I have been a pretty avid runner for the last 15 years and have run many events in many places, but just like Disney has its own kind of magic in the parks, it also has its own magic with race events Run Disney holds multiple times a year at both Disneyland and Disney World. I just recently completed the Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland and it got me thinking about the things that make running a Run Disney event so special and what any first time Run Disney participant should know.
5. Cost – While we know that most things Disney are expensive, but well worth it, the same is said of Run Disney events. They cost anywhere from $70 for a 5k Fun Run to $300 for a race challenge (made up of multiple races). Of course, with that fee comes the much sought after medal you collect after the race and a themed race t-shirt, an e-goodie bag and personalized bib. Also when considering the cost, make sure to include travel to get to the parks, hotel and park ticket fees. It does add up quickly, but like all things Disney, the memories you make as you cross the finish line are priceless.
4. Crowd Support – One of the best things about the Run Disney races is the groups they have cheering you on throughout the course. From high school bands and cheerleaders to US Veteran groups to Cosplay clubs (dressed up), there is a ton of yelling and clapping to help power you through the miles. They also have a finish line crowd fit for any finisher to cross no matter if you are first or last. The announcers call out your name, your family members are there to see you finish and even the characters meet you at the finish to pat you on the back.
3. Race course – To be honest, this is one reason why I run these events. Depending on what park you are running at, that will determine the course you run. Most 5k courses at both parks will have you running in the parks, past all your favorite attractions. Once you start running the longer races, like the half marathons, you won’t spend as much time in the park after the first 2-4 miles. If you are at Disney World, you will have more course time in the parks because they have more parks to cover. In Disneyland, you run the streets of Anaheim after leaving the parks, but you do get to run through Angels Stadium too and that is very cool to see yourself on the jumbo-tron!
2. Health and Fitness Expo – I will be completely frank with you about this expo…it’s all about the race merchandise, including Dooney and Burke special edition purses and New Balance Run Disney themed shoes. Disney is great at bringing in some amazing businesses to the expo that is open to the public, to offer you advice on runs, sign you up for future runs, talk to you about your health or let you shop for cute running gear. But the big attraction is the Run Disney race specific merchandise. Lines form for these items hours before the expo opens and some items will sell out the first day. The shirts designed for the race are always very Disney and if the race is brand new or celebrating an anniversary, expect the frenzy to be even bigger. New Balance comes out with 4 to 5 Disney inspired running shoes that you can only buy at the expo each year. I ran in a pair this year and they were so comfortable, and cute I might add.
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1. Character interactions – Running a Run Disney event is a great chance to get some one on one time with characters throughout the course, and at any pre or post-race events. Even wearing your medal around the park (which you are encouraged to do) gets you a little more attention when the characters see it. The race course will have characters with photographers ready and waiting to snap a quick picture with you before you head out to the next mile. If you aren’t all about your finishing time, definitely stop and take the time to enjoy the moment with Mickey, Stitch, or even Thor and Captain America. Usually the characters match the theme of the race, but you can usually always expect Mickey and Minnie.
While the miles might be the same at the end of the day, there is something truly magical about running in a Run Disney event. You won’t be sorry for the money and time spent to do at least one of these. Don’t feel like you have to be a seasoned runner either. There are plenty of online training groups specific to each Disney run event to help you train and get ready. Just plan ahead, these races do sell out in days, sometimes even minutes, and go on sale up to 9 months before the date of the event. Like the rest of us Run Disney addicts, I am sure you will want to run more than one. I hope to see some of you out there soon!
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