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My RunDisney Q&A before 2024 Marathon Weekend Begins!

Here we are just days away from one of the most anticipated events of the year - Marathon Weekend 2024. With over 20,000 people heading to Walt Disney World to participate in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon! Over on my Instagram account, @michaeldoesdiz, I put up a Q&A box and received a ton of questions - so I thought I'd put together my little Q&A here!


Before Race Weekend:


What training plan do you follow? 

In the past i've followed the training plans on the rundisney website! Now I just typically just do 2 short runs + 1 long run each week!


Best way to snag a spot for any Disney run! Wanting to have my first half be a Disney one. 

Be online early - if you don't get a spot that day, keep checking and sign up through a charity!! Charities are the best way to get into sold out races.


Missed sign up for 2024 races when do they release 2025 races?!

General registration is next month for the Disneyland halloween half, in March for Wine & Dine 2024, and then starting in April for 2025 races! all of them are on the home page of the rundisney website! 


Where would you suggest a new runner (more like never ) to start if they want to participate?

I'd definitely start with the 5K! Take it easy and ease yourself in. That is 3.1 miles! If that seems too short, aim for a 10K - start with walking and then slowly increase your mileage. I also highly recommend the galloway method (run/walk/run). You do intervals so that you're not straight running for too long!


Is it easy for non annual passholders to get an entry? (Thinking about next time!)

Sadly they don't do pass holder or DVC early registration anymore :( now the only way to get in early is to be a paid member of club rundisney (gold or platinum). 


How do you plan costumes for the weather?

I always plan to wear shorts and a tank top - I know that I can then always add layers underneath (and on top) for added warmth. I.e. if i'm wearing a blue tank top as part of my costume, i ALSO have a blue long sleeve shirt that i can throw on underneath it if it ends up being cold! 


Can you run through the perks BESIDES a medal?

You get a medal, a t-shirt and the chance to run magical miles through theme parks! You also get to stop and see really fun characters (sometimes they're super rare). For some races (like wine & dine half marathon) you also get a ticket to the after party. 


The Expo:


How does accessing the expo work? Do I need to virtual queue?

Anybody can go to the expo! You just to join a virtual queue to access the MERCHANDISE area on the first day. You'll be able to join it at 8:30am EST for Disney World and 7am PST for Disneyland race weekends. You need to be within 45 miles of WDW and 90 miles of Disneyland. 


What is the process of picking up your race packet. What do we need to bring to pick it up.

You'll have to fill out a waiver (you likely did this online - they send 100 reminder emails). Then you'll just show your ID and check in pass (it's in your account at manage.rundisney.com and they also emailed you a link)! 


How much time should you set aside for the expo and packet pickup process?

I usually give myself 2-3 hours. Between grabbing my bib, going to get my shirt, meeting characters and shopping it takes some time! There's also food/drinks and a lot of people socialize. 


First time running the Disneyland half, how do u pick up bib?

You'll pick it up at the Disneyland Hotel during the race expo! For ALL races (anywhere) you have to pick it up at least one day before the race you're running!


First run Disney for me! Does the race bib come with the safety pins or do I bring some?

It comes with safety pins!! But I like a few things a lot more than safety pins (i'll get to that!)



Stuff/Gear for Race Weekend:


What are your must brings to feel prepared? (Any of them in red are links!)


Best type of fuel? That's my main issue during the race and before. Also recovery ideas?!

I really like honey stinger chews! They don't make me feel nauseous. I also like the sport bean jelly beans. I hate bananas (personally) but many folks love them during the race. 


Best water bottle/pack?

I have these ones from amazon and honestly love them. When I'm at Disney races, I keep one small one in my back pocket filled with water for an emergency sip (only during longer races) - but they have so many water stops along the course!


What are the best shoes to run and train in?

This is completely individualized. I used to swear by Hoka and tell everyone to run in them. But recently they gave me blisters. So now I'm in Asics and LOVING them. My best advice is to go to a running store (I go to Fleet Feet) and have them bring out literally every shoe by every brand in your size and TRY THEM. Find a pair that is the most comfortable for you. (I'm currently in Asics Gel Kayano 30's and they're super comfy). 


