If there is one aspect of a runDisney race that brings out the not-so-fun side of runners, it’s corral placement! So what exactly are these corrals and why do they cause such an uproar?
Corrals are a way to “seed” runners and offer a staggered start to a race. As the popularity of runDisney grew, it was imperative for the race directors to come up with a way to ensure 25,000 runners weren’t stampeding the race start or other runners. During race registration, runners can input an estimated finish time along with a valid proof of time from a previous race to be placed in a corral with runners of a similar pace. The corrals are then released one-by-one on race morning, allowing the course to free up a little before the next set of runners comes through.
However, in the past, there has been a LOT of discussion, debate and frustration once runDisney would send out corral placements for the longer races. Runners would be upset they were in the “wrong corral”, others would feel the corrals were too crowded, there were even runners who had not been truthful when it came to their time. The list went on and on.
Here is a look at what the corrals include for each runDisney race distance, along with our thoughts and tips!
It cannot be stressed enough, BE HONEST when inputting your estimated pace or race finish time during registration. Corral placements are primarily there to ensure to runner safety.
5K & 10K Races
For most of the 5K and 10K races, there are around 5 corrals for each event. These corral placements are not given until you pick up your race bib at the Health & Fitness Expo. They are denoted with a letter, usually A through E. Corral A goes first, and so on. Both the 5K and 10K races have around 6-8 minutes in between each corral release.
During the 5K races, there is basically no rhyme or reason as to how your corral is chosen. Since it is a fun run and is therefore not timed, it really doesn’t matter!
For the 10K races, your corral is based off of the estimated pace you input during registration. In past races, some runners have found this isn’t necessarily what actually happens – especially if there is a runDisney challenge in the mix.
10-Miler, Half Marathon & Marathon Races
For the longer distance runDisney races, there are anywhere from 10 to 16 corrals, including an elite corral. (In 2014, runDisney added more corrals with less runners in each corral.) These corral placements can be found a few weeks prior to the race weekend on runDisney’s website or our Important Information page. Click on the race waiver, enter your information and at the bottom of the race waiver is your bib number. Match it to the corral on the corral placement page. The corrals release around 4 minutes apart, and the release time increases as the corrals go on.
Starting in 2014, a proof of time is needed to secure a corral placement. (Anyone who does not have a valid proof of time before the deadline will be placed in the last corral.) For the 10-mile and half marathon races, the proof of time needs to be a 10K distance or longer. For the marathon, the proof of time needs to be a 10 mile race or longer. The proof of time must be from a certified race and include the name of the race, distance, time finished, city, state, and date of the race. Proof of time can be inputted during race registration or up to approximately 2 months before the race weekend.
For the most part, runners are placed in a corral with those who have similar paces. Since corrals are based off of your proof of race time, you should be in a corral with other runners who have completed a race (in the last 1.5 years) close to your proof of time. Even with the new proof of time submission, there have been people placed in the incorrect corral. Unfortunately there is NO way to change this, even if it was runDisney’s error.
Another thing to note is that the corrals change each race based on the number of participants, number of corrals and field of the runners. For example, during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, a 2:30 half marathon time may put you farther back than the Princess Half Marathon Weekend where there tend to be more beginner runners. Although you can use a previous year’s corral placement to estimate your corral, it can change until the official corral placements are announced by runDisney.
These back-to-back race challenges are a very popular addition to the runDisney race schedule! Since you will be running at least two (or possibly four) races, you will see many corrals. For all challenges, you will be given a letter on your bib that corresponds to your corral.
For the Rebel Challenge, Glass Slipper Challenge, Pixie Dust Challenge and Dumbo Double Dare, there will be two letters on your bib. The first is your corral for the 10K and the second is your corral for the half marathon. For Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, there will be one letter that corresponds to your corral for both the half marathon and marathon. For the Dopey Challenge, the first bib will have your corral for the 5K and 10K, and the second bib will have your corral for the half marathon and marathon.
It appears that runDisney purposely “pushes” the challenge runners back a few corrals, especially during the Dopey Challenge. We assume this is because they anticipate the runners will be running a little slower due to the back-to-back races. While this may not be the case, the “push back” appears to be common during the challenge corral placements.
While the addition of a proof of time to be seeded in a corral was a great change, it is quite disheartening that corrals can no longer be changed at the Expo. From a race director perspective, we understand that changing a lot of runners would be difficult and could potentially “clog” the smaller corrals. However, we have heard from a handful of runners who were placed in the wrong corral despite sending runDisney an updated proof of time and having the documentation as such.
The most important aspect to remember when it comes to corrals is the ultimate reason behind them – runner safety. The wave start allows the course to handle the large number of runners a little more easily. The pacing requirements for each corral help to keep similar paced runners together, reducing trampling, etc. No matter what, the goal of a runDisney race is to have fun – no matter what corral you are in!