It’s almost time for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. As a five-time participant of said weekend, I am majorly bummed that I’m not going to be there this year. I love Disney in general, and RunDisney events are always fun. In an attempt to make myself feel better about remaining at home this weekend, I thought that it might help to think about the things that I don’t love about Disney races. The number one complaint?
Clueless, newbie runners.
I know. You probably just read that and decided that I’m a total running snob. And I know that it sounds bad, but please give me a few moments to explain.
I love that running is a sport in which you don’t need vast amounts of coordination to succeed. You just put on shoes, step outside, and go. Some people are natural runners, and they just fall into a smooth, speedy gait without even trying. The rest of us huff and puff a little bit farther each day until we can finally make it through one mile, two miles, etc. Most of us will never win a race, or qualify for Boston, but that’s okay. Just running and racing is succeeding in this sport, and as a slower runner, that’s one of my favorite things about it. I don’t need to be one of the fastest athletes to feel good about myself. (Of course, I compensate for my lack of speed with long distances, but that’s another post for another day).
Now this brings me back to newbie runners. We’ve all been there, and I have no problem with new runners in general. I’ve coached hundreds of them over the years, and some of my favorite running memories are of helping someone to finish their first race, or new longest distance. What bothers me about Disney races is that there is a higher percentage of rookie racers than you’ll find in most other places, and many of them are totally clueless about proper race etiquette and expectations. Here are the three offenders that irk me the most:
1) The people who don’t understand how to walk in a race.
Disney races are huge, which means they are always crowded. The start is obviously the worst part, but Disney also always manages to find spots later in the race where they end up squeezing everyone into one lane on the road, which is really fun when it occurs 15 miles into a marathon. This becomes a big problem when you have a lot of runners who are race rookies. I have had to resort to at least a little walking in almost all of my marathons, and some of my shorter races as well, so I respect the need to walk. What drives me crazy, however, are the groups that walk side by side, covering the whole course. Or the runners who sprint by you, then cut right in front of you and suddenly stop and walk without any signal. You want to walk, go right ahead. But be courteous and move to the side, so that others can easily pass you. It makes for a more pleasant race experience for everyone.
2) My second complaint about Disney races are the medals that some runners feel the need to wear everywhere. All day long. For several days.
Disney does many things well, and one of them is designing cool medals. So I can understand the desire to wear them the next day. I have even done so myself, at least, until all of the bouncing has annoyed me to the point where I chuck the medal in my bag. What I don’t understand, however, are the people that insist on wearing their medals for several days on end. The half-marathon is run on Saturday, which is great. Run your race early, get changed, and then wear the medal around all afternoon. I’ll even give you an extra day and say that Sunday is fine. What I don’t understand, though, are those people still wearing their half-marathon medal around the parks come Tuesday or Wednesday. Yes, you finished. Yes, it’s great. But now it’s time to have a little modesty, hang up your medal, and move on.
3) My final complaint is a brand new one that was inspired by a Facebook post I saw on the RunDisney site today. One of the 5K runners complained about several aspects of the race, including the cold weather at the start. He then went on to say, “Hopefully they will have heaters if the other races are cold as well.”
As I read this, I’m sitting bundled in my house, where it is a balmy 16 degrees outside. I know that many part of the country are considerably colder. Yes, Orlando was chilly this morning for Florida, but the temperatures were around 40 degrees. And this guy wants heaters? Are you kidding me? It’s a race. This isn’t the NFL, and we’re not pro athletes. Just get out there and run. If it’s cold at the start, do what every other runner does and bring some blankets and some throwaway clothes. I know it’s uncomfortable. I know it sucks. But sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. If you can’t handle a bit of cold at the start, stay at home and watch runners on tv. Or wait and sign up for your next race in June. But don’t go on a race’s website and complain that they don’t have heaters at the start. There are more than 50,000 people running in Disney this weekend. They have more important things to worry about.
Today’s lesson? Don’t let your rookie status prevent you from trying out any sport, running included. But do take a few minutes to learn the general rules of the sport before diving into competition. Good luck to all the Disney runners this weekend! Happy running, everyone! Stay warm out there!