What race day gear do you use to carry everything?

I swear by my FlipBelt - it's the best. Just make sure you get one that fits you - you want it to be snug like a pair of shorts! 


What do you use to pin your bib to your shirt?

I switch back and forth between these bib clips from Amazon, these magnets from FlipBelt and then i have a cute disney themed set of BibBoards! But I never use safety pins. 


Must have items to bring on race day!

Shokz headphones, cellphone, running fuel, anti-fog lens wipes, flipbelt, ID, credit card, advil & tylenol, an Iced Coffee (2 hours before i run), bib!


Race Weekend:


Ahhh first time Dopey runner. Any recommendations?! I'm so anxious!

Don't be nervous. You've got this! I keep doing this each year and I still get anxious the week leading up. Just remember that you've trained for this and that you're going to be OK and listen to your body. 


Best resort to stay for easy access morning of races, like walking distance? Dolphin?

Even with some resorts being that close, you HAVE to take transportation to the EPCOT parking lot for the start of the races. So being at a Swan/Dolphin (or that area) is great - it won't make a HUGE difference.  


Fave place to stay during run weekends?

My go to has always been the Swan or Swan Reserve - but with a longer race weekend I really like being somewhere that has a bathtub. I'd say staying at ANY disney property (or swan/dolphin/reserve) is great - mainly for the transportation that they provide!


What's your suggestions on recovery in between the half & marathon day?

Take. It. Easy. And. Sleep. Seriously. The biggest thing during these long challenges is to not push yourself too hard during the non-racing time. If you go to the parks, go for a little while and do calm things and don't burn your legs out. I personally like to take it easy at the resort, sit in the hot tub, theragun my legs and then I ice them. I love ice. It really helps! And then I try to go to sleep by 6-7pm. 


Do all races begin in Epcot?

They all start in the EPCOT parking lot! They used to vary - but due to road closure changes, they now all start and end in the exact same spot. 


How much do you hold back on 5k/10k/half and how much do you push in the full?

I take them very easy. It's hard for me to start out slow - I get too excited, but I really try to remind myself to. Running 26.2 miles the day after running 13.1 is tough. So it's a good reminder to just take them easy - you're (likely) not trying to PR those races - you're there to finish the challenge. 


Starting from expo day- what is your daily advice for rest/food/hydration???

Start getting rest and staying hydrated BEFORE expo day. In my opinion, getting solid nights of sleep before race day actually begins banks up and helps. I start heavily hydrating at least 2 days before the expo. I also start being incredibly mindful of my food about 3 days before races. I don't want to eat anything that could mess with my stomach. I avoid sushi/raw meat, spicy foods, greasy foods or anything that has the potential to mess with me!


Doing dopey - do we get all of the race shirts?

Yes! You get 6 shirts total. 5K, 10K, Half, Full, Goofy Challenge (running half + full) and Dopey (all 4 races). You also get all 6 medals (upon completion!)


Running my first ever half - what should I eat before it?

Pasta and protein! I usually like having a very simple pasta dish the night before each race. The carbs are great for providing energy - and I like to have some chicken with it. Go easy on the dairy though! 



Race Morning:


How do you deal with four 2am wake-up's?

It's not bad the first day because I'm so excited. By day 2 it's kinda sucky. By the fourth day I'm exhausted but also kinda used to it? My advice is to force yourself to go to bed early. If you're in town for Dopey/racing, remind yourself THAT is the purpose of THIS trip. Not late nights at the parks or fireworks! Save that for a non-race trip. 


What time do you set alarms for to wake up?

I set for 2am every day. (and 2:01, 2:02, 2:03). I like having the time to wake up, shower (to wake myself up) and drink my coffee + water + eat something well in advance of the race. 


Do you ever use gear check? And what do you use it for?

I do!!! I LOVE it for longer races to store a pair of Oofos flip flops, a spare tshirt, a sweatshirt and my car keys. There's no better feeling after finishing a long race than taking your shoes off and putting those flip flops on. 


How do you stay warm before the races?

