Latest reviews by Edgar
If you have never experienced a RunDisney event, it is definitely something to add to your To Do list in the not-so-distant future! As with everything Disney is involved with, there is an element of magic in the sense that you will have a lasting memory and possibly an unforgettable experience – after all “every mile is magic”.
Participants and the Run: With that being said, you will have a mixture of participants in any of the races, some seasoned competitive runners, average recreational runners, walkers, and some who have never completed a 5K. There will be people who are visibly ready to tackle a course of 13.1 miles and some who are dressed up to have a good time and enjoy the scenery. If you are looking to truly run this event, you definitely need to be in the first few corrals (A-D). Corrals are released in approximately 5 minute intervals and you have to have official documented times for placement near the front corrals. Individuals without official times will be sorted to the back. It is important to note that a large number of participants in the last corral (P) are probably going to walk the event and will be keeping a pace up to the required 16-minute/mile cut off.
Running for future placement: I would NOT recommend using the WDW Half or Full marathons as official times for placement in future races as these runs are considered “fun runs” and have certain hindrances which will delay individuals who want to run the entire distance with few obstacles. For example, when you are on the main roads, the course is wide enough to allow for enough distance between participants to promote weaving and over-taking slower participants by passing through the grass. When you hit the Magic Kingdom, the path will narrow creating a bottleneck particularly as you enter Cinderella’s castle. If you are placed in the last few corrals, chances are when you reach this point there will be a severe traffic jam at the castle from people walking very slowly to the point of even stopping to take pictures. You must remember, the run consists of people from all over the world, some who may never have stepped foot through the halls of the castle, so let them have the moment and don’t ruin the memory for them simply because you entered a run without appropriate corral placement (again, if you wanted to run the entire distance, obtain appropriate official times from a run before you decide to register for an event of this nature). The same bottleneck occurs when going over narrow overpasses/underpasses and when circling around Spaceship Earth within Epcot. Forewarned is fair-warned, if you are in Corrals I through P, don’t expect to do as well with timing as you did in your preparatory runs.
Run course information: The course is filled with great visual scenery, great photo-ops with characters, and plenty to distract you from the discomfort of running 13.1 miles in the event that you didn’t prepare for it. The course itself runs through a huge portion of the WDW property including Epcot (through future world around to the front gateway of World Showcase) and Magic Kingdom (Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland). One important thing to note are elevation changes when you approach and exit Magic Kingdom. Florida does not have mountains, it has very small hills and in this case they were man-made. Since Magic Kingdom is based on what is the 2nd Floor of the property, you will have to ascend to that level once you cross the underpass bridge near the Contemporary resort. The slight incline does lead to a slowdown with many participants who are not conditioned to run uphill. When you exit the Magic Kingdom behind Splash Mountain, you will see the decent happen (and also get a strong scent of trash – Magic Kingdom was strategically built this way not only to create a first floor for easier transportation of cast members, but also to prevent airflow of garbage back toward the park… ever wonder why you never smell or see where any of the trash goes, that’s why!). If you have always wanted to see behind the scenes areas of the Magic Kingdom, the exit path will certainly delight you. Behind Splash Mountain you will see the storage location for the Electrical Light Parade floats as well as the physical structures of buildings related to the rides without the visual facades we see while in the park.
