The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend starts tomorrow, January 7, and runs through (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) Sunday, January 10, 2010, sponsored by Cigna. And, once again, I will not be participating. Sure, I ran track in high school, but, that was a long time ago and I was not a long distance runner. Now, that doesn't stop me from admiring those individuals who participate and having an interest in the marathon. I mean, it is involving Walt Disney World, so, how can I not be interested.
But, have you ever wondered who won the first marathon? When it started? What entertainment surrounded the event? How many runners?
A few months ago, as I was going through some of my WDW collection, I found a small article on the first Walt Disney World Marathon. The article was in Tomart's Disneyana Update No. 1 from 1994 and appears on page 46 in a section called Theme Park Collectibles. What initially caught my attention were the various pictures of the WDW Marathon souvenirs. These include limited edition t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, pins, and a watch, among other things. I really wish they had included some of the ephemera, but, oh well.
Anyway, as I read the article, I gathered some very interesting knowledge about the very first Walt Disney World Marathon. Those questions I asked earlier? Well, the answers can all be found in the text of the article, which I have typed out below:
MICKEY'S MARATHONWell, I hope you not only enjoyed the pictures, but the article as well and gained a little more knowledge, because, in my opinion, it is a lot less painful than actually running the marathon.
About 7,000 runners participated in the first Walt Disney World Marathon on January 16, 1994. Two and one-half years in the making, the event drew entrants from every state and several foreign countries.
The race began at 6 AM in the Epcot Center parking lot with fireworks, a band, and appearances by Mickey and Minnie. Temperature at the start was 40 degrees...ideal for long-distance running.
The course wound throughout Walt Disney World, including Epcot Center, the Magic Kingdom, and Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park. Mid-course entertainment included a laser show in Epcot.
Leonid Shvetsov of Russia completed the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 27 seconds to finish first in the men's division. Judit Nagy of Hungary won the women's division in 2:32:32. But David Bailey of Vista, California beat them all by finishing first in the wheelchair division in 1:52:29. Elite runners competed for $125,000 in prize money. An estimated 1500 people watched.
Enthusiastic Disney officials talked of making the annual event as famous as the Boston Marathon. Next year's race will be held January 8th. Disney is planning for a field of 12,000. Interested runners should call Central Reservations Operations at (407) 827-7200 for information and entry forms.
You can find more information about this year's WDW Marathon at http://www.disneyworldmarathon.com/.