Racing Disney: Race Etiquette Or How Not To Be “That rundisney Guy”
Follow Course Rules and Instructions
This should go without saying, but this really is the base of proper course etiquette. If the rules say strollers aren’t allowed, then don’t plan on running with your child in a stroller. If the course says not to wear headphones, then don’t wear headphones (more on that in a bit). If they ask you not to have selfie sticks on the course, for the love of Mickey, leave the selfie stick at home, because they aren’t allowed in the parks anyways, so there is no point in even putting it in your gear check bag.
Be Aware of your Surroundings
I cannot stress enough how important this is. It is so easy to be lost in your music, or your thoughts, or the magic of running through the Parks that you can hurt yourself or someone else because you are distracted. Someone could have stopped for some reason, be it a picture, an injury, or to tie their shoes, and if you aren’t paying attention you can run right into them.
This is also part of why Disney discourages headphones during the races; you can easily get lost in your own world and not be aware of what is going on, or hear any course instructions that are being given by volunteers throughout the course. If you absolutely must listen to music when you run, try to only wear one earbud and have the volume moderate to low so that you can still hear what is going on around you.
But being aware of your surroundings is not just about seeing and hearing other people, it’s about not getting in their way either.
Never stop suddenly, especially in the middle of the course. If you need to stop to tie your shoe or throw up, or take a picture, ease your way over to the side and slow to a stop, making sure there is no one behind you when you do so.
It is ok to take pictures/selfies, but don’t just stop in the middle of the castle entrance/exit to do it, pull over to the side and out of the way of as many people as possible, and be a quick as possible, because other will be doing the same and this can cause crowding, which can increase the chance of someone getting injured.
Please also check around you before spitting, shooting “snot rockets”, or squirting/dumping water on your face/head. No one likes to have a loogie or a booger from some stranger land on their leg, or worse in their face if the wind in bad, or get a shower that they didn’t want, so try to move to the outside of the course and make sure there is no one behind you before doing such things.
Follow “Road Rules”
If you think about running a race like you are in a car on the freeway it will make everything much smoother for everyone. Of course this way of thinking really works if you are used to driving in America, but the basic principles still apply no matter where you are used to driving.
Slower runners/walkers stay to the right or outside of the course. There are two schools of thoughts about this. Some say slow runners should always stay to the right no matter the course layout, however others believe that if you are running on the opposite side of a road (with grass/curb to the left) that slower runners should stay more toward that side, so the faster runners don’t have to go into the grass to get around you. Depending on where you are racing, I would suggest taking cues from those around you. If you see other walkers hugging the grass, no matter what side of the road they are on, then you should do the same; if the slower runners are staying to the right no matter what, then you should do likewise. Either way, this will allow faster runners to stay to the left/inside of the course and pass you with ease and very little weaving. If you are running intervals, as you approach the end of a run interval you should start moving towards the right/outside as you slow to a walk. When you start slowing to a walk, raise your right (or inside) hand to indicate to others that you are going to start walking. Think of raising your hand like a break light, it lets everyone around you know that you are changing speed so they can adjust or go around accordingly.
If you are passing someone, let them know. Say something like “coming along your left” or “on your right” as you approach so they don’t try to move over the same way you are going because they didn’t know you were trying to get around them. Think of this like a verbal turn signal.
This means so many different things, but try to remember the golden rule here: Do to others as you would have done to you.
Try to remember to thank any and all volunteers and law enforcement you come in contact with, whether they are directing traffic, giving course instructions, or providing you with water and other things at the aid stations. They are giving up their time to make the race enjoyable for you, so you should show your gratitude.
If you are running with friends, avoid becoming a “wall” that is difficult for other runners to pass. Etiquette states that you shouldn’t run more than 2-3 abreast. Two abreast is preferred, but you can get away with 3 on wider courses (wider than a single driving lane), just be courteous and aware if runners are having difficulty passing your group.
Don’t talk bad about other runners and how slow they are. Don’t harrumph or show displeasure when you pass someone. If they are making it difficult for you to pass, politely ask that they move over a bit so you can pass them, but don’t be rude or disparaging.
If you see someone struggling, offer some encouragement (but don’t say “you are almost there. Especially if there is more than 2-3 miles left in the race). If you see someone stopped ask them if they are ok, if they need help try to find a volunteer to get them some assistance.
