Tips for Running a runDisney Race

Thanks so much for the encouragement and congratulations on my Disney marathon race recap. I enjoyed writing it and reliving that special race, and hope you will all sign up and run the next runDisney race with me!

I have gotten a lot of questions from people about runDisney races in general. Tips for getting the most out of the weekend, what to expect, when to go where, special things to note that are different from regular races. Well, I thought it was high time to compile all of my info into a blog post of tips for running a runDisney race to share with you all!

tips for running a runDisney


Expo: Try to get to the expo the first day it is open if you are able. Merchandise can run out, especially in popular sizes, after the first day. Not to mention the first day is typically less crowded. For marathon weekend, all the Goofy merchandise was sold out by Friday afternoon, and the expo had a line to even get into the building!


Race retreat: I have done the race retreat once, and while it was very nice, I don’t thing it’s “necessary.” When it’s very cold outside it’s nice to have somewhere to go and relax and eat, but it’s definitely not a “must” and you will be ok without it, so don’t fret if you didn’t get in before it filled up.

Characters: There are plenty of characters along the course, especially within the parks. Have your phone or camera out and ready to hand to the cast member, and give them any instructions you want to give. They aren’t all “great” at photo taking, I had to tell the to tap the screen to focus the picture after getting a few blurry ones. Bummer. There will also be professional photographers on the course and at the character stops, so be sure your bib is visible to the camera when they are taking your photo.


Fueling: There are PLENTY of aid stations and I have never brought my own water bottle. There was water and Powerade available about every 1.5 miles. I do bring my own fuel/gel minus one for the half and two for the full (there is one clif shots stop during the half, and two during the full). If you aren’t used to taking Clif’s products, be sure to bring your own or practice with them before the race. These are the ones I take and love. They taste like vanilla frosting!

Hotels: Be sure to stay at a host hotel on property for the least amount of stress come race morning.  Not only will you be surrounded by other runners, but it is the only way to have official race and expo transportation, which is important when you don’t have a car!


Transportation: There are busses outside of the host resorts to take you to the expo and the race and back. Typically there are big signs out front of the resorts directing you to race transportation pick up. If you aren’t sure be sure to check with the front desk at your hotel. After the race, there are busses near the family reunion area to take you back to your resort, just look for the signs so you know which line to get into. Also, be sure to get to the busses EARLY. There is a LONG walk from the family reunion area to the corrals, and it is a slow walk full of people, so allow yourself even more time than you think you would ever need. Trust me on this one!

Sweepers: You have to keep a 16:00 per mile pace or you will be swept off the course. They have busses at certain cut off points to transport those who cannot maintain pace. Keep in mind Disney doesn’t start the timer as far as SWEEPERS go until everyone crosses the start line, so you have a bit of a head start as long as you aren’t the last one to start. Smile

Weather: You can’t control the weather, neither can Disney. I have run in Disney in weather in the 20’s and in the upper 70’s. Be prepared when you pack for ALL weather situations, they can quickly change. A garbage bag is a good alternative to a poncho, and remember that if you throw off old sweatshirts, etc. Disney picks them all up and gives them to charity.

RELATED: I love this jacket for running!


Finish line/family reunion area: After you cross the finish line and get your medal, Disney will give you water, Powerade, and a little box of snacks. Then you can take photos, get your bag at gear check pickup, and meet your family in the family reunion area. There are big signs with letters on them so plan a meeting spot to meet up with friends and family after you finish the race.

Training: There are training programs on the runDisney website to help you get ready for your big race day!

Gear check: Disney gives you a big clear bag when you get your race shirt, and there is a sticker with numbers on it, you put it on the front of your bag and this makes it your gear check bag (be sure to tie a knot in the top of the bag so your stuff doesn’t fall out!) I pack a pack ticket for walking back through EPCOT to our hotel if I feel like it and am staying in the EPCOT resort area, flip flops, a jacket, a towel, and my hotel room key.

