It’s Go Time! 2023 Marathon Weekend Details and Packing Checklist

Its hard to believe that after what feels like 50 years of planning, we are less than a week away from the 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!

If your house looks anything like mine, there’s an intersection of holiday cleanup and Marathon Weekend prep that makes the household look a bit like a Wall-e cityscape – but it’s all good stuff, so I’m not going to sweat it. In the offhand chance you’re caught up in the same turbulence, I’ve put together a checklist to help navigate the packing part. The rest may be up to the travel gods, who have seemed pretty angry lately.

My 90s-inspired Dopey costumes:

So far the weather is looking pretty ideal for Marathon Weekend. Thursday is forecast for a high of 80, and Fri – Sun, the high is not expected to get over 73. What that means for us runners is that while we’re waiting in the corrals, the temps should be in the 50s. Temps during the races probably will hover in the low 60s. Ski parkas probably won’t be required, although I still recommend bringing a throw-away layer of some kind. The only day where there is a bit more chance for rain is Thursday for the 5k. Fingers crossed that the weather leaves us alone in the pre-dawn hours!

  • Costumes: If at all possible bring at least the first day’s costume in carry-on luggage. What a bummer if you make it to Florida but your costume doesn’t
  • Costume accessories: Don’t forget your “finishing touches”: ears, character companions, & other props
  • Undergarments: Have you planned out bras, leggings, shorts for all your outfits?
  • Socks: Unless you have access to laundry facilities, bring extra!
  • Throw-away clothes: It can be pretty cold waiting in the corrals. Bring some cheap clothes to toss away before you cross the start line. runDisney donates everything left behind to charity. Other options include mylar blankets (you’ll need to bring your own) or garbage bags. Garbage bags are also great to sit on while you’re waiting.
  • 2 pairs of running shoes: This is especially important if you are doing Goofy / Dopey. There’s nothing worse than starting out the day with a pair of wet, nasty shoes.
  • Dry clothes: For after the race. You can gEAR -check them and change in a port-a-potty.
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Fuel for the course: Generally Gu or some other fuel is available, but probably not exactly what you want exactly when you want it. Do yourself a favor and bring along your “must-haves”.
  • Fanny pack or other belt: If you don’t have pockets in your costume, you’re going to want to carry a phone and some cash or a credit card. You can’t buy a margarita in Mexico without some pesos!
  • Headphones
  • Smart watch
  • Magic Band
  • Chargers of all kinds: watch, phone, headphones, Magic Band +
  • Power bank

Packing List (race-related stuff only – you’re on your own for the rest):

Other notes to keep in mind:

Virtual Queue for Merchandise

runDisney will once again be utilizing a virtual queue for merchandise purchase on the first day of the expo. Check out this previous post on how the virtual queue works.

Merch preview has been released! Here’s the sneak peak:

Bibs and Corrals

Bib numbers have not been released yet. You can expect to get them when the check-in passes are emailed, probably on Monday, January 2. You won’t know your corral placement until you actually pick up the bib.

Above all, if you’re headed to the Marathon Weekend, enjoy it all! Take it all in! And if you see me sporting one of those awesome costumes, please say hi!!

Costumes are the crowning touch on race weekends!

There’s a lot to do to get ready for a runDisney weekend…first you have to secure a spot, you actually have to train (easy to forget about that in the excitement surrounding registration), make travel arrangements, park reservations and that’s it, right? Wrongo!!! The most important question might be WHAT are you going to wear??? Now there’s nothing saying you have to wear a costume to run, but come on, you’re running in the happiest place on earth and the costumes are a big part of the show!

Running costumes can be a bit tricky, because you want to have fun, of course, but you do actually have to be able to move in your costume. You never know what you’re going to get for weather at 5 a.m. in Central Florida. Probably TMI, but my first marathon (January, of course) I was in the median of the highway vomiting with heat exhaustion. The next marathon, wishing I’d selected ski pants and a parka instead of leggings and a t-shirt.

