she was used to. Jeff focuses on two weekly runs, along with a long and slow run on the weekend. The long run mileage was high (with a 26 mile training run prior to the Walt Disney World Marathon), however the weekday runs were focused, either on speed or hills.


You can’t run a long run too slowly or take too many walk breaks.  You’ll get the same endurance based upon the distance covered. -Jeff Galloway


Throughout the training cycle, Megan emailed Jeff each week with an update of the previous week’s runs. Along with an overview of the runs (specifically the long run), it also covered run/walk ratio, pace, aches or pains and questions. Jeff was quick to respond and answer any questions she had, usually with specific reasoning! It took some tweaking, but throughout the cycle, Megan found the run/walk ratio that worked the best for her and her goals and she learned how to better listen to her body.


When paced correctly, running delivers the best attitude boost you can get. Sustain this by pacing yourself gently during the first mile or three. -Jeff Galloway


The results? She took 4 minutes off her half marathon PR and gained much better control on the mental aspect of running and races!

eCoaching with Jeff Galloway

While the pricing is steep (especially for the new registrant), having direct access to Jeff was very reassuring. Jeff truly is a wealth of information and even pushes your thinking when it comes to what you “thought” you knew in regards to running. Best of all, he offers his encouragement and support in a way that only Jeff can. (If you have ever met him in person, you know what we mean!)

Stay tuned – we are honored to be a part of Jeff’s new Blogger Program which includes tips directly from Jeff that we will be sharing with you! These tips will be shared here, as well as via Facebook and Twitter!

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Tips for Character Photos during a runDisney Race

There are two types of runDisney runners: the ones who stop for character photos and the ones who don’t. Now, you may be in both categories too – dependent on the race and your strategy.

Tips for Character Photos during a runDisney Race

We have experienced many runDisney races, both with character photos and without. However, Megan ran one of her most favorite races, the Walt Disney World Marathon, a few weeks ago with two wonderful friends, Carlee and Krissy. Not only did they dress in costume, but they managed to get EIGHTEEN character photo opportunities throughout their 27.2 miles! (That’s right, we tacked on an entire extra mile!)

Here are Huey, Dewey and Louie’s tips on getting those beloved character photos during a runDisney race!

Tips for Character Race Photos during a runDisney Race

Have a plan. Each race will bring a different amount of miles and characters, therefore be sure to have a plan. Not only will you need to be aware of your pace and distance (to ensure you finish), but you also want to make sure you aren’t spending too much time in line. A great plan is to not only look at the size of the line (they do tend to move quickly), but also decide on the character. While runDisney usually includes some pretty spectacular characters, there may be some you will want to pass on. (It is also common for certain characters to reappear in the same locations race after race.) Try to come up with a game plan for yourself or your group ahead of time.

Bring your camera or phone. MarathonFoto photographers are at the majority of the character stops, however having your own camera or phone is a great way to share the magic right away! There is usually another photographer who will take a photo with your phone, or you can always ask the runner behind you. Do note that when it is darker outside, the photos from your phone may not come out as well.

Follow the feel of the character(s). If you want to get some awesome photos, play along with the characters! Get a little goofy with Goofy. Swoon over the prince or princess. Fight off the villains. The possibilities are endless! (Just be sure to come up with your game plan quickly – no one wants to wait too long in line!)

Listen to your body. Depending on the race distance, standing in line for characters can be tough on your body too. Be sure to listen to your body throughout the race to determine if you need to cut back on the stops. For example, the marathon is a long race – so don’t wear yourself out early on!

Landmarks, spectators and fellow runners are characters too. While you may get focused on stopping for characters, don’t forget about all the other great photo opportunities! Take a photo outside Cinderella Castle. Stop for a photo with a spectator and their hilarious sign. Even snap a selfie with a runner who is donning a spectacular costume! There are lots of great photo opps, so be on the lookout!

