Top Ten Tips For Your First runDisney Race!

Hello Love Bugs!

OK, I have a confession to make….I’m officially obsessed with runDisney events after just having completed my very first 5K this month at Walt Disney World during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend!  Being a frequent Disney goer, this trip was unlike any other because I was actually able to experience one of the most popular running events and although I’m not surprised, Disney orchestrated quite a spectacle with their races leaving smiles across the faces of princesses of every age!  I can’t wait to run around the world again, but until then, I leave you with ten tips for your first (or next) runDisney race!

rundisney princess logo.jpg

10. Register Immediately

Before I get into the registration part, you must first determine what you can (realistically) complete and choose a race to sign up from.  Some runDisney events offer 5K, 10K, half marathons, and marathons to choose from.  While the races are walker friendly, there is a pacing requirement of 16 minutes per mile, so it is important to keep this in mind before selecting a race.

I was completely shocked at how quickly the runDisney races fill up!  It’s no wonder the agents advise that you register as soon as they become available because chances are, if you wait more than 1-2 days, there is a high probability you won’t be able to sign up!  If you are an annual pass holder, you’re in luck!  Annual pass holders are able to register for races two weeks prior to the general public!  Talk about a stress reliever! You may also want to consider saving ahead of time  because some of the races are very expensive.  I promise you it will be totally worth every penny, but until then, save what you can so it won’t be a burden on your monthly bills.

rundisney expo jeff galloway

9. Start Training

Part of being able to complete a race is having proper training for it!  You’ll want to train your body a few months prior (if you aren’t already a runner) so that you can complete the race in time.  I personally love the Jeff Galloway app, Half Marathon with Jeff Galloway.  Being a non-runner, I needed the right guide to be able to complete any sort of 5K or marathon, and this was the perfect way for me to build up my stamina and endurance to complete my first 5K.  I luckily had the pleasure of meeting Jeff a the runDisney expo before my race!  Talk about an awesome experience!  He was so knowledgable and gave me some ideas for running.  Luckily he is at many of the expos (which I’ll get to later) so be on the lookout for him!

rundisney princess 5k outfit

8.Create Your Outfit

I have to say, one of the most fun things about the runDisney races is seeing everyone in costume.  While most ladies wear the traditional tutu (for the princess race and other races), there are so many costumes that guests make and wear to these events that will leave your jaw on the floor.  You’ll fit right in wearing a costume or outfit that is unique and original, or you can dress in theme with regular clothing.  Whatever you choose, its up to you!  I got some inspiration from pictures I found on pinterest to create my Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella’s Step Sisters) costumes for my sister and I!  I had a blast making them and enjoyed all of the smiles and compliments I received!  If you do plan to make a costume, be sure to check the new costume guidelines.  I would hate for you to make an amazing outfit only to be turned away at the gates because it doesn’t abide by the dress code!  You will have a great time dressing up with friends and/or family and I guarantee it will make the run even more fun!

rundisney expo show

7. Pack Your Best Running Gear and Visit The runDisney Expo

Being prepared to run is a task in itself.  You want to make sure you have the right gear and equipment needed to make sure you’re comfortable along your path.  If you forget to pack your essentials though, have no fear, the expo will save the day!  What expo you ask?  Every runner is required to attend the runDisney expo prior to their race.  The expo is located at the Wide World of Sports and is open for runners to receive their bibs and guide for the races.  Their are also a plethora of experiences here, like meeting characters, taking pictures, and other various stations that are set up.  Once you grab your bib and guide, you will head over to the expo in the adjacent building.  Here, there are hundreds of vendors selling and giving out all of your running essentials.  I have to admit, I loved walking through here!  I felt like this was a trade show just for runners!  My recommendation to you is to attend the expo during the afternoon hours (12-4 or so) because the heavy crowds seem to arrive early in the morning or after 5 PM.  The famous New Balance sneakers that are designed specifically for the runDisney events are also sold here.  Be sure to sign up on the virtual queue the day prior to your arrival at the expo to try on and purchase your sneakers.  You will not be able to purchase them unless you sign up!

