A Guide to Running at Disney

Fun , Travel Advice , Inspiration
A Guide to Running at Disney
Our guide to running events at Disney World
Disney organises a huge number of running events throughout the year, so we’ve asked those who have taken part before to share their tips.

Maybe you’re a keen runner who wants to try something a little different, or maybe you need a motivational goal to work towards. Well, whichever you may be, did you know that Disney hosts a huge number of running events throughout the year?

To help you find out more, we’ve asked both experienced Disney runners, and those in training for a runDisney event to share their tips.

Act fast

“Sign up as soon as the race registration opens. runDisney races are understandably extremely popular events and some sell out incredibly quickly. Gideon and I registered for the Wine and Dine half marathon as soon as registration opened and it was sold out within an hour of opening!” – Amy Hookway, Brits Run Disney

“Registration usually opens 8-9 months before the race weekend. Go to the runDisney website for official registration dates.” – Megan Biller, Runners Guide to WDW

runDisney Calendar of events 2016/17


“Lately, the sell-out rate has slowed down a bit, but for certain popular challenge races you will want to register the moment the website opens.  The Dopey Challenge and the Glass Slipper Challenge are the two most popular races at this time.” – Patty Holiday, No Guilt Life


“After you register, there is still much planning to do. The first is to book your hotel room. The best option is to stay at a Walt Disney World host resort, which will offer transportation to the expo as well as to and from the races. In terms of getting to Disney, it is recommended you arrive at least a day (if not two) before your race.” – Megan Biller

“Follow a training plan. Whether you choose a plan from the runDisney website or find one elsewhere, sticking to a plan will help you to increase your miles and endurance each week, without (hopefully) injuring yourself from pushing too hard too fast. Equally, a plan helps you to stay on track with your training so you don’t fall behind with running and then end up in a scenario where your race is next week but you haven't run for 3 months or have only run 3 miles at a time before when the race is 13.1!” – Amy Hookway

“Run a race for "proof of time" if you plan to run a half marathon or full marathon distance. runDisney seeds you into a starting corral based on the proof race you submit. For the halves, you need to submit a 10k race. For the full, a 10-miler or longer distance will work. If you do not submit a time, you will be placed in the back corral and it may be tough to run your normal pace if you are typically faster.  Each race will have a submission cut-off posted, so be sure to update the information through the Active.com website once you have a proof of time race under your feet!” – Patty Holiday

runDisney as Buzz Lightyear

Be realistic

“Training for a race takes a long time, so set mini goals to work towards as you train so you can reward yourself for your efforts more often. Gideon and I signed ourselves up for one 5k race and two 10k races before our half marathon attempt. This was so that our goals looked slightly more realistic and slightly less scary in the beginning and to give us an idea of what running in an organised race felt like. Setting little goals helps to break the big goal down into more manageable chunks which are less overwhelming, especially for beginners!” – Amy Hookway

Seek encouragement and motivation

“Write on runDisney message boards, join Facebook groups for enthusiastic runDisney runners! The support you will receive will motivate you to keep going with the training even when it’s difficult or you don’t feel like carrying on.

“Search for YouTube videos from people who have run in the past to get an idea of what the race will be like - I guarantee they will get you excited about racing through Disney World! Start a blog to document your journey - we started ours to try to keep ourselves accountable in our training and so that friends and family would hopefully sponsor us for charity, but it’s turned into much more than that. We have received loads of encouragement and support from other runners/bloggers and made lots of friends who have given us great advice on all things running and runDisney related.

TinkerBell Half Marathon via AngryJulieMonday on Flickr

“Getting out there and meeting other runners of all abilities whether it’s just virtually via social media or in person by joining running clubs or participating in races will really help to encourage you to keep training!” – Amy Hookway

Take it easy and look after yourself

“The day before the race, go easy in the parks. You don’t want to be on your feet all day so that you're tired for race day. Instead, spend half a day in the parks and take advantage of the hotel or resort pool in the afternoon.” – Christine Suter and Pam Keenan, We Run Disney

“Bring a water bottle so that you can stay hydrated. Florida is hot most of the year and after a long plane flight, you'll already be dehydrated. There are plenty of water fountains around the parks so you'll be able to refill your water bottle easily.” – Christine Suter and Pam Keenan

“Plan your pre-race meals in advance. It can be tough to get reservations during a race weekend so you'll want to make dining reservations before you get to Disney. There are plenty of options for meals with both table service and counter service restaurants. Plus many of the resort dining facilities offer special race weekend meals such as pasta dinners and pre-race breakfasts with bananas, bagels and peanut butter. Last but not least, eat wisely and save those hot fudge sundaes and new food choices until the race is complete and you are wearing those beautiful medals around your neck!” – Christine Suter and Pam Keenan

Get the most out of the experience

“Make it a family affair. Each race weekend offers multiple races, allowing for the entire family to get involved. Kids’ Races are available for the littlest of crawlers to kids up to 13 years of age. The Family 5k is a great opportunity for the family to run together. And for the adults and more experienced runners, take on the 10k, half-marathon, and marathon or even challenge events – which combine multiple races! Best of all, if you buy Disney World tickets, you can add on a few extra vacation days to explore the theme parks!” – Megan Biller

Chris and Pam runDisney at EPCOT

“Did I really say dress in costume? Yes I did! It's one of the best parts of running at Disney and a bonus entertainment factor on the course. Run as your favourite Princess, Villain, or Prince. It's all in good fun and you will NOT be alone out there!” – Patty Holiday

Have fun!

“What makes the runDisney races so magical is that there are truly smiles everywhere. From the excitement of the start line to the photos with characters, there is much to see and do along the course. While personal bests are possible, the best way to experience a runDisney race is to enjoy every mile and take it all in. The exhilaration at the finish line is worth it all!” – Megan Biller

Character race photo tips at Disney from Megan Biller

While some people do PR at the runDisney events (and I've even heard of a few Boston Qualifiers!), MOST people are there to have a unique experience. This means dressing in costume, stopping along the course for character pictures, and enjoying the entertainment.” – Patty Holiday


“Wear your finisher shirt and medals proudly to the theme parks. After running 5k, 10k, 13.1 miles or a full marathon, people need to see you’re awesome! Show it off and enjoy the congratulations that will come your way.” – Patty Holiday

 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Patty Holiday

“Wear your medal around the parks after the race! When we did our first runDisney race at the Princess Half Marathon in 2011, we were sorry we didn't do this. You'll see tons of runners walking around with their medals and it makes for a fun day of congratulating each other on your achievements!” – Christine and Pam


Image Credit: Josh Hallett, Patty Holiday, Michael Gardner, AngryJulieMonday, Christine and Pam, Megan Biller, Patty Holiday (flickr.com)

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