OL 006: Run Disney Races: The Best Fit for You?
Want to Run Disney Races or Find Another Orlando Race?
Thank you for listening to The Orlando Local Show, episode 6. The runDisney Races are big events that happen each season between November and April. They’re big events that draw a huge crowd and offer access to Walt Disney World Parks and views behind the scenes like no other event.
However, these races may not be for every runner. That’s because the races are also expensive, crowded and sell out quickly. If you’re looking for an alternative race, we have some other great events in Orlando that some people prefer for a different experience while vacationing in Orlando.
Lee and I discuss some of the pros and cons when you run Disney races. Then we mention some alternatives if you decide that runDisney isn’t for you, or perhaps you haven’t signed up in time for an event.
Find My Marathon (Marathon course information and comparison)
Town of Celebration Marathon (2017)
Best Damn Race Orlando (2017)
Masters of All Terrain (Off Road)
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THE ORLANDO LOCAL SHOW
William: Hi! Welcome to the Orlando Local show, episode number six.
Hey, thank you very much for joining. My name is William Beem.
Lee: Hi, I am Lee Beem.
William: Today we’re going to be talking about runDisney Races. Are they the best fit for you?
Disney has got a number of races that they actually put out there. We are going to go over each one of them and we’re going to talk about some of the advantages, some of the disadvantages and also some of the non Disney alternatives that you can find in the Orlando area.
So without wasting too much more time, let’s go ahead and get into it.
Lee, what do you think are some of the advantages of running the Disney races? I mean what is the benefit? Why do you want to do it?
Lee: I think it’s a unique experience. Getting to run through the Disney parks when there aren’t people in there is something you are never going to be able to do at any other time. It’s a special and very unique opportunity.
The entertainment and the support that you have available to you throughout the course is something unique as well. I mean, they’ve got character meet and greets, they’ve got the photo opportunities with these characters; you’ve got a lot of spectators to cheer you on, which for some people is really important. Some people actually need that adrenaline rush and they get it from the cheering. So that is something not to be overlooked.
For me, what’s really important is the medals. I always check out my bling before I sign up for a race and I’ve got two criteria when I sign up for a race: do I get a beer or something good to drink and do I get a nice medal?
William: And you’ve got your medals hanging in our bedroom. These are important. They are on display all the time.
Lee: They are. I’ll actually run a race that maybe is not my perfect or ideal race because I like the medal, which is something I’m considering doing next month, I think. The other thing is that your family and friends can tag along with you. This is a family thing. People who do the Disney races usually make it a family thing. Most people I think take their family with them and they make it part of their vacation.
Your family are there. They don’t have to tag along to the race or for the start of the race if they don’t want to. The option is there if they do. And I think as a spectator experience, they get something special as well, because William, you know what it’s like. You’ve gone along at just stupid hours of the morning to take me to races.
William: Oh, yes!
Lee: And you sat around, both in the freezing cold and in the sweltering heat, waiting.
William: I know, and I want to support you when you are doing your running and obviously I’m going to, but while I’m waiting it is mind numbingly boring.
Lee: Yes. So I think Disney races take care of that for the spectators. And for those who don’t want to go, whether they are staying onsite or at a nearby offsite hotel, they have the option of being nearby and finding their way to meet you afterwards. That is not to suggest that they are not supportive, but you for people who run a lot of races, sometimes it’s OK if your family isn’t there for every one.
William: Let me kind of go back over some of the advantages, because I used to work with a guy who would go off and he would do the Goofy, which is a couple of the races plus then you get another medal for doing the challenge; for combining them. Then we’ll discuss this a little bit later on, but they’ve also got a Dopey and I think some other challenges.
He would go in there and I said, “So you’re going to run a race today and then you’re going to go run a race tomorrow?”
He told me, “Yeah, but this is different than any other race because you are running through not only the parks without all the crowds around like you would if you were just attending on a normal day, but you are also running in areas that you typically don’t get to see.
One of the things he liked was the characters. I said, “So in other words you are not running for time; you are running for the experience.”
And for him that was exactly what it was. He would stop, he would hang out with the characters, he would take pictures and that was just a great thing for him to go do.
Lee: Well, one of my running friends who I met on the trails that I do on my training runs does exactly that. She walks half of it and she does – I think she does – every Disney race weekend that they have. She runs something on it for the experience.
William: So she’s a real fan of this.
Lee: Not interested in the time. She doesn’t care. As long as she finishes without being washed off the course, because they do have course time limits, obviously, as they need to open the parks. But when you say for a lot of people it sounds crazy to do a race four days in a row. For somebody who is training and putting in a lot of mileage per week ordinarily, to do a 5k for me would be like a rest day. To do a 10k for me is a nothing day. I can do run a 13 or 14 mile and bounce back the next day. The marathon is the one that would tax me.
So for people who are doing the challenge, they know what they are doing when they sign up for all these races and they are physically prepared for it.
William: I would hope so. But let’s put this in perspective, because some people are going to be thinking about doing this for the 5k – probably the majority of people are thinking about doing the 5k – just to have that experience.
But you’re running … how many miles are you running a week as an average?
Lee: I do about 60 miles a week.
William: About 60 miles a week. That’s a lot of 5k’s.
