If you want to run in this year’s Wine & Dine races, grab your lucky registration shirt because the menu has been set!
General registration is this coming Tuesday, March 21 at 10:00 a.m. ET
This year’s themes all focus around dining, and I think they really nailed it!
5K – The Mad Tea Party
This Alice in Wonderland theme set off a bit of a frenzy at my house!
November 3, 2023 at 5 a.m.
10K – Be Our Guest
This Beauty and the Beast theme feels slightly redundant since Belle was featured at Princess weekend, but hey I can get some more milage (pun intended) out of my Belle costume.
November 4, 2023 at 5 a.m.
Half Marathon – Encanto
“Isabella, your boyfriend’s here! Time for dinner!” Who can forget the incredibly awkward dinner scene from Encanto? We’ll have 13.1 miles of Encanto-themed fun that is guaranteed to have us talking about Bruno all day.
November 5, 2023 at 5 a.m.
Two-Course Challenge – Figment
I’m not going to lie, the Challenge might sell out faster than the virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind. Everyone will be clamoring for the medal featuring Epcot’s own “Figment and his topsy turvy kitchen”
November 4-5, 2023 at 5 a.m.
Don’t forget that Wine & Dine weekend features the afterparty on Sunday night. The afterparty is a private event at Epcot that hypothetically offers short wait times for attractions and rare character meet and greets. Half marathon and challenge participants get free tickets to the afterparty, and you can purchase tickets for friends and family during registration for $105 each. Last year, the party sold out and tickets were hard to come by.
Virtual races will be offered as well, registration for these starts on March 24. Prices are slightly less expensive. But please don’t ask me why the longer distances are more expensive than the shorter ones. It’s not like runDisney needs to close roads and find volunteers!
5K – $85
10K – $106
Half Marathon – $126
Two Course Challenge – $270
I’m not planning on missing a minute of the weekend events! Drop a comment and let me know which ones you’re excited for. If you need help with registration, you can prep by reading this post. Good luck!
There is a newly-minted batch of Disney Princesses in town! Congratulations to everyone who participated in the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend!
The weather was fantastic and it was a picture perfect race weekend. Well, not all of my pictures were perfect, but they are, at least, entertaining.
I hit the expo early on Thurdsay to try to beat most of the chaos. I was lucky I was able to do that because for some folks, it was a long, drawn-out day. I spoke with someone who joined the Virtual Queue when it opened at 8:30, but she did not get a shopping window for about 4 hours.
There was lots to do and see at the expo, including Cinderella’s coach! I was excited to get a pic, but slightly bummed that I missed out on getting the pic with her footmen and the glass slipper, which got there a little later. Oh well, c’est la vie.
Since I was “only” doing the 10K this time around, I had some time to enjoy Disney and had a day at Disney Springs followed by an incredible dinner and fireworks from the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. I spent Friday at Epcot. This time I was the one getting shut out of the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy, but got incredibly lucky with a last minute lunch reservation at Space 220, so I was all smiles. (And really, really stuffed!)
Saturday was race day for me, and I completely lucked out and got a placement in corral C. First time for everything, I guess, and now I know that it’s actually possible to get so lucky! Also lucky was my running buddy Stacia, also starting in corral C. I usually end up in the back with the Balloon Ladies and scared formy life, but this time I was able to take it a bit more relaxed. Before the race I was able to snag a selfie with runDisney legend Jogging Jack Sparrow, and Stacia was interviewed by Riley right before we launched. I was surrounded by celebrity!
Stacia and I were really in sync on pacing and intervals, and it felt like a match made in heaven! It was definitely Belle’s day and I was in good company in my yellow ballgown. At some point I was intercepted by another runDisney celebrity, The Trooper Dude, also dressed as Belle. He was in the middle of a livestream and interviewed me while we were running on the topic of “Who wore it better?” I think I won on the technicality that I don’t have facial hair.
I’m used to doing full challenge weekends, so running just the 10K felt like a breeze. I was sorry it was over so soon.
So I am still trying to get a good jump shot. I have not yet perfected it. What I did perfect is the art of “Mike Wazowski-ing” myself. This one was just too good not to share.
So after the miles and the smiles there wasn’t much left to do but say goodby and bolt to the airport for my same-day flight, but I did manage to grab a pic of THREE runDisney celebrities in the same place – The Trooper Dude, Jogging Jack Sparrow, and THe Muscle Mouse. Proof that they are not the same person!
