The 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is upon us. Along with the Disneyland Half Marathon in California, the two signature runDisney events are more popular than a Taylor Swift tour. I said it.
If you were wise enough to register for one or more of the races, and manage to get yourself to the Resort, you’re likely already neck deep in the popularity. To describe Walt Disney World as crowded, even on an off-season Tuesday, is an understatement. To do so during an international spectacle is grounds for not being taken seriously. Given your level of tolerance, there can be a fine line between enjoying the runDisney experience, and absolutely loving it.* We want to help you do the latter:
10. DO be early for everything: there will be a line to get popcorn. Every shuttle will be full. There will be a wait everywhere you go for dinner. Everything you want to do, about ten-thousand people have the same idea, and a bunch of them got there ahead of you. If you don’t give yourself extra time for activities, events and logistical matters, certain frustration awaits you. This pertains especially to getting into your starting corral. Disney does everything they can to facilitate getting so many people where they need to be in a timely fashion. Still loads of people underestimate the ordeal and wind up starting with the XX’s.
9. DON’T anticipate breezing through the Expo: speaking of frustration, we see the annual outbreak of predictable Health and Fitness Expo concerns is proceeding with anticipated regularity. Happens every year, and always to the shock and chagrin of many. Thirty-some-thousand participants are involved in the weekend’s races. All of them need to pick up their bibs. You can get lucky and arrive at an off-peak moment, though they’re rare. If you can allow yourself a large window, or, better, multiple windows, you will enjoy the Expo as it is meant.
8. DO immerse yourself in the experience: the Parks, attractions, boardwalks and monorails will be bustling. You should still get out among them. Keep your itinerary loose and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. You probably won’t get a ton of rides in, and meals can get stressful, but the only sure way to miss out is to not try.
7. DON’T sweat your training: if you’re here at all, your ready. With the exception of the full marathon, if you can walk comfortably, you can finish in the allotted time. If you registered late, and are starting toward the rear of the pack, you shouldn’t dawdle. Finishing, still, is easier than you might think. Adrenaline is in the air courtesy of the Disney Resort. Relax and let it carry you.
6. DON’T go to bed early: yes, 5:30am is a brutal call time, and to get there reasonably you need to wake up at 3:00, but you’re not at work. You’re at Disney World. Milk every minute you can from the Parks; most close at 9:00pm, likely do to the extensive setup required. Do dinner and whatever shopping after that. Get your fill of a less-impacted Resort while the meek are catching a couple extra, wasteful hours sleep.
5. DON’T race for a personal best: unless you are starting within that group at the front of the pack that has hopes of winning your particular race, don’t take the running part too seriously. runDisney’s primary draw is how amazingly well it’s conceived, organized and delivered. If you’re overly concerned with how you finish, you rob yourself of the incredible journey. Run, compete, certainly push yourself, if that is your want. But look around. Acknowledge and appreciate your exclusive access to the Parks, get some otherwise unattainable photos and just soak up some magic.
4. DO go off your diet: however much training and self denial has gotten you to this point, let it be enough. Once you reach Walt Disney World it’s time to jump off the wagon. Eat churros. Gorge on ice cream. Have a cocktail or two. Again, unless you are in that corral of overachievers at the front, how much damage can you really do in the next couple days?
3. DON’T forget your support group: the commitment it takes to register, pay, train and endure your particular distance race is admirable. You may not believe this, but it’s even harder to attend a runDisney event if you aren’t involved in it. Everyone who accompanies you on these trips, who backs you, wakes up crazy early, cheers you, perhaps makes a colorful sign, and absolutely listens to you complain about your feet for the next three days, they deserve recognition.
2. DON’T complain! In deference to the above, remember why you are here. You signed up for a runDisney event on purpose. It’s expensive. It’s crowded. Depending upon your particular race, it might be hard. The kids with the nametags selling tickets, checking bags, making caramel apples and sweeping up are having less fun than you are. Do not dump on them. They will be responsible for none of your negative feelings, should you experience any. Plus, you’re on vacation. They’re at work. Treat them accordingly.
1. DO celebrate your achievement: the runDisney magic and accommodation surely does facilitate comparatively easy racing. Many choose runDisney for their first half and full marathon, for good reason. Between the course and accouterments, it’s easy to forget you’re running. Still, if you participate in any of the weekend events, you will have accomplished something significant. The activity itself has a physical payoff. The runDisney experience also carries significant, long-lasting emotional and psychological benefits. Congratulations on your instantaneous better quality of life.
*If you are of a temperament to be part of something this wonderful and manage to not enjoy it at all, then we don’t know what to do for you. Perhaps you can take up golf, dislike that, and leave runDisney to those who will properly, intentionally appreciate it.