Understanding 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Corral Assignments

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend CorralsThere are a lot of runners unhappy with runDisney. The 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend corral assignments have put many runners far behind where they expected. For some, they’re farther back even though they improved their proof of time and expected to be closer to the front!

To figure out what’s going on, I took an in-depth look at corral assignments for the 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, the 2017 Goofy Challenge and the 2017 Dopey Challenge, and compared them with the corral assignments for the 2016 version of all of those races.

If you want to see the actual corral assignments from 2016 and 2017 side-by-side, you can click the links below to open them in a new window.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Corral Assignments

First we’ll investigate the Half Marathon. This is where a lot of runners have noticed a big change. The table lists the number of bibs assigned for runners participating in only the Half Marathon, and running with a Half Marathon bib. As you can see, the total number is up a little from last year.

The biggest difference in corral assignments affects runners from the middle to back of the pack. Assignments for 2017 are similar to 2016 until you get to about the 2:30 mark. That time would have put you in corral G in 2016, but is two corrals further back, starting from corral I in 2017. A 3:00 half marathon proof of time in 2016 would have you starting from Corral I (about mid-pack) but in 2017 that’s only good for corral M, five corrals further back and only three from the last corral.

2017 WDW Half Marathon Corral Changes

That’s a HUGE difference, and it explains why so many people are complaining that, even after improving their proof of time, they’ve been moved to a later corral. The effect is similar, but not as extreme, for the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge corral assignments.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy and Dopey Corral Changes

If you submitted a 5:30 marathon proof of time in 2016, you’d be in corral I. But in 2017, you could be in I, J or K. A 6:00 marathon proof of time was good for corral J in 2016, but in 2017 you’d be back in corral M, only three from the back.

There’s an additional factor that, combined with changes described above, makes the impact even more extreme. It’s what happens when you submit a half marathon time as proof of time for the Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy Challenge or Dopey Challenge. RunDisney converts a half marathon proof of time to a full marathon time using a calculation almost identical to what’s provided with the McMillan Calculator.

You can’t simply double your half marathon time to calculate an expected full marathon time, because of the additional effort required for the longer distance. The calculator is pretty good at figuring out a comparable pace given your level of fitness, and projecting your finish time at various distances. I used the calculator to translate hypothetical half marathon proofs of time to projected full marathon finish times and mapped them to 2017 corral assignments.

Let’s say you ran the 2016 Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and then signed up for the 2017 Goofy or Dopey Challenge. If you submitted a 3:00 proof of time in 2016, you would have started the half marathon in Corral I. Using that same 3:00 half marathon proof of time when applying for the 2017 Challenges means runDisney converts it to a full marathon time of 6:19. That would put you in corral N for both the half marathon and full marathon – a full five corrals further back!

So, why is this happening? Some of it is the so-called “penalty” that applies to corral assignments for race challenges vs. standalone races. But as you can see in the table above, if you were running only the 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon with a 3:00 proof of time, you’d be in corral M. Being in corral N as a participant in the challenge races is only a one corral “penalty.”

You probably won’t like the reason that explains most of the change: your fellow middle and back-of-the-pack runners are getting faster. Take a look at this:

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Corral Sizes

With a few exceptions, the total number of runners assigned to each corral in 2017 is about the same as 2016. Therefore, if you’re further back in 2017 than you would have been in 2016, it’s because there are more runners in front of you. And in order for more runners to be in front of you, they must have submitted better proofs of time. If they’re submitting better proofs of time, absent any widespread conspiracies, they’re faster than you.

I wish there were a more interesting explanation, but based upon my analysis, more, faster runners in the middle of the pack are the reason for the big change in corral assignments from 2016 to 2017.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Entries

Since I was crunching the numbers, I put together the number of entries for the 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, based on the number of bib assignments. The number of entries isn’t terribly different, although there is a clear drop-off in the number of people only running the full marathon, which leads to a drop in the overall number of participants in the marathon.

2017 WDW Marathon Weekend Entries

Regardless of your 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend corral assignment, the weekend is always a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for the balloon ladies who meticulously maintain the 16 minute/mile required pace. As long as you can out-run them, you’ll be able to enjoy the entertainment on the course and finish with a great experience (and some awesome bling)!

Chris Smith

About Author:

Chris Smith, a.k.a. @DopeyRunr, started running in 2013. He has since completed the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Dopey Challenges, several other marathons and half marathons around the country.

7 thoughts on “Understanding 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Corral Assignments

  1. I am running in my first Disney event in January and have a question about the pacing requirement and corrals. So, let’s say I am in the last corral. Do I still get 7 hours to finish the marathon, or would I only get 6.5 hours if it takes me 30 minutes to cross the starting line? Thanks.

    1. The 7 hour clock starts from when the very last participant crosses the starting line, which is always the balloon ladies. So as long as you start in front of the balloon ladies, you’ll get at least 7 hours (16 minutes/mile pace).

  2. I may be able to shed some more light on this. I have a proof of time for a half marathon of 2:46 and some seconds. I made sure to put this in because I did not want to get stuck in the way way back. Due to my time being just over the 2:45 mark, I was placed in corral M this year. During Wine and Dine a few months back, my mom ran with me, had no proof of time, and was placed in the corral one ahead of me. I believe that putting your anticipated finish time equal to what is not required for proof of time submission got her a better corral spot. Rather than in the past where she would have been placed after everyone who submitted a proof of time. Thus, the reasoning for having more corrals this year for =2:45 and =5:30 for the half and marathon respectively.

      1. When signing up it asks for your anticipated finish time. It goes on to state if you put a time less than 2:45 (for the half) then proof of time is required. Obviously, when signing up on can put 2:45 and not need to submit proof of time. In the past when signing up, people who did not submit a proof of time and still put an anticipated finish time of 2:45 were placed towards the rear. It seemed to give preference to people who submitted a proof of time regardless of being slower than 2:45. That does not seem to be the case for this weekend or the past Wine and Dine.

        1. Gotcha. Yeah, for this race, this year, it seems like you could have. Either on purpose, or accidentally, that seems like what runDisney did.

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