Next week, I’ll be headed up to Walt Disney World for my second racecation of 2014: the runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge. What makes this experience extra special is that I will be experiencing it with my good friend Theresa, as her first runDisney event ever, as well as my first time with this particular event.
The Expedition Everest Challenge, which began in 2008, is unlike many of the runDisney endurance events, as its main feature is a 5K. Now, it’s not “just” a 5K, mind you, as it also features elements of adventure, knowledge and skill, including obstacles, a scavenger hunt and clue-solving, but it does stand apart from its longer distanced siblings (10K, 10M, 13.1, 26.2 and beyond).
I look forward to participating in this special challenge – especially since hearing rumors that this could be its “last run” in 2014 – though only time will tell, as more race whisperings are heard – but there’s one thing I do know – runDisney racecations are definitely a great way to experience the magic of the Disney Parks, while also engaging in an inspiring atmosphere with tens and thousands of your closest friends.
Upon completion of the Expedition Everest Challenge, I will have run in all runDisney race weekends (besides, of course, the upcoming Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon, which I do hope to partake in in a future running), and in 2013, I had the pleasure of completing five race weekends. Yes! I can hardly believe it myself, as I was planning on “just” the back-to-back weekends of Walt Disney World Marathon and Tinker Bell Half in the start of the year, and then the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in the fall, but when the Dumbo Double Dare Weekend (10K & Half) was announced, and then I had the opportunity to travel to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon much more easily after our move to Florida, it became a very runDisney year!
So, in spirit (and excitement of) my next runDisney adventure (and upcoming fall/winter ones, too) I thought I’d share my favorite tips as to preparing for YOUR next runDisney vacation!
- Schedule More Time Than You Think You May Need – in January 2013, I made what I thought was the responsible choice of scheduling my flight from Virginia to Florida on Saturday morning before the race. My roommate for the weekend, Rachel, would graciously be picking up my packet for me, and since I was going to fly directly from Florida to California for the Tinker Bell Half, I thought I should save time off from work. Well, good plan – until my flight was cancelled! I was definitely panicked! Fortunately, a gate agent was able to secure new flights for me, hours later, and I arrived in Orlando just six hours before the marathon began – not the most ideal, but I was thankful that I was able to even get there at all. I could have avoided the stress by taking just one more day off (Friday) – and starting in 2015, you have to be present to pick up your bib so this becomes even more important of a consideration for travel planning.
- Have a Basic Plan of Action - Sure, you can have an Excel Spreadsheet of your time, planned to the minute (don’t judge me) or you can “wing it” – but to get the most enjoyment out of your runDisney racecation, I’d suggest something of a compromise. Especially in WDW, where Magic Bands, Fast Pass +, and advanced Dining Reservations are key, you can avoid a ton of stress by building basic elements of your desired plans into your travel itinerary. This can be as simple as A. If you’re planning to go to parks (when, what days) B. If you want sit-down dining reservations and C. How you’ll get from around (from airport, around property, to race expo, start line, etc).
- Decide What Is Most Important To You - Opinions are EVERYWHERE – where’s the best place to stay? What’s the best place to have your pre-race meal? Should you play in the parks? Well, I hate to say this, but there is no easy answer! I know that I have found my balance of what I want to do and see, but that doesn’t mean it’s YOUR best option. Some people want the most affordable accommodations, while some are looking for a luxurious, pampering experience – do your research and ask questions! You will be glad that you did.
- HAVE FUN. Okay, so maybe this is a given, but really, it’s DISNEY, so have fun. And just like I said in #3 – “fun” can be defined differently for different people. If dressing up with your kids or girlfriends is your cup of tea, do it. If you want to gun the course for a PR (you can! The courses are flat and fast) DO IT. It’s your vacation, so DO WHAT MAKES YOU happiest!
See, not too hard, right? ;) I am looking forward to a lot more runDisney adventures as the months roll on (I’ll be attending &/or running both of the fall Florida events, as well as running the 2015 Goofy Challenge) and I hope to see YOU there, too!
Have you ever participated in a runDisney event? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, which one would you choose?