My Tips for Running at WDW

So You Want to Run at WDW?

So by no stretch of the imagination am I an expert at these races but after participating in this weekend 4 times and other runDisney weekends here are my tips, including some for those that drive to the race start!

  1. Go in the Last Hour or so of the Expo on Any Day - Most people say “Go early to the expo” and while that is great advice, this applies more to the die-hard “I need merchandise” group. If you just don’t want crowds and are okay with not getting the pick of the limited merchandise, go late. I’ve gone in the last hour of both the WDW Marathon Weekend and the Princess Weekend expos and literally, you walk right up and get your stuff. It’s super easy. This year I went at 7 on Wednesday to get merch and there was literally no one in the Official runDisney Store in the packet pick-up pavilion. It was empty. 
  2. Go to the Expo with a Game Plan – Look at the vendors and decide before hand what you want to get and see at the expo. Do you want to try out compression socks? Figure out where those vendors are. Want to get a Sparkle Skirt? Yep, find them on the map first. It helps immensely and as someone who gets overwhelmed easily at expos, it helps to keep me focused. I usually do a lap around just to see if anything catches my eye, but it helps if you have and agenda before going into the expo. 
  3. Bring Layers – Florida weather in January can be unpredictable, so bring it all. I always over pack for this weekend, but I’d rather do that then get to race day feeling less than confident in my clothing choices. Also, cooler temperatures can mean moist air and when that gets on your skin you might feel a bit cooler. For me extra humidity also means that my sweat just rests on my skin because there are few breezes to evaporate it. Keep this in mind when planning race attire. 
  4. Follow runDisney’s Driving Instructions – Even if you know how to get around property like the back of your hand, follow the driving directions in the Official race Program. Roads get closed and it’s just not worth the hassle and stress of getting stuck. 
  5. Get To the Race Early on Race Morning – Again the same as above, give yourself an extra 20 min, so you don’t have to stress out if you hit traffic. If you are catching a bus, also give yourself some extra time. Plus, there are plenty of people and entertainment to keep you company while you wait! 
  6. Parking at Epcot? Stay Left – If it’s a race at Epcot, stay to the left as you drive into the parking lot. If they have 2 lanes turning into the parking lots, the left lane will park closer to the start/finish area. 
  7. Take a Picture of Where you Parked – In the morning, walk to the end of your row, pull out your phone or camera, and snap a picture. Presto! You will not be wandering around like a nomad after the race! This is also just good advice for when you are visiting any parking lot that is huge. Post-race you do not what to wander around because you’ve lost your car. You get their super early, run a ton, and then afterwards you may have runners brain, so this helps to ensure you remember where you parked. 
  8. Bring A Camera – Even if you don’t plan to stop, you never know if you are going to find that “don’t miss” character photo op. This happened to me at the Princess Half Marathon, they had a group of princes ready to take a pic and I had no camera.
  9. Find Your Fun – The most common piece of advice is “Don’t try to run for a PR at Disney, just have fun!” however, fun is a subjective word that can mean a lot of things to different people. For me, racing is the fun part of a race. Pushing myself to see where my limits are. I get to the end of races where I stopped for characters and did a bit more meandering and I don’t feel like I necessarily got my money’s worth. If you want to take pictures and chat with friends, do it! If you want to race but stop for a few choice photo ops, do it! If you want to PR, do it! I’ve done all 3 of these options and have had fun at all of my runDisney races. Find your fun in the race and don’t feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you don’t stop for every character or other photo op. 
  10. Have a Plan B – If you are traveling to the race, like many of us do for runDisney races, have a plan B. Many people say to only pack a carry on, but at least wear or have your sneakers with you on the plane. If there is something you can’t race without, keep it on your person for your entire travel. If you are meeting others in your group at WDW, send them your race packet pick-up authorization forms, just in case. This past year at the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend, I had to pick up my stuff on Wednesday for Dopey, but since I only have limited time off from work, I wasn’t arriving until Wednesday morning. Then enter the polar vortex craziness meant I got delayed until 5:30, which for me is too close for comfort to ensure I could pick up my race stuff. Luckily my parent’s had all the forms they needed to pick up my race stuff so it all worked out. Think about the largest points of failure and try to come up with a plan B.

Hope these tips help! Happy running!