A Princess Wears the Crown
Sadly, I had to miss the Half Marathon, but a huge shout out to the overall winner, Neely Gracey of Denver, Colorado. She beat the entire field (including the boys!) to finish in 1:15:55. That’s an astounding accomplishment, and only the third time a woman was the overall winner. You rock the kingdom, Neely!
I’m sad it’s over, but so glad I got to take part in the 2023 Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Were you there? Drop a comment and tell me how much fun you had!
We’re counting down the days to Princess Half Marathon weekend, and now we know what merchandise will be up for grabs at the expo. As a reminder, access to merchandise on day one of the expo (Thursday, Feb 23) will be via virtual queue, so plan ahead! You need to be within 45 miles of Wide World of Sports to snag a spot in the queue.
These items will be with the race merchandise in the Advent Health Arena:
And for the Princesses that need a bit more bling for their Pandora bracelets:
I’m pretty sure I don’t need any more jackets or shirts, but I have an eye on the ears! What do you think? Drop a comment and let me know what’s on your shopping list
Calling all Princesses!! That magical moment is almost here!
OK, I’ll be completely honest. Between the Dopey afterglow, the exhillaration of Disneyland registration and the utter triumph of securing a Space 220 reservation for my daughter’s birthday, I haven’t put a ton of brainpower into Princess Weekend. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited, I’ve just been focused on other things.
But realigning my focus… OH MY GOODNESS Princess is just two weeks away!!! Reality is necessitating a slightly different approach for me this time, but I will be there, and I am just as excited as always. This time I’ll be running only the 10K and sprinting to the airport from the finish line. I’m not running the 5K, but I’ll be spectating (a very lucky first for me!), and I get to share the whole experience with a dear friend from the Walt Disney World College Program just 30 (cough, cough) short years ago. I’m also hoping to connect with another dear runDisney friend at the race…and you. Yes, you. More than ever I know that the runDisney family is my family. You get it, you get me. Please say hello if you spot me! I’ll be Belle. That makes it easy, right?
Full disclosure, this is my first Princess weekend. It’s probably the most expensive week of the year to travel from my cold little corner of the country to Orlando. I’ve heard many wonderful dreamy things about Princess weekend. I have also heard ugly, snarky things about Princess Weekend. I figured that the only way to know for sure is to try it out for myself. So, I stalked airline pages for months (no joke) trying to find an airfare that would also alow me to fulfill my obligation to the utilities companies, and finally found a fare that was not completely unreasonable. Truth be told I would have stayed for the half marathon, but prices jump hundreds of dollars between Saturday and Sunday departures. So, if this runDisney lifestyle is to be mine, living where I do, some sacrifices must be made. Maybe I’ll finish the Fairytal Challenge another time.
But you’re not here to hear me whining about spring break airfare. You want the maps. I get it. Spoiler Alert: Nothing new to see here. Courses are identical / super close to other courses we’ve seen this season.
As usual, we start at the back of the Epcot parking lot and skirt around the edge and through some industrial / cast parking lot stuff for the first mile. It’s OK. You’re so pumped and so busy trying not to get stepped on or step on someone else, it doesn’t matter that there’s not too much to look at.
We enter Epcot between Mexico and Norway (with a lovely whiff of garbage just before park entrance). I predict there will be a character stop with and epic line right at the entrance.
Straight ahead, the lagoon will present endless photo ops, and hopefully lit for the occasion. (We know that the “water tacos” are being retired at the end of Harmonious’ run, but I think they should still be there for Princess.)
From there it’s a lap around the World Showcase Lagoon. Expect another character stop in France (Belle???? Just a prediction, no inside intel there).
Most likely another character stop between UK and Canada, and then back into Future World. There’s a nice photo op with Spaceship Earth as you cross the bridge.
Swing around the future Journey of Water, run past the Jammitors (maybe?) and a quick jaunt backstage behind Cosmic Rewind until you see the choir, the finish line, and salvation.
There’s a whole lot of road at the start of this race, but I’d rather get that out of the way early, TBH.
From the same start line, we turn left instead of right and get really intimate with the Reedy Creek (for now) highway system very quickly.
It’s not till somewhere after mile 3 that we can even start to smell the parks. The first park is Hollywood Studios. If you’re looking for an immersive experience, this won’t be it. It’s more of a taste of the park than a full bite. We run up Sunset Boulevard, past Tower of Terror and abruptly take a left on Hollywood Boulevard and leave. Full stop.
