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Sunday, October 30, 2016

RUNDISNEY RACE TIPS (PART 2)


Last week I posted Part 1 of my runDisney race tips… everything leading up the the actual start of the race.  This post will continue my tips from crossing the start line to crossing the finish line and what to expect after the race is over.  I’ve run 3 Disney races so far and have two more coming up.  Based on my experiences so far, I can say with certainty that runDisney races are worth every single penny spent registering, mile spent training, and second spent prepping.  The races are fun, well-organized, safe, and memorable.  So here we go with some more race tips to make your runDisney race as magical as possible.


-STARTING: Once you hear the countdown and see those fireworks go off for your corral, you are officially running a Disney race… woohoo!  I’ve run a LOT of races and I can tell you that nothing compares to the rush I feel at the start of a Disney race.  With that in mind, I urge you to fight that fired up adrenaline and slowwwwww down!  It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the start and take off flying right out of the gate.  But you’ll regret that later when you’re worn down and achy from starting too fast, so take it easy and enjoy the ride.

Running through Hollywood Studios near the beginning of the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon.

-THE RACE: This brings me to my next tip… RunDisney races are best run for fun and not for PRs.  There are loads of things to see, hear, take pictures of, and do in a Disney race.  Runners tend to stop and start a lot in order to take pictures, meet characters, and even ride roller coasters in some cases (like Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom)!  There will also be points during the race where runners are bottle-necked into narrow sidewalks and areas on the course.  Be prepared to stop or at least slow down a few times, but don’t let it frustrate you.  Remember, you’re running the happiest place on Earth! 





-RUN/WALKING ETIQUETTE: You will see large numbers of runners following the Jeff Galloway run/walk method (like me!) or even speed-walking the entire race.  This means you may have to weave a bit around those walkers.  For those who don’t know, the general rule is to stay to the right when you’re walking and warn people when you’re about to transition from running to walking by raising your hand a few steps before you start the walking interval.  I also make sure to glance behind me before I start my run intervals to make sure no one is trying to pass me in that moment that I might inadvertently cut off. 

If you’re planning to use the run/walk method, I recommend getting a GPS watch that will vibrate instead of just using tones to alert you to your intervals.  I used tones only in my first runDisney race and I missed several of the alerts because I was distracted and there was so much noise around me from other runners and the entertainment on the course.  Using a watch that vibrates will ensure you don’t miss an interval.

-TIMING AND THE BALLOON LADIES: There is a 16 minute per mile limit for most runDisney races.  There will be “balloon ladies” who cross the start line after the very last runner starts and walk at a consistent 16 minutes per mile for the entire race distance.  They carry huge balloons (hence their name) so you can see them easily.  For the Star Wars races, the balloons were shaped like Death Stars… haha!  If you are passed by the balloon ladies, you may be swept off the course so keep to a pace of under 16 minutes per mile. 

RunDisney recommends training at a 15 minute per mile pace or less to be safe.  Keep in mind that you may need to stop for water, bathrooms, photo ops, or other unexpected reasons along the course.  Every mile marker keeps a running time that starts with the release of the first corral onto the course so you can use those to help you keep tabs if you are not wearing a watch.  And speaking of bathrooms, in case you’re wondering there are plenty of port-a-potties along the course and you can use the park bathrooms that you pass along the way as well.  Just know that there will probably be lines for those so watch your time. 




-PHOTO OPS: There will be several character and set photo opportunities throughout each runDisney course.  This is the one aspect of Disney races that I wish was a little different somehow.  I usually end up being placed in a corral around the middle and by the time I get to the characters, the lines are super long!  I tried to get a picture with Chewbacca during the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge 10K and after waiting nearly 20 minutes, I was alerted that the “balloon ladies” were coming up and I had to jump out of line and run fast to gain some distance so I wouldn’t get swept off the course!  After that, I decided to just take pics as I ran past each character instead of getting a picture with them. 




There will be several Disney Photopass photograpers on course so keep your eye out for them.  I can usually tell they’re coming up because I’ll see runners ahead of me suddenly move to one side or another and pose or wave.  Some of them I saw well in advance and had time to get myself into a good position and others I missed all together… oh well.  In the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon, I threw a last second pose at a photographer and ended up with my favorite race photo of all time!



-THE FINISH LINE: The finish line of a runDisney race is always a very exciting place to be.  There will be loads of spectators, announcers, and photographers to cheer you across the line and congratulate you for your finish.  Make sure to flash your biggest smile (as if you could do any less) as you cross the finish line because there will be quite a few photographers there to take your photo.  If you’re lucky, you might even get to high five Mickey or Minnie too!



If you are unable to finish a race for some reason, you will be transported to the starting area and rewarded for your efforts.  When I got injured at mile 13 during the Disney World Marathon last year, a shuttle took me and several other injured or overtired runners to the start area and volunteers at the medical tent clapped and cheered and put a medal on each of us.  I was shocked but they said we had earned it for starting and trying.  Disney is very special in that way. 



-AFTER THE FINISH: Once you’ve crossed the finish line, someone will give you your medal.  You can then get your picture taken with your medal in front of a backdrop if you want.  If you've earned an additional medal for a challenge, coast to coast, or other special reason, there will be a separate well-marked area in which to get those as well. 



Once you have your medal and photo, make sure to get your water, sports drink, and snack box.  Pick up your bag (if you checked one) and make your way to the post-race meet and greet area to celebrate with your family/friends.  Cell service will be spotty since so many people will be using their phones so it’s important to decide before the race which letter in this area you will meet your friends and family by.  In some cases, there may be character photo ops in this area too but they will close down after a certain amount of time so get in line quickly if you want one!

Posing with my twin after the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge 10k.



Well I guess that will about do it for my runDisney tips for now.  I am running the Wine and Dine Half Marathon this weekend so look for my race recap soon!  Until then, I hope you’ll consider a runDisney race and happy running!



2 comments :

  1. Very nice writeup of your fun time at Disney! Makes me want to do this!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ruth! I think everyone should try a Disney race at some point in their life. :)

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