Checking out everyone’s costumes is a huge part of the fun for the Disney races. The level of creativity is usually off the charts. Costumes can be simple, but some of them are extravagant. But whatever you choose, rest assured you’re probably making someone’s day while showing off your Disney side.

There are a few guidelines on the runDisney site. Most of them are for safety purposes, with the biggie being that no masks are allowed.

My own efforts are underway. Please don’t laugh.

You know you’re in trouble when you start planning costumes for non-Disney races! This number makes its debut next weekend at the Hartford Half Marathon.

I am in love with the idea of costumes, but I definitely have a handicap. I can’t sew – not one stitch. Now if it invovles a stapler, a hot glue gun, or fusible bonding web, I might have a chance, but the results are usually questionable. I’ve always been a fan of putting stuff together from thrift store finds. It can be quite satisfying, but I’m realizing that with all the “extras” that I need to finish a costume this way, I’ve probably spent just as much as I would have if I’d purchased a professional costume, and the results are often well, clearly handmade (I think the bougie description is “folk art”). There is still a statisfaction in creating your own “something” out of a pile of thrifted rags, so if nothing else, there is that.

The skirt on the left was a thrifted maxi-skirt. I cut it short and stuck some ribbons and remnants on there to make it look like Luisa’s skirt from Encanto. The black fabric for the dumbbells was a big mistake. If I were to do it over again, I’d use felt. Also, this skirt will need a slit. There’s no running in a pencil skirt, no matter what the fabric!

On the right is a bunch of stuff from another thrift store run that I will attempt to turn into Namaari from Raya and the Last Dragon. Whether or not this will be successful remains to be seen. Stay tuned, Dear Readers!

Thankfully there are a number of people who specialize in making beautiful and functional running costumes that are perfect for the occasion and don’t look amateur like my meager efforts.

Here are some of my faves:


Every race has it’s own theme, and thankfully, WeRunForFun has thought of everything! This Etsy shop has something for all the upcoming race icons and heroes! Prices range from around $39-$65, depending on the item. You can find printed dresses, skirts, shirts, leggings – even sports bras, perfectly themed for the upcoming runs. I’m a little bit obsessed with the 90s themed skirt for the marathon – it would go perfectly with Pleasure Island shirt I’ll be rocking that weekend!

Tutu Factory

If you’re looking for something with that extra special kick (i.e. bling) knocks it out of the park (Into the Parks??) Prices vary depending on the size ordered and the complexity of the costume. These are handmade beauties (the kind that don’t look like folk art). Custom orders may also be available. You can choose just the tutu, just the top, or full costumes. You might need to add some accessories to complete the look.

Sunday Morning Active

Sunday Morning Active goes deep into the vault when to comes to characters and themes, and you are likely to find some obscure wins when you’re shopping here! Expect to spend between $49-$69 on these classic yet innovative looks. The items are printed and are spot-on in every way. And please don’t tell my daughter about the Queen of Hearts options. Just don’t.

Any way you look at it, costumes are so much fun. I’d love to see what you’re wearing! Find me on Instagram and show me your best looks!! @disneyparkrunner

Shining a light on personal safety: thoughts after finishing Liza’s run

Liza Fletcher, finishing the 2022 Princess Half Marathon

Liza Fletcher. She was one of us. She was a runDisney runner.  Last week she was out for a training run early in the morning last week, and never made it home.  The elite runner was abducted and murdered, and the running world has been shook.  Long distance running is often a solo sport, and for those of us with day jobs, training for marathons or half marathons usually requires us to find time to train in the impossibly early morning hours.  I generally opt for treadmill running in the dark, but it’s a dismal choice when training long distances.  There’s only so much that House of the Dragon can do to take my mind off the monotony. 

Liza Fletcher, mother of young children and educator, made the same choice that many of us would make in order to meet her goals and commitments, but a deranged individual took her life and reminded us all that we live in a world where we can never take our safety for granted. I wish it weren’t so but this sad moment is an opportunity for us to think about what we can do to stay safe while running. 

