Guest Author: Danielle Swanson
On Friday, runDisney confirmed that they will be adding a race to Marathon Weekend – bringing the tally up to four total – and made the Dopey official, though adding in the new fourth race –a total of 48.6 miles over the four days. They also lengthened Marathon Weekend to include Wednesday, stretching it to almost Marathon Week. At $495, the Dopey doesn’t come cheap, but for many of us runDisney enthusiasts, it’s a must do at any cost. And the new 10K makes a timed Marathon Weekend race a reality for just about anyone.
But before you get your trainers laced up and your credit cards out, let me share some facts with you. Here’s my list of ten things you need to know about Disney races before signing up. These will help you know what you are getting into:
1. You are going to be forced to get up crazy early or stay up crazy late. Since Disney wants most runners to be out of the parks during regular operating hours, morning races start at 5:30 a.m. and night races at 10 p.m. Having to get to the start line at least a couple hours before the race means that runners need to get up at around 2:30 on Marathon and Princess race weekends to catch the bus and be in the corrals on time; while late night runners have an easier call time, somewhere around 8 p.m., the after parties often last into the early morning hours (think 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.)
2. There are plenty of water and medic stops. One of the things I love about Disney is how well stocked and organized the races are. Aid stations are typically every mile-and-a-half, which is excellent for a long run. However, plenty of people still run with water belts, so do this if you need to. The water stations will even feel them up for you.
3. It might be really hot, really cold, raining, or even sleeting. This year during Marathon weekend, runDisney put out heat warnings; another year, runners had to be careful at water stops because of ice spots on the roads. The races are scheduled during parks off seasons, and there is no guarantee on what the weather will be. Whatever it is, the race will go on, so be prepared for a variety of kinds of weather.
4. You will not be running through the parks the whole times. The parks are a few miles from each other, so a lot of the races are on roads between the parks. While during Marathon weekend these stretches are filled with marching bands and car shows, the highways can still be boring and tedious, particularly since there are usually not as many characters as inside the parks. While iPods are not encouraged and it is fun to converse with the other runners around, sometimes music is a welcomed distraction in these areas.
5. You will get to see things you won’t see anywhere else. runDisney does a great job of pulling out all the stops for its runners, and there will definitely be awesome things along the way: floats from parades, hot air balloons, yourself on the big screen, all the princes lined up, all the villains lined up, and other random amazing stuff that the normal visitor just doesn’t see.
6. You won’t see something every second –or even every mile. On many of the races, you’ll be running 10-plus miles. That’s a lot of space to fill, and while there are many things to see, they are pretty spread a part. It seems like the bigger the race – think Marathon Weekend or Princess – the more stuff and the closer together it is; Wine and Dine and Tower of Terror seem to have fewer characters, though they have way cooler after parties. Not all runDisney races are created equal, so think about what matters to you when choosing a race.
7. You won’t feel like you don’t belong. Overall, runners are nice people, and runDisney runners are even nicer than normal runners. No matter how fast or slow you may run, there will be other runners like you and they will be nice and talk to you. People on the sides will hold signs and cheer for you and even call your name. And if you don’t believe me and want to have insurance on this, join a Disney running group. I run with the WDW Radio Running Team, which raises money for Make a Wish, but there are a bunch out there. If you need to, find one that suits you, but even if you don’t, you’ll make friends along the way.
8. These races are expensive. We’ve ran a half marathon that only cost $15 to enter, but I’ll have to say, you get what you pay for. Disney races are well managed and have more entertainment and stops than most races; others on par with Disney, such as the Rock’N’Roll series, cost around the same price. Still, I understand that $100 or more for a race is a lot of money.
9. There is no better feeling than walking around the parks with your medal. Not only does Disney make you feel like a rock star athlete when you cross the finish line, but then you get to wear the medal into the park and have people stop and congratulate you all day long. It’s awesome, like being a real rock star. Best. Feeling. Ever.
10. You’ll never forget this race. runDisney races are amazing experiences, and you will never forget it, no matter which race you choose. Disney does an excellent job of managing these races, and the result is an excellent experience for everyone involved. Racing through the parks will give you memories that will last a lifetime. I promise that it will be nothing less than magical.
The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by “Magical Mouse Plans Travel”