Lee: It is, but I’m doing something different. Your body will adapt to whatever you are doing with it. That is nothing for me [now] but a year ago that was a lot more than what I was doing.
William: So the other part of it like you said was a lot of spectators cheer you on, because your families are out there.
William: Do they get access inside the park? Where are they going to be?
Lee: You can buy a spectator kit. We’ve never used it. I’ve never run a Disney race before and we are going to get into why afterwards.
William: It’s not your thing.
Lee: It’s not my thing. I am certainly not slamming it. In fact, I see all the benefits of doing it. I have got different reasons why it doesn’t appeal to me.
William: But you want the medals!
Lee: I do like the medals and they might …. I suppose that might have been one thing that could swing me. It’s just my little issues with the big crowds are what hold me back.
William: Let’s talk about the family and then we’ll go onto some of the disadvantages and reason maybe why it’s not right for you.
William: So the family can get a kit. Where are they going to be at? Are they going to be at the starting or are they going to be at the finish? Where are they going to be?
Lee: There are various places along the way where they can position themselves.
William: Can they move along the course? In other words does anybody take them around so they can cheer you through the different segments, particularly for the longer races.
Lee: That I’m not sure. I think that’s something that you arrange with your family and all the information will come through, just like when you sign up for a race, you have to sign up for the spectator kit and there are instructions on that kit. So you’ll be able to work that out with your family, because you want to be able to know where to meet them, but at the finish line there is an area for friends and family who have their spectator kit to wait there so that it’s easier for you to find them.
William: We talked about some of the advantages. Let’s talk about some of the disadvantages.
Lee: For me, the price is absolutely insane.
William: This is going to be a premier price item.
Lee: It is.
To a point, I get it. I mean, one of the destination races that I’ve looked at is the Rock n Roll Marathon in Las Vegas. Now that is similar to the Disney one and that’s why I understand the experience of running through an area that ordinarily you would never be able to do in any other time. You are going to pay dearly for the privilege. It still isn’t anything near what you are paying for the Disney races.
So yes, the cost is a factor. I get that some of it is offset by the value of the experience and you have to evaluate.
William: Well that’s a value judgment that everybody has to make, so in other words you are going to pay more for this race than you would most of your races. But you are also going to see things that you aren’t going to see at other times. You are going to get close to things, you are going to see the characters, so that is kind of where Disney is a premium value brand and they are going to charge accordingly.
Lee: That’s true. It also depends why you are running your races. The last two races I did was just to get a recorded chip time and that is to do with starting corrals for bigger races. I’ve got one coming up in – I think it’s March – and I do not want to be jammed in the center in between a whole bunch of people.
William: Well, let’s talk about that. It’s crowded.
Lee: It’s very crowded. I mean you’ve got tens of thousands of people turning out for these events.
William: Yes, so if you’re used to going to your local race with hundreds, maybe 1200 or so, this is going to be a very different experience.
Lee: It’s a very slow start.
William: You just can’t move that many people out of the way.
Lee: It’s organized chaos. They do a good job of it by assigning people corrals. That comes on your bib number so you will get your instructions and you will know it’s going to be A through P. There used to be fewer corrals with more people in them. Now there are more corrals with fewer people in them so people who are running them regularly found that where they were for their time set them back even though their time didn’t change, and that’s not to do with their timing but more to do with the fact that Disney was trying to have more and smaller, more manageable sections.
William: Now, here’s a good question though. Is Disney looking at your time from previous races?
Lee: Yes, there are requirements and if you don’t have something to submit you are going to be put sort of – way in the back.
William: Way in the back.
Lee: Now that is not an issue if you just want to walk. For some people that’s an ideal place to be. So for example, if I wanted to run a 5k with Tové who wanted to run, walk and meet characters, she is not interested in time and if we wanted to do it together I would not submit a time so that I could be with her. Otherwise we would end up in different corrals.
William: Well that makes perfect sense because I know when the Walt Disney World Marathon comes around there are elite runners always at the beginning.
Lee: Yes. Your elites are in the front.
William: And you know they are not stopping to take pictures with Pooh Bear.
Lee: They are not. Look, a lot of these people – not so much just the elite runners – but your people in the front corrals are often trying … Florida is wonderfully flat. Despite the humidity and the weather, Disney has put the races very nicely in the Fall and the early Spring. It’s beautiful time to run so you are getting the best of the weather.
You’ve got a flat course, you’ve got smooth surfaces which make it easier to get a better time. So for people who are trying to qualify for Boston or to get a personal best ….
William: OK, so if you’re running for time, that is one of the advantages of the Disney race then. You’ve got a nice flat course and it’s the time of year when it’s actually pretty comfortable to run.
Lee: It is, generally. They start November and I think the last series is somewhere in April, which is all pretty good weather.
William: That’s a good time of year. The weather is nice, it’s not freezing cold or anything like you would experience up north in Boston or New York or somewhere like that, because you are certainly not running in the summer when we’ve got a hundred per cent humidity and 95 degree weather.
Lee: Oh, it’s been absolutely horrendous!
William: I know!
OK, so you got a crowd out there, it’s going to be congested on the course for when you are going through. What else have you got?
Lee: Well you are also trying to make your way to the race with thousands of other people at the same time.
