Top 10 Tips: Know Before You runDisney
All fans of Casual Runner know that we are big fans of runDisney races, and our Team may be veterans of more than a few events. We know that these events are not cheap, even before you take into consideration the other travel expenses that go into a runDisney-focused runcation. Thus, when you invest that kind of money in an event, you want to make sure that you get the most out of it, and that means taking a few extra things into consideration when planning and preparing for a runDisney runcation.
To help you out in making your decisions, the Casual Runner Team has assembled our list of the top 10 things that we think you should know before you enter a runDisney event. Wait, did we say 10? Yeah, we had trouble limiting it to just 10, so we will be coming back at you soon with even more great tips. So, stay tuned for those, but, for now, lets see what made our list of Top 10 Tips.
10) Pick your race(s).
There are a ton of options when selecting your race program. These includes 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, full marathons, kids races, and a buffet of race challenges. When registering for any (or all!) of these races, make sure you have a realistic appreciation for what your training program will allow you to do come race day. The last thing that you want to do is ruin your runDisney runcation because you overdid it by signing up for too many races and you end up injuring yourself.
9) Research the schedule.
There are a ton of events going on during every runDisney weekend beyond the races themselves, and we mean a ton. The race times are just the beginning. There are also expo times, packet pickup times, speaker series schedules, transportation schedules, and heck, there are now times to register for times to buy the special, limited runDisney edition New Balance shoes. You do not want to miss out on anything because you did not know about it or you did not research the schedule. We know it is your vacation, but a little planning will go a long way.
8) Know your transportation needs.
Disneyland races are much easier, as most runners tend to stay within walking distance of the starting line. If not, you will need to arrange to drive yourself or take a cab or Uber, just be sure to plan sufficient time as street closures will lead to backups. The same goes for those staying off property at Walt Disney World races. If you stay on property for Florida events, be sure to stay at a host resort. These are the designated resorts to and from which runDisney will provide free race day transportation. Just be sure to arrive in your resort’s departure area in plenty of time as lines will get long. One last tip. If you plan on going to a Walt Disney World park after the expo and you are staying on property, you do not have to take the shuttle for your resort. You can choose one that goes to a resort located closer to the park that you want to visit and just walk or take Disney transportation from there, which may save you valuable touring time.
7) Plan time for the race expo.
This is especially true if you want event merchandise or the aforementioned limited edition New Balance shoes. In California, the expos are held at the Disneyland Hotel, which is a short walk (or monorail ride!) from the parks and the neighborhood hotels. In Florida, expos are held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which, while nice, does take some time to get to and from when you account for bus rides and walking time. These expos are events in and of themselves. Do not expect to buzz into and out of them in 10 minutes. It will take some time just to get your bibs, event shirts, and gear bags. The exhibit spaces are huge and it will take some time to get through all of them, and we haven’t even begun discussing the long lines for event merch. So save yourself the stress and leave sufficient time to explore the expo properly before you have to get back to the parks and use your Fast Pass Plus for Soarin.
6) Hydration. Hydration. Hydration.
Whether the event is in Walt Disney World in Florida or the Disneyland Resort in California, chances are you are travelling to it from a colder climate. Even if you are a local, you will encounter warm, and often times, humid temperatures on race day and the days leading up to the event. Staying properly hydrated before the race is important, and even moreso if you are going to be touring the theme parks on your runcation. Buying bottled water at theme parks can get expensive, especially when it takes numerous bottles a day to attain proper hydration. One trick Disney touring veterans will tell you is that you can get free ice water from any counter service location that has fountain drinks. If you do not like the taste of tap water, bring along some Crystal Lite, Mio, or sports drink mixes that are easy to carry and you can flavor the water to taste. This will save your wallet and help you remain hydrated.
5) Race Pacing.
Pacing can be very different at runDisney events than most other race events. Some people say not to expect to PR at a runDisney event, but it can be done if that is your race plan. These races are huge, and some events exceed 25,000 runners. There are a wide variety of running styles represented in the fields – everything from elite runners, to run-walkers, to race walkers, to walkers, and every kind of Casual Runner on this spectrum. Everyone is going to enjoy the race at their own pace, so you just need to pack your patience as you navigate through the sometimes crowded and narrow stretches of the courses. Additionally, part of the fun of runDisney races is to stop and take pictures with characters and of the sites within the park. Some people will even take pictures of every mile marker, not that we know anyone like that (ahem such as Mike’s and his video making). Just be aware and take all of this into consideration when developing your own personal race plan.
4) Beat the Sweep.
Yes, unfortunately runners do get swept during every runDisney event, it is just a fact of life. If you are in danger of not keeping ahead of the designated pacing, you may need to sacrifice some of your in-race “must dos” in order to stay ahead of the sweep. This may mean not stopping for that character photo with the long line, or posing for the selfie in front of the castle. Sadly we hear about people who spend valuable time in a long character photo line only to have the balloon ladies overtake them as they finish. Sometimes life is about choices, and these are just some of the in-race choices you may have to make if you want to avoid the sweep.
3) Touring Pacing.
As running the event (or multiple events) is a central part of your runcation, you need to ensure that you are in proper physical condition come the morning of the event. This means that, if you are planning on touring the resorts and theme parks before the events, you may not be able to do everything that you would if it was a non-running Disney vacation. So no, you may not be able to sample the entire drink menu at Trader Sam’s, or finish the Lapu Lapu on your monorail pub crawl, or close the parks down every day of your trip, but when it comes to runDisney runcations, you have to be willing to accept some trade-offs. The wakeup calls for the events will come EARLY, especially for Florida races where you will need to wait in lines for shuttle busses that will sit in traffic to get you to the starting lines. Make sure you are well-rested by pacing your touring plans.
2) Have fun.
No matter what your race plan or personal goals may be when you toe the line, runDisney events are, at their core, fun events. Make sure you take the time to soak in the experience that will mean the most to you. If there is a character that you love, don’t be afraid to stop and take a picture, even if the line is long. If you just want to stop and enjoy World of Color in California Adventure, or slow your pace so you take a stroll down Main Street USA, just do it. These are magical miles, but only if you take the time to appreciate the magic.
1. Expect the unexpected.
At a runDisney event, a little bit of unexpected magic can be waiting for you around any corner. So, keep your eyes and ears open, and give yourself the opportunity to appreciate it when it does happen. Do not be afraid to deviate from your race plan if it gives you the opportunity to form a lasting memory.
Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!
The Casual Runner Team wants to hear from you. If you have any questions about anything we cover here on Casual Runner, if you have any questions regarding running gear or training for your own Casual Running needs, or if there is anything that you would like us to cover on Casual Runner, please leave a comment or email us using the links below.
You can also follow us on Twitter (Casual Runner & Casual Adventurer), Pinterest, and Instagram (Casual Runner & Casual Adventurer).
To ensure that you do not miss all of the great content from Casual Runner, please be sure to like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube channel, & add us to your circle on Google+.
Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!