Tips on how to get great pictures at Run Disney events

Tips on how to get great pictures at Run Disney events

Tips on how to get great pictures at Run Disney events


Have you ever been to a Disney race hoping to get at least a couple of good pictures only to find later that none of them turned out like you hoped? Here’s a chance to learn from my mistakes and failures in getting that perfect shot. Follow these steps and you should get just what you are hoping for.

Tip 0.5

Do The Expo Pic

99% of the runners zip right past the photo booth at the expos. Each one gives you a fun interactive experience with a green screen. The one in Disney World is near the entrance to bib pickup. (It’s right by the stairs that you go down to sign the waivers.) It’s a regular exhibit at the Disneyland Expo. It’s usually near the edge that faces the DJ.  Both coasts experimented with video on the last races of 2016. The video is from Wine and Dine.


The Decision

Decide ahead of time what kind of pictures that you want and know your options.

  1. The Determined Runner
    1. Be focused, don’t look at camera
    2. Trust that they got you.
    3. You’ll look cooler than you actually are.
  2. The smile (and wave)
    1. It’s the classic.
    2. Higher success rate.
    3. Makes it look like you are having fun even if you are about to die. 
  3. The jump
    1. Lower success rate, especially if a bunch of runners are around you.
    2. If you are in the pocket (see tip 2) you may be able to pull it off easier.
  4. Funny
    1. Zero expectations
    2. If it turns out bad, it actually might be better.
    3. Great for character stops.

If I’m solo, I’ll usually do the front half determined and then switch it up the smile on the back half. If I’m running with friends, it’s either smile or funny.




The Pocket

Pocketing as I like to call it, is when you find pockets with little or no runners. Picture most often get ruined because there are a ton of people on top of each other with 25% of them jumping, 25% acting crazy/holding hands, 25% trying to get a normal picture  and 25% that don’t care.  Often times you’ll see the photographer up ahead before they snap your picture.  Look ahead and behind to find that pocket if possible. Sometimes you need to speed up and sometimes you actually need to slow down to get that perfect spot.


Here is a good example of seeing the pocket and speeding up just a bit to get a better shot. 

Here’s one where we actually slowed down. It looks like we are running the race by ourselves. 


Not pocketing gets you this….

It doesn’t have to be a big pocket either. It just needs to be enough so that the photographer is taking a couple of individual shots and not just group shots of the packs of people coming through. Here is an example of how even a small pocket can work in your favor.


The Dos

  1. Adjust and have great posture.
    1. Arched back, shoulders wide. Suck that gut in.
  2. Wear a costume if that is your thing.
    1. Much more likely to get attention from Run Disney
    2. Make sure you are comfortable running in it before hand.
  3. Stop for a character stop if it’s someone you’ve never seen before.
    1.  There may be a line, but that’s OK. You’ll do some pocketing later and still get great pics.
    2.  Very few people remember their race time, but all remember the experience.
    3. There are many rare characters that only come out for the races. You’ll never find some of these in the parks….ever. 
    4. Do the post race pic.
      1. They always will give you two pictures. One plain and one with the race logo.



The Don’ts

  1. If you are doing more than the 5k and get really sweaty, only wear black shorts. I’ve got too many pictures where it looks like I peed my pants. 
  2. If you are in a group, call out the cameras but don’t point them out. I cant seem to learn this lesson.  
  3.  Don’t carry your phone.

The majority of my pics have me carrying my phone. It’s because I usually try to get every character stop and some do not have Disney photographers at them. Some come out weird too so it’s a good backup. If you are in a group, have one person take the course pics and share them with everyone.


Follow these tips (and learn from my mistakes) and you’ll get some great shots out there.  If you’ve got any other tips of dos or don’ts for Disney race pics be sure to comment below. Now excuse me while I go and verify I have enough black shorts for my upcoming races.


Wine and Dine Half Marathon Recap 2016

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Recap 2016

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Recap 2016

Where running dreams do come true.


Here we are at the last East Coast race of the year. 13 races in the Disney World segment of the US challenge was ending after today. The race was different; now a morning race as opposed to the historical night run. The course was also vastly different because of construction for Toy Story Land/Star Wars Land. We would run to what amounted to the reverse backside of the marathon route.

I started the morning kissing the family good-bye and hopping on a bus with Beatrice. She’s an east coaster who went coast-to-coast with me at Tinkerbell in California. She’s also a great member of our running team.

We immediately jumped in line for some characters and I was finally able to knock Chef Goofy off my list. The lines were crazy long last year and got cut quick and we haven’t made it to any of the character meals where you can meet him like this yet.



