Thousands lace-up sneakers and run a marathon through Walt Disney World

ORLANDO, Florida -- Once upon a time thousands of people laced up their sneakers and ran through all four theme parks of Walt Disney World. It's not a fairytale, people of all ages, shapes, and sizes take part in the Walt Disney Marathon weekend. The event, which is held every January, attracts people from all over the world some slow, some fast and some are just plain Dopey and Goofy.

"I love running. I love Disney. I saw so many people doing it and I was like - if they can do it, I can do it," said Alicia Esteban, who ran the 'Dopey' race.

If you're Dopey you are running or walking and completing the 5k, 10k, Half-Marathon and Marathon. If you're a little Goofy you're taking on the Half-Marathon and Marathon.

"I loved every minute of it. I thought I was going to give up, but I didn't," said Alicia McCuaig, who ran her first marathon.

Some take part to raise money for a cause dear to their heart. JT McWalters who works for the Orlando Magic and is from Long Island lost his father to leukemia in 2003. He's been working with the charity 'Team in Training' to raise funds to help find a cure.

"My family and I have been dedicated to working with 'Team in Training' and the L.O.S., to help them raise money to help find a cure and ultimately medication and care for those patients and their families that are fighting blood cancers," said McWalters.

Natalie Sanchez does it for the medals. Sanchez is no stranger to running, the 21-year-old started participating in races at the age of 13 and this is her fourth marathon.

"It's very exciting, the whole experience, and getting to meet other runners and getting medals for it. It's a fun tradition," said Sanchez.

This Marathon Weekend is not only fun and magical, but the participation is epic. Here's the breakdown of participants:

Marathon - 14,938
Half Marathon - 22,074
10K - 12,692
5K - 13,500
Dopey - 8,000
Goofy - 9,740


If you're looking to take off your glass slippers and trade them in for some sneakers, the Princess Half-Marathon takes place in February. For Star Wars fans the "course" is with you can take part in the Galactic fun in April.

"You've got people from all over the world coming here to run and everybody's in a great mood which is hard to say when you're running so many miles, but it's such a great experience," said McWalters. "They keep you entertained and ultimately it helps you get through the whole 13.1."

Disney is the parent company of this ABC-owned television station. Here's a link to all the Run Disney events.