Theme park marathons, and specifically Disney marathons, have always piqued my attention. It's an odd thing, to visit one of these monuments to youthful fun in order to put immense physical stress on your body. I enjoy visiting Disneyland with my family; my wife has gone all of her life, and we've kept up the tradition. I've eaten more beignets from the French Corner Market in New Orleans Square than I care to admit. But run a marathon there? That's a conflicting idea.
The Walt Disney World Marathon is Sunday; the reviews on Marathon Guide are generally positive, though many indicate that this isn't considered a "runner's marathon" because of the in-race photo ops with characters, the loopy and surprisingly unscenic nature of the course due to parking lots and needing to travel on area thoroughfares. (As it turns out, 26 miles is kind of a long distance.) But that's the draw, isn't it? These are part gateway races, runs that give non-runners or beginning runners an exciting goal race that has a little more punch than one of the smaller metro marathons. The other part is to capture the runners that already love Disney: it's a smart marketing ploy to offer something for all Disney fans. That's why we have Disney cruises and Disney golf courses.
Of course, the themed marathon isn't limited to Disney, though Disney obviously offers the most famous landmarks of the themed marathon. I believe there's a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Pawtucket now, and some cruise lines are offering trips that include a race or multiple races at tropical locales in the middle of the trek. We all love to run, and we all love vacations. The combination of the two is what's interesting. Can you enjoy yourself if you feel like you want to cut off your own legs?