I had the chance this past November, to participate in my first Run Disney race, the Food and Wine 5K. I can say now that it was “my first” because I had such a blast, that there will definitely be more Run Disney races in my future!
Disney has definitely realized that the Run Disney races have become hugely popular, growing from what was once just the Disney Marathon weekend, held once a year every January, to many races held in Disney parks around the world, all year long. Why have these races grown in such popularity? Because they are FUN!
I should probably provide a disclaimer at this point: I am NOT a runner. At all. But I do work out so while I wasn’t convinced that I could run (or walk) a half marathon, I was reasonably certain that a 5K was doable. My daughter had done a 5K a few years back and I saw then that it was a cool experience. So when my husband, daughter and her friends all decided to do the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I figured this was my chance to see first hand how this all worked, and I registered for the 5K the same weekend. (My hubby did that race with me as well as the half, so he is officially a rock star in my book).
And I am here to say that “running with Disney” was a fabulous experience!
So if you’re wondering what it’s like to do a Run Disney race, here is a brief overview of how the everything works:
Before race day, there’s a packet pick up day, usually the day before the race. You head over to the Wide World of Sports center where packet pick up and health fair/expo are held. At packet pick up you will get your race bib, tracking device, free shirt, and bag. While there you can listen to seminars by nutritionists, Run Disney runners, and others that have helpful tips for your race. There are also all kinds of booths set up with information, products, and freebies. It’s a great place to see the latest products on the market for runners, get some energy boosting snacks for your run, a great running shirt, or even sign up for additional runs.
On race day, when arriving at the starting point for the race, you can check any bags that you have. I recommend getting there early to make sure you get in and set in your corral before the race starts. (Warning: Because these races are all held before the parks open, it will be EARLY as in still dark!!!!) There are some food stations and a shop for race gear, in case you have some family or friends coming to watch they can grab a bite and shop. There are some signs and posters hanging that make great photo opportunities. When it’s time to get to your corral the race is started off with fireworks. Super exciting!!
While you run there are trivia signs, djs playing music, and my favorite part, Disney characters, just waiting to take pictures with you. The characters are all along the race route including in the parks, waving and encouraging you on. Volunteers are also along the race route cheering you on and offering water, PowerAid, band-aids and other first aid supplies. One of the best things about a Run Disney race is running through the parks in the wee hours of the morning: you see the Cast Members waking up the park, rides are running empty and characters are frolicking around the park.
Also while running, your photo will be taken and you can take a peek at these pictures a day or two after the race, which is a fun excuse to wear a comfortable costume while you run. At the end of the race with the cheering crowd surrounding the finish line you cross and receive your medal. Your name may even get announced as you cross the finish line.
What if your family is running (or walking) but you are not? No worries as all races have spectator areas where you can watch for your special runner and cheer him or her on as they approach the finish line!
Whether you’re an avid runner or not, a Run Disney event is a great experience to try something new on your Disney visit. It is a great opportunity to get some unique pictures with some hard to find characters and backstage magic. And you get some super cool bling as a reward for your efforts.
If it sounds like this is something you would like to experience, you can learn more here. I do recommend that you sign up for their e-mail updates so that you get alerts when registration opens for each race: although there is no set amount of time it takes for the races to fill, many do fill up very fast.
Happy Running! 🙂