Have you registered to participate in a runDisney half-marathon next year or the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2014? If so, you need to know about a very big change that Disney has instituted that will directly affect which corral you are assigned to.
runDisney endurance races are extremely popular; some, like the Disneyland Half Marathon, can have over 15,000 runners. In order to prevent everyone from trying to start at the starting line at the same time, race organizers assign every participant to different sections of the waiting area. Think of it like the way an attractions cast member will tell you to stand in line 3 for the next Star Tours vehicle, and the next group to stand in line 4.
The way Disney assigned a corral to you depended on what you told them your predicted finish time might be. That way, they could assign you to a corral of similarly paced participants, and nobody would be tripping over each other because they're too fast for the area, or holding up the crowd for being too slow.
Each corral, depending on the size of the event, can fill thousands of people. To keep things orderly, cast members control how fast corrals can move up once the starting gun goes off, which means a staggered start. The further back your corral, the longer it takes just to cross the starting line. A jackrabbit runner might step on the starting line 30 seconds after the starting gun, while a slower runner assigned in corral D might not step on that starting line until 20 minutes after the event start.
Why Slower Runners Wanted to be in Faster Corrals
The half-marathons and marathon require a minimum pacing requirement of 16 minutes a mile. This is not an issue for fast runners, but for slower joggers and people who use run/walk intervals and who might normally go at a pace of around 16 minutes a mile, there is always the specter of the "sag wagon" golf cart looming behind you.
Logic would dictate that those who indicate the slowest predicted finish time would be assigned to the slowest corral.
However, there was one way slower participants could gain a significant advantage to minimize the risk of getting swept: Since the sweepers trail behind the last participants who were still on the course, if you could be assigned to a faster corral, you got to cross the starting line 10, 15, even 20 minutes earlier than the back-of-the-pack corral, essentially giving yourself "free" minutes of padding so you wouldn't have to worry about being swept. Here's how it worked:
Say your normal pace would get you assigned into corral G, the last corral. You've trained and you know you can beat the 16-minute pace, but you're also at the very back of the pack. You don't want to look behind you, because you're afraid to see the sweeper golf carts behind you.
Instead, what if you could be assigned to corral D? You're not only ahead of thousands of people, but you get to step across the starting line 10 minutes before the folks in corral G. By giving yourself a 10-minute cushion, all of a sudden you have almost a full minute per mile more that you can give yourself for a half marathon distance. This was a huge advantage, and it gave people tremendous incentive to try to get assigned to a faster corral.
People were very inventive and creative in submitting faster proofs of time; everything from simply entering a faster predicted time on the registration form, to showing up at the Runner Relations counter at the expo with a printout of a fast, doctored (PhotoShopped) result time.
Why Mixing Up Paces in the Same Corral Was a Bad Idea
Unfortunately, there was a serious down side to this sprinkling people of varying paces into the same corral.
People who were appropriately assigned to corral D based on past performance may have been 12-minute-per-mile runners. All of a sudden, they would find their corral sprinkled with a lot of 15-minute-per-mile runners. This may not seem like a big difference, but it is. And when you pen thousands of people into a corral that's mixed up with various paces, and everyone's jockeying for space in the first mile or two of the course, you're just asking for trouble. Faster people pushing slower people. Elbows and shoulders bumping into each other. People tripping. People behaving badly. From a liability standpoint, the lawyers at Disney couldn't have liked this.
How Disney is Implementing Changes
So no more. Starting with 2014 events, when you fill out your online registration form for a runDisney half or full marathon, you no longer just get to jot down a time. If you believe you can finish a half-marathon in less than 3:15 or a full marathon in under 6:30, you have to provide actual proof of time in the registration form itself. These days, most all official races post their results online, so it will be almost impossible for a registrant to show finish times that are faster than they completed.
If you cannot show proof—that is, you either have never entered an official road race before, or you simply forget—you are automatically assigned to the last corral regardless of your pace.
Past Examples of Paces
Take a look at this chart. Note that the paces associated with the various corral assignments differ based on the event. This is one of the reasons the final pacing chart is not released until relatively close to an event. runDisney looks at all the registered participants for a race, and tries to spread them out evenly into the various corrals so that each corral has roughly the same number of people.
2013 WDW Half
(pace, per mile)
2013 Tinker Bell Half
2013 WDW Princess Half
2013 Disneyland Half
|Elite||< 1:30 (<6:52)|
|A||< 2:00 (< 9:09 per mile)||< 2:15 (< 10:18)||< 2:15 (< 10:18)||< 1:58 (< 9:00)|
|B||< 2:20 (< 10:41)||< 2:45 (< 11:27)||< 2:30 (< 11:27)||< 2:10 (< 9:55)|
|C||< 2:45 (< 11:27)||< 2:47 (< 12:44)||< 2:45 (< 11:27)||< 2:25 (< 11:04)|
|D||< 2:47 (< 12:44)||< 3:00 (< 13:44)||< 2:50 (< 12:58)||< 2:45 (< 11:27)|
|E||< 3:00 (< 13:44)||3:00+ (13:44+)||< 3:00 (< 13:44)||< 2:52 (< 13:07)|
|F||3:00 (13:44)||N/A||3:00 (13:44)||< 3:00 (< 13:44)|
|G||< 3:30 (< 16:01)||N/A||< 3:25 (< 15:38)||3:00+ (13:44+)|
|H||3:30+ (<16:01+)||N/A||3:25+ (15:38+)||N/A|
Take a look at the time differences between corrals C and D for the Walt Disney World Half; there's only a 2-minute difference! That should tell you those are the most common finish times for participants, and that's why you may get a different corral assignment than your friend, even if hers was only 3 minutes apart from yours.
