I never considered myself much of a runner outside of the occasional loop I would run around my neighborhood. That all changed in mid-2016 when I signed up for the RunDisney’s 2017 Princess Glass Slipper Challenge in Walt Disney World. This challenge included a 10K on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday totaling a distance of 19.3 miles in one weekend. After those races, I was hooked! Since then, I’ve run the following races through RunDisney:
2018 Princess Fairy Tale Challenge - 10K and Half Marathon
2019 Princess Weekend - 5K
2019 Star Wars Kessel Run Challenge - virtual Half Marathon before race weekend, 10K and Half Marathon at Walt Disney World
2019 and 2020 Virtual Summer Series
2020 Dopey Challenge - 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon
*2020 Wine n Dine Challenge - 5K, 10K, Half Marathon
RunDisney races are unlike any others and I encourage everyone who considers running one to go for it! I could easily write a book about my RunDisney experience, but for now, I’ll share my top 10 tips to a fun and magical experience:
1. Register for RunDisney races early with a Travel Agent. Even though race registrations open months in advance, bibs sell out very quickly - some within hours. Travel agents like myself and through Magical Moments Vacations can secure you a race registration and resort package before it opens to the general public, while availability lasts.
2. Find a training plan and stick to it. RunDisney partnered with Jeff Galloway, former Olympian, to develop free training plans to help you meet your running goals. If you’ve participated in any prior races, remember to submit your POT (proof of time) by the required deadline to secure your appropriate corral placement. RunDisney offers very generous pacing requirements at 16 min/mile which starts when the last person crosses the start line.
3. Plan to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, on property. Not only does staying on property allow you to take advantage of transportation to/from the theme parks, Disney transportation will also take you to/from the expo and to/from the start and finish lines with ease.
4. Visit the expo to pick up your race packet and bib. When traveling into Orlando, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to pick up your race packet during expo hours, typically a day or two before the race. The expo is huge with official RunDisney merchandise and many vendors. We easily spend a few hours exploring, so soak in this part of the weekend experience.
5. Enjoy the parks, but go to bed early. Depending on the race and/or weekend, races begin between 5:00-5:30 am. Disney transportation starts around 3:00 am, so it makes for very early mornings. Set out your clothes, bib, magic bands and items to pack the night before so that you can get a few extra minutes of sleep!
6. Hydrate and fuel your body. Between the races and parks, you may need to drink more water than normal. Stay hydrated! There are many great food choices at Disney, but I recommend waiting to try anything new until you are ready to celebrate your RunDisney accomplishments!
7. Be prepared for a “hurry up and wait.” It takes time to transport the thousand of runners participating in any given race. You will be asked to be on the bus very early but may find yourself waiting a little while at the start line. Disney does not disappoint with their pre-race entertainment such as MC’s, character greetings, and fireworks for each wave that crosses the start line, but be prepared for a little bit of waiting.
8. Enjoy the race! You’ll be running in the Happiest Place of Earth, after all. From the music, on-course characters and entertainment, spectators, running through the parks, the celebration at the finish line - all of this is what you’ve been training for! Disney races are the best races! Be sure to smile at the PhotoPass photographers and view them later on your My Disney Experience account. I highly recommend purchasing Memory Maker for a race weekend!
9. CELEBRATE! Wear your bling proudly to the parks. Take pictures around the parks and with characters. Eat your favorite Disney snacks. You’ve earned it!
10. Display your medals proudly, and start saving for the next race because you may be hooked! :)
There you have it, a very simple and high-level guide to a fun RunDisney experience! The official RunDisney site will always include specific information on each event.
Contact a Magical Moments Vacations agent to get your next RunDisney registration on the books! In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite RunDisney pictures!