The next part of the course is one that many dread. The path to the Boardwalk is narrow, and if you’re not in the lead pack, probably won’t be running. There are many walkers here. Trying to run might actually be dangerous. Keep your eyes open and adjust to course conditions.
Once we get past this half-mile bottleneck, we navigate the Boardwalk and then enter Epcot through the International Gateway.
Finishing up around the past UK and Canada, it’s back into the Future World for the same finsih as yesterday.
Princess Half Marathon
Let’s be real a second, (Hamilton) this is the race everyone is waiting for. Everyone dreams of running through the castle in a gown. OK… maybe 75% of the world’s population does. This might be your opportunity. If you’re in corral A or B.
Magic Kingdom is the first “big event” during the half marathon, at just 4 miles in. I’m going to be 100% honest with you. Four miles from the start is not enough time for the pack to thin out. This is basically the same course that was run during Marathon Weekend, and through the castle, the pack slowed to a dead walk. Dead. I’m sorry, but unless something is dramatically different for this race, I think the same thing will happen.
So… my advice… for whatever it’s worth, slow down, enjoy the walk. Take pictures. Make friends. This might be your once-in-a-lifetime.
Once you pass the castle, you can duck out to the left quickly for a PhotoPass photo. Do it. Jump.
After the castle euphoria, it’s a slip through Liberty Square & Frontierland. And then many, many, highway (road) miles to return to Epcot. There will be some stuff to see, some friends to make, and one of those “death circles” (highway ramps).
But finally you’re back in the Epcot vicinity. It looks like we’ll be entering the park somewhere near Journey into Imagination. Then we skirt the pit (maybe a glimpse of Te Fiti?) and pass (possibly) Jeff Galloway and (possibly) the Jammitors towards (definitely) the siren song of the golden-robed choir, and that blessed finish line. Then you get that fantasy medal. Or medals. It’s all totally worth it,
I am super pumped to finally be part of Princess Half Marathon Weekend, even if in a small capacity. I hope everyone has wonderful, magical runs. Drop a comment to tell me what you’re looking forward to the most!
Have you ever tasted something so good it sounds completely reasonable fly 1,000 miles each way and not sleep for 2 days to try it again? Well…as should be clear to you by now, I am a little Dopey, that’s exactly what I did last weekend! A year ago my daughter and I hit the Festival of the Arts and just about lost our minds over the offerings from the Festival booth The Deconstructed Dish.
To be specific, we had tried a deconstructed BLT, deconstructed French onion soup, and deconstructed key lime pie, that were stuff of legends. We talked about them all year, not thinking that we’d get a chance tor ever try them again. The stars aligned this year with a free weekend, free plane tickets and a cheap hotel, so we decided to go for it.
There was, of course a catch. To use the free plane tickets, we wouldn’t land until midnight, and then our flight out the day after our park-hopping would leave at 7 a.m. Sooo we knew going into this there would be very little sleep. But… there’s time for sleep in the grave.
When the first of the flight delay messages came in I wasn’t too worried. When the fourth and fifth came in, I pretty much gave up hope. Still, there was no cancellation message, so around 10 p.m we headed to the airport for our now midnight flight. The guys at the valet parking thought we were crazy… they rarely if ever see flights so late out of our sleepy little regional airport.
By some miracle we made it to Orlando, albeit four hours late. We got to our hotel room about 4:30 a.m., which gave me a luxurious 2 hours and 15 min before my alarm went off to get in the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy. But… we made it, I snagged the coveted virual queue position and we were off for a day of park-hopping.
What is Festival of the Arts?
One of the shortest of the rotating festivals at Epcot, this one features the arts: visual, performing, and (of course) culinary. It runs from mid-January to mid-February (smack dab between Marathon and Princess weekends for those of you who think in runDisney terms).The park is dotted with booths featuring Disney and local artists. You can find artists actively working on sidewalk art and step into a photo opportunity featuring renditions of world masterpieces. Disney-related broadway artists perfrom concerts on the weekends, and then there are the food booths.
We came for one thing, and one thing only: the Deconstructed Dish festival food booth, which did not disappoint. I had seen them prepping the booth during Marathon weekend and got crazy excited when I realized our favorites would be back!
Pork Belly, Soft-Poached Egg, Onion Bread Pudding, Watercress Espuma and Tomato Jam
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. I think the pork belly was a bit overdone and the poached egg was a bit underdone, but I could still eat this every day.