William: That’s a key.
Lee: So you are going to have to allow a lot of time. Now Disney races start really early. It depends on the length of the race. Obviously the longer the race, the earlier they start.
William: They start before the sun comes up though.
Lee: They do. Now part of the beauty of this and the magic in there is running in the dark. And they have the lighting up. It’s not like you’re running in the dark where you can’t see where you are going.
It’s early in the morning and even with a smaller race, we’ve had to get up really early in the morning, even for the ones that are relatively local, like a fifteen minute drive away. You are kind of up and out the door a lot earlier.
William: Well, think about this. You said tens of thousands of people. A lot of people travel and this is a destination run for them so they are going to be staying either locally in the Disney resorts or at hotels nearby where they’ve got to drive in.
Lee: Ideally, yes. If you want to get any sleep at all. And these people have families.
William: The ones at the resorts are probably going to be loading on buses and then the ones driving in their cars, there are going to be thousands of other cars driving in at the same time.
William: That’s just a massive headache just to get there early enough before the start.
Lee: You can plan around this. I mean, if this is important to you, you are going to plan around this and you just suck it up as part of the race experience. There are people who do these big races and they have a feel for what is required and they just do it.
William: I bet you the ones who have done this before figure out which resort is closest to the start. I want to be in that hotel!
Lee: That doesn’t necessarily help, I don’t think. But anyways yes, be prepared for the crowds and to allow yourself a lot of extra time. So if you are eating and trying to time your food before a race, which is vitally important, especially for the longer ones, you are going to take this into account. You might need to take a snack with you to have during the waiting time.
William: One other issue is this race is popular, so there are multiple races going on each time they do it. It’s not just the Walt Disney World Marathon. There are the half marathons, there is going to be a 10k, a 5k and they do other races throughout the year, not necessarily in the summer time.
Lee: Well, it’s race weekends, yeah.
William: They’ve got their race weekends. But some of them sell out.
Lee: They sell out very quickly. Like you said, 5k is very popular because 5k is something anybody can do. Most young children can join you on a 5k. It is walkable; it’s fun; it can be social and there is no pressure. I’m not saying that a 5k is nothing. I mean there are people who work – you work hard to get to a 5k level! But it is something that is a reachable goal for a wider range of people. That’s what I’m trying to say, rather than something else. Even a half marathon – you’re not just going to show up there from the couch.
William: So you may sell out and that’s the thing. You’ve got to plan this way in advance, if you really want to get into it. So is it a matter of you’ve got to be watching for when they release the tickets and you’ve got to buy right away?
Lee: Yeah. Now some of them, the bigger distances and the challenges tend not to sell out or not to sell out as quickly, until much later on. So those are not such an issue, but for example you might be wanting to sign up for a 5k and the 5k is sold out. So you think well there is 10k available, I’ll extend my goal; I’ve got a few months. Because you are booking these a few months out, which is reasonable because it gives you time to train. Or you might upgrade from a 10k to a half marathon because there was nothing else available.
However, if you want to do a half marathon and there is only a 26.2 mile race for the Disney Marathon weekend, that is a completely different thing. Then you are sitting there and thinking, OK! This is an entirely different beast.
So for some people you can use the alternative and just bite off the big chunk and take on the challenge, but realistically, it’s not necessarily going to be a doable option for everyone at that time.
William: Alright, so there are pros and cons to the runDisney races. Sometimes you may want to do non Disney alternatives, so Walt Disney World is a destination. People like to come here for the parks obviously. I can see why people want to come here and combine that with a race, because that’s something that maybe one or two members of the family are really into and they want to go through it.
But maybe they don’t want to run with the big crowd. Maybe they don’t want to pay the price or maybe it’s sold out. What are the other alternatives if they want to have a family vacation at Walt Disney World, they want to run, but not necessarily a Walt Disney World race?
Lee: Look, Florida is a wonderful place to run because it’s flat. You’ve got some hills, but I’ve really had to search to find places with hills for training. So it is that good!
If you want to come for your Disney vacation, I would suggest booking to come and stay here on a different weekend where there isn’t a big crowd, necessarily; something that suits you and your family that isn’t necessarily geared around the Disney race weekends. Find something else nearby in the Orlando area.
William: Let’s start off going over some of the races that are happening throughout the year. I think there are probably about four of them now.
So there is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. This year that is going to be November 3rd through 6th for 2016, if you’re listening to this later. That one sells out pretty quickly, doesn’t it?
Lee: It does. My friend, who I sometimes meet on the trail, has said to me she actually had an Annual Pass and I think she used and advance purchase option, so it opened up for the passholders first. There is a limited number.
William: See that’s a good tip. If you are an Annual Passholder then you get a chance to buy before.
Lee: It’s not a free for all though. There is a capped number, obviously. They are not taking away, necessarily, from the others. But it gives you an opportunity for first dibs.
William: I think you said that charities are another way that you might get a chance to get in.
Lee: Yes, charities you can get in. Now if you go to the website and you click on the race, they have a list of their charities, but you have to contact the charity because each one has its own conditions.
William: So they have a cap too and they have conditions? There are probably only so many people who the charity can submit.
Lee: Actually I’m not sure that they have a cap. It might vary from race to race, but on one of these races where I was having a look, they actually said that you were guaranteed if you went in with a charity to get an entry.
