So you want to run Disney? But you’ve never participated and don’t really know what to expect. I too was in your shoes once. I saw pictures of people participating in run Disney events on Instagram and it looked like the most fun but I was scared, didn’t know what to expect and a little hesitant to sign up. Even if you are the avid race participant, run Disney works a little differently and it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into.
This is my beginners guide to run Disney. I will be covering all the distances that I have taking part of. This will not cover the Marathon, and if you’ve never ran a marathon before, I suggest not starting with this one.
Before you get to race you’re going to have to race to registration. These races are known for selling out fairly quickly. Although it seems as of late to be a little bit easier than normal to get yourself registered. Make sure you scope out the run Disney website and see when registration opens for the race you want. Disney Vacation Club members as well as Annual Passholders get early access to race registration and if you have either of these, you’ll want to take advantage of it. Make sure to be signed on a little before noon when race registration opens. Also, run Disney does the race registration through active.com. It’s a good idea to be registered with them first. If you are not and you wait until race registration, it’s one extra step you’ll have to go through. Also, be prepared to pay a hefty fee. These races are notorious to carry a heavy price tag, especially when you compare to local races. But, it is Disney after all.
The 5K is our great place to start for anyone. This distance is great for people of all ages, whether you’re new to running or not. A 5K is 3.1 miles and untimed so you don’t have to worry about how fast you are. The 5K is a fun, family friendly atmosphere. I recently participated with my son in the holiday 5K through Animal Kingdom during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend. We had a blast. The 1st mile was through the Animal Kingdom parking lot and my son was dying with anticipation to get into the park. I can’t tell you how happy he was when he saw the entrance gates to Animal Kingdom. There’s great character meets along the course and again because it’s untimed, you don’t have to worry about standing in line for a photo op. If you plan on doing this with a child and you’re not quite sure if they’re able to walk the distance, there are children’s races that they can participate in. You can find more about these by clicking this link.
When you participated in 5k and you’re looking for something a tad more challenging, I suggest registering for the 10K. The 10K is 6.21 miles and is timed. You will need to maintain the pace of 16 minutes per mile. If you are not able to maintain this pace, you will be at risk of being swept from the course. Here’s where the dreaded “balloon ladies” come in. The balloon ladies are women (and men in some cases) who start in the last corral and are the last ones to start the race. They maintain the minimum pace requirement and tie balloons to their backs, hence the name. If you find yourself behind them, you may find yourself being swept off the course. If you are swept, they will block the route and you will board a Disney bus that will take you to the finish line. I have heard rumors of people getting their medals even if they are swept. If you are signed up for a challenge you will not be eligible. There are characters along the course as well but be aware that standing in line for 15 to 20 minutes to meet a character is going to add to your time. If you are slower runner I wouldn’t recommend stopping for characters.
Ready for a half marathon? All the same rules apply from the 10K’s I just mentioned above. The courses for the half marathon’s differ greatly from the 10K’s. be prepared for a great deal of your race to be on the highway. You may want to take this into consideration also when you’re training. I always like to do a little running on the treadmill as well on the pavement because I don’t have the best knees and find running on the highway to be a bit more challenging than around the resorts or in park. The characters and the one course entertainment in my opinion are a bit better for the half marathon’s. but again, if you are worried about your time that I would not stop for these meets. You want to maintain the same pace as I previously mentioned from the 10K. Also, if you are swept for my half marathon and you’re signed up for a coast to coast metal, you will not be eligible.
I hope a little bit of what I covered help to you in deciding whether or not to participate in a run Disney event. I think these races are very fun especially for Disney fans. Where else are you going to meet your favorite characters, run through the parks and meet other people who love Disney as much as you do? If you do decide to participate in a rundisney event, use the hashtag #bddrundisney on social media so I can see!