Written by Erica V. Ellis, Travel Planner with Magical Tripcations
I’ve considered myself a “runner” since 2009 when I trained for my very first half marathon. Since then I’ve run one full marathon, eleven half marathons & countless 10Ks and 5Ks. Of those eleven half marathons, four of them have been runDisney races. I can safely say that not all runs are created equal and runDisney races are simply a magical time! With fun themes, character greetings along the course, & plenty of Disney magic to keep you going, these races should be on every runner’s bucket list, no matter your experience level. At this time, races are only available at Walt Disney World in the United States. Four different race weekends are currently held at different times of the year. I’ve run in 3 of the 4 current race weekends that are held at Walt Disney World. Here are my take aways from all four of my runDisney experiences:
Tip 1 – Register ASAP
Make sure you follow runDisney on Facebook. There they will post the dates for all the upcoming races as well as the registration opening dates. These races fill up FAST, so be prepared! In 2017 and 2018 runDisney has allowed Travel Agents that partner with Disney to book runDisney race packages for upcoming races, before the general public. The main stipulation is that you must book your race registration with a Disney Resort room reservation or Disney Resort vacation package. If you cancel your room or package, your race registration is also cancelled so be very sure you can commit to the race weekend BEFORE doing this! I’m crossing my fingers that this will happen in 2019 because I’ve got my eye on the 2019 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend!
Tip 2 – Take It Easy
This is a hard one for me! When I do Disney, I don’t hold back. That means we are rope dropping and staying until fireworks! During a race weekend, that’s just not possible. Most of the races have a start time of 5:30am. Since the races run throughout the Walt Disney World Resort area and some of the parks, runners need to be cleared as soon as possible, so the earlier the race begins, the sooner that can happen. Race transportation is provided but most buses will stop picking up from resorts at around 3:30am. During our Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February one of my roommates set her alarm for 1:30am. I snoozed until about 2:15am and just rolled over and changed in the morning, but either way, it was an EARLY day. The night before we had a nice, hearty pasta dinner at Mama Melrose Ristorane Italiano inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios and were back in our Wilderness Cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort by around 8:30pm with lights out a little while later.
Post-race we all found our way back to our cabin, showered, napped, and made our way over to Epcot around 1:00pm. The nice thing about such an early start time is that you have the rest of the morning to recover a bit before you get yourself back to the business of the parks!! Our Epcot day was a nice, laid back day of eating and enjoying adult beverages around World Showcase, even though we were all walking a little slower than normal.
Tip 3 – Go With The Flow
While the course is very flat, I wouldn’t aim to “PR” at a Disney race. There are lots of people so maneuvering those first few miles can be challenging and take up time and energy. Also, if you want to take advantage of all the photo opportunities, it’ll definitely take away from your race time. I always say that runDisney races are meant to be fun and as long as you aren’t swept up by the “balloon ladies” then you’re doing just fine! Everyone will get a medal that finishes.
Tip 4 – Hydrate & Carb Load!
With all the fun you’re having, this is still a race and your normal race prep is still very important! Before you ever leave for your runDisney vacation make sure you pack your normal running essentials, which is different for everyone. Most races will be mild and humid weather, it’s central Florida, so make sure you stay hydrated during the race. There are water stations every few miles, so take advantage of those, especially if you do not run with a water belt. There are plenty of ways to carb load the day before at the Disney Parks. Try a pretzel, a churro, or a some Mickey Waffles are always a good idea! Whatever you consume just make sure it’s nothing too out of the ordinary for you and your usual day before race eating.
Tip 5 – The More The Magical
Other than my first runDisney race weekend all of the others have been full of family and friends! When we ran the inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2010 we invited a whole slew of friends to come along with us. In 2016, during my daughter’s first visit to Walt Disney World, we invited my parents to come along to not only cheer us on but also to watch our 13-month-old daughter so both my husband and I could run the half marathon. For the 2018 Princess Half Marathon a group of girlfriends got together, picked our favorite princesses and had an amazingly fun weekend! In case you haven’t heard, Disney Parks are NOT just for kids! On all of these trips everyone had a very magical time and we all got to be kids again. Everyone wore their race medals with pride to the parks, post-race.
Have I convinced you to make your next race a runDisney race? If so, contact one of our Magical Tripcations Travel Planners to get more information on race dates, registration, and how we can make all of your racing dreams come true! We’d love to help you out!
For a very limited time, Travel Agents have early race registration access to 2019/2020 runDisney races. Contact us before March 3rd, 2019 to get your race registration & vacation package booked!