To the shock and utter amazement of those that know me well (and even myself), I am contemplating signing up for a runDisney event in 2016. I have scoured every inch of the runDisney website and read many other people’s blogs about their experiences. However, I had concerns about what hotel was the right one to stay at for these events, so I asked two previous runDisney racers: Dave Russ, a casual runner who mainly does 5ks to support local causes, and Jordan Viebranz, a more seasoned runner who loves sharing his experiences and motivating others to participate.
What runDisney event(s) have you participated in?
Dave: I did the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014.
Jordan: I participated in the Goofy Challenge this year. Last year (2014) I participated in the 10k and the full marathon.
Which resort did you stay at during your trip in which you participated in a runDisney event?
Dave: We stayed at the Boardwalk resort.
Jordan: I stayed at Coronado Springs resort.
Was it a host resort and were you able to get transportation to the race directly from there?
Dave: The Boardwalk was a host resort for the race. You can get transportation to Hollywood Studios but I found it was easier to walk since the Boardwalk is so close to HS.
Jordan: As far as I know, Coronado Springs was a host resort and we were able to get transportation to all of the races.
Did you book this resort as a runDisney travel package?
Dave: We have Disney Vacation Club so we were able to use our points to stay at the Boardwalk.
Jordan: I booked my resort reservations separately through a friend that is a Disney cast member.
Did your resort have anything special (besides transportation) for you as a participant?
Dave: Other than event signs, there was not anything special for runners.
Jordan: There were no special offerings through Coronado Springs resort although it would have been nice to make the experience seem a bit more “magical.”
How far in advance of race time did you have to arrive at the starting point?
Dave: runDisney asks that runners arrive 1-1/2 to 2 hours before the race. I think I got to the park about 8:30 for a 10:00 start time. (Ed. – This is PM as the Tower of Terror is a night race.) This allowed plenty of time (almost too much time) to relax and prepare for the race. There was lots of entertainment before the race to keep occupied.
Jordan: I arrived at the race around 5:00am for the 5:30am start time. I don’t think people need to show up as early as runDisney recommends. I am one of those runners that gets very hyped-up to run, so, too much time waiting drives me nuts. The start line is a solid 10-15 minute walk from where you enter at Epcot, so runners need to account for the extra time involved in walking to the start line.
Were you given a pickup time or were you just to be at the pickup location when you were ready to go?
Dave: There was not a specific time for myself. There were recommend times for busing though so people did not wait too long. I think the recommend time was 7:30-8:00.
Jordan: There are no pickup times for buses. Buses run about every 3 minutes (estimating) and runners should never have an issue with transportation. Disney does a wonderful job making sure every runner gets to the starting line.
What was the transportation situation for registration package pickup?
Dave: The registration was at the Expo at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Our daughter ran the kids fun run so we had to head to the complex anyway. Buses picked up at the Boardwalk and came every 20-30 minutes. We arrived on Saturday morning, the day of the race, and cast members were very helpful with finding your way around the complex.
Jordan: I had access to a car for packet pickup. I am not entirely sure if Disney provides transportation to the expo. I wasn’t particularly paying attention since I was caught up in the moment of being there. Pickup is at the expo at wide world of sports. My only complaint is that the registration is fairly disorganized. You have to pick up your bib in one building, and then walk across the complex to another building to pick up your t shirt and safety pins. It seemed a bit backwards from many other races I have participated in.
Was it relatively easy for your family to meet you at the finishing line? Did they encounter any special transportation?
Dave: My wife (Nicole) met up with me at Hollywood Studios. She met me at the finish line but spectators were separated from the runners. You had to do a little walking after the race to meet up with family. There was special transportation for family to travel between the resort and the park and the park to ESPN Wide World of Sports. So my wife got to Hollywood Studios and then took a bus to the WWOS to cheer me on. She then went back to the HS to meet me at the finish.
Jordan: It is incredibly difficult to find family & friends after the race. There isn’t a way for family to meet you directly at the finish line due to the safety measures Disney puts into place (which I appreciate as a runner). Families can meet in the parking lot of Epcot after the race. There are alphabetized locations for families to meet up. However, there are so many spectators and fellow runners that you really need to pick a spot to meet and stick with it. Trying to blindly find family members will leave you nothing but frustrated.
If you participate in another runDisney event would you do anything differently?
Jordan: If I participate in a future RunDisney event, I will stay a few days after the race rather than check in a few days before. I think part of the fun in RunDisney events is being able to enjoy the experience of Disney as well. Waking up every day at 4am to run seems to take away from the enjoyment of the Disney experience a bit. It is a great feeling of accomplishment to finish a runDisney race, and it feels somewhat squandered when you have to travel back home the next day.
Any thoughts for someone like me who is trying to convince themselves to sign up for one of next year’s races?
Dave: Run Disney events are AMAZING!! There are so many participants and there is an electricity in the air. It’s a very exciting event and I recommend signing up for one.
Jordan: I have a few pieces of advice for people that have never done a runDisney race. Here they are:
- Make sure you bring enough clothes for all weather. You never know when it will be cold, hot, etc. so be prepared to run in any type of weather.
- If you are doing the Dopey or Goofy – REPLACE YOUR CALORIES! Figure out how many calories you burned through your race, and how many you burn per day on average. Be sure to consume at least that much after the half marathon on Saturday otherwise it will catch up with you on Sunday when it’s game time!
- While running – Take it SLOW the first year you run. It is a special moment to be a part of these races. Slow your pace down and take in the surroundings because there is no other run on earth like it.
- Thank the volunteers. Without the volunteers, this would be a very long race weekend. The volunteers bring a great attitude and energy to every race and truly support complete strangers.
- Talk to people during the race. You never know what type of people you might run into. I met wonderful people along the 26.2 miles and although it was only for a brief period of time, those people made my experience very special.
- And my final piece of advice…Never…ever…give up on yourself during the race…
After talking with both guys, I am really hyped up and (almost) convinced that I am doing it next year. I even got back on runDisney’s website to investigate the remaining races for this year and which resorts were host resorts.
Expedition Everest Challenge: May 1 & 2 SOLD OUT
Host resorts: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach
Wine & Dine Half Marathon: November 6 & 7. Registration opens March 17.
Host resorts: All-Star Movies, Music, & Sports, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside, Boardwalk Resort and Villas, Saratoga Springs, Polynesian, Yacht & Beach Club, and Wilderness Lodge
(Un)Lucky for me, Expedition Everest is sold out already. There is still time to train for the Wine & Dine, since registration doesn’t open until March 17. But, then again, I think I better start logging better run times before I commit. See you in 2016 runDisney!