This past weekend, I participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World. For those who have not become completely indoctrinated by runDisney (One of Us! One of Us!), the Glass Slipper Challenge is a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday as part of Princess Weekend. Only a small subset of Princesses participate in both races, but for those of us who do- we get an extra, pretty medal!
Today’s entry though isn’t about the race itself. It’s about racing etiquette- specifically at Disney races, though some points may apply to any race.
Every year, there are numerous posts about running etiquette. These are geared for those who either walk, run slower or participate in the Galloway method (run-walk-run). For those who think the Galloway method is only for beginner runners, you can run-walk-run your way to a sub 9 and sub 8 minute mile. I am sure even faster can be managed, but not by me.
If you have managed to never read these etiquette posts, they typically contain the following information: walk to the far left, Walk to the far right, walk as far away from the race tangent as possible, don’t walk more than two abreast, signal before walking and other pieces of advice.
While I agree that you shouldn’t walk in large groups of people on narrow areas, I know not all those walking side by side know each other. I have often run next to someone without knowing their name or favorite color, though I often know how well they can blow a snot rocket. I also believe that you should look behind you before you transition, but that is because being run over HURTS!
This post isn’t about etiquette for these runners though. Disney races are magical. They afford the opportunity to run through the parks, backstage areas and if you are a marathoner: the oh so fragrant water treatment area. The race is lined with opportunities for character interaction. The course is relatively flat so it is possible to run it fast. This past weekend, Kim Smith ran the Princess Half in 1 hour and 11 minutes. And while a much less impressive time, my PR for the marathon is currently at WDW. It is also possible to spend an hour or more taking pictures and playing with characters. Disney does have a course limit so it is typically the faster runners that get to play with the characters.
The problem with turning the race into a giant character meet and greet is that the runners in corrals C, D, E, F and G corrals will suddenly find themselves behind the runners in M, N, O and P corrals. This especially happens around Magic Kingdom. Most of the longest waits are en route to the Kingdom (Heroes, Villains) or near the castle (Royal Mickey). Immediately after the Prince and Princess of the 15 minute, the course narrows severely for over a mile. I heard some grumbling and frustrated grunting as faster runners found themselves unable to make up ground. After the race, I heard horror tales of runners telling their new companions that they shouldn’t be running, to move over, runner coming through, etc. Many new runners choose Disney Princess as their first race experience. I cannot imagine spending all the time to train, travelling to Disney and having some mean princess tell me that I didn’t belong there and push me aside. Running is a beautiful sport. I would hate to think someone came to Disney full of running dreams and left the sport with a broken heart.
We all paid the registration fees because….it is DISNEY, the most magical place on earth. Every runner I passed (or passed me) deserved to be there. They trained, they traveled, they had visions of their perfect race day. If you don’t want to run near slower runners, there is a simple solution: DON’T TAKE PICTURES!!!
But I want to take pictures… It’s part of my race experience. I am doing this for fun… That’s why the characters are there… I only stopped for Cruella or Hercules or Mickey or….
If you choose to detour from your 9 minute pace and end up with folks running a 15 minute pace…. That is YOUR fault. If this means you have to spend 30 seconds or even 2 miles at a slower pace then do it- with a fabulous smile on your face. Remember, you chose to “drop” out of the race and have no right to ruin someone else’s race with your selfishness. Someone’s 14 minute pace may seem slow to you (it was once my pace), but your 12, 10 or 8 minute pace is slow to others. Remember, Kim Smith, whose feet don’t ever seem to touch the ground in the course photos, ran the race in 1:11. Of course, she didn’t get to banter with the villains or play with Woody.
Everyone is entitled to enjoy the race and if you fall out of your corral placement due to choices, then accept and respect those now beside you. Then accept you will end up running, walking, spending time with slower runners. There will be breaks in the course that will provide you opportunities to move faster, but you may soon hit another wall of a folks still running slower than you were when the photo safari started. Learn to accept it. Every runner you pass is right where they should be. You are the one out of place.
And while you’re there, put the poisoned apple aside, smile and have fun. Some of your new running partners are amazing people with tremendous stories. Chat with the first time racers, ask questions and have a great time. It IS Disney after all. Magic truly is every where, all you have to do is believe.