I’m not sure what kind of pixie dust is in the onion bread pudding, but OMG. The only think I wished was that the little pickled onion garnish had been warm. It was served cold which was a little bit of a surprise to my mouth.
Deconstructed Key Lime Pie
Flexible Key Lime Curd, “Key Lime” Mousse, Graham Cracker Cake and Meringues
I get as excited as Cogsworth presenting Belle for dinner telling you about this one. This dessert that haunted my dreams was back and just as fabulous as I remembered. First of all, the presentation. Full stop. But key lime pie is one of my all-time favorites (and I’ve tried a few) and this went above an beyond. It was just the right size, and that little gem that looks like a lime on the dish is the key lime mousse. Wow. Just wow. 10/10.
We knew it couldn’t get much better than that, so after we rode Guardians, indulged at The Deconstructed Dish and caught the Voices of Liberty, we figured we should quit while we were ahead! We hopped on a Friendship boat for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and rounded out the day with a viewing of Fantasmic! (Which was also Fantastic!)
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts closes up shop for the year on February 20, so there’s still time to hustle over there if your cravings get the best of you!
Did you sample any amazing foods at the Festival? Leave me a comment and tell me what’s good!
I know I am not the only one who is excited to finally have the opportunity to not only run a race at Disneyland, California, but to get the coveted Coast to Coast medal! These were discontinued several years ago when Disneyland races were put on pause. I’m really hoping to add “all the medals” to my wall, and this is a giant leap forward!.
So what is Coast to Coast?
Simply put, Coast to Coast is a medal runDisney runners earn if they run a long race (10 mi+) at both Disneyland and Disney World in the same calendar year.
Runners do NOT have to register for the challenge; it’s automatic. (What’s that… no separate fee? Like really? Disney passed on a money-grab opportunity? Huzzah!)
So besides money, why is this tricky?
There are two factors (other than OMG I’m running races two weeks in a row?????) that look really important to consider right now:
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Florida) and Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (California) races are back-to-back in January, 2024. Yup Florida is January 3-7 and California is January 11-14. If you want to do both, you’d better be able to have 2 weeks in the bank or be willing to accept a really chaotic remote work schedule.
Registration for the Disneyland races is soon… SOON! Club runDisney members start their registration on Feb 7; general registration is on Feb 14. No time for general registration has been announced yet. I’m presuming it won’t be 10 a.m. ET just since they should be catering to the Pacific Time audience, but that is only my opinion. I’ll post more when I know it.
Keep in mind that it has been years since there has been a Disneyland race. If you thought Dopey 2023 registration was bad… you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I predict instant bloodbath.
So what else do I need to know?
There will be two different versions of the C2C medal offered. One for those who complete a race during Marathon Weekend first, and one for those who complete a race at Disneyland first. Do we know the difference? No. Did runDisney make it clear that the medal for those who complete the Marathon Weekend first (thus doing back-to-back weekends) is special to 2024 ? Yes. Is that the money grab? To get marathoners to sign up for Disneyland one week later? Maybe.
You can only get one C2C medal per year. If you run Marathon Weekend then Disneyland, there’s your medal. No double-dipping if you head back to Florida for Princess.
Virtual races will not qualify. This makes perfect sense to me. The point of the medal is to go to California and then go to Florida. If you do it all on your treadmill, where’s the challenge in that?
So which races qualify?
Per the runDisney site, challenge or 10 mile races will qualify you in 2024. You must have a Florida and a California race/challenge:
Walt Disney World Half Marathon (FL)
Walt Disney World Marathon (FL)
Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (FL)
Dopey Challenge (FL)
Disneyland Half Marathon (CA)
Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (CA)
Princess Half Marathon (FL)
Fairy Tale Challenge (FL)
Springtime Surprise 10-Miler (FL)
Springtime Surprise Challenge (FL)
Wine and Dine Half Marathon (FL)
Two-Course Challenge (FL)
I personally am beyond exited. Can I pay for this? No clue. I’ll have to make some choices and beg my boss for a lot of time off. But I am ready to charge forward.
Is it bad that I am simultameously thinking “Castle to Chateau????”
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a week since the great summit of runDisney fans convened in Orlando. I’m personally still on a cloud from a sucessful Dopey Challenge, and I see race memories every time I close my eyes. I’ve got 90s grooves on autoplay in my head (I2I and DuckTales, I’m looking at you).
