If you’re a frequent theme park goer, you may have noticed the attendance at the Disney Parks was a little higher than usual last weekend. That’s because tens of thousands of runners participated in runDisney’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events.
Race weekends typically offer multiple races, ranging from 5K races to full marathons. Last weekend’s races included a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and a full marathon.
Check out the runner stats:
5K — 14,300
10K — 14,000
Half Marathon — 22,000
Marathon — 15,000
For 31 percent of the marathon participants, this was their first-ever full marathon race.
However, that was not the case for runner Betsey Larson.
A teacher at Celebration High School, Larson completed her fourth full marathon over the weekend, totaling her runDisney races to 30 and her overall races to 50. While runDisney hosts year-round events (including the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend and Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend), Larson said Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is her favorite.
“I love the energy that surrounds the days that lead up to the marathon, and the supportive atmosphere that permeates each of the races — especially the marathon,” said Larson.
Even with 50 races under her belt, Larson didn’t start running until 2011. Her first completed race was Celebration High School’s Storm Run 5K. She said it was a wonderful way to spend time with her teenage daughter (at the time), and she never thought that a single race would turn into such a passion.
“We enjoyed the 5K at school so much that we decided to sign up for the next Disney 5K, and it just built from there,” she said. Now running has become a great way for the whole Larson family to bond — Betsey, her two daughters, and even her husband, who completed his first half-marathon during the weekend with a personal best time.
Needless to say, a lot of training goes into preparing for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend — no matter which race you are taking on.
Larson admitted she never thought she would be able to finish a half-marathon, let alone a full marathon. She credited the guidance of the runDisney’s “run-walk-run” training plans created by former Olympian Jeff Galloway to help her achieve success.
“I realized that with the proper training I might be able to do it after all,” she said. Now Larson focuses more on improving aspects of the race experience than time-based goals.
“The most important mantra for me is ‘Progress over Perfection,’” Larson said.
For more information on runDisney and its year-round events, visit runDisney.com.