Welcome back! Thank you all for reading and providing such wonderful feedback from Part I. Your energy is keeping me alive and thriving, and so excited to continue writing. Props to you all! *confetti*
I would like to add a piece of information from our very own Ken Alegre, whom you may recognize from social media as #kenthumbsup. He suggested that you remember RAIN GEAR when you’re packing. This is so critical, especially in FL weather, and I can’t believe I missed it! Thanks, Ken!
Today’s adventures will take us to a crticial part of any runDisney weekend: surviving the expo. This is 20% actual race logistics, and 80% not overdrawing your bank account. I will take you through both the important and fun aspects of the expo, and all the things you need to be aware of! (Heads up: I am not one for lingering around an expo. I make a game plan, get what I need/want, and get out. There may be some gaps in information with this article, so if I forget anything, please list it!)
Got your ID? Got your credit card? Got a sense of adventure? Great! Here we go!
Episode II: Attack of the Expo…I Have HOW Much In My Bank Account?!
Before you even go to the expo, you need to know the following:
- What times the expo is open. The excitement usually begins on Thursday of race week around 10AM. The times for the 2015 expo were as follows: Thurs 10A-8P, Fri: 9A-7P, Sat: 9A-5P.
- How you’re getting there. runDisney has a plethora of on-site shuttles during race weekend. These shuttles will be marked with runDisney signs in the front windows. These busses will start as early as a half-hour before the expo opens. If you’re offsite, head to I-4 and take exit 65 to Osceola Pkwy. West. Hang a left onto Victory Drive and volunteers will be directing you to your parking spot.
- BRING YOUR ID AND RACE WAIVER. You will not be allowed to race without your bib (obviously), and if you need to print your waiver, there are computers available in the HP Fieldhouse. THERE IS NO PACKET PICK-UP ON RACE MORNING. Even if you hate crowds and shopping, you still have to go to the expo. Sorry, kids.
- Have a game plan. Heading to the expo, especially on Day 1, is like Black Friday (or Black Thursday, or Cyber Monday…whatever shopping holiday you celebrate in November.). Plan for large crowds and those dashing for what I call the Big Three: official runDisney merch, runDisney New Balance shoes, and Dooney and Bourke bags. These are known to sell out within an hour with little to no chance of restocking. runDisney releases the weekend merchandise in the weeks before the race. This gives you plenty of time to plan, mentally and financially. (It also helps to have a set amount that you’re willing to spend at the expo. Once you hit that limit, don’t spend any more. Many vendors have online sites that you can order things from, so you can window shop and have a mental cache of prices if you wish to purchase items later.)
- Review the official race weekend guide on rundisney.com. You will receive a hard copy of this with your race packet pickup items. This contains vital information for race weekend, including a road map to where everything is located at WWOS.
- Make sure you thank the expo volunteers, or any volunteer you run into. They’re busting their asses on-stage and behind the scenes to ensure that you have a great weekend. They deserve so much credit, so don’t turn on the Princess Diva Attitude if something doesn’t go your way.
With regard to the road map, there are two main buildings where things are at. These are the HP Fieldhouse and the Jostens Center. Here’s a breakdown of both buildings:
-All packets are to be picked up here. (Kids, 5K, 10K, PHM, GSC). Some are on the upper floor, some are on the lower floor.
-KIDS, PHM TEAMS, AND GSC RUNNERS ARE THE EVENTS WHOSE PARTICIPANTS ALSO PICK UP THEIR gEAR BAGS AND RACE SHIRTS HERE.
-Official runDisney merchandise is here AND in Jostens
-Commemorative items and pre-purchased items. If you ordered extra goodies when you signed up, you’ll get them here.
–Runner tracking, volunteer check-in, and additional exhibitors
Jostens Center (floorplan posted later on):
-5K, 10K, AND PHM RUNNERS PICK UP THEIR RACE SHIRTS AND gEAR BAGS HERE.
-Offical runDisney merchandise is here AND at HP Fieldhouse
-Majority of the exhibitors! (This is the Black Friday part I was mentioning earlier.)
-More runDisney merchandise! (I believe that runDisney split this between both buildings so people aren’t stepping all over each other in one area.)
(Rant: I wish runDisney would plan things so that ALL packets and gEAR bags/race shirts were in the same building. Having them in two seperate buildings is a major pain.)
*Aside from the Fieldhouse and Jostens center, the Welcome Center has your Pasta in the Park tickets (if you ordered them), and also theme park tickets should you wish to purchase them.
