Ahh!!! Do you realize what just happened?
You finished a runDisney race! Congratulations! You did it! Way to go!
In true Disney fashion, and maybe in true ‘running races’ fashion, the fun doesn’t stop once you are done running. The ‘party’ is just beginning. So, what can you expect at a runDisney finish line? So much!
1. Sweet Bling
As you come down the home stretch of your run, your arm waving high in the air and you triumphantly cross the finish line, what is the first thing you can expect? Well, for a friendly runDisney volunteer to place a medal around your neck! Yay! Be sure to take a look down at your amazing new swag. Disney race medals are some of my favorites and not just because they feature Disney characters, but because they truly are unique.
Of all the runDisney race medals I have won, my ultimate favorite was my 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon medal. I love how it represents the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon. It has a unique spinning center that features a vintage Mickey Mouse head and a more present day Mickey Mouse on the other side. Plus, aside from looking really cool, it is the medal from my first ever marathon. This alone makes it super special.
2. First Aid Comfort Station
After you catch your breath and your medal is hanging safely on your neck, your next stop in the finish line shoot will be the first aid area. In past races, Disney has stocked its first aid area full of medical volunteers. They usually have cooling towels (Florida races can get hot!), ice bags, and BioFreeze to name a few of their supplies.
I have almost always had to stop for a little BioFreeze and a bag or two of ice. The volunteers come armed with plastic wrap and are able to help affix packets of ice to ‘most’ parts of your body. For example, my hips (usually the left!) can get a little sore after a race, so I usually end up getting a bag of ice. The volunteers will go ahead and hold the ice to my hip and wrap me up with plastic wrap. I look slightly like a mummy from the waist down but it is so nice to have my hands free, not having to hold the ice in place. I have more goodies along the finish-line trail to collect anyhow…
3. Liquid Refreshments
Coca-Cola is the primary soft-drink company used at Walt Disney World. Therefore, runDisney races have Dasani and Powerade along the course and at the finish line. Volunteers will be on the ready to hand you both Dasani and Powerade.
You’ve just run a race in the Florida heat, therefore, I recommend downing a Powerade before you leave the beverage area of the finish line. It is hard to (and often discouraged) to move backwards in the finish line area as the volunteers are attempting to keep pedestrian traffic flowing one way. If you drink your Powerade right when you are handed it, you’ll know that 1) you’ve replaced some of the liquid and electrolytes you’ve lost during your race and 2) your hands are free for another bottle that you can continue to sip.
If you can, grab both a spare water and a Powerade after the initial bottle you finish. I haven’t had a problem in the past receiving two bottles. If a volunteer tells you no, just ask another one farther up the line. Trust me, Disney doesn’t want you to pass out due being dehydrated following your race and will gladly support you wanting another beverage. Plus, by the time you get through the finish line and back to the runDisney buses and your ultimately your hotel, it will be able an hour or more. You’re going to need the hydration!
4. Snack Boxes Filled with Sponsor Snacks
The next stop on the finish line trail is at the snack box stop. If you’re used to running small home town races, you’re probably used to finish line food being laid out in a buffet style spread. You are able to pick and choose as you please from the variety of foods.
RunDisney’s way of handing out food is a little different. Instead of letting you pick what you want, they hand you a box full of snacks from the various sponsors. While it has changed a little at the different runDisney events I’ve completed, most have some form of crackers, nuts, and cheese spread among a few other things. I’ve never been a huge fan of the snack box, but my kids love them! So, in a way it’s like a I get to bring a little souvenir from my runDisney races back to the room for them.
5. Finisher Photo Station
Before you exit the official finish line area, Disney Photo Pass photographers are standing by to grab a shot of you with your new finisher medal. There are runDisney backdrops and they often have props for you to hold which say ‘I did it!’ or something along those lines. Feel free to take as many different pictures as you want. Don’t forget, Disney Photo Pass photographers will use your phone to take a picture as well, so feel free to take out your cell phone, if you have it on, you for a few more shots.
Quick side note on this topic. Yes, you just finished a race, yes you’ll probably be super sweaty. You might not be in the mood to take any pictures, but trust me, do it! Down the road when you look back you’re going to love having the finisher pictures to remember your runDisney experience.
6. Gear Check Pick-up Area
Remember that bag you dropped off before your race? How you worked hard to make sure all things necessary for the end of your race were packed in your gear check bag? Well, it’s all here in one spot ready for you to grab at the gear check pick-up area! The best part? When you go to pick up your gear check bag you don’t have to remember much. You just need to have your race number. Lucky for you, it’s most likely still attached to your pants, shorts or shirt. In other words, you don’t have to remember anything, just show the gear check pick-up area volunteers your bib. This is a good thing, because, let’s face it, we are all exhausted after races. Having to think sometimes requires just too much brain power for a tired runner.
7. Family Reunion Area and Porta Potties (AKA Changing Area)
Once you’ve made it past the gear check pick-up area, it’s onto the family reunion area and the porta potties. While runDisney often has different markers (like different signs with letters on them) to help you setup a meeting spot with your family post-race, this hasn’t been consistent at all the races I have completed. It might be in your best interest to set up a meeting point at a location you know will be at the finishing area for sure. For example, porta potties and the bus pick-up area are always a post-race area constant and will give you a set spot to meet up with family members.
As mentioned above, there are porta potties in the finishing areas. You’re going to be super happy to find porta potties, most likely the happiest anyone ever gets when they see porta potties. The porta potties will give you the opportunity to change out of your sweat race clothes and into everything you packed into your gear check bag. Ah! Dry clothes never felt sooo good! It’s the little things that make runners happy…
8. Character Photos
You might have seen your favorite mouse, Mickey, and a few of his buddies near the start line prior to your race starting. You might have also seen the crazy long lines and opted to not wait for a quick photo before the race. Don’t worry, you’re in luck! At all the runDisney races I’ve been to I have seen the characters at the end of the race in addition to the beginning. This means you can snap away all you want and get pictures of your favorite characters at the end of the race.
One little side tip for your post-race character photos. First, a little backstory. I don’t like to run races in costumes. I get too hot and itchy and want to ditch anything glittery or covered in tulle by the time I have reached mile two. My solution? I bring along my costume as part of my dry clothing items in my gear check bag. This way I can enjoy character photos at the end of the runDisney races while decked out in a cute Disney running costume. I call that win-win.
9. Race Retreat Area
If you purchased the extra Race Retreat VIP Package, you will have a chance to utilize the Race Retreat area post-race as well as before the race. The VIP area includes a special post-race brunch and is a good place to meet up with family members who have purchased the platinum chEAR squad package. It’s not hard to find in the finish area.
10. Buses Back to the Hotels
Ah, you’ve done it! You’ve completed your race, collected your goodies and captured a few more memories with your favorite runDisney characters. Now it’s time to board the runDisney buses and head back to your hotel. The buses will be marked with signs for your different hotels. As I mentioned on my previous post about what to expect regarding runDisney buses, they aren’t your typical Disney park buses. Instead you’ll be able to ride back to your resort room comfortably in your dry clothes and wearing your medal proudly around your neck.
Be sure to hop off that bus back at your hotel room and try to catch a few Zzzs. Odds are you’ve been up since 2 or 3am. Plus, you ran a lot of miles. You’re probably tired! Your neck needs a little rest before you walk around the parks all day showing off that awesome new medal you just got!