Lee: But there are so many of them, I didn’t check terms and conditions for all and you need to contact the charity to find out what is required from them.
William: After the Wine and Dine, that’s the last one for 2016. But this is a season. So the next race in the season is the Disney Marathon Weekend. That’s going to be January 4th through 8th in 2017.
Lee: Yeah, that’s the big one.
William: Yeah, that’s the big one because that’s where you can do the Goofy, the Dopey and …
Lee: Those are the two challenges. You’ve got four races and the two challenges.
A lot of those races are sold out. The marathon still has place. I know that the Dopey Challenge certain still has tickets available. I believe the Goofy does as well. When I last checked up. Things could have changed since so don’t quote me on that right now.
William: OK, so you mentioned the four races. So there is the 5k, there is a half marathon, there’s a full marathon. What was the other one, is it the 10k?
Lee: It’s the 10k, yeah.
William: So 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. And that’s the big one. And that’s the only one where you get a full marathon.
Lee: To my knowledge, yes. I believe that that is the only one where you get the full marathon.
William: Alright, coming up next is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, February 23rd through 26th in 2017.
Lee: OK, now that one there is no full marathon so it works the same way. You’ve also got a challenge in there but that one is also one where some of these races are sold out so you need to go and check.
These things go pretty quickly.
William: You have to wear a tutu on that race.
Lee: No, you don’t have to! Some people like to do it and it’s fun.
William: Maybe a little veil.
Lee: You can!
William: I’ve seen people running through the parks and they are almost in costume as they are running.
Lee: Well, it’s not only Disney races where they do that. The Space Coast Marathon has costume competitions.
William: Oh, my! We’ll have to go over that one another time!
OK, and the last one of the season: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend: The Dark Side, April 20th through 23rd, 2017.
Lee: Yes, I believe that that one is not yet open for registration. They have the prices up though so if you want to go and check out what the prices are and they do let you know before. It’s not a surprise that opens up. If you sign up on the runDisney website for their emails and notifications they email you in advance to let you know.
William: This one they let you run and chase droids and slash things with your light saber.
Lee: Last year was the first one here at Disney World. I didn’t do it.
William: From what I understand, the Dark Side is in Orlando and I guess in Disneyland they get the Light Side. I’m not sure why that is, but that’s OK.
Lee: I like the Dark Side.
William: I know. You’re a villain fan.
Lee: I am.
William: You can run with Darth Vader.
Lee: Ooh, yeah! Heavy breathing!
William: So those are your options if you are going to be running in this season. As she said, some of them are sold out already. You may or may not have a chance to get into the race that you want this year, but if you are looking at half marathons or under, I think you do have a pretty good chance to find a runDisney event for you. The marathon, the full one, last we checked there were still a couple of tickets left right?
Lee: Oh, yes, and they don’t tell you how many; just that there are tickets available. And the challenges have tickets available. The problem is it is easy to say that the smaller races have lots of availability…
William: Those will fill up, too.
Lee: They fill up first.
William: Yeah, because more people are going to be able to do a 5k than they can do a marathon.
Lee: Absolutely. And you don’t necessarily have to be a runner. You can train for a 5k. It’s something that’s doable. You can do it as a family or a group of friends and put in the work and enjoy it. Have a medal for your success and your hard work.
William: Those are the sessions for the runDisney races. As I mentioned before, some people may want to come here, they may want to run, but they don’t want to do the Disney race or maybe it’s sold out and they can’t do the Disney race. So how do they find and choose a race in the area where they can still have their Disney vacation, but still run a race?
Lee: My favorite website, and it’s not the only one there is, but I tried a few and it’s runningintheusa.com. It’s actually a national website for races. It seems to cover most of them. There are some little race organization groups that don’t have theirs listed on there, but generally this gives you a good coverage of what’s available.
I also like the vast variety of filters on there because you can filter your search.
William: That’s going to be important.
Lee: You can choose by county, you can choose by city and Orlando comes up there as one of the key cities. So you pick your state and you narrow it down. And you can choose, for example, I do mine within a 25 mile radius of Orlando just because it’s easy.
Lee: Orange and Osceola counties are the counties you want to use if you are doing a search based on county. And then you can pick your distances. You can pick your month of the year. So you can refine these filters and find what suits you, or you can just look at all races, which will take you forever to get through there.
William: And the advantages that they have are kind of the opposite of the disadvantages of the runDisney races. In other words, they are going to have fewer people, they are going to be less expensive, and they are probably not going to sell out.
Lee: A lot of them don’t. I mean some of them do, like The Best Damn Race that I signed up for, that series is pretty popular. They do a number of them around Florida and they do eventually sell out. Anyone who has done races before knows that the earlier you sign up, the lower the price you pay. I think – what did we pay – $45?
William: I think so.
Lee: We got in at the beginning.
William: And then it gets more expensive as you get closer to the date.
Lee: Yes, as you get closer to the date. And they’ve got their cut offs. That race has a few thousand people in there. It’s not …
William: Well, a few thousand is different than 40,000!
Lee: Yeah. And that will be my biggest yet. My thing with races is the big crowds. It kind of makes me panic. It’s a personal thing, so it wasn’t a knock on Disney, but I do have issues with the crowds and that’s why I prefer to do these races.
