Posts Tagged by espn wide world of sports

The Secret to WDW Marathon Weekend Expo

The first stop of any runDisney race weekend is the Health & Fitness Expo!  This is a HUGE event in itself and can get a bit overwhelming.  Suzanne is here today and fresh from Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  She’s got some great tips (and secrets) on how to navigate the Expo and get the most out of your visit!

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You are registered. You are super excited to go get some goodies. Where do you start? First of all, WDW does a great job of marking and directing your stop!  First stop is at Packet Pick Up. Be sure to have your ID ready for them to check you in. If you forget your waiver (which is a must) you can print them outside the entrance to the packet pickup area.

The VoluntEARS are so wonderful about getting the participants in and out. We didn’t have to wait very long at all to get your bib, shirt and gear check bag.  One of the very nice things that WDW makes sure to do is to have everything you need in one bag. When you leave the packet pick up area, you aren’t juggling 52 things in your hands along with your bib. It is all nicely wrapped in the gear bag for you, which is awesome as well because it means one less stop!

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The next best thing is that just a few steps away there was a spot for people to try on their shirts. I, of course, had to try mine on right away. I can’t have a shirt that doesn’t fit. I need to be able to show it off! If yours didn’t fit, you could go and exchange your shirt in just a few more steps. It was really nice to have everything for your packet in one area without having to make 15 stops along the way to get all your Disney goodies. Well played Disney!

Our next stop was to the Health and Fitness Expo. Almost everything that you might need for your race was available. One thing I will be sure to mention is that it is VERY busy and VERY crowded during the expo. If you are interested in getting the PRIME Disney merchandise/souvenir selection, then be sure to get to the expo early on the first day that it opens to get your Disney souvenirs. Literally, I witnessed one man have his shopping basket FULL of pins and magnets. There is no limit to buy on Disney racing souvenirs, so if collecting pins is a hobby for you, try to hook up with some other runners that are going on the first day if you can’t make it. I don’t know if they hold back souvenirs for each day, but based on the feeding frenzy that I witnessed, you better have what you want in your hands and don’t set it down!

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One of the bonuses is that there are two Disney race merchandise areas in two separate halls, so if you are interested in getting a souvenir and it is out in one location, be sure to check the other location. When it was time to check out from the merchandise area, even though the line wrapped outside the booth and and down the row, the line moved very fast and the Disney staff was very organized to keep the lines moving.

After perusing the runDisney Merchandise area, it was onto the expo. Keep in mind that the expo is in two locations. If you are looking for running gear, massage systems, or just all around fun items (think tutus), there is all you can imagine. Be sure to head outside as well because there are vendors outside the exhibit halls, too. Located on the outside of the exhibit halls was the awesome, leather-smelling, Dooney & Bourke purses booth! You could smell the scent of the brand new, never been used leather as soon as you walked into the room. The great news was that you could purchase a purse even if you hadn’t pre-ordered one. I was worried that I might have missed the opportunity, but no worries! They had a location. I was able to go in and see the purses to see if I needed to purchase one. I like to see the purses first to be sure it is something I will actually USE. I am so glad that I walked around the outside vendors. I might have missed out on commemorating my vacation with an awesome purse!

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The last stop we made was at the Disney Artists booth. I didn’t even know this existed. Right next to runner tracking signups are these great Disney character artists. For FREE (which as you know, very few things are free with Disney), the artists will draw a picture of you in a funny, cartoon-like manner. They are such phenomenal artists and to see what they draw is so fun! In speaking to them, they said that they work for Disney and do different Disney events. They are incredibly talented, and I was super-excited to get my own personal piece of Disney memorabilia.

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So, what’s the secret? Get there early if at all possible and if you can, PLAN IT. If you are taking Disney Transportation (which is awesome by the way…no too small yellow school buses for runDisney people… charter baby, all the way), be on the first bus there! If you are an experienced expo-goer, try to plan out the booths that you want to go to first. It makes it much easier to navigate, and you don’t have to feel like a sardine in a feeding frenzy for long. If you are a first-timer, check out all the booths. It is pretty fun to see what is out there in the running world. If you forgot any items like me (who needs gus when you can pack your much needed Minnie ears!), it is easy to pick them up at the expo. However, if you desire a certain type/flavor of an item (nourishment/hydration), you may not be able to get your favorite one there. But at least you won’t be without an item that you need. Yay! Disney to my rescue!

