The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is coming up in about a month and my jealousy has been building since I am not running it after a 4 year streak. That has gotten me reminiscing about the races and I have a lot of great memories, but I also have realized that I made many mistakes as well.
With that in mind, I figured some lucky runners that are doing the races this year would maybe benefit from hearing about these mistakes so they can avoid them. Or at least laugh at my idiocy.
So, without further ado, here is my list of 5 (hopefully vaguely humorous) things not to do during the Walt Disney World Marathon (or Goofy Challenge or Dopey Challenge for that matter):
- Don’t forget to update your music list prior to the race.
So – true story…My first ever Disney World Marathon – in the ancient times of 2008. MP3 players really didn’t have very much storage back then and I tended to have to load the player for weight lifting and then reload it with different music for running…and I forgot to do this before I left home to travel to Florida for the race. Listening to the harder / angrier weight lifting music was ok for the first part of the race but by the time I hit Magic Kingdom I was finding the music exhausting. But I still needed something so I stuck with it. (back then Magic Kingdom was closer to the half way point of the marathon than it is now with the current route)
But then the Manowar song “The Blood of the Kings” came on as I was running through Cinderella’s castle – for those who don’t know the song, it contains the lyrics “’till the blood on your hands is the blood of a king”.
“’till the blood on your hands is the blood of king”, growling in my ears as I was going through Cinderella’s castle – not a song truly fitting with the nature of the place.
I was definitely not in the right mindset at that point – it is pretty funny now but at that point I had to stop and figure out what hell else I had on the MP3 player to save my sanity.
I spent the rest of the race listening to Weird Al.
I love Weird Al, but there is only so much polka music you can listen to during a marathon. So I reiterate: don’t forget to update your music player.
- Don’t forget to scope out where the full bathrooms are along the route and take advantage of the 2nd or 3rd one in the park (the 1st is always crowded)
Take it from someone who has spent way too much time in porta potties on Disney property (and at many races) being able to use the full bathrooms is truly an amazing perk.
- Don’t beat yourself up about race finish times and about doing all the right race things before the races.
Have a few drinks, burn out the legs a bit in the parks, go for a swim.
I have done a total of 6 Walt Disney World full marathons (5 as part of Goofy Challenges and 1 of those a Dopey Challenge) and my favorite was the one I didn’t worry about time and just had fun before, during, and after the race. That was part of my Dopey Challenge and I tried to follow that philosophy that whole trip and it may actually be the only marathon I have smiled during.
Disney and the WDW Marathon are about fun – make sure to have some.
- For men – Don’t wear compression running shorts without other loose fitting shorts over top.
The first races I ever did using compression running shorts I didn’t wear other shorts over top – this was during my second Goofy Challenge…the pictures are not a pleasant experience to view….
At the WDW Marathon there a huge number of photographers to take advantage of all the iconic picture opportunities for the runners, and most of them are lower down taking shots up at the runners as they pass.
Let’s just say most of my pictures from that race are not suitable for mixed company.
I hereby apologize to all the other racers from that year.
- Don’t forget to pay attention to the weather reports.
For my first Goofy Challenge back in 2010, I was seeing weather reports that had Florida being cold, like very cold. I didn’t really believe the reports and didn’t pack my winter running gear.
It freaking snowed.
I will always remember standing in the starting corrals, getting snowed on and my 6. 2″ height and wide shoulders providing a wind break for teams of smaller runners standing leeward of me. It stayed around freezing that whole weekend and I didn’t have the right gear with me.
Don’t believe me about the cold? Check out Lee Hoedl’s video on YouTube for the half marathon. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMjpeCSFErU) (edit – apparently the video won’t play on some mobile devices but does work via a desktop or laptop – not sure why – the link is good but it has something to do with how YouTube has this video set up.)
Then, I believe in 2013, the forecast was for it to be ok in the morning but get hot later in the day. I didn’t really believe it and I wore a compression running base layer shirt. It got very hot (something like 20% of those set to race did not finish and heat was a major factor in that) and the thermal nature of that base layer shirt was not a good thing that day!
I pay more attention to weather forecasts now.
I hope you enjoyed the list and if you are running at Disney in January – good luck and have fun!
Let me know in the comments if I missed anything.