While running through the Walt Disney World theme parks during a runDisney event is magical, spectating is fun too! Cheering on your runner will bring a smile to their face, giving them the extra boost they need.
So how do you prepare for a runDisney race as a spectator? Here are our top 5 tips to make your chEAR experience a magical one!
1. Have a plan (and backup plan). Before race day, sit down with your runner and create a plan. This includes where you plan on spectating (so both of you can be on the lookout), how you will communicate during the race, where to meet after the race, etc. When it comes to communication during the race, there are a few options.
Runner tracking is available for 10K races and longer. Sign up around a week before the race and text messages will be sent to your phone when your runner crosses certain marks along the race course. Recently, this also includes “live” tracking via the runDisney website. This includes what mile they currently are at, and even a map option to see exactly where they are located! (Note: This is just an estimate and may not always be accurate.)
Another option is to have your runner text or call you when they are close to your spectating location. (Runners – step off the race course when calling or texting!) Do note that the large usage of cell phones may delay or even not allow service during the race.
2. Find a great spectating location. When making your plan, you’ll want to pick out the locations where you will be spectating. (Note: always check the course map first, as courses are subject to change.) For the shorter 5K and 10K events, you most likely will only be able to spot your runner once near the finish line. For the half marathon races, usually two locations are possible.
Great options for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Princess Half Marathon are the Ticket & Transportation Center, inside Magic Kingdom, behind the Grand Floridian or Polynesian resorts and near the finish line. For the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side and Wine & Dine Half Marathon, options include ESPN Wide World of Sports, around the Boardwalk/Yacht & Beach Club and the finish line. (Note: these two courses in particular may change due to the construction in Hollywood Studios.)
When it comes to the Walt Disney World Marathon, depending on traffic, you may be able to see them three times. Options for this race include the Ticket & Transportation Center, inside Magic Kingdom, behind the Grand Floridian or Polynesian resorts, Animal Kingdom, the Boardwalk/Yacht & Beach Club area, Epcot, and the finish line. When determining where you will spectate from, give a general area. There may be crowds, so you may need to move a little farther from where you originally planned.
3. Allow plenty of transportation time. runDisney races are unique in that you are able to run through the parks and around Walt Disney World property! That also means that many roads are closed due to the races, making transportation quite slow. If you will be driving or using bus transportation as a spectator, allow yourself ample time to get from location to location. This is even more important during the morning races as there is only one entrance into Epcot, backing up traffic significantly. If possible, use the transportation prior to the race start. (Always allow runners priority when it comes to event transportation!)
4. Bring a supply bag. Spectating is a sport too! It is very possible there will be quite a bit of time between when you arrive at your location and when you actually see your runner. Bring along a small bag with food, extra clothes, sunscreen or even activities for the kids. Always be sure to check the weather forecast, and pack accordingly. (Your bag will be checked at security prior to entering a park or the family reunion area.) It also never hurts to have a little something for the runners – a fun sign, clappers or even candy!
5. Know your runner and make yourself known. runDisney races include upwards of 25,000 runners. Trying to spot your runner in a sea of bright colors isn’t always so easy! Prior to the race, be sure to get a look at what your runner will be wearing. Also have an idea of their pace, so you know when to start looking for them a little more carefully. (The runner tracking will allow you to know their actual pace on race day.) Having made a plan in advance, your runner will also know what side of the course you will be on!
Not only are you looking for your runner, they are looking for you too! A bright colored shirt, balloon or sign is a great way to help yourself stand out from the crowd. That way, even if you have to move a little farther away from your original plan from earlier, your runner may still be able to spot you. Finding each other in the sea of runners and spectators takes both of you being on the lookout!
Spectators bring an extra round of magic to runDisney races! Cheer loud, smile big and give those runners the boost they need. Your efforts are not unnoticed!