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Disney does A LOT of things right (transportation, navigation, people moving, friendliness, course support, etc). They are awesome about moving A TON of people around expertly. Think 30,000+ people over the course of 3 days! They have a variety of vendors for the expo, and they are fantastic about getting wonderful, friendly voluntEARS to help them. Be sure to say thank you to all the voluntEars and the workers at expo and at packet pick up. They will love you for it! If you have the chance to runDisney, DO IT! You won’t be sorry!

Run strong,

Suzanne Berkey

 

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Suzanne Berkey is a Disney-loving, motivational speaking, running junkie. She is the chief writing officer aka “The Boss” of The Warrior Within Me blog. She uses her own personal 100lb. weight loss experience to guide others to find their own warrior within them. Why does she run? Because she is finally able to! Check her out at www.thewarriorwithinme.com.  

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 1 – The Wine & Dine Half Marathon

I am SO excited about this two-part series!!  Ashleigh contacted me about doing a guest post on her runDisney experience and when I found out that she was traveling all the way from Australia to run both the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend AND the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge, I couldn’t wait to hear all about it!!  Here’s Part 1 of Ashleigh’s adventure!

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Hello everybody! Sarah kindly asked if I would blog about my experience running Disney as an Australian having travelled over to the States for Wine and Dine and Avengers. I will be writing a two part series, talking about my trip as a whole and the excitement of Disney and the runDisney races.

Deciding to travel half way across the world for a couple of races was not as easy decision. I am not what you would call a natural runner, I am about as far from a natural runner as you can imagine. I began running in July 2011 when I signed up for a 5k with my mum in support of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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My mum and I after my first 5k!

After that I was hooked- I signed up for another 5k and another and another, then a 10k and finally a half marathon a year and a bit later. I found out about runDisney when I saw it mentioned on Facebook, and after doing some research I began following Jeff Galloway’s run-walk program, which is what gave me the confidence to sign up for more races after my first 5k. As someone who has always struggled with running and I had some pretty bad experiences with sport in school (not so supportive physical education teachers), the idea that someone who had run marathons at Olympic level was telling me it was okay to take short walk breaks when I ran was amazing.

So that brought me to the idea of runDisney- I liked everything it stood for, running for the fun of it, running not be the best but to be the best me and hello…Disney characters on course!?! Photo opportunities!?! Wear my medals around at the park the next day and have people stop and congratulate me!?! YES PLEASE!!!

I love living in Australia, but the running culture here is very different. We don’t have runDisney or Rock n Roll or Diva running events. Everything feels a lot more serious, and there are a lot less races. The fields are smaller, but the quality of runners is higher, so there are still quick finishing times, but at my home state of Victoria’s big half marathon (The Melbourne half marathon), I was at the back of the pack with a 2:41:57 finish.

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My first half marathon finish!

I mean right at the back, which is fine with me- but the idea of being able to run a race where there are other runners just like me- people running for fun and to better themselves even though they might not be the speediest runners, really appealed to me. So runDisney was officially on my radar. But how does one justify flights, accommodation and an international trip for a race? With great difficulty!

After finishing university and settling into work I got some hard news that a very dear friend had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was really hard to wrap my head around the fact that a friend only a few years older than me had suddenly been told that he had an incurable disease that would essentially affect the rest of his life. The reasons I had chosen not to do runDisney were stupid. Money. Work. The difficulty in planning. They were not good reasons to miss out on something that I was so passionate about. Life is short and if we don’t take opportunities when they come up, we might end up missing out on them altogether.

So when registration opened for Wine and Dine 2014 I took the plunge- the race was on my birthday, and I took that as a sign. I followed that with registration for Avengers (and registration for Dopey but more on that another time). I was registered and I was over the moon- then came the training. I actually had my strongest training block ever, even though it was actually Dopey training, so I left Australia feeling excited, because I knew I was ready.

After a lot of flying-Maningrida-Darwin, Darwin-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth, Dallas Fort Worth- Orlando, I finally arrived at Walt Disney World with my boyfriend who joined me for the trip and acted as support crew for the runs. We hit up the parks everyday and when we went to the expo I went crazy!

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My expo purchases! A very successful day in my book!

