History of runDisney

runDisney is celebrating its 28th year in 2022 and has grown exponentially since it began in 1994. Each year, the race becomes more and more popular, bringing on more runners. runDisney brings huge crowds during the marathons in spring, fall and winter. Let’s look at the history behind this ultra-popular marathon from its humble beginnings to the huge event that it has become today. 

How It Started…

Disney held the first Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994. There were only 5,588 runners in its debut 26.2-mile race. This was the race that launched the Disney Endurance Series that became runDisney. The marathon used to take participants through the parks- there were only three at that time! In 1995, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park was added to the course map. During the 1995 Walt Disney World Marathon, there were 75 spots awarded to participants to run in the Centennial Running of the Boston Marathon. In 1996, the race results were measured with electronic timing for the first time!

5th Anniversary

The Walt Disney Marathon celebrated its 5th anniversary in 1998/99. The theme was “Herculean Entertainment”. Around the same time, the first Donald Duck half marathon debuted. The first 10k Disney Classic race took place on October 3, 1999, and it kicked off Disney’s 15-month long Millennium Celebration. At this time, it cost only $50 to run the full marathon and $25 to run the half marathon. Also, this year, the course was changed to include Disney’s newest park Animal Kingdom. 

Most Popular Races

Walt Disney World 5k

This is the perfect runDisney race to start with if you are just getting into the racing game or if you aren’t quite ready to tackle a marathon yet. This race is 3.1 miles long and will take you through Epcot. It is held very early in the morning on the Thursday that kicks off the marathon weekend. The cost is $95 per runner and each runner will receive a special t-shirt and a finisher medallion. 

Walt Disney World 10k

The Walt Disney World 10k is the next step in building up towards the full marathon. This race is 6.2 miles long and will loop runners through Epcot and the Epcot Resort area. There are characters and other entertainment along the way to make this experience even more unforgettable! This race is held at 5:30 in the morning on the Friday that kicks off the marathon weekend. The cost is $135 per runner and like the 5k, each runner will receive a special t-shirt and a medal. 

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Are you ready to go the distance? The Walt Disney World Half Marathon is 13.1 miles long. Runners will go on a course through Magic Kingdom and Epcot. There are lots of characters and live entertainment to keep you motivated throughout the race! The cost is $195 per runner and each runner will receive the usual commemorative t-shirts and medals but also some more surprise swag! After the race, runners are invited to the Family Reunion area where there are lots of Disney characters and live entertainment to help celebrate your huge accomplishment. 

Walt Disney World Marathon

For the main event, we have the Walt Disney World Marathon. At 26.2 miles long, it is the longest singular race on property. This full marathon goes through all four Disney parks. This is also the only full marathon that is run on Walt Disney World Property. The cost is also $195 per runner, and it includes the same perks that come with running the half marathon such as the commemorative shirts, medal and gifts. There are also characters and live entertainment throughout the race and at the Family Reunion area afterwards. Plus, you get the ultimate bragging rights to say that you have run a full marathon at Walt Disney World! 

Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge

In 2006, runDisney added its first challenge event to the race weekend, Goofy’s Race and a half Challenge. This fun challenge is where participants run the Walt Disney World half and full marathon in the same weekend! The course is 39.3 miles in total. Each runner will pay $390 to register and will receive two finisher medals upon completion. This includes all the same perks that runners receive for running the half and full marathons. 

The Dopey Challenge

One of the most popular challenges, The Dopey Challenge, debuted in 2014. This challenge has runners take on 48.6 miles over the course of four days. They would do a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. After completion, runners would receive six medals- one for each race, plus a Goofy medal and a Dopey medal. They also receive six commemorative shirts. The cost for this race is $600.

Virtual Races

Virtual Races were introduced for people who are still training to run a full marathon, people who can’t make it to Walt Disney World at the time of the marathon, and most recently for the global pandemic. These Races are a fun way to still participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon from wherever you choose to run it. Participants may choose to register for the 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half & The Dopey Challenge. Participants still have to pay the registration fee (which varies by race) and they will receive goodies and prizes such as the commemorative t-shirts, certificates and medals. 

Charities Supported

runDisney supports a multitude of charities and runners can help raise money for their favorite charities during the marathons! All these charities are amazing and deserving. Participants can go to the website of any of the following charities and pledge to raise money for the charity while they train. These are the participating charities:

  • A-T Children’s Project
  • American Cancer Society
  • Autism Speaks
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida
  • Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
  • Dragon Master Foundation
  • Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
  • Girl Power 2 Cure
  • Girls on the Run- Central Florida
  • Girls on the Run- Greater Tampa Bay
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • Kellsie’s Hope Foundation
  • Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
  • National Down Syndrome Society
  • Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy
  • Scott Carter Foundation
  • Share Our Strength
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Teaching and Learning Collaborative
  • The V Foundation
  • Tourette Association of America


runDisney has come a long way since the first race back in 1994. The debut race had 5,588 runners and consisted of only one race and now there are over 26 individual races and a whopping 163,000+ runners! runDisney brings huge crowds every time there is a marathon event, and more and more people are joining. There are marathons all around the US but there is only one marathon at the most magical place on Earth! 

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