William: Alright, so on these races obviously you are not going to be running through the Magic Kingdom and other parks at Disney. You are not going to be running with characters. But there are some other benefits to them.
Lee: Well, one of the big benefits is that for the price of a half marathon at Disney, I can run three half marathons and maybe a 10k and have some change at other locations.
William: One of the things that you mentioned about Florida overall is it is a flat course.
Lee: Generally they are flat courses. I mean, even the hills are kind of gentle rolling ups and downs. You don’t usually have something … I think the last race I did had a bridge. It was an overpass and that was pretty much the worst of it. So your elevation is minimal.
William: Yeah, we are like maybe twenty feet above sea level in Central Florida. But if you’re looking for a fast, qualifying time, central Florida is a pretty good place to go.
Lee: Yeah, just don’t do a half marathon in June. It was like running through hell!
William: No, don’t do that!
Lee: It was terrible.
William: Even sitting and waiting for her was bad, except I went out for breakfast. And that was air conditioned!
And the other thing is because they are smaller and generally they don’t use starting corrals, the slightly bigger ones do. I think when you have over 1,000 at some of these races they do start trying to organize the start line a little bit. But you don’t have to get there so early before the race just to get in to get parked and to make your way to the start line. So that for me is an advantage.
I know a lot of people don’t really sleep the night before the race. I do for some reason, but …
William: Well, one of the other things is the Disney races have to be done by a certain time because they still have to open up the parks to the general public.
Lee: They do. I understand that.
William: But some of these other races, do they have a bit more time for you to race?
Lee: It’s going to vary, depending on the race management and also on the course because sometimes there are road closures and they are obligated by the city to have the course cleared by a certain time. But I think generally I have found that they are very generous. Some of them don’t have course limits at all if there are no road closures. They give you kind of six hours or so to finish a half marathon, which is incredibly generous. It means you could walk if you wanted to.
William: Well there was something else that you brought up on one of the races you are looking at that maybe wouldn’t go for the Disney race. You were talking about trail races.
Lee: I was talking about a trail race. I’ve never run a trail race. This is totally for the bling because the medal is so awesome! But I tell you what else got me, and this is one of the advantages of the non Disney races. The Facebook fan pages or they’ve got their Facebook page where they keep you updated with what’s happening – going on there is a good indication sometimes of the kind of community and the people with whom you’re going to run. A lot of these races that are well established have been around for a while so they’ve got regulars who keep coming back. Sometimes you just find such a nice team spirit in there and that is the thing that got me interested.
William: You like the community aspect of it.
Lee: I started following them and I’ve actually made friends and we do some – this spins your head a bit – but we do virtual runs together. For example she’s training for a marathon in November and she does not like running outdoors. I’m an outdoor runner; she likes running on the treadmill. So when she does her long run outside, she will message me and I’ll try and schedule mine for the same day. So we kind of, although she is down in the South of Florida, we run together. Now this is somebody I’ve never met in person, but I’ve met her through a fan page on a race social media page.
Also, reading the reviews and looking to see whether there is a presence of the race organizers. Do they come and respond? Do they comment? Do they reply to people’s comments? These things are important, because I’ve just had a disastrous race that’s been canceled; the one I was supposed to do in three weeks time and they canceled it – when – yesterday?
Lee: I was furious! But it has just been absolutely appalling and I had been saying for about two months now, you could see from the Facebook page, I was having my doubts.
William: That’s true, but that’s one of the advantages of the Disney race. You know they are not going to cancel it!
Lee: They are not, no.
William: We’ve got a few races here that you might want to consider.
Lee: OK, I specifically looked around the time of the other Disney races, so this is with a view to finding something as an alternative if you didn’t get into the race you wanted and you really had wanted to plan your vacation around that time.
November 12th they have got the Orlando Marathon. There is a full marathon, there’s a half marathon and there is a 5k, so there are some options there. Those so far, none of them are sold out, or they weren’t a couple of days ago when I checked.
Also, November 13th there is a race series, which is a US nationwide series that is relatively recent over the last few years, called Race 13.1. This is the 13.1 Orlando. There is a half marathon, a 10k and 5k. They are growing in popularity and this is one that I intend to sign up for and I’m planning to do the half for this one. So November is a nice month to run. You are not freezing, but you’ve got some nice cooler months for training.
William: And there’s no humidity.
Lee: Oh we are not even going to talk … this last week was just … I could have done a triathlon on the road it was so bad.
December 3rd there is the OUC Half Marathon. This is very popular. A lot of people like it. We know some friends who are doing it and do it every year and it’s a must-do for many people. It is a slightly bigger one; I think you are looking at just under 5,000 so you’ve got the half marathon there. I didn’t actually – I don’t remember now – I think they do a 5k as well and maybe a 10k? I didn’t make a note.
William: There’s usually a 5k at most of these races.
Lee: They usually have a 5k with a lot of these races.
William: I think even I’ve done the OUC 5k before.
Lee: OK, so you’ve done that then.
January 29th there is The Town of Celebration Marathon. This one has won my heart.
William: And keep something in mind. The ones we are talking about in Orlando are probably going to be downtown Orlando area, which is going to be a good drive from Walt Disney World.
