Whether this is your first runDisney race, or your 20th, we all are guilty of making some runDisney race mistakes! First, there’s a lot to know about a runDisney race – it’s like no other! Secondly, the nature of racing, and being human sets us up to make mistakes at a runDisney race. We plan everything just right, except (for example) we forget to test out our race costume before race day. Voila – we have chafing at mile three, and are seriously cursing ourselves!
While no one expects a race to be perfect, we want to avoid making mistakes that’ll take away from the joy of doing a runDisney race – right?!
Alas, let’s dive into the top 10 worst mistakes to make with a runDisney race.
1. Registration – you take it lightly!
If you think some people are competitive running a race, registering for a runDisney race isn’t much different! In year’s past (pre-Covid), many races would sell out within the hour, or first day. The ‘21/’22 runDisney “season” is filling up fairly quickly, too. Not quite as fast as before Covid, but still fast!
You can sign up for reminders from runDisney so you don’t miss the big event. You also should have your personal account set up on runDisney BEFORE race registration opens. Lastly, try to be on the event page about 30 minutes before registration officially opens (typically 10 a.m. ET). The queue will open up before 10 a.m., allowing you to get in the queue that much sooner!
2. You don’t train appropriately.
Sure, this is a mistake for any race, not just a runDisney race. But, don’t blow off your training! A sure fire way to have a terrible time on the course is to be unprepared. You certainly don’t want to risk an injury, not finish, or simply feel terrible on event day.
The expense of a runDisney race is quite high when you consider travel, hotel, the race, your gear, your souvenirs, meals, etc.! Any race is an investment in yourself (the training), and the cost of the race itself. Invest in yourself with sufficient training so you can thoroughly enjoy your runDisney “investment!”
3. Failing to do a “test run” on your costume.
As they say, nothing new on race day. Therefore, test out that tutu, the tiara, your new pair of shorts, or fun glasses. Whatever it is, give it a test run. I’ve seen runners start in full costumes, and then much later in the race (mile 20 of the marathon), they are down to little more than a pair of underwear! Seriously. Don’t be that runner!
Also consider what modifications you need to make to your costume given race day temperatures.
Lastly, no masks of any kind are permitted. And, anything that resembles a weapon is off limits, too (i.e.: a toy gun). One year, we were the Mighty Ducks, and had very small hockey sticks (about a foot long) as part of our costume; they confiscated them! Full details on costumes are here.
4. Assume it’ll be warm at Disney, & pack shorts & a tank top for race day.
Make no mistake – the weather can vary greatly during ANY of runDisney weekend race. Typically, Marathon Weekend, and Princess Half Marathon Weekend will be your coolest by far. BUT, some years it’s quite warm, and other years exceptionally cold. Beyond that, if you are doing a challenge over two-four days, you can see some big variance in temperatures and conditions, too!
One year I ran the runDIsney Marathon in tights and long sleeves (plus other layers) and was comfortable for the duration of the race. It was COLD!
Keep in mind also that you’ll be hanging around for a couple hours before the race even starts, and if temps are cool/cold, you need to prepare for that as well.
Related topic: 10 Packing Tips for Your Next Destination Race
5. You underestimate the time for pit-stops, character photos, and more.
Just like the vast majority of races, runDisney has a time limit for theirs; details here. You need to work in a “fudge factor” for stopping to use the bathroom, to refill your water bottle, to take a picture in front of the castle, etc.
You DO NOT want to be swept by the infamous balloon ladies! While Disney is certainly the Happiest Place on Earth, they enforce their pace guidelines, and will pick up/sweep those that are not on pace to finish the race “on time.”
The wait times for a character photo can be quite lengthy – therefore, don’t plan on stopping at every one! Prioritize which are important to you, instead. (Note, as of this writing, it’s unsure how characters on course will be handled – it may be more of a “sighting” than a close up opportunity.)
More runDisney Race Mistakes You Must Avoid…
6. You think running etiquette is not really a thing. It is!
runDisney does provide a digital weekend guide with tips for race etiquette. Read it! It typically is available within a few weeks of race weekend. Not only will being a courteous runner keep you and others safe on the course, it’ll make the experience more enjoyable, too.
There is nothing worse than getting stuck behind a group of runners who run five across, or hit by someone who decides to spit without looking. It’s also not cool to cut into corrals, or bathroom lines, etc.
7. Set your alarm clock too late for a race that starts at 5 AM
5 a.m. is early. Really EARLY! Especially considering you need to do the following once awake: dress, eat, get transportation to the start, go through security, bag check, hit the porta-potty one-two times, and walk almost a mile to the start line!
While the transportation info for the upcoming events is not yet out, previously buses from resorts start at 3:00 a.m. for all races, except the marathon – which starts at 2:30 a.m.!
The Disney Skyliner is NOT available for runners or spectators. Additionally, for Princess Half Marathon (HM only – not 5K/10K), those staying at Magic Kingdom resorts MUST take the monorail to the start!
Bottomline, read the transportation guide, set your alarm at least three hours before the start time, and get on one of the FIRST buses.
Related Topic: How to Become a Consistent Morning Runner
8. Assume the med tents will have everything you need.
Granted, runDisney does a GREAT job with their medical staff/on course med tent support! I think they set a high bar for other races to follow. BUT, it doesn’t mean they have everything. Notably, salt packets (nor ibuprofen). While isotonic drinks like Gatorade, PowerAde, and Tailwind have salt and other important electrolytes – it often is NOT enough for the longer events. And, especially when temperatures are warm, as they often are.
I suggest carrying some salt packets, SaltStick Fast Chews, pickle juice packets, or something to ensure you have sufficient sodium intake when it’s warm!
Related topic: How to Stay Healthy and Nail Your Marathon Recovery
9. Spend too much time on your feet before your event(s).
Sure, it’s wise to keep the legs loose the day before your race. That doesn’t mean you should trudge through the Magic Kingdom from open to close. Or spend hours shopping at Disney Springs. It is tempting to want to maximize your park and shopping time! But, running on tired legs is a BAD plan.
Tell your friends and family ahead of time you’ll be putting your feet up some pre-race day to manage their expectations.
Related Topic: Avoid These 10 Common Mistakes with Race Travel
Note, if you’re not careful, you can spend hours at the expo, too! Enjoy it, but don’t make a day of it. Have a plan of action, and wear comfy shoes.
Another classic runDisney race mistake…
10. You think Memory Maker is not worth it.
It is – runDisney does a great job of capturing your memories on race day. Finish line feel, the castle, the characters,, etc. There are so many great photo opportunities!
Related topic: Make the Most of Your runDisney Race Photos
You can purchase Memory Maker before event weekend! If you purchase at least three days before arrival, you save $30! And, the photos will include all runDisney events, plus your park photos! The cost in advance is $169, regular price is $199.
(NOTE! Annual Passholders get all race photos as part of their passholder benefits!)
There’s an option to purchase it for one day only, and that is $69. If you’re doing one event, this may be a smart move! General instructions to link to your bib are here (but also on the back of race bibs, and in the event guide).
I also know that additional bib numbers can be added to one Memory Maker account. Therefore, a few (I don’t know exact number) can split the cost – but one person will have to share the photos with others.
(Remember you can carry your phone, and take pix/selfies, etc.!)
What runDisney race mistakes have you experienced, or avoided in the past? Comment below!