It’s early. Super, super early.
At approximately 2:30am, your alarm goes off.
Why in the world are you getting up this early? Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation?
Your sleepy brain is trying to figure out where the heck you are and why it is being disturbed, when it dawns on you. You’re at Walt Disney World. But, that’s not all…
It’s RACE morning!!
The months of hard work, dedication and training have all come together and it’s finally time to RUN DISNEY!!
Before you can line up in the start corral, you need to figure out how to get to there from your Walt Disney World resort. The preferred method of runDisney (and this runDisney veteran) is the runDisney buses. These buses are a little different from the day-to-day transportation at WDW and I think it’s important to know what makes them unique. Learn these details below and you’ll feel ahead of the game on race morning.
Buses usually have one pickup spot for RunDisney Races at each of the WDW resorts. Some of the larger WDW resorts might have several stops, but most only have one central pickup location. It’s going to be dark and time is of the essence when you are heading to the bus stop; make sure you know exactly where it is before the race morning arrives. Resorts are usually great about having race day transportation signs displayed. I’ve noticed the signs by the regular resort bus stations pointing you in the direction of the runDisney bus stop. Do yourself a favor and do a trial run in finding the runDisney bus stop. You’re going to want every last second of shut eye before you have to wake, so don’t waste any of it scurrying around the resort to find the race bus stop. Especially since we know that our bodies don’t seem to want to move quickly first thing in the morning. Or in the middle of the night as this case may be…
NOT DISNEY BUSES
I feel like I’m about to quote, “Not Penny’s Boat…” (Any Lost fans?!), but this is an important tidbit. The buses that transport you to the start line on race morning are not the normal WDW transportation buses. The buses are typically coach or charter style buses. This means you won’t be looking for the normal Walt Disney World transportation buses, but it also means comfy, cushioned seats. Yesssss! These are the same buses that will transport you back to your resort after the race, and, oh boy (to quote an famous mouse), those cushioned seats are welcomed.
ALL ARE WELCOME
Runners and spectators are both welcomed on the runDisney transportation buses. Often it is just runners who are awake in the wee hours of the race morning, as spectators might not want to get up quite so early. Those spectators that do get up early might have a better chance of getting over to select viewing spots faster than those who choose to wait. As the race start time approaches, there are road closures and detours. Buses know the quickest available routes to the start area, but there are definitely delays.
My husband and my son attempted to take a later bus one year to cheer me on and were stuck for about an hour and a half on a bus. They missed the end of my Princess Half Marathon and spent a good two hours on the bus solely coming and going to the resort. It might be have been an anomaly, as there was a lot of construction around WDW that year, but whatever the cause it was something we definitely didn’t want to repeat.
That being said, if you are a spectator, please make sure that runners get priority for getting to the start line on time. If this means separating from your runner, to take a separate later bus, the other runners thank you in advance. Just make sure it isn’t a bus at 6am (this is when my family attempted), and instead closer to 4am to ensure you won’t spend your whole morning stuck in traffic. Once the race starts at 5:30am things get congested and hectic. That brings me to our next point…
TRAFFIC HOLD UP:
Do races make you a tad anxious? Does arriving late to a race make that anxiety sky-rocket? Yes? Then, make plans to load up on the bus as early as you can. Buses typically start to transport runners and guests to the start line at 3am, but be sure to check at your resort for the exact time.
Aim for the earliest bus if possible. The later you stay at your resort, the greater chance you will get stuck in race day traffic. Bus drivers will often wait until a bus is full before they take off, so make sure to give your arrival time a buffer. Trust me, rushing to the race corrals is not an ideal way to start a race. Been there, done that…don’t recommend it! This suggestion is especially true if you are in an earlier corral. The earlier corrals (think A, B, C) close up and head up to the start line earlier. I have completely missed my corral entry time (corral A) and barely made it into another (corral C).
Bus rides are complementary for those staying on Disney property. While many runners have a Type A personality and don’t want to leave anything to chance on race morning (aka like to control as much as possible), in many ways it really is nice that you don’t have to worry about driving to the race start. Especially with the above mentioned potential traffic hold ups. You paid to stay in the ‘WDW bubble’ for a reason, might as well enjoy this perk!
Alternatives include paid driving services, but they are subject to the same traffic hold ups and aren’t able to unload in the same area that they buses unload. Drivers might not be super familiar with the runDisney start area as well. (Although, I am sure there are some seasoned drivers out there who know secret short cuts to get you to the start line faster.) Play it safe, if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World resort and take the runDisney transportation.
CATCH A FEW Zzzz’s
Remember those comfy bus seats I referenced above? If you load into your bus at the resort and you’re waiting around until it fills up, try to catch a few more Zzz’s. Or at the least, throw on some calming music to help fend off some of those race day jitters. You definitely are going to want to be energized for the race, but that’s about two hours away. Time to relax and let Disney do the driving. Oh, and if you have a driver that turns off the lights and you plan to doze, make sure you tell your seat neighbor to wake you up so you don’t miss getting off the bus. (I know, it’s a Disney race, you’re not going to sleep…but you can at least pretend to!)
Once off the bus be sure to look at the sign that is affixed on its side. The sign should have your resort name and the bus stop number. Remember the number for after your race to make heading back to your resort more streamlined. If for some reason the bus does not have a sign in the window or you forget the number (you might not have much thinking power after you finish your race), there will be plenty of signs to help guide you in the correct direction.