Corrals/proof of time: You are put into a corral based on your proof of time from a 10k race or longer. If you have no proof of time, you will be put towards the back. Be sure to put an accurate proof of time, runDisney checks them and puts you into a corral accordingly. There IS a cut off date for proof of time! The volunteers DO check corrals and have flashlights to read your bib to make sure you are going into the right ones.

photo (24)


Bathrooms: There are plenty of port-o-potties at the start, but there will still be lines so arrive early. There are some at the family reunion area but we usually skip these and use the ones right before you get into the corrals, they usually have shorter lines. There are also potties all along the course, but we usually try to wait and use the “real” bathrooms in the parks. There are some you run right by in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, as well as in Frontierland. When running the full we have stopped at the ones at the Ticket and Transportation center as well, and you run right by some in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Meet up/Tweet Up: You may have seen blog posts about the cool runDisney social media meet ups that are held during race weekends. These meet ups are typically held on Friday morning, very early. If you want to try to get in, keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog and the @runDisney Twitter feed for information on when you need to keep an eye out for registration. The meet up for marathon weekend was full in three minutes!

***These meet ups have been discontinued***


Family fun run/5k: The 5k is typically the day before the half marathon, early in the morning. It is an untimed fun run, but you still get a shirt, bib, and (rubber) medal. There are characters along the course, and it’s a fun relaxing way to get a taste for runDisney racing. The 5k typically doesn’t fill up as fast as the half marathon.

2012-02-25 08.05.56

Kids races: The littlest runners can take part in runDisney races too! There are kids races at the Wide World of sports (think diaper dash and kids one mile run).

Spectating: Have a plan! Disney has info for spectators on their website. The chEAR squad packages are nice, but not necessary to see someone at the finish. I know a lot of spectators that catch their runners at multiple points during the races, relying on Disney transportation to get them around and the monorail to the finish line.


I also have some personal tips….

-Have FUN! runDisney races are great for running with friends and family Don’t take yourself too seriously!

-Take lots of photos! Where else do you get to run through a castle and get character photos in your running gear? Enjoy the cool things you don’t get to do at other races

-Be prepared. All right boy scouts, always be prepared for any situation. Don’t forget things like chapstick, tissues, layers to keep warm, sunscreen, and your camera.

-Wear your medal around the park after the race, be proud!

-bring extra safety pins in case there aren’t any or enough in your bag

-If you are wearing a costume practice in it beforehand to make sure it doesn’t rub or chafe. I use body glide especially when wearing costumes!

-Need packing advice? Check out my “packing for a runDisney race” vlog to make sure you have everything you need!

-Check out the runDisney website and Facebook page, they are always updating them with great info!

QOTD: What are your best tips for running a runDisney race I have left off?

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  1. My tip would be don’t over do it and tire out your legs walking around the parks the days before the race! (Which is a lot easier said than done when you’re at Disney!)

  2. This is great! Thanks so much for writing this! I’ve ran one Disney race acouple of years ago but defiantly plan on returning for LOTS for Disney running!

  3. I am so excited to run in my first runDisney race – the Princess Half! Your tips and reviews have been getting me pumped for the big day. Plus, I am a list maker so having more ideas on race day items always helps!

  4. Eeek, great tips! Is it Dumbo time yet?

  5. My tip is: if you want an extra boost during the race, run in costume! You get so many more cheers and shout outs in costume than not. I know, I’ve done it both ways 🙂

  6. Stopping by from FFA. I’ve thought about running Disney. These are great tips if I go ahead and sign up.

  7. Great tips! I am running the princess half for the first time (my first runDisney race) — we are definitely going to the expo on Friday–but I am not staying on property so was hoping to use taxis to get around.