There are plenty of social media sites touting that women should be able to run at any time of day and wearing whatever they want.  Of course they should, that was never in dispute.  But let’s be honest about this for a moment.  No matter how gentle and tolerant the world becomes, there are always going to predators in our midst.  As runners, it’s our own responsibility to take as many precautions as possible to protect our safety.  Any other position is dangerously naïve.

The hashtag #finishelizasrun has trended exponentially this week.  Runners around the country, in groups and solo, donned pink shirts to honor the late runner and create solidarity within the community.  Some runners ran her exact route, some ran her exact mileage or the mileage she had remaining when she was abducted, and some did what they could.  This sad moment brought us together out of care and love for a sister most of us never met.  Perhaps the movement can bring about some change that will save another runner’s life in the future.  For sure it has raised the collective awareness of safety while running.

I wore pink to #finishelizasrun

My heart was full as I embarked on my long early morning run yesterday.  I ran on my normal trail and passed countless other women in pink and purple.  It was comforting, but also sad.  The peace of mind I normally enjoy on the trail was diminished by more frequent checks over my shoulder, and my mind wandered to Liza and her final moments.  The world changed a bit for all of us last week.  RIP Liza.

There have been a lot of great pieces of advice surrounding safety that have been crowd sourced in the days since Liza’s abduction.  I’ve collected some of them here, if you have more ideas, please leave a comment and share them.

Personal Safety Guidelines

Don’t run alone at night:  I know this sounds very obvious, but it bears repeating

Make sure someone knows where you are: Always let someone know where you’re running and when you expect to return

Carry your phone with you: You can call for help, you can take a picture of anyone who is acting suspicious around you.  Yes, you will have to deal with stowing it somewhere accessible, but it might be your most valuable tool in terms of defense.

Smart watches: Some of the newer smart watches have built-in safety capabilities – incident detection, live tracking, and emergency contact notification.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but Garmin and Apple make the some of the most popular watches used by runners.

  • Garmin: Several of the newer models of smart watch come with incident detection.  While performing an outdoor activity, if watch sensors determined you might have been involved in an incident, messages will be sent to up to 3 pre-selected emergency contacts with your location information.  Read more about these safety features on the Garmin website.

  • Apple: Apple Watches come with an SOS feature and fall detection.  You can read about the SOS feature on the Apple support site.  The just-announced Apple Watch Ultra takes safety a step farther, with an 86-decibel siren, which might be enough to frighten a predator or help others locate you if you are lost.

Pepper spray: A small portable aerosol can of capsaicin oil can be sprayed in the eyes and nose of an attacker, temporarily disabling them.  Popular brands are Mace and Sabre and these types of products are widely available at sporting goods and running stores.

Personal Alarms: These are small keychain devices that pack a big sound at the click of the button.  Help alert others around you that you need help.

Of course, the foundation of safety is awareness of your surroundings. Stay alert, watch for suspicious activity, and don’t hesitate to act if you feel threatened. Stay safe, my friends.

Keeping your assets in gear: cutting (to the) chafe

In my previous Getting in Gear post, I discussed shoes, watches music and headphones. Today we’ll tackle some other “must-have” and “nice-to-have” items, particularly those that help prevent that foe to those with fast feet: chafing. And just to be clear, this blog is not sponsored at this time. I do not receive any compensation from brands mentioned here. I just like this stuff based on my own purchases and experimentation.

  • Running Shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Music
  • Headphones
  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Anti-chafing shorts or leggings
  • Hydration belt or vest
  • Fuel for long runs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

First, a few words about chafing. It’s kind of awful and happens to runners of all sizes. While it’s a bigger issue for runners in bodies with larger dimensions, it can leave anyone smarting for days, and it’s avoidable. As a newbie runner, nobody warned me about this. I didn’t even realize it was a thing until after my first half-marathon when I climbed into the shower and suddenly felt a ring of fire around my waist, where my leggings had chafed a ring around my entire middle. Ouch. Many mistakes later I’ve learned when and where I need to use chafing cream. (Hint: a lot of not very glamorous places.)

