10 Tips for RunDisney Race Day Planning

If you have ever participated in RunDisney’s Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and the Dopey challenge, you know it takes careful planning and a lot of runner math to get through it. 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. How do you keep your legs fresh (or at least not shred them) across the whole event to finish and earn those medals?

I certainly haven’t unlocked the secret to finishing the Dopey Challenge, as last year they cancelled the half marathon due to weather. So this year, I’m attempting once again to finish Dopey in the “Upright Position” with a smile on my face.

My priorities for these races really fall into the enjoyment aspect of the event: character stops, running with friends, and lots of crazy pictures, to cap it all off with a ride on Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. I don’t know if the following plan will do it, since “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy,” but this is where it stands 2 weeks out. For a detailed course map explanation, check out this video

For the 5k, I’m dressing as a Toy Story Alien with a big group. There is no time limit on the 5k, and I hope to run with my friends, take it easy, stop a lot, and get lots of great pictures. I’m in no hurry for this one, and I’ll treat it like a shakeout run. Could take an hour to finish the 5k!

Friday morning’s 10k may be quite a bit different, as I’ll be running with my YouTube friend, Gerald from RezRuns. Gerald’s training pace is faster than mine, but I have an advantage coming down to sea level from a mile high. I should be able to keep up. I’m dressing as the “spoiler alert” Rapunzel, and Gerald will be Flynn. My plan is to just stick with Gerald for the duration of the race, unless he smokes me like a trout…The big indicator will be heart rate. If I can’t keep that relatively low, then I’ll definitely slow down.

The half Marathon on Saturday is another group costume effort with the folks from Joyful Miles. Our Cinderella theme has me dressed as the Fairy Godmother. My race plan: stick with this group, stop for pictures, keep it slow and steady, and preserve the legs for Sunday. The Joyful Milers have so much fun with their costumes and RunDisney races, so I’m very much looking forward to running with these guys. I’ll be tracking the balloon ladies, and if they get within 15 minutes behind me, I’ll pick up the pace to finish at a run.

I’m saving it all for this — the Walt Disney World Marathon. My goal is to pace myself enough to get into Animal Kingdom right at 9:00 am. My whole race weekend is really hinging around this. If there is anything I want to do this whole weekend, I want to ride Expedition Everest in the middle of the marathon. I’ve put a lot of thought and “runners math” into this whole race plan, and I may have found a way to make it work…I think.

  • If my start is around 6:00 (I am in Corral D, and I’m assuming approximately 10 minutes between Corral starts), I have 3 hours to get to Animal Kingdom, making my maximum average pace 13:45. I’ll check the time at Mile 12 to adjust pace.
  • Miles 1-5 — one character stop.
  • Magic Kingdom — Stop in front of the Castle for a jumpshot
  • Miles 6-12 — One character stop, then check the time and balloon ladies status at Mile 12
  • Animal Kingdom — Stop for one character if there is time, then RIDE EXPEDITION EVEREST!
  • Miles 14-22 — Character stops for any of your top 5, but otherwise concentrate on 13:00 pace or better
  • Mile 22-24 — Slow pace to accommodate for walkers and bottlenecking
  • Mile 24-Finish — Stop in Epcot for one character and maybe a beer if I am up for it
  • Only stopping for my favorite Mile Markers, not all of them
  • Definite stops for Joy and Sadness, Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope, Gravediggers, Castle

Will this work? Any of it? I have no idea. I think so. I imagine so much of this plan depends on how I taper and recover between now and Day 1. I feel good about this plan, but really I just built this based on my own personal experience as a runner, and the hundreds of men and women in my social media groups who have done these races countless times.

Stay tuned for how this plan really ended up working out… or how it didn’t. So do you have a plan?