It was then off for the team picture. Deanna and Lou were out having a blast on the WDW E Ticket Cruise event so Jimmy and I pitched in to coordinate things for the weekend.


I love this team!

After time with the team, I headed off to the corral (They pulled the first few groups early to take their places) I needed to get there early anyway to see if it was possible to link up to the Galloways. Jeff had told me about some of the x factors so I wasn’t too hopeful, but I was going to try.


After giving his talk to the crowd, they stuck Jeff and Barb in the corral before me right before they went off. Then they took off…… Now there was an added challenge, catch up to and find an Olympian in the hundreds of people that left before me.

I only had 120 seconds to decide what to do and my brain was playing the whole, “Be stupid/don’t be stupid” game. As you know by now I usually choose “Be stupid” in these scenarios.

The fireworks go off and I’m running in full stupid mode. A sub 8 minute mile for a half marathon.

I feel like I’m probably making good progress towards them when I make another “stupid” move. I decide I’m stopping for characters too?!? I mean it’s the country bears so why not.


Right before mile two I see them…. the Galloways doing their thing tearing up the course. I pull up beside Jeff and I’m genuinely in shock that we linked up. (I think he was surprised too.) After linking up with them I tell them I’m not stopping for characters unless there are some that I don’t have. I didn’t want to risk getting separated after putting so much work on the front end.


Barb was our pacer and I spent most of the time running alongside her. She’s hilarious and such a blast to run with. Jeff and I had fun making jokes of how beautiful the sunrise was over the water treatment plant. It was picture perfect exept for the location we were running through at the time.

On the back side of Animal Kingdom, I see the first characters that I have not gotten yet. Chip and Dale in a cool Western overlay. Luckily there wasn’t a line, so it only took me a couple of minutes to catch back up.


Many of my Disney and running friends know about my obsession with trying to find Darkwing Duck. He was the whole reason that I started this crazy journey in the first place. I barely missed him during the marathon weekend because of rain. The people that got out later after the rain stopped got him, which only put salt in the Darkwing wound. A friend told me that this was going to be my shot today….sure enough he was out there!


I get hyped up and tell the Galloways that I’ve got to stop for this one. As soon as I get there they go on break. Normally not a big deal, but I can feel the Galloways’ feet pattering further and further away with each moment. After a few minutes Launch Pad and Darkwing make it back out and I finally can check him off my top 10 list.

The problem now is that I’m a good 5 minutes behind. Time to get stupid and try to catch an Olympian for the second time today. The adrenaline from the characters and the task of catching them put me back in a sub 8 mile. It takes a mile to catch them and it was thankfully right before a water station.

We had a great time knocking off the rest of the distance to Epcot. There was another rare stop just inside the gate with no line, but there also wasn’t much distance to catch up if I got behind again. That’s why I look like I’m getting ready to shove them both down and sprint away in the picture below….because I am.


The short run in Epcot was great. The park was still closed so it was all cast members cheering us in the final stage. There were also several good characters stuck in here as well. Scrooge Mcduck and Vacation Genie.



We saw Sharon and the kids a little before the finish line, I was so excited!




We even got some shout outs from Carissa at the finish!



That was it. It was finished! I couldn’t have wished for a better run. The weather was great and I had the honor to run the race with the Galloways. I even picked up a few great characters along the way. There was no way to top this race right? I was going to find out soon enough. It was time to go home, wash clothes and catch a flight to California. We do this all again in the last West Coast series of the year that starts in just 5 days. photopass_visiting_wdwrundisney_7852944599







Wine and Dine 10K Recap

Wine and Dine 10K Recap

Wine and Dine 10K Recap

The race that transformed a weekend into a series.


This was the first year for the Wine and Dine 10K. Historically the 5k was in the morning and the half marathon was the same night. This made the Wine and Dine event unique in that it was the only Disney night race, there was an after party immediately following and you complete all the races in one day.

The 10k changed things.

First with the 10K, it brought to life a new Challenge: The Lumiere 2 Course Challenge. I actually love the theme of the challenge and how it ties back into the festival. This also pushed the format to a more traditional format with a race each day for three days. The after party is still there, but you have to come back the night of the half marathon.

The race was your pretty standard Disney World 10K. You complete the race in Epcot and the Boardwalk area.  If you follow the map above, the start is at the edge of the parking lot and goes through the front gate before turning around. The loop around mile 5 is the Boardwalk area.


I went for a quicker race, not PR, but enough to get it done and back before the crowd hits breakfast at the hotel.