Anti-chafing cream: You can buy lubricant / anti-chafing products at any running or sporting goods store. One of the biggest brands is Glide, but I have to say I’m not a fan. It comes in a tube that looks like deodorant. It’s kind of waxy and hard to apply, and I don’t care for the smell. I found a cream that I really like when I attended the expo at my local marathon a few years ago. Chafex is a small brand that sells just one powerful product. Their cream retails for $24.95. It’s easy to apply, survives harsh conditions (like rain and sweat), and very effective! You can get it on Amazon, but I recommend going straight to the Chafex website. It’s the same price there, and the last time I ordered from them, they sent me an extra tube as a bonus, plus I got a personal note from their president along with my order.

Chafex anti-chafing cream

Socks: Good running socks fit snugly and are your first line of defense against blisters. Stay away from mostly-cotton socks by all means and stick to purpose-designed running socks. I like the Hidden Comfort socks by Balega because they are: A. really cute, and B. have lots of cushioning. My daughter recently borrowed a pair and said “Oooh, they’re like walking on a cloud!”

Wall of Socks!

Sports Bra: (Guys, feel free to skip to the end of this section where I mention nipple covers. Ladies, strap in.) A good sports bra is a necessity, and sadly they are not cheap. This is one of those times when more “endowed” runners will need to invest in high impact bras. Lots of bouncing is uncomfortable, distracting, and for sure can bring on that nemesis, chafing. I have some high impact bras from Fabletics. They’re cute, but to be honest I don’t love love them. There is no way to adjust them, and they end up having gaps in funny places. I do hear women raving about Shefit bras, although I don’t own one. This is another company that focuses on just one product, so they are very motivated to get it right. Shefit bras are fully adjustable and have an extra layer with a zipper in the front for more stability. Just be prepared for some sticker shock though, because they do start around $65.

Nipple covers. OK… I didn’t know these were a thing until I started running. For men with prominent nipples, it’s not uncommon to get chafing caused by all the friction of a running shirt bouncing up and down over the course of a long run. I once saw a man at the end of a race with streams of blood running down his shirt. It looked incredibly painful. So… you can buy inexpensive nipple covers at your local running store, but I bet some strategically placed Band-aids would do the job just as well.

Shorts or Leggings: Again I will stick with our anti-chafing theme here. Unless you’re a naturally wiry person with a non-photoshopped thigh gap (I’ll try not to hate on you), this is for you. I generally look for tight-fitting shorts or leggings that won’t slide down during my run. The worst thing that could happen to you is allowing your thighs to rub together. It always ends badly. Look for shorts with lots and lots of spandex. I also like high-waisted shorts that keep my belly in place. Maybe it’s just personal preference but I look for every opportunity to reduce the jiggle.

We still have a few more categories to cover on the running gear rundown, but since the announcement of Springtime Surprise races is imminent, you might have to hold your breath for a minute before we get to hydration, fueling and sun protection!

Getting in Gear: Running essentials to make the miles fly by

We just celebrated a minor holiday in my house: New Running Shoe Day! This is a special day that doesn’t come around too often. A good pair of running shoes will set you back somewhere between $100 and $200, and like tires, mileage will vary. When I was a newbie runner, I naively thought a pair of old gym sneakers was all I needed. I’ve been running, in some capacity for about 35 years, and by now I’ve managed to sort through the hype and have a pretty good grasp on what I do and don’t need. I’ll share with you my take on the “must-have” items to get you ready for race day.

To get the most out of your runs, here’s my list of go-tos:

  • Running Shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Music
  • Headphones
  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Anti-chafing shorts or leggings
  • Hydration belt or vest
  • Fuel for long runs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

While the only item on this list is that is non-negotiable is running shoes – although there’s a very small minority of runners that would argue that even those aren’t necessary, bless them – this post will focus on the first 4 essentials for many runners.