The important thing to note when looking at this chart is what your official finish time is for your proof of time. Do you think you will need 3:30 for a runDisney half-marathon but want the cushion of going up two corrals? To avoid being in the last corral, it looks like a pace of under 3:00 (13:44 minutes per mile) may be your sweet spot—but that may be very hard to do (you would need to run almost 3 minutes per mile faster than your normal pace).
What To Do If You Don't Have Proof of Time
If you know you can go faster than a 15-minute-mile, you won't be swept. However if you haven't raced in an official event before (and this does not count the popular "virtual" road races where you pay a fee and get a medal for completing a certain distance on your own), you have to enter a race and obtain official results.
Fortunately, you don't have to have proof of time ready at the time you register. Disney will give you an extended period, during which you can submit your proof. If you don't have any proof, this is the time where you can consider running a local event so you have some new numbers to submit via email.
What To Do If You're Fast
If you're faster than 12 minutes a mile, getting assigned to the last corral is going to be a problem for you. You won't get swept, but it could take 20 minutes or longer for your corral to reach the starting line, and you will be mixed in with the "completers" whose goal is to finish, rather than the "competers," who are trying to finish fast. If you fall into the latter category and you are bothered by fairy wings getting in your way, you are in the wrong corral.
If you're a fast runner, it is absolutely imperative that you submit your proof of time. You will be miserable being stuck in the last corral, and you might wind up behaving rudely to those around you who rightly belong there.
Remember: If you don't offer proof of time, you cannot ask for a corral reassignment at the expo next year!
What To Do If You're Slow
If you are a walker or a run/walker who trains between 15 and 16 minutes per mile, you will likely be assigned to one of the later corrals, and you won't be able to simply list a faster time on your registration form. Now, the prospect of being swept may become a real concern for you.
There are two ways to tackle this fight: Do an event with a faster finish time, and be as fast as possible during the event.
Submit a faster time as your proof
There are a couple of things working to your advantage:
- For a half-marathon, your proof of time need only be for a 10K (6.2-mile) event. It's quite possible you can maintain a faster pace for 6.2 miles than you can for 13 miles, assuming the course isn't uphill all the way. See if there are any 10K road races in your area that advertise flat or downhill courses.
- Your proof of time does not seem to require formal certification from a governing body, such as the US Track & Field. Some courses advertise "all downhill," for example. These may not be certifiable, but if they are still official events with a registration fee and a finisher's shirt or medal, and most importantly, posted official results, this may allow you to get a faster finish time.
Warning: Whatever you do, do not cheat! Do not have someone else run an event for you in order to show a faster result. Don't trade bibs with someone at the runDisney event who has a faster corral! runDisney (and all other formal athletic organizations) considers this to be a very serious offense. You are risking automatic disqualification from the event, and you may be banned from participating in any future runDisney event!
Be as efficient as possible during the event
If this is you, there are some things you can do in addition to trying to train to go faster. Some of these apply for the event you target as your "proof of time" event, as well. Consider these potential advantages:
- Wear a hydration vest (like a Camelbak) and carry as much water as you can reasonably carry without it slowing you down. Staying hydrated once the sun comes up will keep you in better spirits.
- Bring sunglasses and a running cap or visor to keep the sun out of your face. The sun can really sap your energy and slow you down. On a related note, wear sunscreen!
- Bring a bandana. You can tie it around your wrist to keep it out of the way (it may feel hotter if it's around your neck). Use it to wipe your sweat off, or wet it down and cool your head/face down.
- Bring energy food, whatever you prefer. Gels, gel blocks, jelly beans, figs, raisins, pretzels, honey packets... find out what works for you during your training, and bring enough so you can refuel yourself regularly. If you wait until you feel tired and sapped of energy, it's too late.
- Bypass the character meet-and-greets if you're running really behind
This last one is a toughie. After all, it's so hard to resist stepping aside and getting a photo with your favorite character! If there's more than a handful of people in line, the detour may cost you 1 or 2 minutes. If you make these stops with five characters, that's an addition of 5 to 10 minutes on your finish time. Decide which characters you absolutely cannot skip, and use your judgment.
Make Sure to Fill Out the Form
Whatever you do, if you've finished a qualifying event, make sure you list it in your registration form. Even if it's slow, it may prevent you from being assigned to the very last corral.
|Event||Event Date||Proof of Time from not older than||Submission Deadline|
|Walt Disney World Half Marathon||January 11, 2014||January 1, 2012||November 1, 2013|
|Walt Disney World Full Marathon||January 12, 2014||January 1, 2012||November 1, 2013|
|Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland||January 19, 2014||January 1, 2012||November 1, 2013|
|Princess Half Marathon in WDW||February 23, 2014||February 1, 2012||November 1, 2013|
Proof of time required if:
- You think you can complete a half-marathon in 3:15 or faster
- You think you can complete a full marathon in 6:30 or faster
Distance of the event you are submitting proof for
- Half-marathon – the proof of time you submit must be for a distance of at least a 10K (6.2 mile) event
- Full marathon – the proof of time you submit must be for a distance of at least 10 miles (such as a 10-miler or half-marathon)
How to Submit Proof of Time
If you didn't have proof of time to submit when you registered for your upcoming 2014 runDisney event, you still have until November 1. Once you have your proof, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
A valid proof of time provided at the time of registration must include the following:
- Name of Race
- Finish time
For example, Walt Disney World Marathon, 26.2, Orlando, FL, 1/13/13, - 3:35
A real person does check that email address, and they will get back to you to confirm that the information was entered into the system. If you don't hear back from them in a few days, you might send them a reminder (especially if it's close to the November 1 date).