Don’t know how I’ve missed Chip and Dale in their East Coast RunDisney overlay, but I finally got them.

There really weren’t a bunch of characters out today. I was hoping for some deep rare food themed characters, but no such luck. I did however find my favorite group. The WDW Radio cheer squad!


What I did like about the race that was different was that some of the countries had their cast members out cheering the runners. The best had to be Canada with their flag waving and people yelling. They were awesome!




After that it was just a little longer to the finish.



It was a great race and we did make it back to beat the breakfast crowd. We took a little break and then headed out to the park to catch some unique things going on that day.


The Parks

We had a great time in the parks after the race was over. The first Marvel Character interaction was quietly started over in Hollywood Studios. Dr Strange was pretty cool. The show made a lot more sense after actually seeing the movie. (Shocker!) Beth got a pendant from Dr Strange for being in the show.


We also got the chance to see some of the Cubs after they had won the World Series! It was neat to see what happens after they say “Now we’re going to Disney World!” There were a ton of people in Cubbie gear in the park that day and there was a bigger turnout for them than a normal parade.  We had a great spot to watch them come through. We were also able to catch the two new Muppet shows without having to move.



UP NEXT: The Half Marathon!

Wine and Dine Expo and 5K  Recap 2016

Wine and Dine Expo and 5K Recap 2016

Wine & Dine Expo and 5K Recap

Is Hunger Games a Disney Property?


It’s been over six months since the last East Coast race. (Star Wars Darkside Weekend) The merch section had gotten much better at that point. The experience was flawless at the most recent race out on the West Coast. (Disneyland Half Marathon). I was very surprised to see how it all fell apart and descended back into chaos. Is it the type of crowd? line management? Scalpers? It’s likely all three.

They would only let a set amount in for Star Wars at a time. This made the line longer outside, but made the shopping experience much quicker and enjoyable. This time they went back to a Hunger Games style free for all. It was packed!  I typically only get the challenge magnet and maybe a pin….Friends were telling me afterwards of broken glass on the floor and pushing and shoving.  Sometimes I think it might be worth it to pay the scalpers to do battle on my behalf.

I’ve learned this after a year of races: Wine and Dine and Princess Expos are the worst. Go early or later and prepare for madness.

An extra tip for you: There is a smaller, less crowded store at the end of the bib pickup. It doesn’t have everything, but sometimes it has stuff the big one does not….and its not nearly as busy.

Thankfully the Galloways were there on the other end. We had talked about running a race together out in California and were talking through a strategy on how to coordinate.


I got a chance to see the announcers at the Expo. I’ve been running all year and never run into them outside race, so it was fun to grab a quick photo with them.



The rest of the expo was great. I wish they would just get this merch deal figured out and it would be a fantastic expo.


Mickey’s Holiday 5K Recap


This year Disney expanded the race series to three races and in doing so re-branded the 5K race from Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k to Mickey’s Holiday 5K. A couple of my character hunting friends were intrigued with what possible changes could be made to character meets as well.

It turns out not much really changed. The course was identical and many of the characters were the same. It was still a great race and the only one that starts and ends at Animal Kingdom.

I was feeling good about the race and starting to get some of my speed back from doing some actual training before a race. I decided I would got hot for the first mile and see what kind of mile I could get in. I was in the top 10 with a mile of 6:49 before giving it up for the characters.


Keeping with tradition of patriotic for the Disney 5Ks

I stopped for almost all of the characters. It’s starting to get to the point where I won’t wait in a line for ones that I already have unless I’m running with someone.




I turned back on a little speed after a few character stops that were stacked on top of each other.  During the the last half mile I pull up along side Carissa who had left the announcing stage to run the race that day.  We were running a pretty similar pace so we ended up finishing together.  That was an unexpected fun moment to end the last 5K on the East Coast with!



This may be my favorite 5k on the East Coast. I’ve done well the past two years here and every other 5k is the same course out at Epcot. The weather is great and the scenery is nice. It’s one to add to your list if you want to do a fun DisneyWorld 5K.


Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015

The race that was, wasn’t, then back on, semi-half marathon.

What a day! Our day started in the Animal Kingdom parking lot at 4.45am and we completed the 5K that morning. We left there and went straight over to the ESPN center for Beth’s kids race at 11.00am and then went to Epcot at 6pm to get ready for the half marathon that night. Lesson #3 of the weekend: Don’t do a kids race and both the regular races in the same day. It was just too much going on that day. Next year if Beth wants to do a race, we will do the 5k together. (Which is what we are doing for the princess half marathon weekend.)