KT tape sells for $30 a roll in Austrailia and was 2 for $30 at the expo. Dr Kool- doesn’t exist in Australia? Cindy shoes- tick. Goofy shoes-tick. Pins- tick. Tumbler- tick. I did it shirt- tick. Tech shirt- tick. You get the idea. I loved the energy at the expo, it was a little crazy but really well organized so even as a first time runDisney participant, I found it really easy to navigate my way around and find everything I needed.

When I saw my bib for the first time I couldn’t believe it. Me. Ashleigh. I was running in a runDisney race. It was amazing. On Saturday we woke up and went to Animal Kingdom for a few hours before returning to the room at about 2. I used this time to nap, relax, re read the participant info booklet, and double/triple/quadruple check I had everything ready for the race. I went with a simple wonder woman themed costume, and even though temps were set to be around 55-65 degrees, I opted to run in just a t-shirt and running skirt as I find I overheat very quickly and I didn’t want to be stripping off during the run.

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Simple Wonder Woman inspired costume. It was super comfy to run in!

I jumped on the bus at Port Orleans French Quarter at around 7, and I arrived at the race by about 7:20. When I arrived at the race I quickly jumped in line for a photo with Chef Mickey- which proved to be a smart choice because by the time I had my photo taken the line had about doubled (and I ended up being in line for approx ½ hour).

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Chef Mickey and I. I love this photo!

I decided to skip the other character photos and instead take some time to sit down and relax before the start. Some very friendly runners chatted with me while we waited for the corrals to open, and at about 9:00 I made my way into the corral.

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

A gentleman in the corral kindly gave me a garbage bag as it started to rain almost as soon as we stepped into the corral and this ended up continuing for almost the whole race. Thank you to that mystery man- it was VERY MUCH appreciated! As I stood at the start line watching the fireworks go off, I was overcome by a sense of gratefulness. I was grateful for everything, the ability to run, the chance to be there, the opportunities that I had allowed myself.

The start line was amazing!

The start line was amazing!

I stripped off my garbage bag and bounded off as soon the fireworks went off for my corral.

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The fireworks were even more amazing. I can’t think of a better way to start a race!

I had decided to run 4:1 intervals and stop for as many photo stops as I liked, because it is not everyday you get to run at Disney! I stopped at every mile marker for a selfie, and I stopped for photos with the fairies, Timone, the Animal Kingdom tree, Buzz and Woody, the Incredibles back drop, the Osbourne lights and Captain Jack Sparrow. I also saw photo ops (but didn’t stop) for King Louie, a Star Wars character (sorry I am not a big Star Wars fan) and Country Bears.

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I could be forgetting a couple, the race was a bit of a whirlwind. I heard the green army men yelling at people but I don’t remember seeing them, I kept thinking I was about to run past them but it never happened- they may have been on the other side of the road. As for the actual running part, it may have been raining, but I was having a ball. I run in km in Australia so I just imagined that every mile marker was a km marker, so it felt like the race was only 13km!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

The course was really interesting as it began at ESPN, then through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before finishing in Epcot. As someone who wasn’t overly familiar with the Disney World property it was actually a great way to tour around and see the parks. Although there were some huge puddles, there were lots of cast members and volunteers pointing them out, the aid stations were well organized and the medical tents and staff were amazing. I really enjoyed running through the parks because there was just so much to look at. I honestly remembered feeling disappointed at the 6 mile mark because I was sad it was half way over. I was hi fiving cast members left, right and centre and I loved the way random runners would strike up conversation for a couple of minutes. While many people complained about the weather, nothing was going to rain on my parade on Saturday night!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

As we ran along the Boardwalk I was just so excited to see that finish line, and once I saw Spaceship Earth, I knew I was almost there. As I had run so conservatively the whole race, I had heaps of gas left in the tank and basically sprinted toward Mickey, hi fived him and then leapt across the finish line. I was given a finishers medal, wrapped in a space blanket and lead down the chute. I had my photo taken before being given some food.

I was lucky enough to have my lovely boyfriend waiting in Epcot with dry clothes so I could skip Gear Check, and I skipped grabbing a drink because the lines were just too hectic. I am a super impatient person so having all those people around and lines barely moving equals a very grumpy Ashleigh. I decided it would be best for my sanity if I just skipped the drink and moved straight through to the after party where I could have some breathing room- and show off my awesome medal! I met my boyfriend at the Australia (of course!) pavilion in Epcot and changed into some nice dry clothes and got some photos with my medal.

