RunDisney Race Etiquette - Tips For the Big Day

Doing a RunDisney race is on a lot of Disney fans' bucket lists, and that great because they're super fun, even for non-runners. But it's important to remember some of the unwritten rules of running and race etiquette to make sure you and the other runners have a Magical time!

Basic Running Etiquette and Safety

Much running etiquette is about both courtesy and safety. People forget the safety part too often and think posts like this are just about us imposing our preferences on everyone (well they are insofar as safety is our preference). Especially in longer races, runners bodies go through hell, and as the race wears on they'll seriously lose maneuverability. Since RunDisney races tend to be packed with people, if one runner falls a few more are likely to follow, and serious injuries are possible.

Slower Runners (And Walkers) To The Right

This is pretty elementary for runners, but it often isn't respected. Slower runners and walkers should move to the right. Don't be the one who shouts "walk on the right," but don't be part of the problem. Walkers and slow runners pose a hazard to faster runners who have to weave to get around them. This weaving, in turn, creates further hazard.

Walking along the right in Epcot toward the end of the Walt Disney World Marathon

Walking along the right in Epcot toward the end of the Walt Disney World Marathon

The exception to this is when aid stations are on both sides. In that case, it is appropriate to walk along either side and leave the middle to runners.

Let People Know Before You Stop

The courteous way to stop (or significantly slow down) is to raise your hand a few paces before doing so. This lets runners behind you know you are a hazard and they should steer clear. Again, you'll want to make your way to the right before doing so.

Mind Your Costumes

For one RunDisney race, we were Slinky Dog. One front, one back, and a slinky between us. The first Key to a good race is safety, though, and having two people tethered together is not a safe thing. So we stayed close, each holding one end of the slinky in one hand, usually only for pictures. The rest of the time, one of us just ran with the slinky.

Emily holds the slinky for safety while we run.

Emily holds the slinky for safety while we run.

Don't Jump Corrals

Seriously, who does this? But yea, it happens. Many people in the back corrals of the Walt Disney World Marathon won't get to finish the race and yet the vast majority of them will patiently wait their turns to start. So it's frustrating to see someone jump from corral C to corral B because they can't wait 5 minutes.

Regardless of the morality of taking something you didn't earn, corrals are set up how they are for safety. Guess what, if your submitted time was too slow to be in corral B, it's more likely you're going to be too slow and pose a hazard to those in corral B. This is why if you're running with another runner, it's okay to jump back to their corral.

Be a Good Samaritan

All sorts of things happen to runner during a race. You don't have to stop to check on every runner who is stretching a cramp. Moreover, RunDisney races tend to be incredibly well-staffed. But if someone looks in real trouble, consider stopping and checking on them, and maybe helping them flag down a race official.

Aid Station Etiquette

Aid stations are a mess at any race. Everyone is ducking, weaving, stopping, starting - madness! Try to limit that madness with some simple rules.

Go Past the First Table at Aid Stations

You'll get through the aid stations much faster if you go past the first table. There are almost always multiple tables with the same items (the exceptions aren't water/Gatorade, just occasional food items), don't crowd the very first one.

Don't Pour Liquids on Other Runners

Generally, it's okay to pour out your leftover water before throwing your cup into the trash, but don't pour it anywhere near runners.

Throw Your Trash In the Trash

Always aim to get your trash into the trash bin or bags. If you can't finish before the last trash can at the aid station, exercise discretion in seeing how far the trash piles up from the aid station. Some people say you need to get 100% of your trash in the trash, we find a reasonable about is about 60% with the other 40% being cups piled with other cups.

But if you bring it onto the course, then you throw it in the trash only. Small wrapper and gel packs should not be thrown onto the ground. And if you use something between aid stations, just hold onto it until the next aid station.

Thank The Volunteers / Police Officers / Cast Members / Characters

If they're on the course and not running, they should probably be thanked. It's polite, and you'll see how much they appreciate it. Being thankful helps make sure those who make the race happen will want to continue to do so.

Cast Members are up bright and early and on the course long hours to make sure you have a great time! Be sure to thank them!

Cast Members are up bright and early and on the course long hours to make sure you have a great time! Be sure to thank them!

Photo Etiquette

RunDisney races have a lot of photo ops in them. From character stops, to on-course photographers, to your own selfies in front of the castle. These are uncommon in other races, so even seasoned runners should pay attention to these tips.

Have Your Camera Ready for Character Stops

The Cast Members at the character stops are great at taking pictures. There are usually two in line, one taking a picture and one taking the next person's camera. Have your phone ready to take a picture, hand it off, get your pic, grab your phone, and be on your way.

Character stops are in huge demand at Disney races, and everyone wants to do as many as possible. This only happens if the lines move quickly.

Also Be Ready For Finish Line Photos

There are finish line photos and a ton of photographers. It can be crazy the last 100 yards, as people get a burst of energy and start zooming past you. Nonetheless, spot a photographer or to to aim for and run between them.

Check out this great finished photo!

Check out this great finished photo!

Don't Weave or Stop for (Non-Character) Photos

You will get lots of photos, please don't cut across other runners and then stop in front of a photographer to make sure you get every (or any) particular one. This is dangerous and really rude to other runners. Obviously you'll stop to wait in line for character photos, so this doesn't apply.

This is a really big deal at all of the parks, where people will often stop to take personal photos. This is totally allowable if you follow this and all the related above tips. Magic Kingdom is especially dangerous, as the tracks down the center of Main Street, U.S.A. are a big hazard, it is usually dark when you run through the park, and about half the people stop for pictures.

One More Thing...

This is more of an "if your available" than true etiquette, but we wanted to mention it.

Go Back To Cheer On Other Runners (If You Have Time)

This is tough at RunDisney races, but where it's possible, we suggest going back and cheering on runners. Usually we do this along the Yacht and Beach Club during the Walt Disney World Marathon. You have to finish and get out of the finisher area with time to do this, which isn't super easy. But if you're available keep the option in mind.

Let us know what we missed or if you're not a fan of any of our etiquette tips!

Running or considering a RunDisney race? It helps to know some basic running etiquette before starting! Make race day smoother with our guide!