As with all things, there were highs and lows, but for me at least, it was mostly highs.
I was lucky enough to get into town on time and with all my luggage, so everything started out on the right foot. I had early access to the merchandise at the expo, so I headed there bright and early on Wednesday morning to take a look. I’ve never been to the very start of the expo before so it was a bit of a different experience from what I’ve seen in the past. I have heard rumors about the “eBay” shoppers that hit the merchandise hall at the start and wipe it out. I was hoping that description was a bit of an exaggeration, but unfortunately I walked into some madness that morning.
Club runDisney Platinum members got access to shopping at 8:30 and Gold members entered at 9:00. I was in the arena just after 9, and was a little unprepared for what I saw. People were just scooping up armloads of everything the could get their hands on and were retreating to a corner where they were trying things on and/or facetimeing their shopping clients for feedback on the loot. Cast Members were scrambling to restock the hoodies, jackets and Loungeflys that were flying off the racks. I’m not the kind of person that is going into this for the hassle of reselling items, so I grabbed the few things I wanted (which incedentally ended up selling out) and got out of there with my sanity in tact. There were lots of complaints on social media later in the day that people had missed out on choice items, and it’s was rather sad to see said items available on eBay at the same time. One example is the Mickey-shaped Dopey 48.6 car magnet I grabbed for $9.99. That same afternoon after they sold out, I saw one on eBay for $40. Sad face.
I skipped the vendors in the main expo area, so I don’t have any commentary to add there. Someone else will have to fill you in.
The line for bib pickup was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Not only did it extend out of the building and wrap around a courtyard, it then ran the full length of Wide World of Sports all the way to the parking lot. Whoa. This was a bit after 10:00 a.m. It was moving quite quickly, but wow am I glad I was there early. Note to self: never go to expo at 10:00 a.m. on day 1!
We really lucked out with the weather over the course of the 4 days. Mornings were quite chilly at the start line, particularly on Saturday for the Half Marathon. I picked up a great pro tip observing some of the other racers. Sure, you can bring old clothes to discard at the start of the race or a mylar blanket, but the real winners were the ones that showed up with discardable bathrobes. Hats of to you, my friends! Living remotely, it might be tough for me to bring 4 disposable bathrobes on the plane if I keep flying Frontier. I still have a comic vision in my mind of wearing so many bathrobes on the plane that I can’t straighten my arms. It’s evoking of Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story crying, “I can’t get my arms down!!!”
Race officials were concerned about Marathon heat and humidity on Sunday and “yellow flagged” the race. They’d had some challenges at previous races so they wanted to throw some caution out there proactively. I think this is why the corrals on Sunday seemed to be released quicker than on the previous days.
I drew some unfortunate corral placement for the weekend, and waited nearly an hour to start during the first 3 days, but on Sunday, I crossed the start line in about 40 minutes, so that supports my theory that they were trying to move runners through as quickly as possible.
Anyway – the weather turned out to be not so bad on Sunday, and they didn’t need to shorten the course or get overly watchful for heat exhaustion. There were lots of challenges on the course, but thankfully the weather really wasn’t a main contributor.
Much has been already been bitched written about regarding the crowding on the courses, bad runner etiquette, etc. etc.. I’m not going to go there. If you’ve run a Disney race, you know it’s not about getting to the finish line as possible. It’s about music, fun, great costumes, meeting your spirit animals and general good vibes. I won’t be lining up in the complaint department, however I will say that I personally saw 2 runners go down tripping on uneven surfaces, and a few others who were being treated. runDisney does their best to move a LOT of people through a lot of fun experiences and don’t-miss locations. At the end of the day, though, running a race, any race, is not without some risk. That’s why we sign waivers.
The obstacle I really wanted to address though was the “hard sweeps”. Race officials were not playing around this time and there was very little leeway given to stragglers. There was an “unofficial” guideline (rumor? myth?) in the past that once you were inside Epcot you were safe. Not anymore. I don’t necessarily agree with this approach, but there was a hard sweep point set up about a quarter mile from the finish line, no joke. So it’s true that you’re really not safe until you’re in the finsih line chute. That being said, I read an unofficial stat that approximately 25% of the marathon registrants did not cross the finish line.That doesn’t mean that all of them even started. I did see another number with a bit more math behind it that said more than 5% of the starters were swept. That’s higher than in previous years. In that perspective, finishing really means something, no matter what the struggles or pace.
