runDisney Tips and Tidbits

So, you want to run Disney. Congrats!

Many runners often start their journeys at one of the races that are offered at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, or Disneyland in California. No matter the location, there are some written and unwritten rules about navigating the landscape that should be established and researched prior to toeing the line. Some may seem obvious, others may be total news to you. Whether you’re running your first 5K or 25th marathon, these rules of the road from myself and other runDisney veterans will hopefully make your experience more enjoyable.

The 25th anniversary of Marathon weekend is coming up fast, and I posed the question to runDisney Twitter of what advice would you provide before racing. I have compiled my advice and that of others here in this post. This list is not all inclusive, as it would take months to compile an exhaustive document.

Take some of this with a grain of salt, as it may come off with a sarcastic tone. You’ve been informed.

Grab a snack and take notes…


Christina’s List of runDisney Tidbits and Advice:

-The Expo can be nuts. Be prepared by printing out your waiver, signing it, and having proper ID before coming to your booth. It expedites the process. Printers are available on site if you need them.

-If you’re planning on heading to the parks at any point during the race weekend, be aware that it is still peak season. Holiday décor will be abundant and many schools may  still be on break. Get your Fastpasses and ADRs early, and be prepared for long wait times at favorite attractions. Bring a book, magazine, and a spare phone charger.

-Bear in mind that runners of all nationalities will be descending into FL. Some of them do not understand the concept of runner’s etiquette and personal space, and can come off as brash and rude. (It’s part of their culture.) Deal with them however you need to; just don’t go to jail. That’s a lot of registration money down the drain if you do so.

-If you get hurt in training, or and think pixie dust will get you through the race, you’re sadly mistaken. If you are injured, you are taking a huge risk by furthering said injury on the course. Listen to your body.

-Don’t gorge yourself on too much sugar-laden park food or alcohol before you race. A drink or a treat is fine. Save the bottle of wine and Kitchen Sinks for after.

-Be prepared for ANY kind of weather. 2017 saw a cold front move through during race weekend, causing various weather patterns (10K was rain, half was cancelled due to storms), leading into wind and freezy ice cold for the full. Florida, surprisingly, is more than sand and sun! At least there won’t be any hurricanes during this time.

-Wear sunscreen, no matter what the weather is. I underestimated the amount of sun on 2017 marathon day, despite the 35 degree temps and 15 mph winds, and ended up with a nice burn.

-Sleep is good for the soul, ESPECIALLY if you’re doing Goofy or Dopey. Don’t let FOMO keep you from achieving your rest. Trust me, you’re not missing much.

-For the love of crap, don’t wear your “I Did It” shirt WHILE ON THE RACE COURSE RACING THE DISTANCE ADVERTISED ON YOUR SHIRT. You will get so many side eyes, you’ll be running through a sea of eyeballs.

-Leave earlier than anticipated if you’re driving. I panic if I know I’m running late, and much prefer driving in early so I can avoid traffic chaos.

-Nothing new on race day. The ONLY exception is for those things which you have been training with. For example: socks. I prefer a fresh pair of Thorlos Experia socks on race morning; I have been using them for five years and they  fit the best right out of the package.

-To prevent foot chafing, slather them up with Vaseline before putting on your socks.

-You’ll be hanging out in the corrals a LOT longer than you may realize, especially if you’re in the back. Bring throwaway clothes and hand warmers because you will start to get cold.

-If you are a female and take gels before racing, stick one in your sports bra. It’ll be toasty warm and delicious by consumption time.

-Balloon ladies are not to be feared. They’re very encouraging and are on your side—they want you to finish!! They start after the LAST runner crosses the start line. Then the game is on.

-First couple miles are just mass hoards of runners jockeying for position. Bring your patience. Watch for those runners who are not educated in runner’s etiquette and suddenly stop in the middle of the road while doing intervals without signaling.

-More miles than not are on long, lonely stretches of highway.

-If you plan on social media-ing during a race, your photos, statuses, and tweets will take a LOT longer to upload because of the concentration of runners in one location trying to do the same thing.

-If you plan on listening to music during the race, don’t blare your tunes so loud that you can’t hear your surroundings.

-If you plan on taking pictures, put your phone into airplane mode to conserve battery.

-Ladies-it’s okay to pee in the men’s room. Just announce that a lady is coming in and do your business. Hint: no one cares.

-Cinderella castle truly is the wretched bottleneck that race veterans talk about. Everyone stops and slogs through because there are photopass photographers taking pictures just on the other side. Here’s a hint—keep running through, and if you really want a castle pic, come back post-race and do a medal shot.

-Speaking of post-race medal shots, there are more photographic places around WDW to this at. Cinderella Castle is okay, but get creative! No one like the same boring shot at the same place clogging their media feeds.

-Cone Alley(s) are worse than Cindy Castle. There are several on the marathon route, guarded and watched by local police. Do NOT try to run on the other side of these. You will get caught, possibly pulled from the course, possibly hit by another vehicle (as it IS reserved for emergency vehicles).