I bring a mylar blanket with me and also hot hands if it's going to be really cold! I toss them right before the start line. I also bring a few "throwaway" clothes (usually sweatshirts or jackets). Grab cheap ones from walmart, clearance racks or even goodwill. You'll toss them once you're warmed up - and disney donates them!


How early do you need to arrive before start times?

All races start at 5am. My suggestion is to be there at 3-3:30am if you want to "meet characters" and socialize before the race. If you just want to get there and go straight to your corral, 4am is fine. :)


Cold/Rain recommendations!!

Keep an emergency poncho + mylar with you! I buy them in bulk on amazon (they're tiny and fold up and are pocket sized). Also if you're doing more than one race - bring at least 2 pairs of shoes - if one gets wet you WANT a dry pair for the next day. 


Best transportation for race day?

Resort transportation (included at all Disney properties) is great. It's a bus! I personally drive my rental car every morning. I like the flexibility and I use it like my "personal locker". Parking is free in the EPCOT parking lot! I've also taken an uber before - but at 3am there can sometimes be an issue with finding a driver. 


During Races:


Do a lot of people walk? We ran the 5&10k last year, but am terrified I'll be too slow for the half. 

Yes!!! As long as you can walk roughly a 16 minute mile. You just need to be able to keep that pace ahead of the balloon ladies, who start at the end of the LAST corral. So if you start in an earlier corral and can walk quickly (or run and walk) - you will be fine.


Start your run/walk intervals at the start line or mile 1? What are your intervals?

I love the run/walk/run method. I use the RunInterval app to have them "ding" in my headphones. I do 2 min running, 30 seconds walking. I start it right before I start the race - but I usually end up running the whole first mile and I start following it after that point. I will also often use my character stops as the "walk break" in between some of the intervals. 


What are these races really like?

They're really freakin' fun. Seriously - running around Disney world with tons of other people is just a blast. 


How to pace yourself for first marathon??

Don't burn all of your energy at the beginning even though you are excited. I recently ran a marathon (non-Disney) and I started out way too fast, with 8 minute miles. I burned myself out by mile 15 and was exhausted the back half. Take it slow and easy and take your walk breaks. Also stay hydrated. Stop at every water stop!!!!


What headphones do you use?

Shokz. ALWAYS. I use the OpenRun Pro - they're my personal favorites for running. 


What music do you listen to??

I have my RunDisney playlists that I made!! Here they are! I also love just really upbeat pop music when I'm running. I'm an Apple Music guy and the "Pure Cardio" and "Pop Workout" playlists are great. 




How far apart are the corral start times?

The corrals get bigger in size (A is first and smallest, E is typically last and largest). Within each corral they do mini-start groups - usually about 2-3 minutes apart. The goal is to give everyone as much space as possible and to avoid bottlenecks. If you're in the last corral, typically plan to wait 3 minutes in between each mini starting group! 


Not first time - but first time fear of being swept during dopey! What happens if you do?

So if this happens, you'll be taken on a bus to the finish line from wherever you are on the race course. You'll receive the medal for the actual race (ie the marathon) but you won't receive your challenge medal(s) (ie goofy or dopey). 


How long are the waits for characters along the way?

Ok so the lines can LOOK long - but they usually go by in about 3-5 minutes, 10 minutes being the longest (usually). The team is typically REALLY good at moving folks through. My suggestion: use one phone for your whole group at each stop and airdrop/send the pictures after the race. It'll make things go more quickly. If you're worried about timing, do your best to stop for at least one character that makes you smile along the course. 


How does photopass work?

Photopass will take tons of pics of you during each race! You'll see them in little neon green tents along the course. When you see them - SMILE! My suggestion is to keep running - they're trained to capture you while you're in motion. If you stop, the people behind you will run into you in your photos and everyone will be bummed. Also be careful if you decide to "jump". That's how injuries happen. After the race, you can link your photos (the code is on the back of your bib) in your disney app. If you have "memory maker" you'll be able to download all of your photos for free. You can also purchase it! Everything is done by your bib number - so make sure your bib is FRONT AND CENTER and never covered. Also - during the half and full, you'll run through Cinderella Castle in the magic kingdom - after you run THROUGH it, you can run off to the left and there will be 4-5 photographers set up to take your castle photo! Don't miss it!