  8. Thanks so much for all the tips! I’m gearing up for the Princess Half — my first half! — and I’m starting to panic because I have NO idea what to expect! This really helped! 😀

  9. Awesome post! I’ll definitely be reviewing this again before Disney Princess!

  10. Great tips and info Heather! Now just tell me which one I should go down for 🙂

  11. I agree with the comment above to wear a costume. The first year I ran Princess, I had a slogan on the back of my shirt and I was getting comments the whole time so I’m sure a costume would bring that many more! These are great tips! I’ve run 2 runDisney events and am right now hoping to do Goofy next year!

  12. Thank u so much! Great advise! Signed up for half in Jan 2014! So excited! My first!

  13. Meredith says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I will be doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in 2014. How much is it for the meet up? When do you think it will open?

    • You don’t pay for it, you just have to be one of the first to send the email when the post goes up which is usually a week or so before.

  14. We are running the 10k at EPCOT in Jan. Are you allowed to stay in the park after the run or do you have to leave? We are planning to do the run, but then we also want to spend some time at EPCOT at some point through the day…do we need a park ticket or is our run participation all the entry we need?

    • race registration does not come with park tickets. The race ends outside of EPCOT and the only way to get in is with a purchased ticket. So sorry!

  15. Hey Heather,
    My husband and I are planning on running the 2016 Full Disney Marathon. Would you suggest purchasing the race before a hotel at Disney, or can you do it all at once or can you get a hotel discount after you have registered for the race?

    • Hotel discounts typically dont come out until awhile after registration, and registration sells out veey quickly so i would register for race first and hotel later 🙂

  16. we are running the 10K in Jan 2015. We are staying on Disney property at one of the All Stars. What would you recommend for a time to get up and be at the corrals for? With a 5:30am start want to plan appropriately. Also, suggestions on what to eat before like a protein bar or something else?

    • The last buses run at 4, and thrre is always a huge line if you get there right at 4 to load up. I try to be at the bus stol around 3:40, i usually get up between 2:30 and 2:45. So with the last bus leaving at 4 they basically are telling you what time you will be there 🙂 they will say over the loudspeakers at the family reunion are when its time to get in corrals. Luckily the corrals for 10k are right there as opposed to the 10 minute walk to corrals for the half and full.
      Eat whatever you notmally eat, dont try anything new. I eat a clif bar and banana but test out whatever you do before the actual event.

  17. I’m just wondering if anybody can give me an honest idea about how quickly registration for the runDisney races fill? I’ve read many websites, blogs, chat boards that make me feel like I won’t be able to register quickly enough even if I’m sitting at my computer 30 minutes before registration opens. I’ve been training secifically for a WDW half, I ran 3 locally last year and have 2 coming up in April and May 2015. I just needed the dates of one of the runDisney races to work for me and the 2015 Wine & Dine Half does. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my computer is running fast on March 17th! :/

    • The reason no one can give an exact answer is bc it’s different every year and for every race. With no tower of terror in the fall this year my guess is wine and dine will sell out within an hour.

  18. Jackie says:


    My husband and I are going to do the enchanted 10k next year. I ran the half 3 years ago and the character lines were awful. How can I be sure to get short lines?
    Is it better if you are faster?

    • The closer the corral the less the number of people in front of you 🙂 I ran in A two years ago and didn’t stop for pics and most characters had ZERO people in line!

  19. Kristen LaPoint says:

    Hello! I will hopefully be registering for the Princess Half on Feb. 21, 2016! This will be my first RunDisney race and I have so many questions! How fast do you think the race will fill up? Is it noon eastern time? Also, are there room/ticket/food packages at most of the resorts? Do they fill up quickly? Is there a usually a discount for runners? Can spectators ride to the race with you? Thanks so much!!

    • Race can fill up opening day or even within an hour so I would register at noon eastern if you can. Yes packages at resorts (I’m a travel agent I can help with this). Yes they fill up in a few months. Discounts sometimes. Yes spectators can ride buses

  20. Hi! Does your race registration include a ticket for park admission or is that separate?

  21. I read on the 2016 Wine and Dine info page that there would not be any corral changes at the Expo and they gave you a deadline to do so online. Not sure if this is new or just fot this race.

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