So I recently embarked on my first RunDisney experience, and what an experience it was. Crowded, high-energy, frustrating, rewarding: there are a lot of words that come to mind. So let me share with you my experience and the experiences of those around me.
Speaking of words that come to mind, “Get out of my way” went through my head probably a hundred times. I’d never run a half marathon, nor raced a 10k (the minimum distance that you can enter for proof of time), so I got put in the last corral. My finish time put me in the top 8.9% of participants there, which means I had to wade through thousands of people on my way to the finish line. In the beginning of the race, things got so crowded that there was some shoving. You’re slow? That’s totally cool, they’ll put you toward the back. You’re fast? Great, you don’t want to be forced to face the hordes. Do yourself a favor and do at least a 10k race in the year leading up to Disney to make sure they put you where you want to be.
This is on me as well as others. I got lazy in my training toward the end and it cost me my desired time (the crowds didn’t help, but I accept the lion’s share of culpability) and causes a lot of people to not finish. Not to mention that a wall of friends who don’t know what they’re doing is going to be getting in the way of runners who do.
Some people hit their personal records on Disney races. Since mine was my first half marathon, I guess I technically did, too (although not my desired time). However, don’t make that your end-all, be-all. That’s going to be difficult with all the people, and the Orlando course isn’t super-speedy (Anaheim is a bit flatter). On the other hand, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see! Costumes, custom shirts, the photo-ops along the course, even movie clips playing at some of the more difficult spots (mine had a climactic lightsaber duel on a giant screen as we went up the largest hill). Disney races are really about fun, and there are a lot of opportunities for it.
I get it, you want to be festive. That’s a kind of fun! On the other hand, you’ve got to know your limits. You don’t want to be carted off because you decided to run in a full Mad Hatter outfit. The cosplay aspect is one of the best parts about RunDisney, but if you’re training in a sports bra and microfiber shorts, throwing on fashion leggings and a graphic long-sleeve shirt might cause some problems. I train shirtless, so even a tank top was a little annoying, but there was a guy in a full Jedi outfit that actually outran me. Then on the bad end of the spectrum, I passed by a stopped runner in long athletic pants and a t-shirt who looked like he was going to vomit. However you’d like to dress, make sure you’ve run in it and are prepared for it.