rundisney expo pictures

rndisney snack box

6.  Eat a Light Breakfast

It’s best to workout on an empty stomach, so if you plan to eat breakfast, be sure it’s a small one.  Luckily, I snagged a banana, some apple slices, and a granola bar at the expo the night before, so I munched on these before arriving to the start line.  If you’re a coffee lover, there are a couple of stands that sell some with other small treats prior to the races. There are also some great snack boxes that are distributed immediately after receiving your medal when you cross the finish line.  They include a bunch of snacks that are sure to please your tastebuds and tummy!

5. Stay on Site

While you can stay at an off-site resort if you are a registered runner, it is highly discouraged.  The transportation to the races in the morning produces heavy traffic and can cause a major delay in your arrival.  Disney is very strict with being punctual at the start of a race, and it would be a total bummer not being able to complete what you paid for and have been looking forward to doing for months now.  Luckily, all Disney World resorts offer complimentary busses to and from the race.  This way, you don’t need to worry about parking or being stuck in traffic since the busses have their own special routes and drop off areas.Be sure to check with your hotel lobby for the bus schedule before your race.

4. Try Not To Bring A Bag To The Race

Like a regular theme park day, there are bag checks at the races.  These lines can be extremely long because not only are they checking your bags for safety, but you will also have to turn in your belongings to be held for you while you run.  You will then have to form another line to collect your belongings after the race.  This is a huge delay that can be avoided by carrying minimal items.  I personally carried my phone in an armband that held my ID and credit cards.  Don’t even worry about having to carry a water bottle either!  There are several water stops during the race and regular size bottles of water and Powerade served as soon as you cross the finish line!

rundisney start line3. Arrive Early

Ever heard of the saying the early bird gets the worm?  Well, It’s especially true at the runDisney races!  The DJ is blasting some great tunes as you check out other guests costumes, dance around, and take pictures with characters.  These lines are usually very, very long because there are very unique characters that are out for photo opportunities.  You can also use the restroom and stretch for a bit instead of rushing to the start line.

rundisney character stops

2. Prioritize Your Character Meet and Greets

If you don’t care too much for the timing of your run, you will love stopping to meet each of the characters along your path!  Since I was taking it all in and wanting to really experience my first 5K in its entirety, we power walked most of the way stopping at each character.  The lines were long for a few of them, but since they were in the middle of the race, many runners took their pictures quickly, causing the line to diminish faster than usual.  If you do, however, plan to finish in a certain amount of time, or are lagging behind, you may want to prioritize the characters you want to wait for to avoid being picked up in a golf cart and taken to the end of the finish line for not keeping your pace!  You may also have a little ‘wiggle room’ if you are in one of the first corrals since the 16 minute per mile pace begins when the last corral is released.

rundisney corrals

rundisney fun pics

1. Have Fun and Check Out The Special Events!

While many of us are working on goals and focusing on finishing, its always important to have fun!  You are in the happiest place on earth after all!  The most special part of the runDisney races is the magic that Disney provides in every part and detail of the event.  In addition to having fun during the race, be sure to check out some of the unique events that are held just for the runners.  Choose from special dessert parties, breakfasts with characters, pasta parties, and more.  Simply call or go online and see what events are being offered for the race that you sign up for.  On the last day of the races, there is a celebratory party over at Disney Springs.  Here, runners can receive promotional discounts at select stores and restaurants, obtain free goodies, and dance with an awesome DJ!  This is a great way to end an awesome weekend!

rundisney step sisters

I hope you have a fantastic time at your next run and hopefully these tips will help you!  If you’ve done the runDisney races before, comment below!  I’d love to hear about your experience!

XO, NAT

Disclosure:  All images and opinions are my own.

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