Celebration however is just right outside of the parks.
Lee: Yeah, this is close. And they’ve got a half marathon, they’ve got a full marathon, so if you are wanting to do some distance, this isn’t for the people who are looking for a 5k, but it is something that is very nearby and if you are wanting the full marathon, it is there. Remind me and we will put a link in the show notes to the website where you can do a course comparison and they will show you. This is a Boston qualifying course, for those who are interested. It is nice and flat, a lot of people have got a personal best there and a lot of people manage to qualify for Boston on that one. Or you can do the Half if you just want to do a competitive race or get a nice recorded time for a starting corral for something else, bigger. Maybe even one of the future Disney races, because you need to submit those as proof.
William: OK and just to throw this in there, if you are looking for the show notes, they are going to be at orlandolocal.com/6 and we will have the links out there.
Lee: OK. And then the last one, this one I’m signed up for and that’s the Best Damn Race Orlando. I kind of like the name. They usually have really nice medals and I’m going to do the half marathon, but there is also a 10k and a 5k as options, I think. One of our friends did the 10k last year and absolutely loved it. Lots of photos.
Also some of these throw in free photos in the package, others you have to put in your bib number, find your photos and buy them.
William: You can buy them later one.
Lee: Yes, it really depends. I don’t remember which is which now. I think the Best Damn Race you do have to pay for your photos, but some of them include it with the cost.
William: If you are willing to drive a bit further out, we’ve got a few more and we’ll see if we can find some of the dates for when these are going to come up.
Daytona Beach has a half marathon in February.
There is a Riverside Dash in Sanford.
William: That literally is riverside. It’s paved going back and forth and you’re running along the St Johns River in Sanford. And Sanford is going to be a good distance. It’s not as far as Daytona, but it’s going to be up in Seminole County and it’s a nice race that’s – I think that was the first one that we took you to.
Lee: That was my first race, yeah. It’s a 15k and they do a 5k as well, so you have got those two distances. There is no half marathon; it’s kind of in between, but there is a 5k.
William: And the difference between that one and the one coming up is the Riverside Dash your start and finish are at the same point. But the next one, the Echo Half Marathon in Geneva, which is a little bit beyond Sanford…
Lee: Yes, I did that as well.
William: Now this one, you start in one place but you finish at another.
Lee: This is actually very important to consider when you are looking at a race. The Riverside Dash, when I did that I loved it. I ran along the course, we turned around (at the zoo, of all places – I don’t know if they were suggesting something) and we came back. So on your way back you are passing runners who are still going out, or vice versa for the people still going out. They are actually seeing people and they are running with people.
The Echo Half Marathon was a beautiful race. It was a stunning course, well organized. That was in Geneva. A lot of this was on bike trails between trees and things.
I started with a pace group just because I have a tendency to bolt out a little bit quicker than I should. A lot of people understand this! And then I broke away from them at about two miles. And after the fourth mile, aside from the water stops, I ran alone.
There was not a soul that I could see in front of me or behind me. I was on my own. And this was actually a bigger race than the Riverside Dash, but it was a point to point. And I saw a few cyclists who had nothing to do with the race, who came by in either direction, there were some Police cars and they waved and yelled to me. It was summer, it was probably the hottest weekend we’d had of the year, the humidity was rising like clouds off of the ground and I wanted to cry. But it can be a very tough race if you don’t see anybody and I ran alone.
William: And that’s a thing that you weren’t anticipating.
Lee: I didn’t.
William: You’re running faster than my old trainer does. I mean I am impressed. You’re running these races with, I think your best times are what? A seven minute mark?
William: Most people aren’t running that fast so you got out ahead of the pack and you were by yourself and since you weren’t turning around, you didn’t see people continuing on, you were out there by yourself. Waiting for alligators to jump out and bite you!
Lee: Oh, don’t say that! I was freaking out. I kept thinking I was lost because it wasn’t even like it was on a trail or a road or something. I kept thinking, I’m lost, I’m lost! Where do I go?
William: But here’s the other part of a point to point race. One, if you get outside of the pace of other people, you may be by yourself for a little while.
Lee: In the smaller races, yeah.
William. In the smaller races. But the other part is it’s point to point. So if you rent a car or something like that and you drive to a certain place, there has got to be transportation at the end to get you back to where your car was.
Lee: Yeah, because you dropped me and I said don’t wait for me to start. Go and find parking at the finish.
William: Yeah, so for you, you had me to drop you off and then pick you up at the other place. But if you’re driving yourself there in a rental car, do they have shuttles to take you to the other side?
Lee: Actually they did. They often do organize this. And a lot of people like to car pool. People meet on the Facebook group pages and they make arrangements to meet up and they will park one car at the start and then help each other to the finish and they kind of figure it out like that.
William: You also had something – what was it – Masters of All Terrain series? That’s the off road stuff.
Lee: This is the off road stuff. Oh, man! These people are so fun. I’m kind of lured into trail running. I cannot train for a trail run so I’m just going to throw myself in as a sink or swim. But honestly, I’m just in this because – OK, the medal is awesome ….
William: It all comes down to the medal!