*New Balance also offers a virtual queue check-in, if you’re planning on purchasing their shoes. UPDATE: 1/20/16,10:35 PM: Meghan Gorny has provided us with a fantastic overview of this!: “The New Balance Virtual queue experience. The queue for New Balance shoes opens at 6am each day of the expo until spots are filled. The first day of the expo, the appointments are for runners only and they will ask for your bib number when you register. When you get to the website, they will ask for what size and shoe that you are purchasing. Spots seemed to go quickly at marathon weekend. I signed in at 6am and got an appointment for 1pm. When you get to the expo, there will be signs showing you where to go check in for your appointment time. When you check in for your appointment, they bring you to the New Balance area, they bring you the shoes that you requested. You can also ask for 5 other pairs of shoes.”
Alrighty. So you know where things are at and what you need to do! Let’s begin…
- First and foremost, even if you’re a shopaholic or absolutely hell-bent on being the first in line at 7AM on Thursday to get the Dooney and Bourke bags, GET YOUR RACE DAY ESSENTIALS FIRST. I mean, that’s the reason you’re down here, right? Head to the Fieldhouse with your ID and race waiver (or print it out when you get there), and look for your race and your bib number. There are seperate booths with ranges of numbers. Find what corresponds to you and head on over. You will be greeted by the volunteers. Offer your information, and they will retrieve your items. Be sure to sign yourself in in the binder in front of you: find your bib number and put your John Hancock next to it. Once you’ve signed in, the volunteer will verify the bib number and shirt size on your waiver matching the actual bib they give you. In addition to the race event guide, there is also a sticker that will go on your gEAR check bag. This has your bib number and first initial of your last name. DON’T LOSE THIS.
- Next, go get your race shirt and gEAR bag. Stand in line and offer your bib to the volunteers there. (There is a tear-off portion with your shirt size on the bib, which will be redeemed for your shirt!) You’ll get your shirt and check-in bag (which will have safety pins in it. DON’T LOSE THESE.)
It is best if you try your shirt on. There is a place for shirt exchanges if you need to do so. The shirt cut seems to change every year. I have PHM/GSC shirts that are either too small or too large.
3. Now that you have your essentials, it’s time to go exploring! What is wonderful about PHM weekend is that sometimes you can get your picture taken with the princesses! (I cannot guarantee this happens every year since it’s not listed on the road map for the Jostens center. You never know what times they will appear, so you really have to take your chances. I got pics with Minnie, Snow White and Cinderella in 2015.)
There are so many vendors available to runners. You can go to your favorites and restock your gear, or find Jeff Galloway and have a chat with him. Here’s a partial list of fun things you can find at the Josten’s Center! (List from 2015, and it changes every year!)
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (race weekend celebratory charity!)
Coppertone (did you get your sunscreen yet?!)
Dannon (free yogurt!)
Divas Half Marathon Series
Fit2Run (I got my Garmin through them during WDW marathon weekend!)
KT Tape (you can get taped at the Expo)
LUNA bar (you can get cheer signs here!)
Noah’s Light Foundation
etc. etc. etc.
4. Now that you’ve bought all the things, maybe you’d like to take a breather and attend a seminar. There are a variety of them held throughout the week by various atheltes and motivational speakers. Be sure to check the list in your event guide, as these also vary every year. Some of the seminars from 2015 included:
-Jeff Galloway, “I Can Go the Distance!”
-Danni Allen (Biggest Loser Season 14 winner), “Change Your Life One Step At a Time”
-Luna Pace Team, “13.1 Dream Come True Tips for a Magical Race Day”
-runDisney panel, “Information for Runners and Spectators”
-Jenny Simpson (Olympian), “Go For the Gold!”
So you’ve got your new stuff, heard some motivational words, received race-day advice, and now it’s time to head back to your hotel with all your new goodies and a positive bank account. Woohoo!
And now it’s time for the real talk.
Sometimes things aren’t all Mickey ears and pixie dust.
One thing that you will see post-expo is runDisney merchandise being resold online at a much higher price, especially the D&B bags and New Balance shoes. Princesses (and princes)….it’s going to happen. It has become a staple of runDisney events for those that aren’t even running the races to nab multiple quantities of the merchandise to resell for-profit. Hell, even some runners do this. I’ve heard all the complaints in the book: “This merchandise should be reserved for runners only.” “runDisney should pay attention to the consumer demand and order more to be prepared for race weekend.” “All of it was gone in an hour…why do people suck so much!?”
Stop. Seriously. Put your big girl panties and big boy boxers on and grow up.
It’s going to happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.Take the high road and resist join in the social media chatter about how things are seemingly unfair. Just breathe in, breathe out, and move on.
Thank you for reading Part II of my series! You’ve officially survived the expo! Again, I ask those that have additional information that I’ve forgotten to add it. I’ll ensure proper credit is given.
You’re sitting in a sea of new things, and eagerly counting down the hours until you get up and get ready for your race! How do you prepare the night before, especially when you’re either A. so excited you can’t sleep, and/or B. you’re terrified and full of pre-race jitters? Stay tuned for PHM Survival Guide, Episode Three: Revenge of the Pre-Race Jitters, coming soon!