We were again way early for the event. We weren’t first this time, but there were only about 12 people there when we arrived.  The family stayed around for a little bit before heading on in to Epcot to enjoy the park.  I got to sit with a nice lady on the shuttle who was just getting back in to running. She was anxious about the race because she was competitive and didn’t want to do bad. (I know the feeling!) I also sat behind what I thought had to be the most interesting guy around. He was talking about his private birthday party at Disney that included a character from each park in the world and had unique pins made just for the party. Crazy!

I was already trying to learn from the 5k race that morning. I knew there had to a character meet before the race, so I hustled over to the staging area. Instead of one though, there were six! Each had its own line, so I was able to get through three before the crowds really got there. By the time I got to the forth, the lines were almost a football field length long.



It took about 2 minutes each to get the first three and 40 minutes to get the fourth one. I opted not to go for Minnie or Goofy since I was supposed to meet up with the WDW Radio Running Team for our team picture. After hanging out with the group for a bit, it was time to go to our corrals. It had been lightning in the distance for about an hour at that point but nothing close and you could not hear thunder. About the time we get going into our corrals we hear the PA announcement, “We are evacuating the course. Please head to shelter in the ESPN pavilion.”

Its blurry, but that’s the sea of people heading back for shelter. There was also that many people out in front of us!

It was organized chaos. Our group had separated to go to the corrals and now we were trying to swim in the sea of people to reconnect. We found everybody and headed to the pavilion.  Once inside we hung out for right at an hour before they put us back out. It was funny to see people posting on instagram/twitter/facebook and you could spot our sea of blue out in every picture.

This was the moment I fully grasped Lesson #4: Join a running team. I have been blessed to represent some cool places like LifeWay and Camp Gladiator in the past. Even then, I typically am doing my thing solo at events. I do enjoy meeting people on the course and sharing that experience with them, but I have never been on a true running team before. What Lou, Deanna, Jimmy and bunch of others have built is really awesome. I would have been fine that night by myself, but they made it enjoyable. I’m looking forward to running with them this year. IMG_5370

Finally they bring us out and it’s time to go. It was a little bit chaotic getting back to the course and along the way, we got news that they were cutting the Animal Kingdom section of the course. I was actually glad since we were running so behind….which brings me to my next lesson.

Lesson #5: Don’t try to kill yourself (see Lesson Two)

IMG_5381I was updating Sharon on the conditions and told her I was going to try to haul to make up time since it was so late. (I started after 11pm) My mind was in a different mode now and telling me, “Your knees can recover later. Haul to get to the kids and don’t worry about the characters. They will be there next time.” Meanwhile my rational side actually agrees for once and thinks that I could just treat it like a regular race. So several minutes pass and off we go!

Things are going fine at first. Its hot. Its muggy. We are an hour late. My knees already hurt. I’m running too fast….again.  I really did feel like things were going good though. We rounded the first corner and I was getting ready to down shift in to about a minute slower per mile pace….and then I saw him. Wendell.  Who the heck is Wendell?!? Yeah, he’s one of those country bears and he’s wearing his regular outfit. (I’ve caught him twice in Christmas gear.) So I decide that I’ll just pull over for this one character since there isn’t a line.



No worries my rational side thinks. Meanwhile my other side is telling me if I just pick up the pace a little I can get a few more. Well you know that “a few more” turns in to all but one. I had fallen into a trap of my own making again. I was running too fast and trying to get all of the characters.



I couldn’t pass up Lilo!


There were still several fun things out on the shorter course. I loved the fairies and the green army man was out famously daring anyone to walk while they were in front of him. A couple of DJs later, I find Lilo and Stitch not far from Hollywood Studios. You are going to pay $50 a head (character meal) if you want a chance to meet Lilo on a normal basis, so I had to stop.


A couple of guys on the running team gave me a heads up on all the switchbacks and hidden turnarounds in Hollywood Studios. They were right of course. It seemed to go on for a long time, but I really liked seeing some of the old back lot tour areas that you never get to go to anymore. It’s also likely to all be gone next year as they expand out the park. The only character stop I didn’t do was the Incredibles. They had a cool backdrop but we’ve met them a ton, so I kept pushing through.

I loved seeing the Christmas lights with just the runners in there. This was the one area I slowed down to a walk and took a couple of pictures. We came as a family the night before looking for the black cat to no avail. I was able to find him with no problems during the race! The last two years, its always been super packed. That night I could spread out as much as I wanted to!IMG_5391IMG_5392After Hollywood Studios there wasn’t much distance left. I was in full on pain mode at this point and just tried to buckle down and get through it. The course went down through some of the resort areas that I have never been through before. It was fun to see guests at the hotels out holding up signs and cheering people on.