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

We ended up finding Dopey and Snow White and Pinocchio- I was disappointed that I had just missed Donald (my favorite). I was starving so we went to Italy, Morocco and Brazil and that satisfied my post run hunger. We decided to leave at around 3:15, but unfortunately our bus had a huuuuge waiting line, so I think we waited around ½ hour before we managed to get on the bus, and by this time the rain had started to get heavier. We arrived back at French Quarter and I had a quick shower before settling into bed at around 4:15am.

A Disney race wouldn’t be complete without post race, park touring with my medal. I had heard some horror stories about people’s medals breaking and people losing the spinner middle from the medal, so I decided to play it safe and only wear the medal in photos. The rest of the day it was tucked safely into my pocket. Even though I was a little disappointed I couldn’t wear my medal, I would have been devastated if it had have broken, so I think I made a good choice to just use it for photo ops. I loved showing off my medals at the parks and it was awesome having total strangers come up to me and congratulate me!

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My Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend trip was a blast, and as I write this I am getting ready to race Avengers in California and get my coast to coast. I had an awesome experience running Disney and I am already planning my next runDisney trip!

Ash J

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of Ashleigh’s runDisney adventure at the Avengers Half Marathon coming up tomorrow!

2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Race Weekend Info

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For the third year, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler has crept up on us once again…are you ready to take a trip into the fifth dimension??  Well I hope so because I have all the information you will need for the race weekend so you can run directly to these medals!

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Health & Fitness Expo

Like all other runDisney race weekends you will need to start yours by heading to the Health & Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Hours for the Expo are:

  • Friday, October 3rd: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, October 4th: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Participants in all of the races MUST attend the Expo to turn in signed waivers (click here to print your waiver) and pick up race packets, which include your race bib with B-Tag timing devices, race shirt, and gEAR bag.  The gEAR bag also doubles at the bag to use for bag check during the race.  This is also where you will receive any commemorative items you may have purchased during registration, such as pins or necklaces.

Your first stop at the Expo will be the HP Field House for Packet Pick Up.  If you are unable to attend the Expo, you can arrange for an absentee pick-up by filling out an authorization form (found here) and providing the person picking up your bib with a photo copy of your ID and signed waiver.  This is also where the Speaker Series will be held throughout the weekend.

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From there you will then proceed across the way to the Jostens Center to pick up your race shirt and gEAR bag, visit with over 40 vendors and spend all your money on runDisney merchandise.

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Here’s a preview of some of the merchandise that will be available from runDisney!

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Resort Transportation

Bus transportation will be available to bring participants to and from ALL events taking place during The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.  This includes the Expo, 5K, Kids Races and 10-Miler.  Bus service to the Expo will run during the following times:

  • Friday, October 3rd: 9:30 am – 7:30 pm (last bus will leave resorts at 6:30 pm)
  • Saturday, October 4th: 8:00 am – 3:30 am (last bus will leave resorts at 2:30 pm)

For the 5K, runners must be on a bus by 6:30 am to make it to the corrals by 7:15 am at the latest.  For Kids Races, families must be on a bus by 8:30 am to make it to the corrals by 9:15 am at the latest.  For the 10-Miler, runners must be on a bus by 8:15 pm to make it to the corrals by 9:15 pm at the latest.  Buses will run until 4:00 am on Sunday for a return trip to the resort.  If you are staying at the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan or Dolphin, you have the option of walking to the staging area.

These are the host resorts for the weekend:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Driving Directions

If not staying at a host resort, participants will need to provide their own transportation to all events.  An important thing to note is that there will be NO parking at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the evening of the race.  Runners and spectators will need to park at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and take shuttles to the Studios.  Runners must be on a shuttle by 8:15 pm, so make sure to leave extra time to park your car and wait in line for a shuttle.

Costumes

Since these races have a villain/Halloween theme, the costumes are always great!!  It’s amazing to see what some people run in!  Last year I ran into the Siamese Cats from Lady and the Tramp!

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Please note that runners are NOT allowed to wear a face mask of any kind and will be removed from the course if this is violated.  This is for your own safety, especially during a night race!  So who are you dressing up as??