Have FUN! It is nearly impossible to not have fun while taking photos with your favorite Disney characters! Whether your goal is to stop at every photo opportunity or to just wave as you pass them by, have some fun along the way!

Tips for Character Race Photos during a runDisney Race

If you decide to stop for character photos, you are sure to have photos and memories that will make you smile! No matter what your race goal is, Disney knows how to entertain – so take advantage of it!


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Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge

For the past few years, Disney Cruise Line has offered a free 5K on their private island, Castaway Cay. For those sailing to the island paradise, they could participate in an untimed 5K event that included a race bib and finisher medal. (Note: the medal was actually plastic.)

In spring of 2014, runDisney took the Castaway Cay 5K one step further – the Castaway Cay Challenge! Participate in any race (5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon or challenge) during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, sail on Disney Dream during the specific 4-night sailing, and run the Castaway Cay 5K for an additional challenge medal! The challenge sold out within days, followed by an announcement of another Castaway Cay Challenge opportunity during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

To sign up for this inaugural challenge, you had to be registered for a Marathon Weekend race. You then had to book a stateroom on the Disney Dream (sailing January 12, 2015 for 4 nights), then sign up for the Castaway Cay Challenge once registration opened. (You had to include your cruise booking number in your registration.) The cost was $65 per person and included a shirt, Castaway Cay 5K medallion, Castaway Cay Challenge medal, post-race refreshments and activities onboard.

Since Megan had booked that specific cruise prior, she considered the Castaway Cay Challenge a bonus to her anniversary trip. However, it is worth noting that what could have been a more empty ship, was now filling up due to the challenge. (While on the cruise, we learned the ship was not to capacity.)

Prior to Marathon Weekend, not much information was available regarding the challenge. The medal was revealed (and is beautiful!), but runDisney didn’t include information about the cruise, where to pick up our packets, etc. When the official event guide came out for Marathon Weekend, there was a booth in the Field House that was named “Castaway 5K”, so it was assumed that is where packet pick up would occur.

About a week before Marathon Weekend, final race instructions were finally sent out to race participants and was available on the runDisney website. Similar to other runDisney races, this pamphlet included information about packet pick up, race safety, the race course, etc. It also included information about the cruise including official race merchandise and a speaker panel.

Packet pickup was very smooth and there wasn’t a line at all. Along with a gear check bag, we received a white short-sleeve tech shirt, race bib, race instructions and safety pins. Then it was time to run the Marathon Weekend race (or races)!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

On Monday morning, we headed to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Dream. The first night included the opportunity to get race merchandise. It was located in Sea Treasures onboard, however the store doesn’t open until after the Dream sets sail (around 5:45 pm). As per usual, the merchandise line was long! However, it moved fairly quickly (they were only letting in a certain amount of people at a time). Merchandise included “I Did It” shirts, race specific shirts, magnets and Bondi bands. Although there were a lot of runners purchasing merchandise, it was very well stocked – even days into the cruise!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

On Tuesday afternoon, there was a speaker panel that included runDisney nutritionist Tara Gidus, Runner’s World editor Elizabeth Comeau and the runDisney course director. Along with training and nutrition advice, we were given information about race day, the course, the medals and it opened for question and answers. Here are a few highlights:

  • It is a new course, specifically for the Castaway Cay Challenge
  • There are around 750 runners
  • A Castaway Cay 5K rubber medallion will be awarded for every 2015 run
    • The “regular” 5K run will occur after the challenge 5K
  • Characters will be on course and post-race (challenge only)
  • Food will be available after the race
  • Photographers will be on the course and those photos will be available at Shutters (with your other cruise photos)
  • Reedy Creek medical personnel will be on course
  • If you wanted to spectate, you had to come with the runners
  • The island would not open until 8:30 am, so you had to return to the ship after the race if finished prior
  • There are “no current plans” for additional Castaway Cay Challenges, however they always are open to suggestions and will see how these two challenges go

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

The next morning, we made our way to the Walt Disney Theater at 5:45 am (in true runDisney fashion!) There was a buffet at Cabana’s starting at 5:00 am for those interested, as well as fruit, bagels, water and coffee outside the theater. Inside the theater, we sat in our corrals (three total) where we were reminded to have our Key to the World cards AND photo ID in order to get back on the ship later.