Running Shoes: I belong to a lot of running-oriented social media sites, and probably the scenario that irritates me the most is new runners asking “what kind of shoes do you recommend?” and the ensuing litany of answers from anonymous “experts”. The fact of the matter is that everyone’s needs and physiology are different. There are lots of different running shoes designed to solve all kinds of different problems. The only way to know the right one for you is to get a professional fit from a store that specializes in running shoes. A good running store will measure your feet, put you on a treadmill, take a video of you running and do a gait analysis to help you find your perfect match. There is really no substitute for a professional fitting!

GPS Watch: Let me tell you a story about when I started running long distances. There were no GPS watches back then. I would look at a map and figure out a “precise” distance to run. I thought I knew how fast I was running and knew how to pace myself. When I got to race day, with the timing clocks running, I was always disappointed. It always took me so much longer to finish the races than my training runs…but why? How? The races felt pretty much the same in my body as training runs. I couldn’t fathom why I was so much slower on race day.

The day finally came when I got my first GPS watch. That was the day I found out my “10-mile” route was only. Eight. Miles. My map method was completely off and I had to do a complete mental recalibration of my running capabilities. I have been using Garmin watches exclusively and tried a number of models. They seem to last me a couple of years before they die or I decide I need an upgrade. Garmin was an early player in GPS technologies and favored by runners for its precision. When I look at my post run maps, I can see the times when I stepped to the side of my path to grab a drink of water. The level of tracking accuracy is slightly creepy to me, but very reassuring for my performance!

Entry-model Garmin watches start around $150, but I’m sure you can find quality used ones on eBay for far less. The top-of the line watches top out over $1,000, but I’m wondering who actually needs a watch that washes your windows for you.

Activities menu on my Garmin

I’m currently using the Garmin Venu 2S, and I absolutely love it! It’s got all the great running features I love, and handles all kinds of other activities well! I was seriously into weightlifting over the winter and loved being able to track all my reps and weights on the watch. It even tried to guess what exercise I was performing, and was right more than wrong. Hands down my favorite feature of this watch is the music function. I can store my running playlists on my watch and connect with wireless headphones. No more need to carry a phone or an iPod with me. One less thing to worry about!

Music: I’m not going to tell you what kind of music to listen to. Next.

Headphones: Now this is a topic on which I have some strong opinions. I’ve tried just about every style out there, and there is a clear winner. There are 3 predominant styles that I’ve seen on the market:

  1. Over-the-ear: These have the advantage of staying put while you’re running but are often big and bulky. If you use headphones not specifically designed for sports, they will probably get corroded with time and lots of sweat. Yuck. Some over-the-ear headphones have noise-cancelling capabilities. That’s great if you’re on a plane. Not so great if you need to listen for traffic.
  2. Earbuds: Lightweight and convenient, I can’t get these things to stay in my ears while running. I have extra small ear canals, so that doesn’t help. They are always painful in my ears after about 20 minutes. I’ve tried extra small earbuds, earbuds with hooks, keeping the earbuds in place with a bandanna, and never met a pair that really did the job. I know that wireless earbuds are extremely popular right now. Given how easily they fall out of my ears, I think those are a pretty bad idea for running. If you really want to use earbuds, at least look for a pair that has a wired connection between left and right earbuds so that you are less likely to use them.
  3. Open-ear: I have to be completely honest, I didn’t even know these existed until recently. These are headphones that are a bit like earbuds but they sit outside the ear on the tragus which, apparently, is that little flappy thing at the front of your ear that you would push on if you wanted to plug your ears. The sound travels through your bones and the quality is amazing. Added bonus is because nothing is actually inside your ear, so you can still hear approaching cars. I invested in a pair of Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones (currently retailing at $179) and they were worth every penny! Honestly, after registering for Club runDisney, everything feels like a bargain. There is another model that goes for $129. My Shokz are so comfortable and have a 10-hour charge, so even at a pace like mine, they’ll last a full marathon. Hands down, these are my choice!

There’s much more to say on running gear. The next post will cover clothing, anti-chafing and other “hidden” tools for race day success.