Bag Check

Participants MUST use the clear bag provided at the expo to check any belongings during the race and affix the label with their bib number on the outside.  Tip for you: Put a small, lightweight backpack or duffle bag inside your clear gEAR bag to transfer everything into after the race.  The strings on the gEAR bags make them horribly uncomfortable to carry around if you are planning on staying for the after party.

All bags must be checked by 9:00 pm in the Film Lot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Bags will be available for pick-up at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theatre and must be claimed by 2:30 am on the morning of October 5th.  This is a LONG hike after the race so if you are meeting friends or family at the after party, consider having them take your bag instead of checking it.

Staging Area & Start Corrals

The corrals will be located on the south side of the Film parking lot past the bag check area.  Your corral will be listed on your race bib and you will only be granted access to that corral or one behind you.  All runners MUST be in their starting corral by 9:15 pm.  Corrals will then be walked down to the starting line (starting with A), which is on the other side of the main toll plaza at the south entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The 10-Miler will start at 10:00 pm with the wheelchair start at 9:58 pm.

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You can find your corral placement by printing your waiver and finding the corresponding corral for your bib number.

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Race Bibs

Bibs must be centered on the front of your shirt.  Safety pins will be provided in your race packet at the expo.  Do not bend our fold your bib, as the ChronoTrack B-tag will be affixed to the back of the bib which will be used to track your time.  If your bib is not properly centered, damaged or covered, your time may not be recorded properly.  Your bib will also be used for the on course photographers, so make sure the number is clearly visible.

Pacing Requirements

You must keep a minimum of 16-minutes per mile throughout the race or you will run the risk of being picked up and brought to the finish line.  Keep this in mind if you are planning to stop for character photos.  Those lines can get long and it’s easy to lose track of time.  Pace cyclists and the dreaded balloon ladies will be on the course to let you know if you have fallen behind.

Aid Stations

There will be 7 PowerAde and water stops along the course and they are located approximately 1.5 miles apart from each other.  The PowerAde flavor is lemon-lime, so if that isn’t your thing you should carry your own.

Changing Tents

Changing areas will be available outside the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theatre after the race so you can get out of those sweaty clothes to enjoy the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash.  But be warned that there is no privacy and the tents are HOT, so I have found that it is worth it to stand in line for a bit to get into an air conditioned restroom to change.

Course Maps

Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler

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More information on other events like the Kids Races is available on the runDisney website and in the Official Event Guide for the weekend.  Also, check out some of my packing tips as your get ready to travel and one of my plans for prepping for night races.  I have run this race race for the past two years and have a lot of tips and insight in my race recaps.  Hopefully you will find some of them useful:

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2012

I decided to take a break from running this race this year, but I have tons of reporters out there bringing you photos and stories from the weekend.  I have my fingers crossed for you that this year brings some cooler temps so you have a more enjoyable race.  I can’t wait to follow along!!

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Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo

Every Disney race weekend starts with a trip to the Health & Fitness Expo.  So I thought that with Princess Half Marathon Weekend starting in a few days, we should take a look back at the Marathon Weekend Expo so all of you Princesses can get excited for the fun!  Kimberly Amato was at that Expo and has a great look at what to expect and some tips on how to navigate.  Check it out!

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I recently ran the WDW half-marathon.  It was my first half-marathon and first runDisney event!  I had heard rumors of the Expo being crowded, somewhat disorganized, and time consuming with long lines.  I am happy to report I was pleasantly surprised at my Expo experience!

We flew down the Wednesday morning before the race.  Coming from New England, we wanted to buffer in case of bad weather.  We also wanted to spend that first afternoon at the Expo because we planned to be at the parks the rest of the days  prior to the half.   My parents, who live in Florida and were ChEAR squad members, were there at 10 am when it opened.  They drove and found parking to be easy.  They said it was crowded with many people in line before the doors opened (most likely for the New Balance runDisney shoes) but it did not take them long to get their ChEAR squad packets.  They did not visit the Expo floor.

We arrived at the Expo about 1:30 pm after checking into the Beach Club Resort.  There was dedicated transportation to/from the Expo from all WDW resorts and it was awesome.  Buses were plentiful and frequent.  Drivers were friendly and upbeat.  Signage was fantastic.

