Walt Disney Marathon Weekend

More than 53,000 runners and 110,000 visitors in total are visiting Central Florida this weekend for this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Disney says that four of every five registrants for this weekend’s events come from outside Central Florida. Between a third and a half of them have booked rooms in Disney hotels — and they will spend an average of three nights on company property. It’s good news for Disney and while they won’t provide more detailed figures, it says events such as the marathon weekend have significantly improved business during what are otherwise lean times of the year.

Due to the popularity, Disney has even added an ethical bribe for 2011 called “Marathon Monday,” in which racers will get a free theme-park ticket to use the day after the final race…if their legs will take them!

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend began in 1994 as a single-day event with about 5,500 runners. This year, it stretches across four days, with races ranging from a children’s “Mickey Mile” to today’s 5-kilometer race that starts at 7 a.m., ending with the 26.2-mile race Sunday that runs through all four Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex and several Disney resort hotel areas.

The average party size of each registrant is between two and two and a half people, as many racers bring families or friends with them and it is reported that more than 300 U.S. military personal in Iraq will take part in a Disney half marathon in Baghdad during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

The runDisney Heroes Race in Baghdad on Saturday will involve service men and women based at Victory Base Complex trekking 13.1 miles through the Iraqi desert while simultaneously more than 27,000 runners – a new race record – run the same distance during the Disney Half Marathon. Both races will be linked by satellite so runners and spectators at both events can view live video of each race.

Now all these people need to do is learn how to save money and run their way to a vacation home and relax in their own private swimming pool after the event!

Here’s the route:

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