This just in, RunDisney is popular! I know it is stunning information and I am thankful I can give you breaking headlines. One of the tough things about being so popular is to determine how to manage growth well. That is no easy task. Over the past few years, on particular stretches of the course, you could really feel the popularity and growth.
The years before the 20th anniversary of the marathon, the start of the marathon course would have 2 different starting routes that would converge about 4.5 miles into the race. It was chaos when the courses converged. In fact, in 2010 I was running with the 3:30 pace group and he told us we were going to go hard the first 5 miles to avoid the chaos of this section. You can imagine how going “hard” the first 5 miles of the marathon went over! That was a tough day.
This overcrowding could make for some tough running. For the 2014 race, RunDisney made some changes. With the addition of the Dopey Challenge my belief is that RunDisney was able to make up any lost revenue it would have by capping the races at a smaller number and still hit revenue goals with such a high dollar event. It was a smart business move and it would pay off for the runners of both the 13.1 and the marathon. This was the first change.
The next change was the corral situation. In previous years RunDisney would have about 7-8 corrals for runners. I think it usually went from A to about G or H. This past year, RunDisney doubled the number of corrals and put less people in each one. I think it started a little bit of a controversy with runner’s who have run these races many times in the past. Runners who were used to being in a specific corral were often times moved further back.
This is where you have to trust the process. I run the Peachtree Road Race each year with 60,000 runners and believe it or not, the Atlanta Track Club verifies every single race time! Yes, each and every one. The goal is to put people in the right group with the right pace. That is the goal of RunDisney as well so that when the start gun goes off the runner next to you is typically doing close to your pace not trying to run a sub 5 minute mile.
I would just encourage you to not worry about what your start corral says and just trust the process. The goal is to ease the congestion and have runners of similar paces running together.
Another item to be aware that you can take advantage of is runner tracking. As we get closer to race day you will have the ability to sign up for runner tracking. It is pretty convenient and it gives friends and family the ability to track you. In the past it has also had the ability to post it automatically to social media for others to follow. It is very convenient and a great tool for trying to keep up with runners you are trying to follow.
Yes, I do have something strategic to think about this week. 2 years ago I was scheduled to run the NYC Marathon. This was the same year that Hurricane Sandy hit and they eventually cancelled the marathon. Before it was cancelled I decided not to go. The week of the race I was mentally exhausted from phone calls, thinking about what to do, making alternate plans and stressing that I felt spent by the end of that week. I ended up running another local marathon that weekend and it did not go well. I spent so much time and energy worrying about factors other than the race that I went to the marathon and wasn't mentally prepared. The marathon is not a physical event. It truly is a mental race that hopefully you are trained for mentally.
This is week #18 of this series. I decided to do this series so hopefully you could have the best race and RunDisney experience of your life. If your goal is to have fun, I want you to have an amazing experience. If your goal is to qualify for Boston, I hope you get it done. I did this in hopes that maybe something we covered can add to your enjoyment of this amazing race and help prepare you just a little bit more than you would have been without this.
This bit of strategy is to say, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about the corrals, or the traffic or the expo. Don’t worry about things being perfect because they never will be. However, they can be as good as we choose to make them. Don’t let the little things take away your focus of the race in front of you. Don’t do what I did before and let outside factors impact your race. Remember to stay patient. 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles are a long races.
We are just 2 weeks away from an amazing weekend! Are you exited? I know I am.