General Expo info:

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The expo ran from Wednesday through Saturday and was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Anyone can attend the Expo, even if you are not running or spectating at a Run Disney event.  The Expo was held in several different buildings but they were all in close proximity to each other.  This was also the site of the kids races and the Mickey Mile.

Everything you needed to know about WDW Marathon Weekend and the details of the Expo, including maps of what was located in each building, were provided in the Official Event Guide available online about a month before race weekend and also given to you with your packet pick up at the Expo.  Resort hotels also had limited quantities of the Marathon Weekend event guide if you asked for them.

Food and beverage was available for purchase at the Expo from the ESPN store, the Yum Yum cupcake truck and vendors in the Expo hall.

Overall, I thought it was well and relatively logically organized.  Signage was large and plentiful and staff and volunteers were easily identifiable and helpful in giving direction if needed.

Packet/Bib Pick up:

Our first stop was the HP Field House which was where packet pick up was.

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It was very well organized and not at all crowded when we were there.  The entry level had a bank of computers and printers for those who forgot their race waivers.  The Expo floor here had long registration booths along each of the 4 walls for the Full Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K.  Runner relations and event information also had booths here.  We walked right up to the half marathon desk, handed in our waiver, signed our bib out of the book, and were handed our bibs and any pre-ordered commemorative items.  We were so excited, we took this photo!

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The lower level housed pick up for the 10K, the Goofy Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Goofy/Dopey shirt and gear bag pick up, ChEAR squad, 5k/10K breakfast ticket pick up, a shirt exchange booth, transportation info, runner relations and a commemorative item booth.

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There was also an official runDisney merchandise booth here.  I was surprised that it wasn’t really crowded at all.  It had more generic runDisney merchandise such as car magnets, pins, mini-medals, glassware and runDisney attire.  Some race specific items were here but not all of them.  Those items were at the bigger runDisney store at the Josten’s Center.  I did purchase a few things here that I knew I wanted.  They were a WDW Marathon Weekend pint glass, a mini half-marathon medal pin, a small 13.1 mouse ear car magnet and a runDisney Sweaty Band.  There were plenty of cash out positions with a long roped queue set up, but there was no line when I was there!  In talking with the cashiers they said the lines earlier were very long and it was much more crowded then.  Merchandise seemed well-stocked when I was there.  There were also great posters of the race courses and iconic runDisney advertisements along the outside of the store booth.  We had some fun with them!

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Our ChEAR squad members reported their pick ups went smoothly and quickly.  They did not receive an official race guide with their items.  I thought they should have at least received maps of each of the races with their packets and tips for spectators to help them in their spectating experience.

Race shirt and gEAR bag pick up:

The race shirt pick up for the Dopey and Goofy challenge participants was in the same place as packet pick up which made it easier for them.  For everyone else, you had to go to the Josten’s Center to pick up your race shirt and gEAR bag.  runDisney provides a very large, clear plastic bag for you to place any items you wish to check at the race bag check into.  You MUST use this clear bag.  It has a drawstring and I was skeptical of it’s strength but it held up well for my needs.  I did hear that some of the challenge runners asked for an extra bag just in case, as they had to use it multiple days.  You were also provided with a large sticker for your gEAR bag with the first letter of your last name and your bib # on it for identification.

Upon entering the Josten’s Center we had to walk down the stairs and across the Expo floor to get to our race shirt and gEAR bag.  This area was a bit more congested with the 5K and Marathon shirts on one side and the 10K and half shirts on the other.  Pick up was quick and easy, but a bit less organized than packet pick up was.  I imagine it was a bit of a mob scene when it was more crowded.  Just beyond that was a shirt exchange booth if you needed to exchange your official race shirt.  They do run a bit small.  I was surprised they were long sleeved but I love it.

runDisney Merchandise:

You were then funneled into the large runDisney Official Merchandise booth.  Very clever marketing ploy!  This was also well organized with the “I did it” shirts for each race along one wall as soon as you entered and employees available to help with sizing.

There were aisles dedicated to each of the races: 5k, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge.  There was very little Dopey merchandise available when I was there Wednesday early afternoon and heard several Dopey runners complaining.  I’m not sure if it was re-stocked later or not or if there was just not much beyond shirts.  I know there are a few Dopey ‘I did it’ shirts available at the Disney Store online currently.

