Almost two years ago I ran the Disney Princess half marathon with RunDisney at Disney World Resort. It was a magical experience, but I had a few regrets. I think if I had researched more about the races, I could have had a better run and much better experience overall. I thought I would share a few tips that might make your transition from regular runner to Disney Princess a little more magical.
My first piece of advice for running any RunDisney event is to stay at a Disney Resort. RunDisney provides transportation from all Disney hotels. I stayed at a Disney Good Neighbor hotel: the Marriott Residence Inn Buena Vista. It was just a few miles down the road and it still took over an hour for me to drive in to the parking area near Epcot. If you are military affiliated, stay at the Shades of Green resort. The grounds are beautiful, the staff is so friendly, and they have RunDisney transportation. You have to be checked into the race and through the corrals very early, and you will save yourself time and stress by staying at a Disney property. I was so stressed worrying I wouldn’t make it to check-in because of traffic congestion near the race site. You’ll make your race experience much more enjoyable if you stay on property. When you’re finished with your race, you can just take the Disney transportation back to your hotel.
Don’t stop for character pictures along the route. The lines for the characters are ridiculously long. It took 15-20 minutes just to get pictures with Wicked Stepsisters. I decided after my first stop I would just take my medal and wear my shirt into the park later for lots of less stressful photo opportunities. I got photos with my Disney Princess medal and all of my favorite Disney characters. I regretfully stopped for the official photo opportunity in front of Cinderella’s castle and the official photographer couldn’t find my photo.
Don’t try to run a half marathon in a tutu for the first time on race day. I had done short races in a tutu, but I had never ran a full half marathon in a tutu. My arms were chaffed from the tulle brushing against them for 13.1 miles. The rash that developed on my forearms was my worst physical complaint of the day. This also runs true for any new running gear, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that. I made the mistake of also running a major half in new compression tights, and I spent half of my race trying to pull up a rolling waist band.
If you train well, don’t underestimate your ability to go to the park that day. I went back to my hotel and took a quick ice bath, and then we went to the park for the rest of the afternoon. I was exhausted, but I think it helped that I walked the soreness off. A sweet lady on the tram ride from Magic Kingdom offered me her seat because she said I look tired. I politely told her no thanks, that if I sat down, I probably wouldn’t get back up.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but train for your race. I have known multiple individuals who were “swept” off the course because they were unable to complete the half in the allotted time. It would be really sad to spend all that money on the entry fee and end up disqualified.
It is cool when the race begins, but it warms up really fast. I ended up pouring water down my back at the last two water stations.
The park was a lot more crowded than I thought it might be. I planned our trip leading up to the race, so we did two park days before race day. I think I will try scheduling our trip after the race (visiting the parks on race day and the two days following) next time. I would also like to sign my son up for the kids races; they looked like so much fun!
Here is a little bit about my personal race day experience. I got up at 3am. I left by 3:30 to get to check-in. Like many large races you will be herded into your corral like cattle, and there is a pretty significant walk from the starting entrance to your actual physical corrals. It is a good way to stretch your legs and stop for a potty break. Bag drop ends at 4:30am. The actual first gun and wave starts at 5:30am. You’re supposed to be physically in your corral by 5am. I was in wave G which was 7th. It started at 6:17am. Someone told us that it was easier to get out of the starting gate in the later corrals if you were a decently swift runner. This wasn’t the case at all. I am pretty sure you were going to hit traffic no matter what time you started. I don’t advise starting later; it gets boring standing around waiting. Even if a Fairy Godmother is entertaining you….
The run through Walt Disney World is truly magical. It’s an opportunity that you could get no where else. I love my finishers medal and it is definitely one of the most beautifully designed running medals that I own.
I hope that my next RunDisney experience is the Wine & Dine. Are you planning or do you hope to run a Run Disney race? Leave me a comment with any questions and I’ll try my best to answer.