Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the largest runDisney event, which means there is a lot to see and do! With 4 race events, the Health & Fitness Expo and Kids Races, there is something for every member of your family. Since the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right before this premiere event, here are some tips to help you prepare without too much stress!
Packing & Travel
Many runners and their families plan their vacation travel around the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Whether you are flying or driving, you don’t want to forget anything important or have a stressful trip.
Prepare for all weather. January weather in Florida can be unpredictable. Bring along many options of running gear including extra shoes (if it rains), warmer clothes (if its cool), layers to shed (if its warm) and multiple of everything (if you are running more than one race). This may be the one time where paying the extra baggage fee will be worthwhile!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Not only does travel take a lot out of you, but it’s also possible the weather could be much different from home. Be sure to have a water bottle by your side at all times, and even add in sports drink for the extra electrolytes before your big race.
Get there early. Yes, Marathon Weekend is now more like a week-long event, but try to get to Florida at least a day or two before your race. With the winter weather already here, you need to prepare for possible flight or travel delays. Give yourself some extra time in case this occurs.
If you are flying, be sure to check out these tips on flying to a runDisney event!
The Health & Fitness Expo is a lot of fun, but it can also be extremely chaotic. Here are some tips to help you navigate the Expo with ease!
Prepare for crowds. Not only is Marathon Weekend the largest event, but many people will be headed to the Expo to get their hands on the New Balance shoes and runDisney merchandise. The Expo will (most likely) be extremely crowded on Wednesday morning when it opens, and other times throughout the weekend. Plan on spending more time than you think you will need to get your bib and visit the vendors.
Have a plan. Since the Expo may be crowded, do some research ahead of time. Look over the vendors in the Official Event Guide so that you know what areas you want to see or what speakers you want to hear. Print out your waiver (needed for all races, Kids Races, ChEAR Squad, and Race Retreat) and bring it along. Also, if you have kids – it may be best to leave them at the resort with another adult in your party. (Reminder – strollers are not allowed inside the Expo.)
Don’t stay too long. Since you (most likely) have a big race coming soon, you won’t want to spend too much time on your feet. The walk from the busses and parking lot to the Expo is a bit of a hike, not to mention the time spent going between buildings and around the Expo floor. Have a plan and don’t stay at the Expo too long – especially if your race is the next day. You can always visit again later if needed!
Be sure to check out these top 5 tips for navigating a runDisney expo!
Whether it be Kids Races, the 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon (or a combination), there is a lot of preparation that occurs. Try not to let the nerves take over and just enjoy your race!
Set the alarm. January races are early wake up calls – so prepare yourself in advance! However, you do not want to be late to the race! Be sure to get to the bus stop within the time frame (earlier is better) and expect to wait around the in Family Reunion area. This is the time to use the restroom, drop off your bag at bag check and stretch. There is quite a walk to the corrals (with more waiting once in your corral), so be sure to bring something to snack on!
Bring a camera. There are MANY things to capture throughout your race experience! Bring along a small handheld camera or use your phone. Get some photos with friends before the race, take photos with characters or landmarks during the race, snap a picture of the mile markers and – of course – get a photo of you with your shiny new medal! (As a reminder, PhotoPass photographers will also be along the course.)
Make a plan with your spectators. If you are spectating, be sure to print out a course map and find locations where you will spot your runner. For the 5K and 10K, it may be best to stay at the start and finish lines. For the half marathon and marathon, great spots include the Ticket & Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom, behind the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts, and the finish line area! Those with Gold or Platinum ChEAR Squad will have a special location in Magic Kingdom and the finish line – be sure to utilize it!
If you are spectating, check out these top 5 tips for spectators!
Eating & Park Touring
Planning your meals, along with touring the parks can be difficult enough during a vacation, not to mention with a race or four thrown in.
Fuel up the night before. We all need to properly fuel before our race! While some runners will want to carboload before the half marathon and marathon in particular, some will want a lighter meal. The good news is there are MANY restaurants in the parks, in the resorts and in Disney Springs! Be sure to make your reservations ahead of time.
Utilize FastPass+. For those staying on Disney property, you will receive MagicBands as part of your resort experience. One great part of these and MyMagic+ is scheduling FastPass+! Since you will be running in the morning, plan your attractions for later in the day – giving you time to get something to eat, shower and not have to wait too long for your favorite attractions!
Celebrate! After you have crossed the finish line and earned your beautiful medal, it is time to celebrate your accomplishment! Whether a meal, riding your favorite attraction or enjoying the nighttime shows – there are a lot of ways to celebrate. And – you don’t have to choose just one! Take in as many as you can – you’ve earned it!
No matter if you are running or spectating, this is sure to be a magical event. Enjoy every mile!