Soon we were making our way off the ship, where the sun had not yet risen. It was a sight to see the Dream all lit up at Castaway Cay! If you wanted to check a gear bag, you dropped it off and they brought it to the finish line area for you.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

The walk to the start/finish (along the airstrip) was almost a mile, but with the sunrise occurring – it was beautiful! We entered into our corrals and listened to the music of the DJ. The cruise director, Christian, along with Mickey provided entertainment before the race start.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

At 7:00 am, Corral A was off! (There were about 5 minutes between corrals.) The course started on the airstrip, where you made your way to Serenity Bay, the adult beach. Donald was at the beach for a character photo. We made a right, along a narrow path near the cabanas. Goofy wasn’t far away for another photo opp. After the 1 mile mark, there was a turn around and you followed the path back to the airstrip. (The path was quite narrow, which made it difficult to pass other runners as we were going both ways.) It is worth noting that Daisy and Pluto did “replace” Donald and Goofy, so some of the runners in the second corral were able to get photos with all 4 characters – as they went out and came back!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Along the airstrip was a water stop, which included small Dasani water bottles. You then made a left toward the Observation Tower, which included a loop for just over a mile. Near the tower were two cruise cast members, dressed in jogging suits, keeping us pumped up! (In fact, they were trying to get us to do the wave!) When you made it out of the loop, you took another left and the finish line was in view. Christian was announcing as you finished, claimed your two medals, along with water, Powerade and the runDisney snack boxes.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

After the finish, Minnie was near a backdrop to take photos with your new medals. Then it was the hike back to the ship until 8:30 am, when you could get back on the island. (Or take a shower – it was HUMID!) At 9:00 am, the “regular” 5K began. There were no characters on the course, however they did follow the same course (which will not be the norm).

Since many of the runners wanted a photo with ALL of the medals they had earned over the past few days, they did set up the backdrop in the atrium area later that evening for photos. Dopey even appeared on Wednesday for a great photo opportunity for the Dopey Challenge runners!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Overall, this inaugural event was handled very well! While communication was lacking at the beginning, the event itself was a lot of fun. The only things they could improve upon are:

  • Possibly another character on the course. (Both characters appeared before mile 1.)
  • More activities onboard the ship. The initial information regarding the challenge states “VIP experience” for the runners onboard, and there really wasn’t much beyond merchandise and the speaker panel.

While the Castaway Cay Challenge is most definitely unique, it is worth noting that the “normal” Castaway Cay 5K is much different than the challenge explained above. Here are a few details regarding the Castaway Cay 5K (held for any sailing going to Castaway Cay):

  • Sign up is onboard. Go to the Port Adventures desk to sign up for the race. The 5K currently has no charge, however there is an age requirement of 10 years or older.
  • The Castaway Cay 5K includes a race bib (given to you on the day of the race) and finisher’s medallion. For 2015, the rubber medallion will be given at all Castaway Cay 5K races!
  • On race day, you will meet at the location stated on your registration ticket (or it can be found in the daily Navigator). The location time will be around 8 am for a 9 am race start.
  • The course follows the airstrip, as well as the loop around the Observation Tower. One thing to note is that you loop around the Observation Tower twice, so be sure to study that course map!
  • Water is provided on the course, near the Observation Tower loop.
  • If you would like a Castaway Cay 5K shirt or other merchandise, they are available in one of the shops on the island.
  • The course is not officially timed, however there is a time clock located at the finish.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

We are very anxious to hear if this challenge continues in the future!

*For another look at the Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge, listen to the Mickey Miles Podcast (episode 244) as Megan joins in on the fun!


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