You want to run 48.6 miles around Disney World over four days? I did it – here’s what I learned.
1. Pack more running clothes than you need.
Pack two pairs of shoes. Pack more than four outfits – especially if you are wearing a costume. The weather this time of year in Florida is crazy. We had a temperature swing of 20+ degrees and it rained. Pack stuff that works for hot and humid runs and runs in winter-like temperatures. And pack a throwaway layer. You might need it – even in Florida.
2. Wear a costume.
When we did Princess in 2016, we felt silly because we just wore thematic shirts. For Dopey we went all out – and it makes a difference. People compliment you more, people cheer for you more, it makes everything happier and more festive.
3. The running isn’t the worst part – the early mornings are.
Those 3:00am wake-ups are going to kill you. Plan to nap and to get in bed early, early, early to combat them. That said, don’t try to skimp on Disney’s recommended arrival time. Stuff happens – buses get lost, line-ups are long, bibs are forgotten. Disney’s starting area has so much stuff to do and see and can solve most of your problems. So suck it up, get there early and take it all in.
4. The courses are crowded.
Especially the marathon. Submit a proof of time if you can to get in an earlier corral, and therefore have a less crowded course. If you’re running in a group, don’t run 3-4 across. Stay in your lane and don’t get frustrated if the crowd is so big you can’t run your pace for a little while.
5. The points between the parks are looooong.
There are miles and miles of highway you need to get through before you hit up the four parks and ESPN. This is true in the 10k, half-marathon and full marathon. Try not to let it get to you. Use this time to refuel, enjoy the course bands, take a walk break, talk to your fellow runners, text your friends if you’re a runner who does that. Be completely present in the parks, zone out here.
6. Make fun your #1 priority.
This is a marathon with a roller coaster and an open bar at the halfway point and with childhood characters lining the route for you to meet. Embrace that spirit and don’t freak out if your times are slower than you’d like. That is not the point of Disney races. Go on the roller coaster, get the picture, thank the volunteers. Disney is about fun. So make it fun.
7. Wear the medals proudly.
When you go out and about and enjoy Disney afterwards, wear a medal (or 6). You’ll get so much kudos and see so many other runners out doing the same, it makes you feel like you are part of something special.
8. Share the Disney magic.
Run with a friend, if you can. Or bring your family to enjoy the experience. What you are doing is hard and amazing and you’ll need someone to share the journey, support you and celebrate the accomplishment.