There was also generic runDisney merchandise available, much the same as the smaller store at the HP Field House.  I saw a few “my mom ran a __________” T-shirts for kids but with very limited sizes and really just for ‘my mom’ and ‘my dad’.  None for my son or my daughter or grandparents which I think is a missed marketing opportunity.  My parents totally would have bought a “My daughter ran a Disney half marathon!” shirt and I’m 44!

I purchased my “I did it” shirt, which was very cool as it had the course map on the back, and was quickly checked out.  Of note, if you have a magic band, you can use it at the official runDisney Merchandise booths but you cannot use it at any of the other expo vendors. From here, our group split up to do our shopping and agreed to meet a half hour later at a pre-determined spot.

The Expo floor and vendors:

View from the top floor looking down to the Expo floor

View from the top floor looking down to the Expo floor

The Expo floor was crowded but manageable.  Be sure you bring cash or a credit card as your magic band (if you have one) will not work at non-runDisney vendors.  If you studied the map and list of vendors prior to going, it made for easier shopping at the vendors you were interested in.  There were some freebies, mostly in the form of snacks like yogurt and fruit bites or energy bar samples.  Others offered discounts for purchasing at the Expo or discounts or coupons for free gifts in the iGift bag you are sent with final race instructions.

Some of the vendors included Sweaty Bands, Asics, Raw Threads, Fit 2 Run, One More Mile, Marathon Foto (official race photographer), Lasting Commemoratives, Brooks, Bondi Band, KT tape and many, many more.  If you needed any kind of last minute race gear, you could probably find it here, from race nutrition to hydration belts to socks to any kind of running attire.  Of course, they want you to impulse buy!  I walked around the floor twice.  I made a few small purchases but I don’t do well with crowds and had not planned to purchase anything in particular.  It was a bit overwhelming.  I prefer online shopping and was mindful that I had to bring whatever I purchased home with me!

There was a third set of vendors at the Champion Stadium.  This was a less ideal venue as it was outside but under roof cover.  Unfortunately, it had a wind tunnel effect of sorts.  I think the exhibitors here probably got less foot traffic because they were not as visible and were outdoors.  The day we went it was cool and breezy.  I’m sure many runners walked right by without even visiting these vendors unless they specifically wanted an item available here.  This was also where the kids races packet pickup was located, runner tracking booth was and where Sparkle Athletic, some of the other running organizations, and the Dooney and Bourke items were.

ChEAR squad:

Our chEAR squad members purchased the gold pass.  This gave them entry to the special ChEAR squad spectator areas.  They had a smooth packet pick up and were provided their chEAR merchandise (stadium blanket, clappers, T-shirt and pass) in a clear runDisney gEAR bag.

Speaker Series:

We did not attend the speaker series.  I heard from others that it was fantastic. My mother attended the Information for Runners and Spectators presentation on Thursday at noon and said it was informative from the spectator perspective.  This is one of the things I do wish we had budgeted into our plan.  There were some fantastic topics covered related to running in general as well as tips for running the specific Disney races, and they are all free.  Next time I will plan to spend more time at the Expo and attend some of the presentations.  The runners I talked to that attended them had nothing but good things to say about the various sessions they attended and they all benefited from the experience and recommended it to others.  It also affords you the opportunity to meet some of the Run Disney official personalities like Jeff Galloway and Tara Gidus, the Diet Diva.

New Balance Run Disney Shoes:

I heard there was quite a line when the expo opened, mostly for the coveted New Balance runDisney shoes.  They can only be purchased at a runDisney Expo and they draw a huge crowd as they tend to sell out fast. Although I did not want the shoes, I heard from others that they essentially created a fastpass system for shoes, giving you a return time to be fitted and to purchase.  For some, the return time was several hours later.  They had a really cool booth set up with ‘princess’ style seating in the round and plenty of staff.  It seems they changed a lot about how these shoes are distributed and had more merchandise available than in previous years as well as multiple styles and sizes including kids sizes.  I also heard they ran low on some sizes and styles but got a second shipment in by the 3rd day so most people were able to get the shoes they wanted. We saw people leaving the Expo with multiple pairs of shoes and many people wearing them in the parks and even during their run!

