Happy Friday and Welcome to the Friday 5! This week I am sharing my top tips for running a race at Walt Disney World. Disney races are extremely popular and it seems that each year Run Disney adds at least one new exciting event to the race calendar.
Last January, I ran my 3rd Disney Marathon on a very humid morning! The Marathon is one of 4 races that occurs over the course of 4 days. I bumped into quite a few runners that were doing all 4 races, otherwise known as the Dopey Challenge. The Challenge consists of a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half-marathon on Saturday, then the full marathon on Sunday. There is also the Goofy Challenge, which is running the half on Saturday & the full on Sunday. Runners that tackle all of these events successfully end up with 6 medals, one from each race, then one for each Challenge. It’s quite a bit of bling!! It’s one of the few times I have run a marathon, when I felt compelled to say “I’m Just running the marathon!’ :-).
Five Tips for Running Disney
1. Register Early: The races sell out quickly, especially the Dopey & Goofy Challenge, so plan well ahead if you would like to do this January event.
2. Be an Early Bird: It is a huge event with approximately 20,000 runners and the race starts at 5:30am, so getting up very early is a necessity. I had my alarm set for 2:30am, hit the snooze alarm once, & rolled out of bed at 2:40am. This gave me plenty of time for my “Pre-Race Rituals” and I was at the shuttle bus stop by 3:30am to head to Epcot where the race starts. I stayed on Disney property for all 3 marathons, and I would highly recommend it, as it makes transportation easy. ***One thing that changed at the last marathon I did there was the heightened security, so be mindful of what you are carrying with you (they will provide guidelines). Also, anticipate a line for a Security Check prior to going to your start corral.
3. Submit a Qualifying Race Time: So this may seem pretty obvious, but you do not have to submit one at registration. However, they need one submitted by mid October to place people in the appropriate corrals. They do not send out reminders for this and I completely forgot to send in mine! I had been waiting to get my time from the Maine Half Marathon, which was the first weekend in October, then submit it. I ran the half, got my time, but life got in the way and I ended up in corral “O”. The Corrals ranged from “A” to “P” & I should have been in “D”. Bottom line: Make sure to submit a time, especially if you are hoping to meet a race time goal, etc.
4. Keep an Eye on the Weather: The weather can vary wildly in January in Florida. The first time I ran the marathon in 2012, it was very cool at the start mid 40’s & warmed to low 60’s by finish. The second marathon I did in 2013 was a fluke heat wave & the temps were in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, it was miserable after training in the cool temps where I live in Maine! This past year, the temperature was reasonable mid- 60’s, but the humidity was 100%, I could almost see the moisture in the air, which made for less than desirable conditions. However, by the time I hit mile 22-23, a cold front blew in and the weather completely changed during the race! I crossed the finish line drenched in sweat from the humidity, but shivering from the cold front!
5. Enjoy the Magic: One of my favorite things about the course is the entertainment! There is Disney Magic sprinkled all along the course. You will see character greetings at different mile markers and experience running through the Castle at dawn with characters from Frozen making it snow! Runners are able to hop on Expedition Everest mid-race & get their pictures taken with a variety of reptiles from Animal Kingdom. A favorite moment of
mine, was running around the Ball Field at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The bleachers were filled with fans cheering everyone on! It really is an enjoyable event, no matter how much the last 5 or 6 miles hurt, there is always something to make you smile!
Have you ever participated in a Run Disney Event? Do you plan on doing one in the future? Let me know if you have any questions that I might be able to answer. Have a wonderful weekend!
You can read about race day here!