Marathon weekend trip

My wife and I are planning on going to WDW for the half and full marathon on Jan 8 and Jan 9 (She's running, but I'm not). This would be an adults-only trip, which we are looking forward to. We are arriving on Fri Jan 7, and leaving early on Tue Jan 11. It would be possible to be in the parks (but not at rope drop) on Friday (after around noon?), Saturday (starting late morning?), and Sunday (afternoon?), and Monday we could spend all day. We have reservations at Pop Century, but haven't gotten park tickets yet. We're currently thinking about doing MK on Monday, but haven't really made plans other than that. DHS is apparently already "full" on Friday, and we'd want to go there on one of our days. I'm thinking of Epcot on Sunday (mostly hanging around World Showcase)? We're not sure whether to get 3 or 4-day tickets, and I guess that I'm looking for advice about which parks are likely to work best on each day given our time constraints (and I know that everything will change with Genie+). We're also interested in suggestions for restaurants and other fun things to do around WDW that are especially fun without kids. We are thinking of California Grill on Sun or Mon evening, but I guess that it's pretty tough to snag a reservation these days.

Thanks!
 

DopeyRunr

the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts f
As a five-time Dopey Challenge finisher, my advice/perspective:

Your wife will probably want to be off her feet most of Friday, with the Goofy Challenge ahead. Early bedtime too, with a 2:15ish wake up on Saturday morning. She'll also want to be off her feet most of Saturday afternoon and another early bedtime too, with the marathon the following day.

Marathon Sunday will jam up Epcot through late afternoon. It's an excellent place to hang out with a beer and cheer friends and strangers who are just a couple miles from the finish line. But pedestrian traffic is seriously affected navigating around the park until the final runners have come through.

The last marathon runners will exit MK much earlier in the day Sunday, if that is a factor.

Be prepared that she may not be feeling great post-Marathon. The weather is so variable that time of year. I've finished in cool conditions and HOT conditions. So I'd recommend VERY tentative plans for Sunday night.

Anything goes for Monday. Walking around a lot will help reduce soreness, if there is any. Runners who were conservative with park touring over the weekend will be out in full force with their medals on display. We always celebrated with a big breakfast/brunch Monday morning (Boma is my favorite) before hitting the parks.

I've done a ton of runDisney race weekends, and they are pretty much THE WORST for actually enjoying the parks. But as long as you go in with minimal expectations for park time, you should have a good trip.
 

bnoble

he's right
I have way way less experience than that---I've run exactly two half-marathons, and only one of those (the first one) was a runDisney race. But, I followed the same pattern.

I came down in the evening of Race Day Minus Two (RD-2). That gave me all of RD-1 to deal with packet pickup, etc. without stressing about travel delays, etc. There were no parks on RD-1. I slept in, had a nice breakfast, and went to the expo. I came back to the resort, walked around a little, had a big ol' plate of pasta, and went to bed early.

Race Day itself was...an experience. This was my first half, and my goal was (as Jeff Galloway and others put it) To Finish In The Upright Position. I was anxious about arrival, so I was among the earlier to show up. I don't regret that---I'd've been stressed about being late otherwise---but it adds time to the day/removes time from sleep. After finishing, I took the bus back to the resort where I drew the coldest bath I could get, and sat it in for about a half hour or 45 minutes. I then took a very nice nap, after which I spent a little time in Epcot with my medal. If I were running the full the next day, that would not have happened. Not. A. Chance.
 

lovett1979

Active member
No Dopey and no half marathons for me, but a few runDisney 5ks and 10ks under my belt. bnoble mentioned this, but since you don't say anything about it in the original post, I want to make sure that you know that she will have to pickup her racing bib from the ESPN Wide World of Sports on Friday. There also will (probably, who knows with Covid?) be an expo with lots of fun merchandise she might want to explore. So depending on your arrival timing/mode of transportation, you'll want to factor that into your Friday plan.
 
Thanks to all for your responses. You’ve given us a lot to think about. We will definitely have to temper expectations for getting a lot of park sightseeing in, and we will try to keep plans tentative (which isn’t easy with WDW!). The weather is definitely a wild card. January is the coolest month in Orlando, but it’s probably still often warmer than long-distance runners prefer. My wife is running her second-ever marathon in about a month in Richmond, VA. She’s been running quite a few half marathon plus sized runs for training, but the full marathon the day after the half will certainly be rough (not that she’ll be trying for a personal record in either race, of course).