Don’t litter. If you take a cup from an aid station, try to finish it and put it in the trash can. Sometimes that isn’t possible and there is an acceptable range in which you can throw you cup or bottle on the side of the road, but that is only within about 100ish yards from the aid station. If you go longer than that, or have trash from your gel or chew packages, stick them in a pocket or in your running belt, or hold on to it until you find a trash can.
Know “your place”
runDisney races require that you submit proof of time and they use that to assign you to a corral. Because corrals are bases on expected finish time it is rude, dangerous, foolish and against the rules to try to jump to a higher corral. Corrals are based on expected finish time, which is in many ways determined by your pace, so the runners in the early corrals can run a lot faster. By trying to run with them you risk either hurting yourself or them because they have to bob and weave around you, or you try to keep up with them and use all your energy, so you have none to get through the rest of the course. Disney is very strict about checking bibs when you enter the corrals. You are allowed to go into corrals lower than your assigned one, but not higher. In races without assigned corrals, be aware of your speed and limits and choose a corral accordingly, many will post suggested finish times or have pace leaders running at various finish times. If you’ve been running a 15 min/mile pace (giving you an approximately 3 hour finish time for a half marathon) try to find a corral or pace leader running about the same. If you want to challenge yourself, go up one level (usually finish times are broken down into 15 minute increments for pace leaders) but stay to the back of the group. For example, at my first half marathon my Galloway Magic Mile predicted I would have a 2:54 finish time at an 11 min/mi pace. I knew that wasn’t realistic because I was not consistently running at that pace in my training runs and this course had hills, while my training course is completely flat. So my goal was to finish in 3:15-3:30. However, instead of joining the 3:15 group, I decided to get into the 3:00 finish time group to give myself a “stretch goal.” I started near the back of the group in case I couldn’t keep up, but I found they were running at a pace comfortable for me and I eventually got ahead of them and spent most of the race with them behind me, coming in with a 2:48:18finish time. Keep in mind, although I “jumped ahead” of my goal time, I was still within the finish time I was predicted to have. It would have been foolish for me to try to join the 2:30 group, which was outside of not only my training pace, but also my predicted finish time. It is always better to err on the side of caution and start in a farther back corral and to pass people than to start in a corral beyond you capabilities and make the race difficult for others.
The same is true within your corral. Don’t crowd the front if you are not a solid runner expecting to be on the higher end of your corral’s expected finish time. If, for example, you submitted your proof of time, which gave you your corral assignment, but after PoTs were due you ran another half marathon and improved on your time significantly (more than 10-15 minutes) and your most recent Magic Mile predicts a finish time faster than the one predicted for your corral, then you are probably safe being near the start of your corral. If you are on the tail end of the expected finish line for your corral, then plan on starting near the back.
At the end of the race be aware of your place as well. It’s ok to want to look like you are running as you cross the finish line (especially if you found yourself walking the last half mile or more) but don’t go into an all-out sprint and run other people over. Be courteous and don’t try to cut in front of other people as they cross the finish line. And DON’T try to photobomb other runner’s finish line photos, it just makes you a jerk and leave them without a photo of what could have been a huge moment for them: you don’t know if this was their first race, a race they were running in memory of someone, or anything else that made it significant for them. So just don’t do that.
Same is true with getting through the finisher’s shoot. That’s not the place to stop and take a selfie or propose to your significant other (if you are both racing and you absolutely have to do that, do it at the finish line…but not the center of the finish line, be near one of the sides so you aren’t in other finisher’s way, although IMO the best, most courteous place to pop the question is at the place where you get for Finisher’s photo with your medal), or chat with friends, or make a phone call. Get your recovery stuff, your medal(s), and keep moving, there is plenty of space outside the shoot to do all of that.
Remember, races are supposed to be fun for everyone, from the serious athlete to the hobbyist, no matter how many or how few races you have or plan to run, so be polite and courteous to everyone you encounter at your events!
TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark and Tali McPike. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them at www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/addie/ and www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/tali/
If you are planning on running in a runDisney event and have questions, or have participated and want to talk about your experiences make sure you visit our runDisney Forum at http://goo.gl/RLB5ka