Ready to Run, Part 4: What to expect on Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Ok, you’ve decided to run after reading part one of our series. You’ve signed up after reading part two. You’ve trained and prepared for your race after reading part three. Now, you just need to know what to expect during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

After months of training, planning, and anticipating – your big race weekend is right around the corner! Think of your race as a victory lap for all the hard work you’ve been putting in.  However, if you have never run a large race, or even a RunDisney race before, there can be a lot of logistics.  Here’s a rundown of what you can expect over the course of the weekend.

Expo

Every runner MUST pick up their own packet at the Expo. There are no exceptions to this rule. Disney is very strict on this.  Typically, the expo is held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, and if you are staying at a host hotel (any of the Disney-owned onsite properties, typically) there will be transportation to/from the site all weekend.  The kids races are typically held here as well, so if you have a little one who is running in their very own race, make sure you head to the complex for their race as well.

About two weeks before the event, RunDisney will have a link available on their website to download a waiver for the event. Make sure you download it, print it out, and bring it to the Expo.  If you do happen to forget it, there are computers and printers available at the Expo, but it is also another line to wait in.  Make sure you have a photo ID on you as well.

The race expo is also where you can purchase any commemorative race merchandise.  If buying certain items are important to you, I would make sure you go to the expo on the first day, as soon as it opens, and make a beeline for the official merchandise tent.  Your race bib will be there all day.

However, there is also a caveat. If you go right at opening, expect very long lines!  During the 2018 marathon weekend, It took my friend and I almost 2 hours to purchase our race merchandise.  While we were able to purchase everything we wanted, it was a huge hassle.  If merchandise isn’t as important to you, I would avoid the expo on opening day, especially the first half of operating hours.  Hot items may be sold out, but you will face much less crowds!

After you buy any important merchandise, it’s time to pick up your race bib and tees. Once you get towards the front of the line, you will see booths that correspond to your bib number noted on your waiver. First you will pick up your race bib after you sign your life away (make sure your race bib matches your waiver).

Then you will go over to another area to pick up your race tee. I do recommend trying on the race tee before leaving.  If you are unhappy with your sizing, there is a booth you can try to exchange with other runners. Better to figure it out now, then when you are back home!  You can also pick up any merchandise you may have preordered – do not forget do to this, as Disney will not mail any items once you are back home!

Finally, you can check out many other vendors and even hear guest speakers at the expo. It’s a great way to check out new brands and pick up any last minute running items (note: I highly recommend you do NOT depend on this and use it for emergency situations only. Nothing new on race day!) There are also guest speakers throughout the weekend, so you may even learn a new thing or two!

Pre-Race

Yes, the big day is here! If you are staying at a host hotel, you can board a bus straight to the starting line. The monorail may be an option if you are lucky enough to be staying in a resort along the Monorail loop. If you are not staying onsite, you will have to drive. Either way, leave EARLY.

RunDisney will give you timing recommendations in the event guide, and I highly recommend following them. I know it seems crazy to leave hours before a race starts when everything is within a 10-15 minute radius of each other, but traffic can be absolutely insane (especially for the half marathon and marathon).  Disney knows how to move people. Listen to Disney.  If the weather is chilly, I would recommend bringing “throwaway clothes” (clothes that you will discard before you start running) to help keep you warm.

Pro Tip: If you are running either the Dopey Challenge or multiple races during the weekend – make sure you have the correct bib BEFORE you leave the hotel. It is dark o’ clock early, and mistakes can easily happen.

Once you arrive to the staging area, you will have to clear security. It’s always been a quick and easy process for me, but I have heard in some years, that is not the case. After security, you arrive at a runner’s village.  If you get there early enough, there are a few character photo opportunities. If not, no worries – they will be there after the race, too!  If you are running the 5K or the 10K, the corral area is not far from the initial bus drop off. If you are running the half marathon or the full marathon, it is quite a long walk to the starting area.

I do recommend getting into your corral as soon as possible.  In 2018, corral “A” closed a little past 5 am for the 5K and 10K, and any corral A runners who arrived after closing, had to move back a corral. The further back in the race you are, the larger the corrals tend to be. If you arrive early, not only will you be able to claim your starting spot, but you will have less stress.

Once the gun actually goes off, be prepared for a long wait (unless you are starting right from the front, of course!) It can take up to an hour for all runners to actually cross the starting line.

During The Race

It’s time to celebrate running in the most magical place on Earth!  It can be tempting to go out super fast and get caught up in the race excitement, but stick to your plan.  Race like you’ve been training.  Avoid the the temptation to start out too fast.

Along the course you will find plenty of entertainment, including Disney characters! Race your heart out – or take it slow and soak it all in. Just be mindful of the 16mm pacing requirements. The clock keeps ticking, even if you get in a 10 minute character line!

Along the course you will find plenty of water, Powerade, Portapotties, and even some food for the longer races.  No matter what distance you choose, the course can get awfully crowded depending on your starting position and pace.  Be mindful of other runners and use proper etiquette so everyone can enjoy their race. Be sure to look out for the green tents, and smile for the Photopass cameras as you pass by!

After The Race

You did it! After you finish, you will collect your hard earned finisher’s medal (yay!) heat sheet (if it’s cold), cold towel (if it’s warm) and food box.  Keep moving through the chute, and eventually you will be dumped back into the staging area.  From there, you can head over to the family reunion area to meet up with loved ones, purchase celebratory beverages (beer and champagne are sold if you choose to indulge!) and even take some fun character photos.

Once you are ready to head back to your resort, you can board a bus that will take you straight back.  Then it’s time to shower, nap, and par-tay! Be sure to wear your finisher’s medal all weekend long to celebrate your big accomplishment.

If you are looking for your race photos, be sure to follow the instructions on the back of your bib, and you will be able to link that to your My Disney Experience app.  Race photos usually start to appear a few hours after the race. If you do not see all your photos at once do not panic, they can often take up to 24 hours for all of them to populate.

We hope our ‘Ready to Run’ series has helped you to feel ready for the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and we hope to see you out there!

Will you be participating in the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply