runDisney races are all amazing. Let me start by saying that. If you have never ran one and are thinking about it, DO IT! I’m going to be talking about the races and my experiences and recommendations. Again, these are my opinions and tips:
1. runDisney races ALWAYS sell out and some faster than others. They also usually sell out within days and keep in mind this is MONTHS in advance, so mark your calendar for registration day. For example, the 2014 Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare Challenge sold out in less than an hour. If you want to run one go to the runDisney website and register for an email reminder of when registration for the race you want opens and once registration opens, don’t hesitate.
2. When you register they ask for a projected time. This is so they can put you in a starting corral with runners (or walkers) with similar pace. IF YOU WANT TO RUN AND NOT WALK PUT DOWN A TIME! If you don’t have a race that you completed before you register than run a 10k or longer race and email runDisney your time so you can be placed in a corral accordingly. If you don’t put down a time you WILL be put in one of the last corrals which do have a lot of walkers. Nothing wrong with this and so much fun if you plan to walk, but can be very frustrating if you plan to run and you spend the first 4 miles dodging walkers.
3. If you want to earn the Coast to Coast medal you need to run in one race at Walt Disney World and one race at Disneyland that is a half marathon or longer in a CALENDAR YEAR. Again, between Janurary-Decemeber in the same year you need to run in one half marathon or longer at Disneyland AND Walt Disney World. Expediation Everest and the Tower of Terror 10 miler don’t count towards a Coast to Coast medal because they are not a half marathon or longer.
4. The Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland and the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World are women centric races. This means that while MEN ARE ALLOWED TO RUN, they will not start in corral A and they will not have awards for placement. Again, they will get regular finishers medals, but not awards for time.
5. The Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon are both races at Walt Disney World and are both NIGHT races starting at 10:00pm.
6. While races at Walt Disney World are ran entirely on Disney property, races at Disneyland are not. The first 4-6 miles or so are on Disney property and than you run through streets in Anaheim and than back to Disney property to finish. The courses for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon are DIFFERENT COURSES. They are both lots of fun, but the Disneyland Half Marathon course takes you through Angels Stadium and you get to run around the inside of the field, which for me is an added bonus.
7. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World are pretty much identical courses. You will start near Epcot, run to the Magic Kingdom and through it, and than work your way back to Epcot. If you are thinking of running 2 races at Walt Disney World and would prefer different courses you may consider running the Wine and Dine Half Marathon instead. It starts near ESPN Wide World of Sports and you run through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and finish through Epcot.
8. The races never start inside a park and the race registration is not a park ticket. If you plan to spend time in the park before or after you race YOU WILL NEED TO BUY A PARK TICKET. The night races do have after parties, but the park is technically closed and only open for racers and friends and family that buy party tickets ahead of time.
9. The Goofy Challenge is when you run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday and Full Marathon on Sunday. You get a special goofy medal in addition to the half and full medals. You must register for the Goofy Challenge to get the medal and not register for each event separately. This is the same for ALL challenge events! The Dopey Challenge use to not be an unofficial event that some people who ran the Goofy Challenge and also the 5k race called the Dopey. New in 2014 runDisney made the Dopey Challenge an official event where you run the 5k, 10k, the half marathon and the full marathon. You earn 6 medals!
10. The race weekends include kids races and a 5k race. The finishers get what runDisney calls “medallions”. These are different from medals because they are not metal. They are made of a rubberized plastic, but are still very cute. My daughter loves hers. I’ve included pictures below. The 10k medals are metal.
11. During Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend all resort hotels are host hotels. This means that they all offer bus service to the expo and race events. During other Walt Disney World races not all hotels are host hotels. You will need to check the website for info on which hotels are hosts, meaning offering bus service, if you want to be able to take the bus to the race events.
12. As many runners know the lines for port-a-poties are usually very long or along the course they tend to be very gross. Here is my little hidden gem of advise, listen carefully: STUDY THE COURSE ROUTE AHEAD OF TIME AND KNOW MILEAGE WISE WHEN YOU WILL BE INSIDE THE PARKS. WHILE RUNNING PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOU ARE AND PLAN YOUR BATHROOM BREAKS FOR IN THE PARKS BECAUSE THE NICE CLEAN RESTROOMS INSIDE THE PARKS ALONG THE COURSE WILL BE OPEN!!!
