Exciting!! You plan to run your first runDisney race! My goal is to help answer any runDisney race weekend questions! I’ve run a LOT of runDisney races. I was featured on the Disney+ show, Disney Insider, (episode 5, season 1) for 2020 Marathon Weekend, and am a Team in Training coach for Marathon Weekend As such, I have learned quite a bit about making the most of a runDisney race weekend!
runDisney Beginner Guide
Register for your runDisney Race!
First things, first – you must register! Without a race registration, no tips below can help! Typically, runDisney races sell out fast – and the 5K/10K the quickest. This ‘21-’22 season, registrations are selling out a bit slower, but it’s wise to register ASAP regardless.
Pro tip: Sign up for runDisney email notifications so you don’t miss the important date!
Related post: Tips to Conquer your Dopey Challenge
Corrals and Proof of Time – What You Need to Know
5K and 10K races
There is no proof of time requirement for the 5K/10K. You pick your anticipated pace/mile while registering. There are five pace ranges are below, and this an “honor system” submission.
The time ranges (pace per mile) for 5K/10K races are:
- <8:00 pace/mile
- 8:01-10:00 pace/mile
- 10:01-12:00 pace/mile
- 12:01-14:00 pacemile
- 14:01-16:00 pace/mile
Half Marathon & Marathon
Corral placements have changed for the half marathon and marathon.
Essentially, you provide proof of time if you have a previous race that shows:
- ≤2 hours for half marathon (runDisney accepts 10K, 10 miler, HM or marathon)
- ≤4 hours for marathon (runDisney accepts a 10 miler, HM, or marathon)
If you submit a POT (proof of time) for an alternate race distance (ie: 10K for half marathon), runDisney calculates an industry standard to equate your finish time. runDisney will provide exact race dates that you can submit for POT ( find on the specific race event page on runDisney site).
Important!! You will be put in the LAST start group if your POT is incorrect. Meaning, an inappropriate race distance, date, the info is incomplete, or can’t be verified. Double check it before submitting! Also know you can revise your submission up to the POT deadline.
Related post: What’s Different about runDisney Races in 2021
Train for Your Race – Of course…
This goes without saying, you must train properly to most fully enjoy your first runDisney race! At minimum, ensure you can run, run/walk, or walk at 16 minute mile pace. Participants that are slower than this pace are in danger of being swept by the infamous balloon ladies.
Keep in mind if you’re in the last corral (or close to it), it’s that much more important to maintain that pace! Plus, account for photo stops, bathroom pit-stops along the route. Meaning, a 16 minute pace/mile includes the photo stops, and other shenanigans along the course!
Plan Your Run Costume!
First, you don’t have to wear a themed costume for your runDisney race. But, it sure makes it more fun! It’s one of my favorite aspects of a runDisney race, and it’s so fun to see everyone’s creativity.
Most races have a theme, so you can use that as your inspiration (for example: 2021 Wine and Dine’s theme is villains).
Related post: 10 Worst runDisney Mistakes to Avoid
The good news is there are a TON of options. Plus, you can keep it simple, and still achieve some great (and comfy) results. You don’t need to be in head-to-toe costumes; a cute tee-shirt, combined with a skirt, or shorts can be as effective.
Some of my favorite sources for running Disney-related gear are:
- Raw Threads
- Sparkle Athletic
- Bolder Athletic Wear
- Magic for Miles – Etsy
- Run the Impossible – Etsy
- Various Etsy sites
runDisney has costumer requirements, so be sure to check that out under their Race Policies section.
Related post: runDisney Virtual Race Tips
Test Your Race Costume (or attire) Before Race Day
The saying “form over function” definitely does NOT apply with what you wear on race day. Instead, remember that “nothing new on race day” does apply to your runDisney race!
An item(s) that rubs mildly during mile one can be downright painful by mile six. Items that chafe, rub, ride up, etc. need adjustment! Do what’s required to make everything fit/feel properly before the big day. Take it for a test run (or two) before you get to Disney.
Related post: 10 Packing Tips for Your Next runDisney Race
The runDisney Expo – An Event in Itself
The Expo is where you’ll pick up your race bib, official race shirt, and find lots of runDisney exclusive merchandise, plus a multitude of merchandise from many running related vendors.
Pro tip: don’t wear your official race shirt before or during the race! Wear it with pride after you’ve crushed it. First, nothing new on race day. Two, it’s considered bad luck to wear the official race shirt during the race!
Official runDisney merchandise at the Expo often sells out quickly. Therefore, an earlier arrival at the Expo means a better selection for you. It’s a great way to commemorate your runDisney race experience: a pin, ears, hats, jerseys, tee’s, sweatshirts, mugs, key chains, magnets, and more!
Be sure to check out the Expo map, as runDisney merchandise, race bib, and other vendors’ locations are not in the same building. But, you can grab official runDisney race merchandise BEFORE you pick up your bib! The building housing official merch is typically the first you’ll encounter as you enter the Expo area.
Also know there’s also signage all over the Expo to direct you to where you need to go once at the Expo site.
Expo Photo Ops!
