By Jordan Woodson
It's 9:30am the morning of registration day, the anticipation builds as you make your way to rundisney.com and login with your 'My Disney Experience' Account. Then you wait. You wait for those "Registration Opening Soon" buttons to switch to their green "Register Now" buttons, on any given registration day the queue can open at 9:40 or 10:10 EST, and regardless you are shuffled into a queue to wait with tens of thousands of your closest running/walking buddies. Waiting, hoping, and ready to grab a spot. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you do not, but either way you end up with a hit of adrenaline and a fascination with the community that stands with RunDisney.
So, what is Run Disney and what's the obsession? It's more than road races on Disney's properties; it's a celebration of movement and the community those who participate get to be a part of. RunDisney began on the Walt Disney World Resort Property in 1994 and has grown exponentially since. The debut race at Walt Disney World consisting of 5,500 runners, now has become events at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and virtual events that can take place across the globe.
As for me, my journey began in 2015. Post a competitive swimming career, I started running in 2013 and through a love of Disney I came across information about RunDisney in 2015 and signed up for my first race weekend. Our family has been a long time Disney lover, and as an adult I wanted to find that love in a different way. In 2016 I ran my first RunDisney weekend during Princess 5K and Princess Half Marathon alongside my mom, sister, and lifelong friend. It isn't hard to figure out what happened next: I was hooked. Two months later (when it was a bit easier to register) I came back to run (what was then) the Inaugural Star Wars Weekend. I've participated in events in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and Wine and Dine this year will mark my 21st and 22nd RunDisney race. They are magical and if you love celebrating movement and the magic of Disney, I hope you'll at least sign up once for the experience. Hopefully the below will give you all the information you need to know!
One of the hardest parts of RunDisney is the registration process. Registration takes place about 9 months before the events. It can be hard to plan that far in advance, but waiting to register weeks after it opens can be an unfruitful gamble, here are some links that will help:
The DisneyParks Blog - they usually release the detailed registration schedule first!
RunDisney.com - of course this can help with registration information as well as event information!
RunDisney Social Media accounts - these can be helpful in getting important reminders before registration and before your events!
Woohoo! You made it through registration, the sticker shock has worn off and Lori is helping you plan a magical RunDisney race weekend at Walt Disney World (or Disneyland). Whether you signed up for the 5K or Marathon getting yourself moving in the weeks leading up is important! So here's some tips
Get fitted for a good pair of shoes! You need a good one anyway for all the steps you take walking through the parks. Most cities have running specialty stores that can help you out! If not, head to a store before ordering online to make sure a shoe works for your foot.
Get motivated with the RunDisney playlists they put out, the social media fanfare, and/or join one of the many Facebook groups that are out there giving tips for training, fueling, and planning your race-cation.
Get a training plan together. RunDisney makes this easy, click here for all their plans that Olympian Jeff Galloway has put together!
ENJOYING RACE WEEKEND
Races start early, and you have to be on the buses to the start line way earlier, but after you do it once you'll realize it's 100% worth it. You'll be off and running before sunrise and finishing with hugs, music, and lots of cheers! Here are a few notes for race weekend:
Make sure you give yourself a full day before to get to the Expo! The expo is where you'll pick up your race bib, t-shirt, and race bag you can take to gear check for race morning. Expo transportation is available from all the resorts on property or an easy drive over to ESPN Wide World of Sports. You can spend as little as 20 minutes there or as many as 2 hours depending on how much you want to experience! There is merch, seminars, tricks, and tools you get to try, just remember there is no bib pick up the morning of your race so do not try to fly/drive in the the day before.
Go to bed early the night before. I know this seems hard, because fireworks, but it's worth it when the 2am alarm hits. Take the night off, have an early dinner, and enjoy a movie and magic in bed as you drift off to sleep. Make sure to set everything out the night before so it's easier to get ready in the morning.
Have a fun costume/running outfit! You don't have to go all out but find a character and Disneybound as much as possible. It's so much fun!
Once you get off the bus at the start line enjoy the stage, grab a coffee, or even stand in line for a character if that is something you value! Experience it ALL!
Stay hydrated on the course! It's Florida, it's humid, hit the water stops as much as you need and make sure to carry a water bottle throughout the day!
So are you ready? I hope so! Whether you walk or run you'll have an amazing time, and we are here to help you make the most of your Race Vacation weekend!
by Jordan Woodson