Lee: It comes down to the medal. But I think it’s the spirit of the community that I love so much. These people are a little bit crazy and a whole lot of fun and they are so responsive to messages. They are so friendly and inviting. And so supportive of each other as well. I’ve noticed the people are constantly building each other up and encouraging each other. They do a lot of races in the Orlando area. They are in varying distances. Their thing is that they never run on the road or hard surfaces, so it’s going to be on compact dirt or I think they do some parking garage things as well, just for fun at night.
William: Alright, if you’re not in Florida and you haven’t run here before, we’ve got a couple of tips and things that you want to keep in mind when you’re choosing a race here.
We already talked about one. Is the course out and back or is it going to be point to point? And that can be a particular problem if you don’t have someone else to give you transportation. So check with the race management to see if they have a shuttle or some kind of service that will get you back to the starting place if you park your car there.
Lee: Yeah, this should be listed on the information page of the race or on the About Page. Usually there is a link to their website and you should be able to get this information, but if you are not sure, just check.
The other thing is, is the course certified? Now, in most cases yes. Especially for long ….
William: Certified by who and why? Or does that matter?
Lee: USA Track and Field (USATF)
If you want that to certified, it means it’s been time chipped and properly measured according to the standards. This might matter to you if you are looking for an official recorded time to submit for a race.
William: So if you need that as a qualifier then that’s something you’ve got to check for?
Lee: Either as a qualifier to enter a race where they have qualifying standards or if you are wanting to get into a corral. I mean that was the reason I ran for time for the one race. It was purely just to get a chipped time. I hadn’t raced. I’d been running, but not racing and I realized that if I wanted to do a bigger race I didn’t want to be sitting in the middle of the pack.
So that was crowd related.
William: So you talked about fast courses, flat courses, what is all that really going to mean to you?
Lee: OK, most of Florida’s courses are going to be described as fast and flat. A fast, flat course is something that it’s easier to run on a flat course – runners know this – than to be going up and down hills. The one thing I will say about a flat course, and I noticed that on the Riverside Dash, because I do have some rolling hills on my training runs on the route that I take when I go running in the morning and that really was pancake flat. But I could feel it in my knees, my tendons and my joints just because I wasn’t changing up any muscle groups. I was just going straight in one direction with no turns.
William: But this is important for people. If they are used to running on hills or terrain that is going to alternate, when you come here and run these races, you may find out that it’s going to be hitting your muscles in a different way.
Lee: It will. Look, it is certainly going to much easier than if you trained on flat and went to run hills. So you’re going to be at an advantage, but just be aware. If you get the opportunity to try some flat areas or maybe do some track running that will probably just get your joints used to the pounding if you’re going for a longer distance. On a 5k it’s probably not going to hit you either way.
William: Another thing that we were talking about already is the time of year. The Disney races are pretty much in a reasonably cool time of year. I would say the one in April has a chance to get a bit hotter. It’s not quite as muggy yet. You know, the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon. But there are other races like the one you mentioned that was in June with the Echo. That is a hard run as far as the weather is concerned.
Lee: OK, let me tell you about the mistake I made. I overlooked something. I was looking at the time of the year for the race. I had actually planned to sign up for a marathon in November and I’m so glad I didn’t, because after that half marathon in June, I thought, do I want to be spending summer, which here goes through until October at least, in the peak of my training for this long distance? I don’t want to be doing eighteen and twenty mile runs in September and October. It’s still pretty hot.
William: You want to do most of your training when it’s comfortable.
Lee: Yes, so keep that in mind, especially if you’re training for a longer distance or if you are just wanting to ease yourself into the training and not throw too much at your body at once. You want to consider the run-up to the race. When are you going to be at the peak of your training? When are you going to be putting in the most mileage or the most speed work? That depends on your individual goals.
William: And something else to keep in mind, Lee runs six days a week. I know people and I mentioned my former trainer before, she doesn’t run in the summer time because it’s just miserable hot.
Lee: She’s just clever!
I actually met a runner who turned around and looked at me as we crossed over along the trail and he said, “Damn, we look so good doing this in summer!”
And then I met somebody else saying, “What fool runs in August?” last week. I thought, well, the best?
William: I see it driving to work and driving home from work. There are people out there all hours of the day running.
Lee: Man, I’ve seen people running at noon. Now. At this time of the year. And I think I just want to call 911 so they ambulance driver knows where to get them!
William: OK, Lee also mentioned social media pages for these. That way you can see reviews and comments. But you also get a chance to meet some of the other runners and maybe you can find someone who can pace with you.
Lee: It gives you a nice feel for it, particularly if this is your first race. I mean, you kind of get nervous for your first race. I probably would have been a bit more nervous if I wasn’t quite so ignorant. I just ran because I liked running. I didn’t really know enough about the race to get as nervous as maybe I would have or should have been for the first one. But if you can meet up with people in advance and maybe somebody else who is doing a first race, you can reassure and encourage each other along the way. That is vital. Having somebody who is in the same place as you.
For those going for a more lofty goal, the same goes.
William: There’s one more thing that’s going to be really important and this is not so much if you’re staying at a Disney resort and going to a Disney race, but if you are going to a non Disney race – something else in town – will they let you pick up your race packet on race day? Because if you have to make a couple of trips, cab fare can really run you some money.
