I’ve run ten races at Walt Disney World, so I’ve learned some secrets along the way that you may not get elsewhere. Check out my review of the Dopey Challenge 5K for more information on the Dopey Challenge.
You can also check out my top five secrets for running a Walt Disney World race:
1. Stay on site
I can totally understand wanting to save money by staying at a hotel offsite or a friend’s house, but I’m telling you..staying on site for a Disney race is the only way to go. Traffic during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is a nightmare. Not only are there thousands of people at Disney for the race, but roads are closed, causing traffic jams and confusion because GPS won’t lead you to your destination. The last thing you need on race day is stress and confusion about how to get to the race. You will want to take the bus from your Disney resort directly to the race start line. This will ensure you get there on time stress-free. The buses are lush and air-conditioned. You will ride together with other nervous runners and you can take that lovely time before the race pinning on your number, eating your breakfast or updating your Facebook status that you’re “getting ready to run!” (LOL). If you stay on site, you can also run at all of the runDisney jogging trails. Check out my post on running at Walt Disney World for more info.
2. Have spectators arrive separately
My family travels with me for my runs and they are nice enough to stand by on the sideline for hours waiting for me to cross the finish line so they can get a two-second glance at me and wave. You will have to be on the bus at approximately 4:00 a.m. to get to the race on time. Please don’t make your kids and hubby get to the race start that early. By the time you cross the finish line, your kids will be grumpy and your husband will be exhausted from keeping the kids entertained for hours. Your family and other spectators can arrive seperatly via Walt Disney World buses or monorails (another eason to stay on site) and they can arrive closer to the time in which you will cross the finish line. Believe me, the last thing you want to deal with after crossing the finish line is a grumpy family.
3. Speaking of arriving early…arrive early!
The Walt Disney World marathon, half marathon and 10K start at 5:30 a.m. and the 5K starts at 6:00 a.m. This means you need to be on the Walt Disney World bus around 4:00 a.m. to arrive on time. I know what you’re thinking…I have to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to run in a Disney race? I have to leave 1 ½ hours before the start?? Yes, you do, or you run the risk of arriving late and stressed out. Even though the races have staggered start times, and you may not even start running until an hour after the start, you still need to arrive early. Between the traffic and the lengthy walk to the start line, you will be surprised how quickly time goes.
4. Don’t have a time goal
In a Walt Disney World race, I highly recommend that you race for fun and do not have a time goal. Sure the, the course is flat and fairly easy, but if you go in with a time goal, you won’t be inclined to take pictures with the characters or enjoy beautiful scenery along the way. One of the best aspects of running in Disney is enjoying the entire experience and ambiance. If you set a time goal for yourself, you may just miss out, and you’ll regret it.
5. Don’t run in a costume unless you trained running in a costume
I’m a huge proponent of not changing anything on race day that you’ve done in training. I have had too many mishaps in which I changed my nutrition, clothes, hydration pack…you name it…on race day. It always results in disaster. Many participants in the Disney races run in costumes, which is fun, but if you haven’t trained running in a glitter skirt, you may not want to try that for the first time on race day unless you like chafing. There are plenty of options if you prefer to run in a costume and designers on Etsy are now designing Disney race outfits in running gear. If you choose that option, you can still train in the costume and it will most likely be comfortable. I’ve seen others run in full fur costumes, scratchy dresses and wigs. Remember that your first priority is your safety, so be careful running in hot costumes or material. It is hot and humid in Disney and if you haven’t trained in a costume, in the heat, you may be setting yourself up for a heat stroke.
If you’ve run in Walt Disney World, do you agree with my tips? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!