runDisney has now offered two in-person race weekends. As I’m sure many are wondering, what does it look like now? Have things changed? Is it worth it? Here is my experience.
Want a race experience like no other? Racing through Disney parks us like no other! I know I love it! I (Heather) participated in the Half Marathon over Marathon Weekend! Were any others from the crew there racing?
Planning a first runDisney race? Check out my FIVE must have carry on guide. Getting in a shake out run before race day? Read HERE for where you can and can’t run around Disney World. Also, be sure to check out my 10 things all runDisney runners should know. Even if it’s your tenth runDisney race, you may find some of these tips helpful!
Every runner had to attend the Expo to receive their bib. They were not able to pick up another runner’s bib unless the other runner was a minor (example a parent picking up a child’s bib).
The Expo ran:
- Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Friday, Jan. 7, 2022: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Lines at the Expo
The lines for picking up your race bib were short and quick. We were in and out of there quickly!
The runDisney merchandise line, however, was not! This line started hours before the Expo started – even before event transportation started! Many people reported taking rideshares to get there early if they were staying on property.
The line weaved around the outside of the building prior to them letting people in. They did let people in to the building before the start, but people were not able to go into the merchandise room until official opening.
The lines remained long for most of Wednesday. Some merchandise sold out quickly, hot items were the spirit jersey and the Marathon Weekend jacket. I attended the Expo on Wednesday as I was not able to pre-purchase any merchandise during my registration. Disney used Mobile Checkout during this event, which left many people sitting on the floor going through their purchases.
I know I saw many people doing this and trying items on. I made sure I tried everything on prior to checking out because these items are not cheap! I wanted to be sure I got the right size.
I did notice that everyone wore their masks correctly throughout my time at the Expo. I never saw anyone wearing it low or not at all. Unfortunately, this was not always my experience in the parks.
I returned to the Expo on Friday just to see what was left. I’m not sure if this is normal, but they were selling off the race specific signage. I did not notice signs for sale when I had attended the first day or if this is something they do for every race weekend.
Another thing that was missing at the Expo were character pictures. They had some awesome backdrops, but no characters. It would have been nice to have a few distanced picture opportunities here.
Buses did not look much different than regular runDisney transportation. They hired a bus company for pickup and dropoffs for the races. Masks were required for traveling on the bus.
The buses dropped us off where the resort buses drop off park goers to EPCOT. We went through the regular park security screenings. We then proceeded to walk to the EPCOT parking lot were the staging area was. Most people were unmasked at this point as we were outside.
In previous years, there would be character pictures. Unfortunately, there were no characters. Instead, you could take a picture with a backdrop.
The backdrops were pretty, but honestly I’m not sure why we couldn’t do distanced meets here. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to take pictures with a few characters.
The walk out was long! I knew it would be, but crazy to think about how many extra steps all those Dopey runners were taking.
Honestly, the starting groups are not much different than the corrals that runDisney used to use. However, I don’t think anyone there could figure out their logic of placing runners.
The purpose of starting groups is for runners to start by their expected pace per mile. This will help ensure a safe race and that faster runners are in the front. If this is done correctly (with everyone entering a true proof of time) most people will be running around people who have similar running speeds.
runDisney changed something with their return. Runners were only to enter a proof of time if they expected to finish in under 2 hours! They used to ask for one if you would expect to be under 2 hours and 30 minutes.
In several of my previous runDisney races I was a middle of the packer. Right smack dab in the middle corral. Last weekend, I was in the second to last starting group since I could not enter a proof of time under 2 hours.
Also, Platinum Club runDisney runners received an earlier start group. I am not sure if this played into where other runners were placed. I know that I heard many runners express their concern of being placed in the last corral even though they had entered an under 2 hour proof of time.
Sometimes, Runner Relations can fix this and move you to an earlier start group. This would have to be done at the EXPO and not at the race. On race day runners can move back a starting group but not forward.
It’s go time! I started in starting group 5. It was pretty congested during the race, especially at the start.
There are some narrow areas where you are down to one lane of a road. This made some areas difficult to navigate. It wasn’t awful, but some people would get frustrated because they couldn’t get around walkers even if the walkers were keeping to the right because it was just too tight.
When we had wide open highways, it was the perfect spacing. I never felt I was on top of any other runners here. Even through the two theme parks it felt more spaced out than some roadways.
I know some people use earphones while running, but I never feel the need at runDisney races. I love taking in everything a runDisney race has to offer.
They have tons of entertainment on course from music, DJ’s, character sightings and volunteers. runDisney knows how to put on a spectacular race!
Unfortunately, starting near the back character sightings line were LONG! There were a couple of times that I thought of stopping but decided not to.
As you can see the in the picture above and below, they made a barrier so that you could not get too close to the characters. I love that they put out rare characters. It makes these events even a little more special!
I ran the half marathon during Marathon Weekend in 2020 and stopped for almost every character then. That was a lot of fun, but I was able to maintain a faster pace per mile then. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to train like I did then this go around.
I was able to take some fly by pictures (like my picture above). A lot of people were doing this because the lines were so long. I do wish I had jumped into one or two lines as they had some pretty awesome characters out, but I guess I will just have to sign up for another race.
I don’t feel like too much has changed in their return to in-person running. I am not a big fan of Club runDisney, but if I lived closer and had money to spend I would probably buy it. I could be their target audience if it wasn’t so expensive!
I loved the sense of normalcy in-person running gave. I think runDisney did a spectacular job putting this race together. They implemented safety measures just like in their parks.
I am happy with how runDisney did things. I know I can’t wait to sign up for my next event… and maybe someday it will be Dopey!
Did you run during Marathon Weekend? What did you think of new changes to runDisney races? Will you be participating in any future races? Let us know on the Kenny the Pirate Facebook page. Don’t forget to join the KtP crew page, too!