13. Plan ahead of time with your family where you will meet them or where they want to be along the course. RunDisney races have anywhere for 10,000-30,000 participants. Multiply that by at least a couple friends and family for each participant and you have massive amounts of people. When I have my choice of seeing my family along the course or at the finish line I choose along the course. The reason for this is the area right at the finish line normally is reserved seating for people who buy cheEAR squad packages. I have personally never had my family buy the package with reserved seating, but have heard both pros and cons. Cons, if you have small children they aren’t going to want to sit still for that long so it is better to walk around with them. Pro is for older family members who have a hard time standing it would be nice to sit. Once you finish you go through a process that can take you usually from 7 min to 45 min to get through before you exit out to an area where you can meet your friends and family. This is another reason why it is nice to see my husband and daughter along the course and than they can go back to hotel and I finish and meet them back there instead of having to have them stand around a parking lot waiting for me. At the end of the race you will get your medal and than wait in line for pictures if you want one, and than wait in line for the snack box if you want one, and than wait in line for bag check if you checked one.
14. To pick up your race bib you will need your waiver printed and signed. At the expos they have computers there for you to do this, but the lines can be quite long. If you have the opportunity to print it before you come than do that to save yourself time.
15. runDisney does not allow bib transfer, meaning you can NOT sell your race entry to another person and if caught you will be banned from races. They do however usually allow you to defer for a future race if you contact them by a certain date. This means if you are injured or for some reason know you will not be able to race don’t just flush the money down the toilet, contact runDisney and ask to defer.
16. Standing in a starting corral can get chilly. Unless you plan to run in something warm or don’t mind carrying clothing with you while running, plan according. I sometimes use a large trash bag and tear holes in top and sides for my head and arms. This isn’t super warm, but warm enough that I’m not shivering and than once I start running and warm up it is easy to take off and throw to the side. Another option is wearing an old sweatshirt you don’t want anymore or hitting up a Good Will and buying a cheap one. All clothing that runners discard is donated to the needy. Meaning if you wear something you don’t want, you can throw to the side of the course and it will be donated.
17. Be courteous of runners around you. If you are running with 6 of your best friends, try not to run all in a row because this makes it hard for faster runners to get around you. Also if you need to walk just check behind you real quick to make sure there isn’t a runner on your heels that will trip on you and cause a domino effect causing injury. Just slow your pace and carefully move to the right side of the course. RunDisney races have lots of participants and the course can be crowded so it helps that everyone is courteous.
18. Here is another helpful tip: IF IT IS ON A STICK DON’T EAT IT! At a lot of the medical tents hand out vaseline on tongue depressors to rub on areas for anti chaffing. This is not an energy goo or gel. I have heard people joking about this to new runners…but I have also witnessed it.
19. If you want to run for a personal best time Disney courses are usually very flat and can be good courses to do that on; HOWEVER consider why you pay the higher race fees. Part of the fun is taking pictures with the characters along the way. Also, unless you are starting at the front in corral A or B it gets really congested on the courses.
20. While photographers are periodically along the course and are stationed with some of the characters, not all have professional photographers. These photographers are also NOT Disney photographers and don’t use photopass. They are a separate company and the race photo prices are a little pricey. Consider running with a camera or camera phone if you want pictures.
21. runDisney races have 16 min pace requirement. This is because they will need to open the roads that are closed for the race. The 16 min pace requirement is based off the last starting corral. Meaning if you are in a corral that ins’t the last one that buys you a little bit of extra time. Sweepers are not horrible people that will just throw you on a bus. If you are lagging a little behind pace you get a little warning of the impending sweep so you can pick up your pace.
22. Most importantly, HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME AND ENJOY YOURSELF. Every mile is magic!
Below are pictures of the 2012 runDisney medals from the races. Keep in mind that runDisney changes medals somewhat regularly, so for a couple years the medals with be relatively the same and then change for an anniversary or when they feel like it.
Some of the runDisney kids’ races medallions
Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Full Marathon, and Goofy Challenge 2012
Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World 2012
Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland 2012
Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World 2012
Disneyland Half Marathon 2012
The Tower of Terror 10 miler at Walt Disney World 2012
The Coast to Coast Medal for completely one race at Disneyland and Disney World in the same calendar year