What to expect on race day, part 1

It’s finally your race day! The day you’ve waited and trained for…but you got up way before the butt crack of dawn, you’re anxious and excited, and there are SO many people everywhere. Don’t panic, there’s plenty of time to get to the start line and lots of volunteers to help you.

Getting to the race shouldn’t be the most stressful part of the day, but it could be if you don’t plan ahead. These races start early usually 5:30 a.m., and the race organizers ask you to be there at (gasp) 4 a.m. There are people on social media who insist you should arrive by 3:30. To be honest this feels a little “extra” to me, but if it makes you feel better, get there early. Race organizers want to allow plenty of time to get everyone through security, gEAR check, and to their starting corral. For the longer races it is quite a long walk to the start line, so be prepared for some extra distance.

So back to the getting to the race part. Runners who choose to stay on property at a Disney Resort have an advantage. Bus transportation is provided from all the Disney Resorts that will get you to the start. Just don’t cut it too close on time, even the buses can get stuck in traffic.

Traffic. Traffic at 4 a.m.? Yes, yes there is. Be prepared for heavy back-ups the morning of a race. It may take longer than you expect to park and walk to the race area. Parking is free at Epcot, but they do not have any trams running before the races. So again, you could have a long walk from your car to the starting area.

If you arrive early and park, you might want to resist the urge to hurry to the start line. I would personally stay in the car as long as possible, especially if it’s cold, which is likely on Marathon Weekend at the start of January. Frankly, there’s not very much to do once you’re inside the gate before the race starts. There are plentiful porta-potties, but limited food options or other things to do. There are a few vendors on hand, who might be able to help with any last-minute emergencies.

Once you’ve arrived in your starting corral, prepared to be standing around a while, even after the gun (fireworks). It takes a long time to get this many runners across the start line. If it’s a cold morning, I recommend moving yourself to the center of the biomass, like a penguin in Antarctica. That little maneuver might preserve you long enough to survive the standing around part long enough to make it to the running part.

As it gets closer to your launch time, the hype and excitement builds and finally Mickey will count down to YOUR race. YOUR fireworks. YOUR moment. And now the real fun begins, and we’ll get to all the fun race course details in our next post. There’s way too much magic to share at once!

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