Best of all, however, is the Expo. Over the weekend and in the few days leading up to the event, Wide World of Sports plays host to the race expo (in Disneyland, they use a conference room at one of the Disneyland hotels) which includes far more than just the packet pick up. There are talks to attend to get advice from the professionals which I’ve found both useful and inspiring. You can grab free samples from bananas to race fuel as well as take a look at a wide range of stalls to do your shopping, whether that be for new footwear and headphones or jewelery and car stickers. Not to mention the all important official race merchandise. It’s easy to spend a few hours perusing everyone’s wares and you’ll likely get a good deal and there are experts around to help you get the right product to suit your body. It’s a great little shopping extra and allows you to take a look around WWoS. The parking lot can get pretty full, but Disney knows what it’s doing and transportation cast members will be out in force to keep you right – just be aware that there could be a queue going in.
At last year’s Princess half marathon expo I picked up the limited edition Haunted Mansion themed New Balance revlite running shoes. I adore them. Not only are they comfortable for racing (and the brand and style I prefer) but they are also uber stylish for a day at the park! And let’s not forget that limited edition status 😉 I thought they’d be sold out before I got there on the last day of the expo but I was in luck and after a short internal debate, I gave in to the lure and spent the $140 dollars.
And who doesn’t like spinning the wheel to see if you can win a prize – there’s usually a few companies around with those. And if there are any runners you know, then you can pick up a unique gift for them, many of which are Disney inspired but not all.
Important things I learned about the running weekends is that the parks will be busy. runDisney participants come from all over the world to take part; timing vacations to coincide, or just making sure they take advantage of a full weekend of Disney fun. For cast members it’s great – especially those in tipped positions as people are in high spirits and everyone likes a post run beer or two. People on a regular vacation and not expecting what’s going on will find getting fastpasses more difficult, the ride queues will be long, Disney transport will be full, and not to mention the various road closures in place for the runners. So maybe that’s the weekend to go to a rival park!
For those who do brave Walt Disney World those days, a few pieces of advice though not the kind of tip I’d give to make your experience better. In this case, I offer some advice on how to be kind to the runners. If you are in the parks early and there are still runners on the track (this applies more specifically to EPCOT but also Studios) – please heed all cast members when moving around where the runners are. These people have been going for 20 miles or more and are TIRED. If you take it upon yourself to cross over the track right in their way, it’s very difficult for them to duck and dive or dodge around you. Make sure you head to a proper cross walk and wait patiently with the cast members until told to cross. I’ve seen runners fall because a tourist with a push chair decided to make their own way across. It could injure runners, maybe even stop them finishing something they’ve paid a lot of money to enjoy and for which they’ve worked extremely hard. Don’t ruin their experience because you couldn’t wait 30 seconds longer to get 10 feet across the road.
And my other piece of advice is to have fun with it! There will be lots of runners in the parks sporting medals. Wish them well, congratulate them and spare a thought for them getting into and out of ride vehicles – their legs will be tired and sore and even the fittest of them will have aches and pains to take into account!
I’ve not taken part in a runDisney event for a while. I found the cost prohibitive and now do other nearby runs at a fraction of the price. This year I’ll be taking part in the Best Damn Race Orlando (half marathon), which cost me a third of what I’d have paid for the Princess Half. I’ve found that the BDR team put on a great run and I fully enjoy them – it also has a 5k on the same morning so family who want to take on a shorter distance can come along and take part, too. But it is still my aim to add to the collection and hopefully run a Disneyland Paris race at some point. I’ve completed every distance possible at Walt Disney World, I’ve run the Disneyland Half and I’ve even done the Castaway Cay 5k. It would be great to add a Paris event to my runDisney haul.
To those running this weekend – good luck! Break a leg! … or maybe try not to 😉