Heather is also a Disney travel agent!!! She can book your Disney vacation for you as well as your runDisney vacation! As soon as I get back from Disney, Heather is going to book my room for Marathon Weekend in January! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your Disney vacation started!
Enjoy Heather's post on tips for running a runDisney race! Thanks so much Heather for guest posting for me!
I have gotten a lot of questions from people about runDisney races in general. Tips for getting the most out of the weekend, what to expect, when to go where, special things to note that are different from regular races. Well, I thought it was high time to compile all of my info into a blog post to share with you all!
TIPS FOR RUNDISNEY RACINGExpo: Try to get to the expo the first day it is open if you are able. Merchandise can run out, especially in popular sizes, after the first day. Not to mention the first day is typically less crowded. For marathon weekend, all the Goofy merchandise was sold out by Friday afternoon, and the expo had a line to even get into the building!
Race retreat: I have done the race retreat once, and while it was very nice, I don’t thing it’s “necessary.” When it’s very cold outside it’s nice to have somewhere to go and relax and eat, but it’s definitely not a “must” and you will be ok without it, so don’t fret if you didn't get in before it filled up.
Characters: There are plenty of characters along the course, especially within the parks. Have your phone or camera out and ready to hand to the cast member, and give them any instructions you want to give. They aren't all “great” at photo taking, I had to tell the to tap the screen to focus the picture after getting a few blurry ones. Bummer. There will also be professional photographers on the course and at the character stops, so be sure your bib is visible to the camera when they are taking your photo.
Fueling: There are PLENTY of aid stations and I have never brought my own water bottle. There was water and Powerade available about every 1.5 miles. I do bring my own fuel/gel minus one for the half and two for the full (there is one clif shots stop during the half, and two during the full). If you aren't used to taking Clif's products, be sure to bring your own or practice with them before the race.
Hotels: Be sure to stay at a host hotel on property for the least amount of stress come race morning. Not only will you be surrounded by other runners, but it is the only way to have official race and expo transportation, which is important when you don’t have a car! (email email@example.com for hotel info and pricing)
Transportation: There are buses outside of the host resorts to take you to the expo and the race and back. Typically there are big signs out front of the resorts directing you to race transportation pick up. If you aren't sure be sure to check with the front desk at your hotel. After the race, there are buses near the family reunion area to take you back to your resort, just look for the signs so you know which line to get into. Also, be sure to get to the buses EARLY. There is a LONG walk from the family reunion area to the corrals, and it is a slow walk full of people, so allow yourself even more time than you think you would ever need. Trust me on this one!
Sweepers: You have to keep a 16:00 per mile pace or you will be swept off the course. They have buses at certain cut off points to transport those who cannot maintain pace. Keep in mind Disney doesn't start the timer as far as SWEEPERS go until everyone crosses the start line, so you have a bit of a head start as long as you aren't the last one to start.
Weather: You can’t control the weather, neither can Disney. I have run in Disney in weather in the 20’s and in the upper 70’s. Be prepared when you pack for ALL weather situations, they can quickly change. A garbage bag is a good alternative to a poncho, and remember that if you throw off old sweatshirts, etc. Disney picks them all up and gives them to charity.
Finish line/family reunion area: After you cross the finish line and get your medal, Disney will give you water, Powerade, and a little box of snacks. Then you can take photos, get your bag at gear check pickup, and meet your family in the family reunion area. There are big signs with letters on them so plan a meeting spot to meet up with friends and family after you finish the race.
Training: There are training programs on the runDisney website to help you get ready for your big race day!
Gear check: Disney gives you a big clear bag when you get your race shirt, and there is a sticker with numbers on it, you put it on the front of your bag and this makes it your gear check bag (be sure to tie a knot in the top of the bag so your stuff doesn't fall out!) I pack a pack ticket for walking back through EPCOT to our hotel if I feel like it and am staying in the EPCOT resort area, flip flops, a jacket, a towel, and my hotel room key.
Corrals/proof of time: You are put into a corral based on your proof of time from a 10k race or longer. If you have no proof of time, you will be put towards the back. However, if you get a faster time between registration an the race, just bring proof of time to the runner relations booth at the expo/bib pick up, and they will put a sticker with a new corral letter over your old one. The volunteers DO check corrals and have flashlights to read your bib to make sure you are going into the right ones.
Bathrooms: There are plenty of port-o-potties at the start, but there will still be lines so arrive early. There are some at the family reunion area but we usually skip these and use the ones right before you get into the corrals, they usually have shorter lines. There are also potties all along the course, but we usually try to wait and use the "real" bathrooms in the parks. There are some you run right by in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, as well as in Frontierland. When running the full we have stopped at the ones at the Ticket and Transportation center as well, and you run right by some in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Meet up/Tweet Up: You may have seen blog posts about the cool runDisney social media meet ups that are held during race weekends. These meet ups are typically held on Friday morning, very early. If you want to try to get in, keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog and the @runDisney Twitter feed for information on when you need to keep an eye out for registration. The meet up for marathon weekend was full in three minutes!
Family fun run/5k: The 5k is typically the day before the half marathon, early in the morning. It is an untimed fun run, but you still get a shirt, bib, and (rubber) medal. There are characters along the course, and it’s a fun relaxing way to get a taste for runDisney racing. The 5k typically doesn’t fill up as fast as the half marathon.
Kids races: The littlest runners can take part in runDisney races too! There are kids races at the Wide World of sports (think diaper dash and kids one mile run).
Spectating: Have a plan! Disney has info for spectators on their website. The chEAR squad packages are nice, but not necessary to see someone at the finish. I know a lot of spectators that catch their runners at multiple points during the races, relying on Disney transportation to get them around and the monorail to the finish line.
I also have some personal tips….
-Have FUN! runDisney races are great for running with friends and family Don’t take yourself too seriously!
-Take lots of photos! Where else do you get to run through a castle and get character photos in your running gear? Enjoy the cool things you don’t get to do at other races.
-Be prepared. All right boy scouts, always be prepared for any situation. Don’t forget things like chapstick, tissues, layers to keep warm, sunscreen, and your camera.
-Wear your medal around the park after the race, be proud!
-bring extra safety pins in case there aren't any or enough in your bag
-If you are wearing a costume practice in it beforehand to make sure it doesn't rub or chafe.
-Need packing advice? Check out my “packing for a runDisney race” vlog to make sure you have everything you need!
-Check out the runDisney website and Facebook page, they are always updating them with great info!
QOTD: What is your best runDisney race advice that I have left off?