Lines for the character stops during the shorter races were ridiculously long. I know there is a mentality that once you’ve spent a certain amount of time in a line, you’re not going to give up. Honestly, that’s not a very sane approach if finishing the race is at all important to you. There was a line for Darkwing Duck (super rare character) somewhere in Epcot. Race officials warned people in line (I heard this with my own ears) that the Balloon Ladies were coming and runners would be swept if they fell behind. Unforunately I heard a number of stories where people in that line in particular didn’t heed the warnings and ended up with a DNF. For their sake, I hope they’re happy with their decision. If that happened to me, I’d just be mad every time I saw the picture.
All the Feels
I personally got everything I hoped for and more. Coming into this season, I had 2 goals beyond finishing:
Goal #1: Get some character stop photos
In the past, I was just too fearful at my turtle’s pace to risk stopping in a long line. Working with a faster partner, we devised a system that worked really well for us. He would run on ahead and look for character stops. If he found a good one, he’d wait in line until I got there and I could join him for the pic. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but in our situation it was a great solution. Also, the lines for characters were plentiful and short on marathon day. I got more pics than I ever imagined possible – some of them I even dared to get on my own.
Goal #2: Cross the marathon finish line with a margarita in hand
This was only possible again thanks to my running partner. 3 years ago when I last ran the marathon I wanted a margarita and was sorely disappointed to see that everyone else wanted a margarita too. Getting in that line might have jeopardized my finish, so I passed. It was sad, but a picture, snack, or even a margarita is not even close to being worth risking a Dopey medal.
My fast-running friend surged ahead and grabbed the drinks and met me close to the exit of Mexico. It was orange in color, flavored like mango, a little melted, and everything I dreamed it would be. Knowing we were safe from the sweepers, we walked the last bit into Future World and took it all in. This was the emotional moment I’d dreamed of. Not my first Dopey, but let’s be real… Dopey is always a big deal. A lot can go wrong. By the time I got that glorious margarita, I knew there was no stopping me. My legs were on fire. No big deal. My feet hurt. No big deal….
I just ran 48.6 miles in 4 days in my Happy Place. With my people. With my friends. I got my challenge medals. So did my friends. I met thousands of amazing people. I saw costumes that made me ponder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I heard stories of resilience and bravery. I found out that when people hear the DuckTales theme, there are thousands of other people (not just me!!) who also sing “woo-ooo” in response to the call of “DuckTales”! It was a fairy tale ending to nine months of planning and dreaming.
“Double Dopey”. My new designation. Way more significant to me than any professional credentials.
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.
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!
Chargers of all kinds: watch, phone, headphones, Magic Band +
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!!
As always, the published maps are almost invisible to the naked eye, but I’ve had a look at the courses with my magnifying glass and have a few thoughts.
This is the same course for the recent Wine & Dine. Starting from the back of the Epcot parking lot, the first mile is a bit dull in terms of stuff to look at, but we’ll be full of plenty of anticipation and will be busy trying not to step on the other runners.
Once we hit the entrance to Epcot near Mexico, it’s all fun ’till the end. A loop around the World Showcase Lagoon should yield a few character stops. During the Wine & Dine they were in Norway, France and near the UK.
Another great photo op is as you cross the bridge back into Future World. You’ll get an awesome view of Spaceship Earth on the way to the finish line.
Rumor has it that the sculpture of Te Fiti has just been installed in Moana: The Journey of Water which is still under construction. Not sure if we’ll get a glimpse at this angle in the dark, but it’s possible.
The course makes a right turn and heads backstage between Mission: Space and Test Track and snakes to the finish line on the other side of the parking lot. Woo-hoo!
Starting from the same spot in the back of the parking lot, the course heads in the opposite direction. We get the boring highway running out of the way up front with a couple of zig-zags and hairpin turns, then it’s back to the park.
Passing behind The Land and into the park to run in front of Journey into Imagination, the course takes a right into United Kingdom and briefly backstage to re-emerge near the Skyliner station.
After a loop around the Boardwalk, the course heads back through the International Gateway into Epcot. A spin through the back of France drops the runners back on the the main concourse around the World Showcase Lagoon.
Once back in Future World, the finish is the same as the 5K – by Test Track and behind Guardians of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to the fun-filled finish.
The start for the Half Marathon is moved out to Epcot Center Drive. We get a lot of the boring highway miles out of the way early as we head up to Magic Kingdom.