Soon, it turned in to the back of Epcot where there were these giant almost Christmas light looking puppets. They were really neat! Another turn later and we are officially in the park and people are everywhere cheering us on. I really turn on my last bit of kick and push it hard to the finish.IMG_5491I got an unexpected surprise about 10 seconds after hearing my name called out at the finish line. I hear Jeff Galloway cross the line. I beat an Olympian! Granted he has tacked on a couple of years since then, and was running with his wife, and probably walked most of it…..but hey, I’ll take the win.

IMG_5398It might not show, but my knees were killing me at the end. We decided to skip the after party in the park and head on back to the hotel. We made it back a little after 1AM. It’s an unique race that I would recommend!


Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K Recap 2015

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K Recap 2015

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

The morning I threw all sense out the window……

I’ve done a lot of races before, but this was my first Disney race. This is the race weekend that should have never been, but I wanted to learn as much I could before the big kickoff in January. I definitely learned a lot!


Half past too early!

First Lesson: Timing. We are usually pretty intentional on getting to places early. I’ve shown up to a race 1 1/2 hrs. early and by the time I parked, checked in and made it to the corral to start, I only had minutes to spare. Well this time we left early since we had no idea what parking would be like….and we were the first ones there.

Being first, we decided to wait in the car for awhile and made our first mistake: Get out of the car and go on in. There are characters before the race!



I live in two different subcultures of Disney and they don’t intersect like you think that they would. There is a reasonably large group of character hunters out there. These people enjoy finding all the rare characters and even the fab 5 in their different costumes. They can tell when who is where and even where the secret training spots are.  It’s also widely known in that circle that there are super rare characters at some of the races. You would think that those characters would motive that group to get out and do some races, but it doesn’t.

The second group is obviously the runners.  They enjoy the fun atmosphere and social aspect of the races. You have people that dress up and have fun with their friends and runners that are trying to make good time. People in this group enjoy seeing the character stops but will rarely stop at most of them for a few reasons. #1 They just aren’t into meeting characters but like to see them. #2 lines form on the popular ones and many people  just don’t want to wait in a bunch of lines during a race.  Simply put, they aren’t there just for the characters.

For all of the above reasons, it’s very hard to find a place with good info on characters at the races.

The line gets super long to meet the characters before a race.

The line gets super long to meet the characters before a race.

We got in line to meet Mickey and Minnie and had fun seeing all the people dressed up for the event. I also met up with my new running team the WDW Radio Running Team. They had my shirt waiting for me and it was great to make some new friends.




I soon headed out to my corral where I was about to make a mistake that lead to my next learning point.

Second Lesson: Stick to your plan and don’t try to beat everyone….not even the little kids.  Have you figured out that I’m a bit competitive? Even when I don’t mean to be sometimes! I made my way up in Corral A so I could talk to Sharon and the kids before the race. Then I saw a trigger that flipped a switch in my mind: it was the starting line ribbon. I look around and my mind is telling me, “You are going to try to win this race.” Now, rational me says that’s stupid and I’m here to have fun and meet characters, not destroy folks at a 5K.


Mile 1. (with the wheelchairs getting a 30 sec. head start)

Mile 1. (with the wheelchairs getting a 30 sec. head start)

The wheelchair group goes off before us and my mind is still messing with me. “You can try to win this and get all the characters. There won’t be any lines.” Again rational me thinks that is totally dumb, but the fireworks go off and I’m running a sub 7 minute mile.  I cross mile 1 and I run over to my first character stop. Flick! The cast members were awesome at the stops. They treated the first group almost like a relay, where you passed the baton from one runner to another. It was just my phone instead of a baton.






It definitely was fun to run in the park before it was opened to the public. The good thing about being out in front is that I think it gave me a far difference experience. The whole run it really felt like it was me and about 10 other people out there running. At one point the course turned in on itself and you ran close to the people coming in to the park. It was packed! It was far different scene. Long lines just to get your picture with the Tree of Life in the background.

Bloo and Louie

I didn’t get any first find characters on this race, but I did get a chance to meet a bunch of characters in their race exclusive costumes….and I’m not sure why I was peace signing the whole time.



Yes, it bugged me when people passed me while taking pictures.


I ended up finishing in the top 20 overall. It was a great race, and gave me something to look forward to that night.