Safety and Organization: I can’t begin to say enough about how Disney pays very close attention to the safety of participants. Safety is, after all, one of the keys to the kingdom of Walt Disney World. The course is completely blocked off by security and the Florida Highway Patrol to prevent unnecessary traffic from interfering with the run. If you plan on heading to the parks the morning of an event, you will certainly be forced to take detours. If you are not at Epcot for the commencement of the race prior to 5:00 AM, the road leading to Epcot from World Drive will be shut down. This also pertains to spectators, all traffic will be diverted to the Transportation and Ticket Center and guests will have to take the monorail to Epcot which will result in a minimum of 15-minutes in delays (time it takes for the monorail to travel from TTC to Epcot) barring the time it takes for you to park at TTC, walk to the monorail station, and wait for the monorail to arrive (overall it could be 30-45 minutes before you reach Epcot if you end up being diverted). The road leading to Epcot from World Center Parkway / Epcot Center Drive is also closed the evening prior to the event due to the placement of the corrals along this portion of the road. If you are running in the event, I would probably recommend staying at a resort on property offering shuttle service to and from the event. This will allow you to sleep in a little, not have to worry about being sleep deprived, and you also have a place to shower and change after in case you want to make a day of fun in the parks. It took me 45 minutes to get from the Epcot Center Drive exit off Interstate 4 to Epcot itself to park for the race which was ridiculous but a result of detours created by the race (I would recommend taking the Magic Kingdom exit instead and going into Epcot that way). Next year I plan on staying on-property to avoid this traffic mess. If you chose to dress up, be sure to read Disney’s new costume policy which went into effect over the holidays of 2015. Even if you have run in costume before, the policies have become slightly more restrictive for everyone’s safety. Also, don’t overdress for the event despite the colder temperatures in Florida during January. You will undoubtedly see a trail of discarded clothing along the way from participants who thought it would be too cold and warmed-up faster than they imagined. Remember when the run begins, it is early in the morning and temperatures could be near 60 degrees Farenheit, but you are surrounded by so many people that their collective body temperatures will keep you warmer. Once you start running, you will begin to get even hotter rather quickly. So don’t put on excessive amounts of layers if you are unsure as to whether or not you can run with all of them on. With regards to hydration, you are welcome to come with camelpaks, water bottles, or fancy running belts that hold electrolyte canteens. There are plenty of water stations, Powerade stations, and gel pack stations along the way. If you feel the onset of any medical issues, there will be numerous medical stations throughout the run path and their frequency increases the further you get along the course.
Volumes of Participants / Runner Integrity: The 5K and 10K have smaller volumes than the half and the full marathons, so keep that when you arrive to a crowd that is reminiscent of the quantity of people at the parks during major holidays. Annual estimates typically state that there are over 100,000 participants each year for WDW Marathon weekend! There have been numerous assertions that individuals cheat during the larger runs. Quite honestly, cheating will not get anyone the first place award because failure to cross every single electronic check-in station will be reflected in Track Shack’s system which will result in disqualification. Furthermore, cheating to cut through the run only robs the individual of the experience not only by shortening the journey, but also by removing portions of the run which may have had elements to make the run even more memorable. If an individual bypasses the designated course to get a faster time for future corral placement, they are making a huge mistake. Remember, runners typically earn their placement to be in a corral. Lack of ability will be evident when attempting to run within a corral outside of one’s own limits, which could be humiliating due to the inability to keep up with seasoned runners who earned that space. All participants need to have fun, enjoy the run, and make some memories! Everyone gets a medal (who keeps up with the 16-minute / mile pace) so do your best and think of the feeling you will get when you look back and say “I finished 13.1 miles! I really did it!” Sometimes the magic of running isn’t in the swag, but in the ability to reminisce about that empowering moment in your life when you did something you didn’t think was possible.
Swag: Before the event, you must pick up your race pack at the Expo which is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Plan accordingly as runners will not be allowed in corrals without bibs and it is clear that all participants must pick up their racing packets prior to the runs. The packet this year came with the event booklet, the bib with electronic tag, a clear bag to be used to store stuff at bag check the day of the event, a sample of a Cliff bar, and a Champion brand dry-fit long-sleeve shirt (blue for the half marathon with Donald on it, red for the full marathon with Mickey on it). The medals at the conclusion of the runs are beautiful, you should Google them as they vary slightly from year to year. They are heavy, solid metal, coated in gold with the character associated with the race and definitely frame-worthy. Although there are many vendors present during the event that will frame the race medal and photo for a nominal fee (which ranges from 200-300$), I would recommend going to the Art of Disney store in Epcot and getting them to do it for you. They will frame it with a mickey filigree frame, professionally matted in your choice of colors (I recommend coordinating the matting with the colors of your run), with a piece of original artwork commemorating the event. The artists on site can even personalize the art with your run details and it costs less than the on-site vendors. If you want any pre-race gear, the expo has a lot of vendors, although their pricing is probably going to be more expensive than you going to your local run shop or sporting goods store months prior in preparation for the event.
Overall: Great run, but keep in mind it is meant to be a fun run! Enjoy every minute of it! If you are a competitive runner and are not in the first few corrals, changing your mindset to this being a leisure event will allow you to truly get the most out of the experience. I highly recommend everyone do this, alone or with friends, younger or elder, physically capable or challenged… you will be glad you did! Disney will tell you “every mile is magic”… a magic comes from within you!