In Magic Kingdom, its the iconic run up Main Street and then a spin adound Tomorrowland and through Fantasy Land and through the Castle for the best photo op of the course.
The course heads through Adventureland past Pirates of the Carribean and then behind the soon-to-not-be Splash Mountain and out of the park on the quest for the water treatment plant…
From there it’s pretty much a straight shot back to Epcot, except for a little loop-de-loop right at mile 10.
Off to the Epcot parking lot and then finally sweep across Future World to our now very familiar finish line run.
Once again we start out on Epcot Center Drive and do A LOT of looping around on the highways before there is much to see. To be completely honest I really like it this way. I like to get the dull stuff out of the way first so that there’s more to look at late in the race when I want to die.
Between mile 2-3 the course passes through Future World and then do ANOTHER loop around the Epcot parking lot. I really hope they have a lot of character stops and distractions planned here because it’s a long run up to Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom course adds a bunch of interesting sharp turns and I am expecting tons of course congestion. The good news is that we should see most of the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Next is the long jog through the waste water treatment plant again and the we head towards Animal Kingdom. The AK loop is a little interesting. We head through the park and past Everest (yes, you can ride if the park is open). Instead of exiting the park through the front gate, the course doubles back and makes a complete loop to the back of the park.
The next piece of the course is a bit controversial. The route I have run in the past went through Wide World of Sports (which I hated HATED), but instead this year, we head to Blizzard Beach. Yeah at first that sounds great, but if you zoom in, it’s just the Blizzard Beach parking lot. Really. With tons of turns and zig zags. I think I am underwhelmed.
Finally, the miles are starting to wind down and its just a quick hit at Hollywood Studios. The course really only kisses a corner of the park, and it doesn’t even look like we run Hollywood Boulevard. I’m OK with this for 2 reasons: A) by the time most runners get here, the park will be open and the race does complicate operations on the narrow streets. B) by the time most runners get here they just want to get to the finish line as fast as possible. Screw the sight seeing.
Finally, we head back to the Boardwalk and into Epcot through the International Gateway. Taking a right and heading the long way around the World Showcase Lagoon, finally we are so close. Don’t forget about the margaritas in Mexico. I am sending a runner ahead to get in line for me so that I can cross the finish line with a margarita in hand (before the Balloon Ladies).
That’s it! One more pass through Future World down our familiar finish route, past the gospel singers and we are there! Marathoners! Goofys! Dopeys! Hoooray!!!!
Castaway Cay 5K
I’ll be honest, I have no frame of reference here. This race is for lucky guests who are cruising on the Disney Wish immediately following Marathon Weekend.
I think the course at Castaway Cay is always the same. There is actually a running for every cruise that stops here, but this is THE running – meaning the only one with a non-rubber medal. Have fun, lucky cruisers! Maybe some day I’ll get to join you.
Marathon weekend is around the corner! Although the event guide hasn’t been released yet, you can find answers to some of the most common runDisney questions here!
1. I registered but now I can’t run. Can I sell or transfer my bib?
This is hands-down the most asked question on the runDisney forums. It makes complete sense – to get a spot in a race you have to register nine months ahead of time. Sooo much can happen in that time. Injuries, pregnancies, emergencies, failure to train and a thousand more things can happen. Unfortunately the one-word answer is no. runDisney does not permit any transfers, sales or deferments at this time. Rules have changed over the years: long ago they offered deferments (I got one when I was pregnant half a lifetime ago), sometimes they have offered partial refunds via a gift card (not so much recently). The current policy is absolutely no transfers permitted. If someone were to run under someone else’s bib, the potential penalty is permanent ban from runDisney races – for both parties. Just. Not. Worth it. Not.
2. What’s the best Disney Resort to stay at on race weekend?
Honestly… the only parameter is budget. ALL the Disney resorts offer race day transportation. For most people that’s the crucial question, and the easy answer is take your pick. The Disney resort offerings go from almost afforable to “People can actually pay this??? Like, for more than one night???” At the low end you get a very acceptable motel room with coffee and a fridge. At the high end you get… I’ll be completely honest. I’ve never stayed at the high end. Rumor has it that it’s better.. and quieter. The “value” resorts are often full of school groups and the party crowd. But I will also be very clear, despite my insomnia, noise has never kept me awake at a value resort.
