Beyond the ParksWalt Disney World (FL)

Top 5 Tips For Preparing For a runDisney Nighttime Race

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Although it might FEEL like nighttime when the alarm goes off for most of the races on the runDisney calendar (3 AM wakeup call, anyone?!), there are currently two Walt Disney World events that turn traditional race convention on its head and start hours after the sun has gone down: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Care to drop in?
Care to drop in?

Both events are highly themed, feature world-class entertainment on course and end in spectacular after-parties that are sure to make the run worth every mile…but for those who train during the daylight hours, or are more accustomed to early morning races, adjusting to the idea of a race beginning at 10 PM can be a bit of a challenge…especially when it’s taking place at one of the most fun places on Earth!

Having had run both of these events – and with one just days away, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned firsthand about getting to the starting line rested and ready to run. Some of the tips are “common sense” ones – but others are ones you may not have thought of, and one – well, let’s just say I learned it the hard way, so you won’t have to. As always, I welcome your feedback, tips and questions in the “comments” sections below so you can be sure that you’re in the best shape you can be before conquering your next race!

TIP #1: Relax

Okay, this one might sound like a “duh” tip, but hear me out…you’re at Walt Disney World. Whether it’s your 1st trip or your 100th, it’s likely that you’re excited and want to experience all the magic you can on your trip. You might reason that the race doesn’t start until 10 PM, so you have all day to spend at a theme park with your family, then change clothes and throw down some miles, right? Well…maybe – but probably not! If at all possible, I recommend scheduling an “easy” day – this could mean enjoying the pool at the resort, enjoying a brunch at your favorite WDW restaurant, or maybe even some light shopping at Downtown Disney. Basically, do what you can to take it easy. And if your schedule allows, consider visiting the race expo the day before, so you don’t have to worry about walking around and tiring your legs – they’ll thank you halfway through the race!

...probably not the best idea.
Platter full of cupcakes before a race? Probably not the best idea.

TIP #2: Have YOUR Nutrition Plan Figured Out

If you are a seasoned racer, you probably have your “standard race morning” routine down to a “T” – wake up, drink coffee, eat toast, hit the restrooms then head to the start. Well, with nighttime races…it’s a bit different! Unless you are nocturnal, you’ve probably been up for a few hours (if not all day) before it’s time to get ready for the race. With race transportation starting in the early evening (approximately 7 PM) you need to figure out the best way to fuel your day and night.

Tara Gidus, the official runDisney Nutritionist shared some great tips in the runDisney blog last year – but in general, find out what foods work best for you, and by all means, don’t go into the race at either extreme: hungry or full! I’ve found that a late afternoon lunch of mostly carbohydrates and then a snack as we headed into the corrals worked well for me – and be sure to eat right after you cross the finish line, too…save the adventurous eating choices for later!

TIP #3: Bring a Change of Clothes

When you run, your body heats up – and after running 10 or 13.1 miles, your body needs time to adjust back – so whether that means packing some clothes with your spectators to hand to you before entering the after-party, or stuffing some items into your checked bag, take the time to pick out some items that will allow you to feel your most comfortable after the race.

After the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, I changed into a lightweight pullover since it was still warm, but I didn’t want to be wearing wet clothing. After the Wine & Dine Half last year, I was very glad that I brought a full change of clothes – including a hoodie – because the temps had dropped significantly and I wanted to stay at the party as long as I could! I also brought a second pair of shoes – you could pack comfy sneakers, or even flip-flops if that’s what your feet crave!

TIP #4: Scope Out Your Race Logistics

Both the Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon are “smaller” scale events that utilize a select few transportationresorts as “hosts” for their events, which means they offer race (and expo) transportation (see this link for more details). Check at your front desk to find out exactly where the bus drop-off / pick-up are ahead of time, to alleviate any confusion on race day. If you are not staying at one of those resorts, are staying off property or are local, you will need to figure out your best option for transportation to the event – and doing this beforehand will definitely save you a headache!

In addition to transportation logistics, you may want to scout out meeting places for your friends and family. Often, race finish areas are hectic, and with many people using their cellphones, you may not be able to reach your loved ones as quickly as you like.

Running as Mad Madam Mim, Wine and Dine Half 2012.
Running as Mad Madam Mim, Wine & Dine Half 2012.

TIP #5: Have FUN!

After your details are worked out, don’t lose sight of the fact of why you are doing this race in the first place: to have fun! Running through Disney is an incredible experience, and with these special “after hours” events, you’re creating memories that will last a lifetime so be sure to savor it all – whether that means running in costume, beating a PR or just enjoying the race with friends and family.

Have you ever run a nighttime race? Will I see YOU at the 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon? 


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9 thoughts on “Top 5 Tips For Preparing For a runDisney Nighttime Race

  • I have done two Wine and Dines and this year the Tower of Terror Ten Miler. I agree with the comments, but would add that you should have a secondary meet up position should the logistics not work for your primary. When I did the inaugural Wine and Dine, my 5 race mates and myself agreed to meet in Germany after looking at the race map, not realizing that they had blocked the path around World Showcase between France and England. Not having a secondary location, we had to walk all the way to Germany and then all the way back to the beginning.

  • Timely post…we are on our down to run the Wine & Dine for the first time. Question, how crowded do the booths get at the after party?

    • Hi Keith! The booths are a lot less crowded than a regular F&W night, and I’d say the lines ebb and flow with finishing times/as the party goes on. We finished in about 2 hours last year and there were short lines, then about an hour later, when more people were done, they grew, only to shorten again as the night went on since it was late 🙂

      • That’s about what I was anticipating…thanks for the insight!

  • Great post. Running the Princess 1/2 in Feb. and would love to see more run Disney posts.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Sarah! The runDisney series is great, and I love to share the knowledge and fun 🙂


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