Lee: That is something. Now some of these races do a allow race day pick up. The Echo Half had actually first said no, then they said look, in cases of extreme emergency. They were really trying to avoid it just to kind of make it smoother at the start and I understand why they did that. Some races do not have a race day pick up option. There could be various reasons. They might just not have a place where they can set up to do it. Find out from them first. Also, some of them charge for the privilege. I know that Disney charges … I think? I’m not even sure if that is still an option for on the day packet pick up?
William: Probably not because there are going to be so many people there. It would just be … you wouldn’t get the race started by the number of people that would procrastinate and not pick up on race day.
Lee: This is the problem and you don’t want to have that happening. You are still going to get your bib pinned on and you’re fiddling with stuff.
William: See the nice part if you’re staying at a Disney resort and you’re doing a Disney race, you can get transportation to take you to the place where you’re going to pick things up.
Lee: You can and you can go and do that the day before.
Anyway, this is something just to bear in mind because depending how far out you are going, if you can do race day pick up. And often if you email the race organizers in advance, you might even be able to come to some kind of arrangement and you are going to need to get there a little bit earlier to allow yourself time to get that, but do it.
A lot of them have a bag drop option as well, where you can drop your bag and you can pick it up at the finish line and this is also often available with a point to point, so they will take your things through for you.
William: This is all new to me. All I’ve ever done really are 5k’s and those were pretty easy. But if you’re getting into some of these bigger races there are more options for you.
I never had to worry with a 5k about having an official race time, so if you don’t have an official previous race time or enough races under your belt, what happens next?
Lee: OK, this is specifically for the Disney races and it’s not so much because it’s Disney, it’s because it’s a big race and they have to have some kind of organization amongst the chaos at the start line. I mean they really need to do this.
You do have to submit an official previous start time. You also need to keep in mind if you are running a half marathon, you don’t get to submit a 5k start time. I think you need to do a 10k at least, to submit for a half. I need to double check on that because I’m not sure. Disney changes their things. But most races want a distance that is at least similar to what you are going to be running.
William: And a 5k really isn’t going to do it. If your first timed race where you get something like that, it may be the 10k.
Lee: So my suggestion is that wherever you live, if you have the opportunity to sign up for a smaller race, it’s not going to be as expensive. Do it for the experience or whatever. You don’t even need to be rushing out if you are not too worried about time, but if you do want to get into a certain corral and you don’t want to be lumped in the back with these really big ones [races], find a race just so you’ve got a chip time to submit.
William: You’re staying at a Disney resort. You don’t have a car. What do you do?
Lee: I wouldn’t rent a car just for one trip if it was just for the race. I mean if you are not planning to use the car for anything else, a taxi or an Uber or something like that would work out a better deal for you for a once-off. Again, just remember the race day packet pick up option and see what you can arrange there.
William: Alright, one of the other things we talked about was just the crowd at Disney races.
Lee: OK, look, if you’re like me and you start to panic in big crowds – and for me that’s what the corral thing is about; that’s why I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle – and it happened at the Riverside Dash.
William: Yeah at the Riverside Dash you were getting a bit, uh …
Lee: I was busy socializing and I started to panic because I looked around and there were people in front of me and behind me. That’s my own little phobia thing. Most people probably don’t have a problem with it, but some people just don’t like it.
William: Well some people don’t like it. I mean, I am kind of anti social as it is. We knew people there. Niki, my former trainer, she was there, but she was in a different area than you were.
Lee: She was, yes.
William: So it just didn’t really ….
Lee: Well, actually what happened was she wanted to start further to the back and I stuck with her because I’d never run a race and I didn’t know anybody.
William: But you outpaced her quickly.
Lee: I think she realized though. She understood that I had crowd issues and there was a point where she looked at me and said, Get out at the side, break away and go.” So that was really sweet. But it is something to keep in mind. Because in these big races, the friend that I’ve met who likes to run the Disney races has said to me there are times where she is forced to walk because of the crowds and the congestion in places of these races.
William: Now on the other hand, if you’re an extrovert, you like large crowds, you like people cheering you on, then maybe a Disney race is something that is going to be for you.
Lee: Oh yes, then this is probably going to be almost unrivalled when it comes to the energy and cheers and the large crowds. If you need that for your adrenaline rush and that’s what carries you through, then yes! Seriously consider a Disney race or one of the bigger ones. I think that’s going to help you a lot.
William: That’s all we’ve got for runDisney races and some of the local Orlando alternatives. Even if you want to come to Central Florida and spread out a little bit, there are other races out there. We’ll have a list of a few of them on the show notes. Either way, we hope that you enjoy coming to Orlando and have a good race.
William: Hey, thank you very much for joining us on the Orlando Local Show. We appreciate you. Again, I just want to mention that you can find the show notes available at orlandolocal.com/6
We hope this has been useful to you. If you would like a transcript of the show, we’ll have that out there on the show notes. It’s free. All you have to do is tell us your email address where you want us to send it and we’ll send it right along to you.
Thank you very much. As always, we appreciate you and we hope to see you again here next week.
Find My Marathon (Marathon course information and comparison)
Town of Celebration Marathon (2017)
Best Damn Race Orlando (2017)
Masters of All Terrain (Off Road)