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Disneyland Marathon Faces Several Obstacles : Race: March 26 date, high entry fee and no appearance money could cause problems. Event will begin and end inside amusement park.


ANAHEIM — Amid the usual Disneyland hoopla, including appearances by Mickey Mouse, Goofy and the rest of the gang, officials from the park Wednesday announced plans to stage a marathon and five-kilometer race on March 26, 1995, the day after a two-kilometer family fun run.

It will be the first county marathon since the only running of the ill-fated and financially troubled Orange County Marathon in 1991.

The Disneyland race will have a $19,000 purse for the marathon and $31,000 for the 5K. Each race will begin and end inside the park. The marathon course will be a double loop past Anaheim Stadium and The Pond, among other Anaheim landmarks. The 5K will include a loop through the park before heading to the streets. Both courses are described as flat and fast.

All prize-money winners will be featured in a parade down Main Street that afternoon.

John Mansoor, race director for the San Francisco Marathon and the California International Marathon, has been enlisted to get the Disneyland Marathon up and running.

"The race is sure to be a lot of fun because Disneyland is going to do a great job in providing entertainment at points along the course," Mansoor said.

The races will be part of a celebration marking Disneyland's 40th anniversary.

If the marathon and 5K are to become typically successful and happy Disney events, there would appear to be a number of stumbling blocks to overcome:

* First is its March date, which puts it in almost direct competition with the Los Angeles Marathon March 5. There also are marathons scheduled for early February in Long Beach and Las Vegas, plus the Boston Marathon in April, further adding to the glut of springtime, 26.2-mile races.

Most marathon runners, world-class and middle-of-the-pack alike, run only two or three a year.

* There is the price tag--a hefty $55 for the marathon, a more moderate $20 for the 5K. Entrance fee for the L.A. Marathon is $35.

* Plans call for finishers to be led out of the park immediately after completing the course. In other words, no free day at Disneyland. Runners will have to buy a ticket just like everyone else.

* The marathon course will be closed to finishers who haven't completed the route in less than five hours (a 12-minute per mile pace). The 5K course will be closed after an hour (a little less than 20-minute pace). Slow times to be sure, but something that could be perceived as harsh treatment at The Happiest Place on Earth.

None of the top U.S. marathons, including L.A., New York or Boston, have such provisions.

"Probably the main reason (for the cutoff) is that the park needs to open to the general public," Disneyland spokesman Joe Aguirre said. "Runners still out on the course would interfere with the operation of the park."

* There will be no appearance money for national- and world-class runners, which will no doubt complicate the matter of securing a top-notch field.

* There also will be a limit of 5,000 runners in each race with 1,500 entries set aside for international runners.

Disney officials said these races will be the first in an on-going series of events, and it's possible there will not be another Disneyland Marathon after 1995.

Bill Burke, L.A. Marathon director, said earlier that he received a letter of agreement from Disneyland organizers that the park would be host to 5K, 10K and half-marathon (13.1-mile) races in 1996, with marathon runners bused to L.A. to run in that event.

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