-Speaking of EMS vehicles, it is entirely possible that you will hear sirens and/or see lights at some point during the race. Stay alert of your surroundings and get the hell out of the way. If someone has dropped on the course, time is of the essence. If someone is engrossed in their headphones, get them out of the way.

-Mile 8-9 is by the Grand Flo, and you’ll be hit with a blast of sun, provided that the sun wants to make an appearance.

-Upon entering AK, there may be cute fuzzy animals to pet 🙂

-If you have the time to ride Expedition Everest (around mile 14) and aren’t motion sensitive to coasters, go nuts. It’ll add a little time, but worth it for the bragging rights later.

-Miles 15-22 of the marathon are long and stupid and boring.

-WWOS (16-19) is a 5K of dumbfuckery and disappointment. Majority of runners hate this winding loop of torture.

-Running through World Showcase is incredible. Torches are lit, spectators are aplenty…and if you get there after 11am, you will have access to purchase alcoholic goodness. Just make sure to bring a form of payment. Favorites include:

-Grey Goose Slushie from France
-Beer Flight from UK (and turkey legs)
-More beer from Germany (and jumbo pretzels)
-Margaritas from Mexico
-Possibly wine from China/France

-Reminder: course officials have the jurisdiction to sweep at ANY point in the race. Don’t think that once you hit DHS that you’re safe. There’s no such thing as a “safe point” in a runDisney race. They can pull at any time.

RunDisney Twitter’s Contributions:

Emily (@iRunForDisney): “Any good suggestions for spectator spots during the marathon? Some midway location people could go and then make it to the finish line in time to see the runner cross?”

“Hogwarts running club has a sign that says, ‘No, we aren’t in the wrong park?’ around Mile 4 for the half, I think!” -Lauren (@wvumello_out)
“The Animal Kingdom parking lot is a great midway spot, giving you an hour/couple of hours to get over to the end of the race, depending upon your runner’s speed.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“My fam always does Main Street, DAK and Epcot! They work harder than I do! LOL.”
“Plan your bathroom breaks, so you don’t have to use the portas!!”
-Ian (@BazTastic77)

“Cheering at the Magic Kingdom is just amazing. I was able to get there before the first runner came through and stayed all the way for the last. Then I headed to EPCOT and cheered with Team Margarita and then scooted to the finish line! A great day indeed!” -Kristen (@DisneyKrstn)

“@MissusSmith and the kid stood in the hub and then moved over to Liberty Sq. to catch us after we exited the castle.” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)

“The boardwalk by Jellyrolls is also a good (and not at all usually crowded) spot, and gives you enough time to get to the finish line after seeing your runner(s) there.” -Heather (@MissusSmith)

“Don’t try to PR!
Wear a costume!
Stop for photos!
Get there EARLY!” -@Team Shenanigans

“Riding Everest during the marathon is a MUST!”
“If you don’t like port o potties, look at the course to see what bathrooms you can use in each park.” -Jess (@loveWDW5)

“You can use the bathrooms in the parks. Nicer than a port-o-potty!” -Erin (@mulderist)

“Bring money/credit card/Magic Band to buy some food/drink on your way to the finish (or have a cheer squad help you w/purchase).”
“Don’t be afraid to go slightly off course to use bathrooms while waiting for characters in (the) park. Strangers are usually kind enough to hold your spot if you ask.” -Sarah (@essaysareayaitch)

“Hydrate, and don’t eat at Ohana the night before a race.” -Ryan (@rteetz)

“Don’t be a rude asshole? Like walking five across, stopping suddenly without warning, etc.? I feel like we can do better spreading the word.” -Elizabeth (@TrainWithBain)
“Also, some stretches where even two across can cause problems, as the route is about 2.8 people wide.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“Don’t be a jerk to other runners just because they are different than you (slower, walking, stopping for characters). Don’t walk (or run, people always put this on just walkers) more than 3 across so people can’t pass.” -Heather (@heatherw25)
“And be cognizant of whether there’s another group that is also two abreast right next to you, so that it doesn’t look like you are a group of 4 (or more) to others.” -Sarah (@essaysareayaitch)
“Yeah that’s a big issue where you get 12 people abreast on Osceola all walking the same pace even tho they’re not together – it’s still the same thing. Move over!” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)

“They give out chocolate at DHS for the marathon.”
“If you’re doing a challenge, get your legs in the pool after your races to help reduce inflammation.”
“Get a resort room near the lobby/elevator.”
“The toll booths going into the MK area are NOT bathrooms, even if it is dark in the early morning…Wait until the TTC/Tomorrowland depending on urgency.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“Whatever time you think you need to get up, get up half an hour earlier.” -Holly, Jolly Horizons (@horizons1983)

“Bring tissues in case {they’re} needed in the portapotty.” -Heather (@heatherw25)
“Wet ones in a baggie, often referred to as a sh*t kit.” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)

If you have anything to add to the running list, list it below!


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