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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

RunDisney Race Tips PART 1

Those who know me can attest that two of my favorite things in this world are running and Disney!  So naturally, runDisney races are right up my alley.  I had wanted to run a race in Disney World for years but until more recently, I didn’t know anyone who lived there so I couldn’t afford to do it.  Lucky for me, my brother and his family moved to Orlando a couple of years ago (woohoo)… and Disney races became a reality for me!  With my third runDisney experience coming up in a couple of weeks (the Wine and Dine Half Marathon on my birthday weekend), I thought this would be a good time to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned about running races in Disney World.  This post will focus on the steps leading up to the start of your race.  I’ll post again soon with during and after race tips.


BEFORE:


-REGISTRATION: If you’re thinking of registering for a runDisney race, check the website for registration dates and times and make sure you are prepared to get on that site pretty much immediately when registration opens!!  You can also follow runDisney on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for event updates and information.  Several runDisney races sell out in a matter of hours so you’ll want to make sure you get in there early.  It helps to create an active.com account beforehand so you don’t have to worry about that part.  Be prepared to spend a lot on these races, but also know that it is completely worth every penny!

Make sure you have your credit card information and proof of time ready to go when you log in because you’ll only have 15 minutes to complete your registration once you’re there.  You will only need proof of time if you think you'll finish a race in less than the time listed on the website.  For a half marathon, this is usually any time less than 2 hours and 45 minutes.  For the full, it's less than 5  and a half hours.  If you think your finishing time will be more than that, than you don't need to worry about proof of time.  This is just so you will be put into a corral with other runners who are around the same speed as you.  



-CHARITIES: Missed the registration cutoff but still want to run?  No problem!  Check out the charity spots that are available.  I ran for Kellsie’s Krew (http://kellsieshopefoundation.com/) when I ran the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Challenge in Disney World last April.  The money raised goes towards trips and gifts for kids living with cancer, especially those with recurring cancers.  I raised $1000 and got a free race registration, t-shirt, Kellsie’s Krew medal, and some incredible new friends… plus an experience I will never forget.  In fact, I’m fundraising for Kellsie’s Hope Foundation again for the Disney World Marathon in January, 2017.  (Click here to donate to my fundraising site)  

Frankly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to run a race in Disney without fundraising for them again!  But there are loads of fantastic charities available to run for listed on the individual runDisney race web pages so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in running for a cause!

The swag I received at the Kellsie's Krew luncheon during race weekend.  Such an incredible charity!!

-TRAINING: When you register for a runDisney race, you will also find a race training plan on the website for each race distance provided.  These have been created by Jeff Galloway and contain both a plan for distances and details for using his run/walk method.  I personally use the run/walk intervals (4-1 ratio), but I have found different training plans that work better for me since they have more overall mileage.  It's really up to you which plan you use but I do recommend using a plan and sticking to it as best you can.  It's really fun to put your plan into a calendar or planner (complete with fun stickers and quotes of course!) and cross off each workout as you finish it.  If works really nicely for those of you who are both Type A and crafty like me!



-COSTUMES: Consider wearing a costume on your run!  Though it’s certainly not a requirement, people who run in Disney races tend to dress the part... and get really creative about it.  I’ve dressed as Minnie Mouse, BB-8, and Darth Vader so far and I will be dressing as Belle for the Wine and Dine Half (my costume for the full marathon is a secret still!).  I’ve seen everything on race courses from Peter Pan and his Shadow and classic Disney characters to Jedi princesses and even George Lucas… ha!  

It can be pretty easy to create a costume with a sparkly skirt and some basic embellishments or you can go all out and get super creative.  Have fun with it but PLEASE make sure to test out your entire costume on a long training run BEFORE your race.  The last thing you want is a wayward light saber or an itchy princess skirt ruining what should have been a magical runDisney experience.

Minnie Mouse for my first attempt at the full marathon.

BB-8 and Darth Vader for the Star Wars Dark Side 10K and Half Marathon respectively.


RACE WEEK:

-RUNDISNEY EXPO: When you arrive in Disney, make sure to hit the runDisney Expo as soon as you can.  While your race shirt and pre-paid items are guaranteed, many other items including t-shirts and car magnets will sell out quickly.  Download the event guide ahead of time and make sure you have the Expo times and maps with you.  You can take screen shots of the event guide with your phone if you just want a quick reference to certain pages.  You’ll need to pick up your own race packet with your ID, complete with tech shirt and race bib.  If you’re running a challenge (multiple races in a row), you’ll also likely be asked to stand for a picture with your race bib so they can easily identify you at the end of your challenge.  

Leave plenty of time to peruse the Expo as there are LOTS of vendors to visit and you will have to visit more than one building to collect all of your awesome souvenirs and race swag.  I usually give myself at least a couple of hours to enjoy the entertainment and see everything the expo has to offer.  Also, expect to find at least a few items that you'll want and bring some extra money with you in case this happens (if you can afford to).  


A couple of Storm Troopers walking around the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Expo!  They turned around when I took this pic and told me to "move along citizen". :)

-TRANSPORTATION: Plan ahead for transportation time and specifics to and from the race.  If you are staying on a Disney property (highly recommended!), there will be shuttles to the start line beginning well before the race (and back to the resorts afterwards as well).  Be sure to check the running times for these shuttles so you and your spectators don't miss your ride.  If you are driving, make sure you know how to get there, what roads may be closed, where to park, and how to get from your car to the staging area.  Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need!  Even if you get there extra early, there will be plenty of entertainment in the staging area to keep you busy.

-STAGING AREA: Speaking of the staging area, in addition to entertainment via huge screens, character photo ops, and some fantastic people-watching, there are also LOADS of port-a-potties so you won’t have to worry about having a place to… ahem… 'go' before the race.  If you're like me, you might turn into a chihuahua before a race and have to pee several times in a row due to all the nervous excitement!  

Most races start a little ways from the staging area so make sure you give yourself time to both enjoy the entertainment and get to the starting corrals with time to spare.  And worry not… there are port-a-potties and live entertainment at the starting corrals too.

A Toy Story soldier making runners "drop and give me 20" in the staging area.

Giant screens displayed runners who were answering Star Wars trivia questions before the start of the Dark Side Half Marathon.


-CORRALS: Once you’re in the start area, find your corral (check the letter on your race bib) and enjoy the live entertainment on the big screens.  If you're not sure what corral you're supposed to be in or where it is, fear not!  There will be lots of big signs and markers and plenty of staff and volunteers around to help you out.  It might be a little while before you actually get to start since each corral starts a few minutes after the last and there are several corrals but each and every corral will get its own countdown and fireworks at the starting line so it’s completely worth the wait! 




-RACE START: As each corral is released onto the course, you will be moved up until eventually, your corral is at the starting line.  There will be a countdown and once you see those fireworks… ENJOY!!  You’re running a race in Disney and what could be better than that??

Fireworks for the 2016 Marathon (which I unfortunately had to drop out of halfway through due to a twisted ankle).


Fireworks at the start of the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon.


I hope you find some of these tips helpful and if you haven’t run a Disney race yet… what are you waiting for?!?  My next post will focus on tips for the races themselves and what to do after the race is over.  Happy running and have a magical race! 

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