3. I am staying at [XYZ Disney Resort]. Do they offer race-day transportation?
See above. Yes, they all offer race-day transportation. There have been some rather frightening stories of bus drivers getting lost on the way to the start line. I know that sounds impossible, but there are many road closures on race mornings, so those could potentially be contributing factors. I do advise you to grab the earliest bu possible from your resort, if nothing more than for peace of mind.
There are also a few off-property hotels that offer race day transportation. I’d suggest doing a quick internet search, particularly for the hotels in the Disney Springs area. These hotels are the most likely to offer these packages.
4. I am a new runner (or I am currently running 15-minute miles). I am so scared of the Balloon Ladies. Help.
Ok, this isn’t really a question, but the prospect of being swept has kept more than a few newbies and some experienced runners awake for nights on end. The much feared “Balloon Ladies” are the last to cross the start line and run at a steady 16-minute mile pace. They are the unofficial harbingers of the sweep. If you fall behind them, the race officials can pull you off the course and put you on a bus.
There are many factors that will impact whether or not runners behing the Balloon Ladies will actually be swept, including congestion on the course and where you are in terms of milage. While there are rumors out there that they can’t sweep you if you are in the park or just outside the park, that’s actually not true. Sweeping is completely at the discretion of the race officials. The only place you’re truly safe from being swept is at the finish line.
That being said, if you are able to run any of the course at all, a 16-minute walking pace, even for a few miles should be achievable for most. If you find yourself falling behind, just keep moving. There are no guarantees, of course, most people who have trained and keep moving have reported a succcessful finish.
5. I just bought these shoes, but I am not sure about them. Anyone else have the same experience?
I personally wouldn’t put a ton of faith in the opinions of well-intentioned Facebook commenters on particulars of running shoes for my body. Every shoe fits every person differently. Maybe if there’s some poor manufacturing issues you might get some confirmation on social media, but beyond that, I’d urge you to talk to a qualified fit specialist at a legit running shoe store.
6. I am trying to plan my race day nutrition. Should I bring my own fuel? What kind of hydration is available.
Shorter races like 5K and 10K generally have a number of water stops, but not much else. Half marathons will have Power Ade and some sort of fuel like Gu or Sport Beans. There are more options at the full marathon, which will also offer bananas and candy at some point. The course maps which are published a few weeks before the race will detail what’s available. If your nutrition is important, I suggest you check the course maps carefully. The last time I ran the full marathon there wasn’t a banana in sight until at least mile 9 and I was STARVING by then… it was way too late. I would have been wise to carry a snack with me.
7. I’m following [XYZ] program and I missed a run. What would you do?
We all miss runs, it happens. And rarely is it a reason to panic. I do think this is an area where crowdsourcing some advice can be helpful. You’ll find many experienced runners from numerous training programs stepping up to give advice. Ask away!
8. I missed out on registration. How can I run my race?
As we’ve covered in a previous blog post registration is a stressful and fast process that leaves a lot of would-be racers disappointed or empty-handed.
One option is to raise money for a designated charity. You can find participating charities on the runDisney site under Plan Your Trip> Travel Providers & Charities.
The other option is to stalk the runDisney site to see if registration will re-open for your race. It does happen from time to time, but as with initial regisration is likely to sell out quickly. Just keep checking or follow the Twitter account @runDisRegStatus which offers updates when races re-open.
9. I am staying at Disney, but not running a race. Where are there some good running trails?
Around Seven Seas Lagoon at the Magic Kingdom resorts
Around the Boarwalk at the Epcot area resorts
Around Hourglass Lake between Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts. This one is particularly fun, because if you turn on your GPS watch while running, the trail will look like the shape of Olaf from Frozen!
10. What’s the best post-race watering hole / breakfast spot?
OK, so if you’re looking for a watering hole after a 5K or 10K, you probably need some help because you’l definitely be done by 9:00 a.m. That being said, you may be able to find some champagne at the finish line. A lot of folks are looking for breakfast spots after one of these races. Might I suggest Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort? No matter where you settle, make sure you have a reservation. Anything better than a resort food court may still need a reservation, particularly if it is character dining.
As for watering holes, there are two great options. If you have a park ticket, head over to Epcot to drink “around the world” and grab some pics with your medals. If you don’t have a park ticket, grab the bus from your resort over to Disney Springs. You can bar hop to your heart’s content and take in some live music at the same time. Whatever you decide, leave the driving to the Disney pros and have a well deserved blast!