After running in 14 runDisney events over the years, I have racked up quite the box full of memories. I laugh every time I think about running in the sleet and snow during the 2009 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Who would have ever thought that real snow would fall on Main Street U.S.A. that January morning? As with most things Disney, a heaping dose of magic is sprinkled on every runDisney event to ensure it is unique, memorable and sometimes even surprising. It’s no wonder that I treasure every race and medal. So without further ado, I present “Top 10 Reasons I runDisney.”
10. Welcoming environment
From the oodles of family and friends on the race course to the other racers who lend advice, a runDisney race is the perfect opportunity for a new racer ready to step-up to a challenge. The environment is welcoming to all people, no matter of shape or size.
9. Family Participation
Traditionally, runDisney invites the whole family to come along and join in the races. Kids races and Family Fun Runs give even the smallest tikes a chance to get some Disney Bling. I am blessed to have been able to have run 5Ks with my parents and kids, a half marathon with my brother, a full marathon with my sister, and a 10K with my daughter all in runDisney events. To me, you can’t beat family bonding on the race course.
8. Excellent Venues
Have you ever tried running to Toy Story Midway Mania at rope drop just to be told by a cast member to “no running”? Running through a Disney Park is a thrill like no other. When you participate in a runDisney event, running is actually encouraged. Oh the places you’ll go too! Have you ever dreamed of running through Angel Stadium in Anaheim (Disneyland Half Marathon, based on availability) or the run the tracks of the Walt Disney World Speedway of the Richard Petty Driving Experience (2013 Walt Disney World Marathon)? The runDisney race courses are exciting and are constantly being changed. This certainly makes re-doing their races fun. My latest runDisney event was on Disney’s own Castaway Cay Island. Now, when you experience a Disney Cruise whose itinerary includes Castaway Cay Island, you will have the chance to run a FREE 5K on the island. The course was scenic and the pace casual. It couldn’t have been any better for my vacation aboard the Disney Fantasy.
runDisney provides many outlets for support. Walt Disney World Moms Panelist representing runDisney, Lori Lovell, is available to answer all your questions regarding getting to the race, where are the best resorts to stay at, logistics for your cheer squad on race day and much, much more. Jeff Galloway is runDisney’s Official Training Consultant. His tools for being successful in a runDisney event are invaluable and are available on the runDisney website. Also his training plans are there too to help you get trained for your upcoming event. For those brave individuals willing to take on Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Coach Galloway even has a plan for it.
6. Anticipation and Motivation
Nothing gets me excited about training like the anticipation of an upcoming runDisney race. Frankly, I have gotten to the point where they are the only races I want to train for. During training, my mind often reminisces about past races, running through Cinderella’s Castle and giving Mickey a big high-five at the finish line.
Whether you stop to visit or not during the race, the unique and often rare characters out on the race course are a visual feast. You never know who may be standing behind the next corner. For me, the more unusual the character is, the better. Seeing the The Three Little Pigs during the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon was a treat. How about some whimsy with Mary Poppins and Bert in front of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa? While other races often offer on-course entertainment, no one else has Mickey Mouse cheering you on.
Having run many races outside of Disney, I can appreciate the professionalism and organization that goes into a runDisney event. While a race seldomly goes without some criticism, runDisney values the critiques of their customers. They often change or tweak what is not completely right. Often they will change to manage those expectations. For instance, there were a few years where there was a lack of characters on the courses of the Family Fun Run 5Ks. In subsequent years, more and more characters were added back to many fans delight.
Well-done expos and on-course medical, fluid and nutrition stations are super important for racers. Other big races have them obviously, but runDisney events are consistent and reliable.
3. Bling in the Park
Showing-off is allowed after finishing a runDisney event. Matter of fact, I would say it is encouraged. Some individuals are down right obsessed with their bling (raises hand). Celebrating in the parks is a perfect ending to a perfect race weekend. So, why not wear your beautifully designed piece of art around your neck? Absolute strangers will gleam with envy and cast members will lavish you with congratulations.
Being part of a team with like-minded individuals can really boost your enthusiasm during training and on race day. Mutually supporting a cause also makes the whole process more worthy. For me, I have loved running for the WDW Radio Running Team. We are all nuts about Disney (maybe a little too much), but we also revel in raising money for the Dream Team Project supporting the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Having seen a child with a terminal illness enjoying Walt Disney World due to our fund raising effort was a life changing moment for me.
1. Time to be Goofy
It’s time for the race. Here is your chance to not only run by the character, but actually be one yourself. Even the most avid competitors let loose at runDisney events. Who will ever forget Brazil’s 7-time Walt Disney World Marathon winner, Adriano Bastos, crossing the finish line with his funny Pluto hat and big grin. The imaginative outfits that occupy the race course bring a smile to the weary. I cannot think of any other races that make me smile so much.
Now that you know why I love runDisney events, why do you? If you haven’t tried an event, what are you waiting for? There is a medal waiting for you at the finish line.