Consider wearing something fun to the Expo for your pre-race photos. PhotoPass staff members will be on site, but you can take your own photos, too.
Lots of great opportunities to remember the event: character photos, a picture with Jeff Galloway, and other photo-worthy backdrops! One of my favorite memories is a picture with Cinderella’s carriage, and her horsemen. They were hysterical!
The All Important Race Bib
You MUST wear your race bib to get into the race! It also will list your corral, and race number. If you sign up early enough, your first name is also on the race bib – a nice touch!
Your bib needs to be visible, and on the front of your body, especially if you want race photos! The Disney PhotoPass will assign your pictures based on your bib number. You can access them post race via the My Disney Experience app.
IMPORTANT: You can NOT pick up your bib on race day. Plan to pick up your bib at minimum the day before your race(s) at the Expo.
Lastly, while the Expo is a fun experience, be mindful of how much time you’re on your feet that day. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend hours (and lots of cash) there.
RunDisney Race Information
Getting to Your runDisney Race
Those staying at a WDW resort can take a bus to the race village location. Get on one of the earliest buses. There was a car accident when I did Dopey 2020 during the morning of the marathon. Some runners had to get off their buses, and walk several miles to get to the start in time!
Pro tip: Check your official race weekend guide to confirm your required bus time arrival. Each Disney a guide/signage with specifics about bus times, bus stop locations, race times and the Expo hours.
Starting this runDisney season, ALL races start at 5 a.m. That is really early. Ensure you have enough time to do all this once you arrive at the race village: go through security/bag check, hit a porta-potty once or twice, snack, take some pictures, AND walk almost a mile to the start line!
Transportation info for the upcoming events is not yet available; previously, buses from resorts began at 3:00 a.m. for all races, except the marathon – which starts at 2:30 a.m.!
Psst: The Disney Skyliner is NOT available for runners or spectators. Additionally, for Princess Half Marathon (HM only), runners at Magic Kingdom resorts MUST take the monorail to the start.
You can drive/Uber/Lyft to the race, and park if you’re not staying at a Disney property. Personally, I recommend staying at a Walt Disney World resort for convenience and ease-of-mind given the early start times.
Before Your runDisney Race Starts
Ensure your bib is front and center on your race attire, but pin your bib before you arrive at the race village. Look for some fun photo opps, they’ll be there! Water stations and porta-potties are available, use them! Note for half-marathon/marathon, porta-potties are also near the start line.
According to the runDisney website, bag check will be available. runDisney provides a large, clear bag (at Expo with bib pick-up) to hold anything you’ll need post race (i.e. dry clothes, flip-flops, etc.). Bag pick-up is after the finish line (of course).
It might be chilly race morning, depending on the season. Consider having a throw-away layer you can toss after the race starts. runDisney collects the discarded clothing and donates it to local charities.
Pro tip: Don’t put your phone in your bag! You can take some great photos along the race route!
During Your runDisney Race
Finally, time to race!
Prioritize your photo ops! Again, remember the 16 minute/mile pace requirement. Don’t let too many photo stops keep you from crossing that finish line. Prioritize some of your favorite characters or areas; it’s likely impossible to hit them all.
PhotoPass photographers are on course, most often in their signature lime green tents! Be on the lookout for them, ensure your bib can be seen! Get creative, and have fun with these photos (one of my favorites is jumping in front of Cinderella’s castle).
Related topic: runDisney Race Photo Tips for Best Results
While it’s likely there will be plenty of great photo opps, I’m unsure how runDisney will handle given social distancing. BUT, I am sure runDisney will figure out a creative way to capture the magic!
Pro Tip: Instructions for linking your bib number to a PhotoPass account are on the back of your bib, and photos appear in your My Disney Experience account about 12-24 hours later.
Bathrooms and porta potties are on the race course. If possible, use the bathroom in the park(s) as they are certainly a better experience than porta potties!
Water and aid stations – yes, water, PowerAde and some “fuel” is provided. Read the event digital guide for detail. Personally, I carry fuel/food and hydration for the half marathon and marathon races. (There are also med tents, but not as frequent as water/fuel stations.)
Finish Line & Post Race!
Crossing the finish line must do’s: cross it with a big smile, and quite possibly hands high in the air. Whatever you do, don’t even think about looking down to pause your Garmin until well past the finish line. That can wait!
Once past the finish line…
Shortly after the finish line, volunteers will kindly hand you your race medal. A post-race snack box, bottled water, Powerade and a banana are yours, too.
Pro tip: if you check a bag, stick a smaller bag in there to carry all your post-race goodies. It can get hard to carry everything, take pictures, etc.
Photo opps: yep, still more. PhotoPass photographers will be there to take your picture with your medal, and a race backdrop. Typically, photos with characters are also available; the lines form fast, so plan accordingly!
runDisney merchandise is available in the race village, too! The selection is much more limited than what’s available at the Expo, but it’s worth a look if you want to snag something. I believe it’s only open after the race (not before).
Post race transportation – be mindful of when the last buses leave for your hotel (if on Disney property). If you hang in the race village too long, then you’re at risk of missing the last bus.