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From Zero to Disney Hero: 8 Tips for Embracing the Magic of runDisney


Happy National Runner's Day! As I sat down to start writing this blog, I giggled a little because 5 years ago I would've never called myself a runner. My very first race was a local 5K in Atlanta, GA. My next race three short months later was a half marathon at Disney World! What gave me the audacity you ask? Well, my friends and family encouraged me to join them, and having my whole immediate family together at Disney World was quite the incentive! I trained using the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run Program and I felt mostly ready for my first half marathon. The night before my race, I was so nervous, I couldn't sleep. 3 a.m comes fast after a sleepless night! I managed to make it to the start line and then my fears slowly dissipated with each mile. To my delight, I was able to get pictures with a few of my favorite, rarely seen Disney characters along the course. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes, and the biggest smile on my face. I fell in love with runDisney that day, and I knew that there would be many more races in my future.  Now, as comfortable as I am today with the whole runDisney experience, I will never forget the anxiety I felt before my very first race! Who’s with me? Here are some tips and tricks in hopes to reduce those pre-run fears!


Tip #1 - Registration for a runDisney race bib is the mini race you'll brave before the actual run!


I like to set an alarm for a few minutes before registration opens to give myself time to get on the runDisney website and prepare. You'll want to get in the virtual queue as early as possible, as the bibs sell out quickly! If you’re lucky enough to get a bib, then the next challenge is training for your race!


Tip #2 - Prepare for your run


Even after completing 5 half marathons, it's hard for me to consider myself a runner, lol. Using Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method provides me with a practical and feasible training program, and I highly recommend it, if you’re looking for a program.


Tip #3 - Head to the expo at Disney’s Wide World of Sports later in the afternoon for less crowds!


The runDisney expo is located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it can be a bit tricky finding your way around. With that being said, I think Disney does a great job with crowd control and organizing the race bib pick up process.


Don't forget to pick up your race shirts though, they are in a completely different building than the race bibs. You've already paid for them, so don't leave them behind!


Another daunting challenge is actually getting your race bib. You have to pick up your race bib in person, and you'll need it before the morning of your race.


Tip #4 - Stay on Disney property for runDisney trips for access to complimentary transportation


Complimentary transportation to and from the runDisney expo (where you get your bib and race gear), as well as to EPCOT from the on-property resorts. If you don't plan on driving to the race, this is a great alternative to use! There will be a warmup walk from the bus drop off to the start line of the race itself!


Tip #5 - Take it easy the day before your race & hydrate!


Some may think that goes without saying, but time gets away from you quickly at Disney World! Before you know it, it's 11 p.m. the night before a race, and you're still gallivanting through Magic Kingdom (I've been there lol). I learned the hard way that having a chill day before a race is essential and conducive for a less stressful race morning!


Tip #6 - If you are going to dress up for the race, planning is key!


Getting to see everyone's costumes is totally part of the runDisney experience and if you're like me, then perhaps you want to dress up! I can't stress enough the importance of doing all your costume prep before race morning! You don't realize the time and effort it takes to do hair, makeup, and the shimmy dance into your costume all before 4 a.m.! Let's just say I'll never be on the first bus to the race site, and I certainly can't be trusted to get myself anywhere by 4 a.m. LOL! You absolutely don't have to dress up for your race, the goal is to be comfortable.


Tip #7 - The earlier you get to the race, and line up in your corral, the better!


For the not so fast racers like me, the lovely Balloon Ladies start out behind all the corrals and walk the entirety of the runDisney races except for the 5K. If you fall behind and let the Balloon Ladies catch up with you, you could be at risk of getting pulled off the course. To participate in the races, you must be able to maintain 16-minute miles for distances 10K and up. Lining up early in your corral buys you valuable time you may need during your race! Trust me, you don't want the Balloon Ladies on your tail throughout your Disney race, as the fear of being pulled can put a real damper on the experience and Disney races are designed to be fun! Well, as fun as running for your life at 5 a.m. can be. I’ve learned to make the most of it, train as well as you can, and get to the race early!


Another reason I suggest getting to the race early, I like to use the bathrooms outside the entrance to EPCOT because those will be the last ones you see for a while! Personally, I do everything in my power to avoid using porta potties, but they are available before, during and after any race. I try to always save time to utilize the real bathrooms when running through the parks.


Tip #8 - Enjoy yourself!

If you have time for a character picture, go for it! 


Disney does a great job at taking care of the racers and I really appreciate that. There will be porta potties, water and Gatorade stops and first aid tables throughout each race. 


There will be all kinds of entertainment to get you through those miles as well! I always look forward to seeing the school bands that play along the course. The music always inspires me to move a bit faster and gives me a burst of energy! 


The encouragement of the other racers keeps me going as well! I've had people go out of their way to compliment my costumes, and how my outfits make them happy! That gives me so much joy. You don't realize the positive influence that you can have on others–it's a great feeling. 


There's nothing like racing through the Disney parks, it's a very special opportunity and I highly recommend it! There are Disney photographers and photo ops throughout the races. I always look forward to seeing my pictures after the races! Quick tip: In order to make sure you don’t miss out on your pictures, make sure to place your race bib on your front side, in a place that's easily visible. You never know, Disney may use your race picture for their social media platforms! I've had the pleasure of seeing a few of my pictures grace the runDisney pages and having that representation means so much to me! To think that anyone could be inspired by seeing a picture of me crossing the finish line just warms my heart. 


If you are thinking of signing up for a runDisney race, I would encourage you to do so!


It's been such a rewarding journey for me over the past 5 years and I look forward to experiencing many more races over the years. See you on the course!


Andrea Turner, Travel Advisor


 

To learn more about runDisney visit Disney Marathon & Running Events | runDisney!


For details on booking your next stay at Disney Resorts and participating in runDisney events, connect with our travel advisors!


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