Thanks again!
 

DopeyRunr

the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts f
some race weekends it’s been near 40 at the start (waiting for hours in that is not fun) and sometimes in the late stages of the marathon it’s sunny and in the mid 70s (running for hours in that is not fun) so you really never know what you’re gonna get
 

Mrs Darling

Well-known member
I’ve done 4 Disney half marathons, 3 as adult only trips with a group of girlfriends. I wouldn’t normally do a lot of table service restaurants, but that’s how we enjoyed the parks pre-race. It also gave me a chance to enjoy some that my picky kid would’ve turned her nose up at (skipper, tiffins) or pricier ones that I didn’t have to pay $30 for chicken fingers for her.
A few rides with FP to minimize standing time, a nice long meal, a show or something else with a low wait, back to the resort for evening, a swim before bed to relax.
And pot race, the same thing but without the early bedtime and a couple of adult beverages thrown in there - EP would definitely be my choice for that day too. But HS is great for minimizing walking pre-race with the smaller footprint btw.
In your case, I think on arrival day I would save the park ticket & spend the $$ on a nice meal at Disney springs or a resort after the expo instead.
 

DopeyRunr

the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts f
In your case, I think on arrival day I would save the park ticket & spend the $$ on a nice meal at Disney springs or a resort after the expo instead.
You bring up another big factor for pre-marathon considerations. Planning meals in the day or two before the race is tricky at WDW. Ideally you want foods that are easily digested, so think more simple carbs/low-fat protein and less fatty/rich/fried foods. I usually went with super boring things like a mickey pretzel, a turkey sandwich, that kind of thing. Digestive systems go haywire during the 26 miles even with the best fuel inside. Google "marathon gravy leg" or better yet don't.

Post-race, anything goes of course. But again, runDisney weekends are a lot of fun, but absolutely the worst way to experience the parks.
 
You bring up another big factor for pre-marathon considerations. Planning meals in the day or two before the race is tricky at WDW. Ideally you want foods that are easily digested, so think more simple carbs/low-fat protein and less fatty/rich/fried foods. I usually went with super boring things like a mickey pretzel, a turkey sandwich, that kind of thing. Digestive systems go haywire during the 26 miles even with the best fuel inside. Google "marathon gravy leg" or better yet don't.

Post-race, anything goes of course. But again, runDisney weekends are a lot of fun, but absolutely the worst way to experience the parks.
Yes, my wife is conscious of trying to eat "good fuel" before the races; we were going to save the nicest dinner until after she's done. I'm guessing that a lot of places will be OK in terms of having relatively "safe" carb-loading options even if I'm not watching what I eat (and we can always look at menus online if we're not sure).

In terms of the parks, we're fine with not seeing as much as on a normal trip. We're currently thinking of doing Epcot on Friday after going to the expo, Disney Springs and/or a couple of resort hotels on Sat after she's done with the half, DHS on Sunday afternoon, and MK on Monday.
 
In terms of the parks, we're fine with not seeing as much as on a normal trip. We're currently thinking of doing Epcot on Friday after going to the expo, Disney Springs and/or a couple of resort hotels on Sat after she's done with the half, DHS on Sunday afternoon, and MK on Monday.

You might consider switching your Saturday and Sunday plans. It's nice to have the option to not walk TOO much after running a marathon ;)

That being said, I've participated in 4 runDisney race weekends (Half, 2 challenges, and Marathon) and will be back in 3 weeks for the Wine & Dine 2 course challenge, and never have any problems walking around the parks before/after races. The key is to run for fun instead of racing for time. The course is so crowded that it's almost impossible to get a PR anyway and your wife will enjoy it so much more if she concentrates on soaking up the experience. I'm also careful to not schedule us to zigzag across the parks too much. One of my favorite things to do after the last race of the weekend is to get a massage. Unfortunately, the spas on property aren't open right now, but maybe they will be by the time you go? I've written trip reports for my last 3 race weekends. The last one was marathon 2020 so it's pretty easy to find if you are interested to see how the timing works out on morning of the marathon.

Have a great trip!
 
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