Will Call:

Will call was at the Welcome Center and was where you could pick up any pre-ordered tickets to events related to Marathon Weekend including the Pasta Party, which is what we visited will call for.  We had linked our pasta party tickets to our magic bands prior to arriving and unbeknownst to us, that’s all we had to do.  If you did not do so or did not have a magic band, you had to get a physical ticket for your event.  It was quick and easy.

Summary:

Overall, the Expo experience was far better and faster than I expected it would be.  It was well-organized overall and there were plenty of staff available to help if you had questions.  Attending on the first day and mid-afternoon might have had an impact on our experience but most of the people I talked to also had good things to say about the Expo experience no matter when they attended.  From what I understand, the Expo was more spread out in multiple buildings this year than it has been in the past and that helped both with crowd control, organization and the overall user experience.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and efficient it was!

I do wish I had spent more time at the Expo.  In hindsight, taking more time to visit all the vendors and see what is available in the world of running as well as taking in some of the speaker series would have been both fun and valuable.  In the future, I will definitely plan to do so.  See how that works?  I said, ‘in the future’.  Disney sucked me in!  Can’t wait until I can run Disney again!

 *****

Kimberly is a 40-something soccer mom who is on a quest to run Disney.  She is a Physical Therapist, Reiki Master, and Creator of Meghan’s Hope, a foundation whose goal is to educate the public about the very real danger that a child can be severely injured or killed by falling furniture or televisions and it happens in an instant.
She blogs about her running adventures over at Run Kimmy, Run!

Transportation for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Since Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the largest runDisney race weekend, all of the resort hotels are considered host resorts.  This means that no matter where you are staying on property, transportation will be provided to and from all race related events.  Look for these signs to direct you to where the event transportation will be located:

Event-Transportation

Transportation will be by bus, except from the monorail resorts (Contemporary, Grand Floridian & Polynesian) where runners and spectators will take the monorail to Epcot for the races.  Separate event transportation is provided for the following events:

Health & Fitness Expo and runDisney Kids Races at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Wednesday, January 8

    • From Host Resorts to Expo 9:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    • From Expo to Host Resorts concludes at 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 9

    • From Host Resorts to Expo 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
    • From Expo to Host Resorts concludes at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, January 10

    • From Host Resorts to Expo 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
    • From Expo to Host Resorts concludes at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 11

    • From Host Resorts to Expo 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    • From Expo to Host Resorts concludes at 4:30 p.m.

Disney Family Fun Run 5K: Thursday, January 9

    • Bus Transportation: 4:15 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. and 7:00 – 9:00 a.m.
    • Monorail Transportation starting at 3:00 a.m.
    • Participants must board a bus or monorail no later than 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to their corrals on time.

Walt Disney World 10K: Friday, January 10

    • Bus Transportation: 3:30 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 – 10:00 a.m.
    • Monorail Transportation starting at 3:00 a.m.
    • Participants must board a bus or monorail no later than 4:00 a.m. in order to make it to their corrals on time.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon: Saturday, January 11

    • Bus Transportation: 3:30 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 – 11:00 a.m.
    • Monorail Transportation starting at 3:00 a.m.
    • Participants must board a bus or monorail no later than 4:00 a.m. in order to make it to their corrals on time.

Walt Disney World Marathon: Sunday, January 12

    • Bus Transportation: 3:30 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 – 2:00 p.m.
    • Monorail Transportation starting at 3:00 a.m.
    • Participants must board a bus or monorail no later than 4:00 a.m. in order to make it to their corrals on time.

If going to the Pasta in the Park Party in Epcot or the Cool Down Party in Downtown Disney, you can utilize regular Walt Disney World Transportation.

If you are not staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you will need to provide your own transportation.  Make sure to leave PLENTY of time to get to you destination, especially for the half and full marathons.  I have seen terrible traffic on the mornings of those races and heard horror stories of people being stuck for hours.  Don’t let that be you!

New this year, Disney is restricting runners from accessing the start corrals for the half and full marathons from Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive.  This has been a trick many runners use who are staying at Port Orleans, Old Key West or Saratoga Spring Resorts over the years to get more hours of sleep and not deal with the transportation issues.  Unfortunately this year runDisney has stated that you will be subject to disqualification if you enter the corrals from any other area than the Epcot parking lot.  So get to bed early and get on the provided transportation!

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