How long does it take to ride Everest if you don't arrive until 8:30ish / any tips for riding rides?


It moves FAST. The full marathon is really the ONLY race where you can ride a ride - because the parks are open! The cast members at the ride are awesome and they usually usher runners through the single riders line. You're usually on and off of it within 5 minutes. It's a THRILL and i highly recommend trying it IF you have enough time. A warning: your legs MAY cramp up after you get off. Also - I tried tower of terror one year and it was the worst decision. Don't ever do that - it was dark and long and awful. 


How can you track the balloon ladies?

You can add their bib #s to your running tracker and get text notifications when they cross certain miles! You can also track the official galloway pacers for the LAST group - that works well too! 


Favorite bathrooms for a quick stop?

Any restroom in the theme parks that you run past is fair game during the race! If I have to go and I'm running past a portapotty but know that we're getting to a park soon - i usually try to hold it and wait!! But there are plenty of portapotties along the course for your use. 


Is there a fastpass to the finish line? 

Your speedy body will get you through. 


Spectating:


Do spectators have to get up to take the buses with runners to watch at MK for the marathon?

Ok so the Magic Kingdom opens at 5am - and you do NOT NEED a park ticket or reservation to go spectate there. Matthew's suggestion: get up with your runner. Go to the EPCOT parking lot and take the monorail from there to MK. You may be there waiting for a while, but you'll get there in time and be happy you're there and you'll have a ton of fun spectating for everyone. They also have a popcorn cart + beverages open for you there!!!


Do you or Matthew have any tips for spectators and how to efficiently get around to cheer?

This is Matthew's area of expertise. He's a PRO at spectating. Best bet is typically to do your best to rely on Disney transportation - but at the same time know that at the early hours, they are often NOT always speedy. So if you're trying to catch someone at the Magic Kingdom, know that it might be tough to then catch them at Animal Kingdom too - if you ALSO want to get to the finish line (for the marathon). My other suggestion would be to attempt to use Minnie Vans (even though they may be pricier). I'd pick 2 solid points to try and spectate - one during the course and one at or near the finish line. As a runner, I love seeing my loved ones when I really need them later in the race. They push me to keep going!


Where is the best place to watch my family/friends from?

It depends on the race but some awesome spots are the boardwalk, behind the grand floridian (half and full), Magic Kingdom, inside of Animal Kingdom, inside of EPCOT during the last mile of the marathon - and then definitely in the stands at the finish line!


Questions for me (personally):


How many dopey challenges have you done?

This will be my 3rd Dopey and 4th WDW marathon. 


What Disneyland races are you running?

All 3 - the 5K, 10K and Half!


What race was your first marathon? Do you think WDW is a good first?

First full marathon was Disney World in 2020 - and 100% yes!


How did you start running? Always been a runner?

I haven't!!! After I chose to get sober I needed a hobby and tried running to get my mind off of things. Then I combined my love of Disney and my new found running passion and found rundisney! 


How many RunDisney Races have you done?

42 rundisney races over the course of the last 6 years!


If we see you can we say hi?

PLEASE DO!!!!!! 


What do you do with all your medals?!

Ugh I want to display them ALL but haven't found the right way yet. They're currently all in bins in my closet. 


What is your favorite distance to run? Like the most enjoyable?

Most enjoyable is a 10 miler - it's perfect. I feel very accomplished but not worn out. 


Advice for how to go from a half marathon to a full marathon?

Take the actual time to train!!!


What do you do each night of Dopey? Do you go to the parks?

I go to sleep early, I eat pasta and I don't usually go to the parks. I try to be very kind to my body!!!


What was your longest training run?

26 miles :) I ran a marathon as a part of my training! 


Show us some medal pics for inspo for my first medal Monday!

You've got it!!! Here you go :)




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1 Comment


ciarrocchi
Jan 02

Wow! This was incredibly helpfu! I am doing my first Princess Challenge and you covered so much!! We’ve done lots of half, but I was nervous about the back to back races. Thanks for calming the anxiety!

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