Imagine yourself running through the Walt Disney World Resort. You’ve probably done it plenty of times - at rope drop or to get to your FastPass or dining reservation - but now imagine doing it before the parks open for the day and catching the sunrise during it. You can experience that during a runDisney race. With so many places temporarily closed or riddled with restrictions, it’s a great time to pick up a new running hobby and train for a runDisney race.
runDisney events are unlike any race experience. Disney hosts four different race weekends that consist of up to four lengths: 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. I personally believe they belong on everyone’s Disney bucket list - even if you’re not a runner - for a myriad of reasons.
Courses will vary depending on the race but usually take you through at least one of the Disney parks. This becomes a whole different Disney experience being in the park before it opens and catching the sunrise during it. You can even get a glimpse of some backstage areas as you enter and exit the park portion of the race.
Throughout the race, you are bombarded with so much to look at even when you're not in one of the parks. Numerous character photo opportunities, including rare characters at times such as Lotso and Jiminy Cricket, are littered throughout the course. The course also provides different DJs, bands, light shows, movie screens and more to keep you pumped up throughout the race. By the time you pass one source of entertainment, you’re usually looking ahead to see what’s next.
runDisney events are known for their swag. The race shirts are high quality and designed around the theme of the race, but even better are the medals that every finisher gets. They also have plenty of race merchandise for sale at the Expo, and the popular items sell out fast.
Though it was me and about 16,000 of my closest friends, Disney has race coordination down pat. From corral starts to the bathroom lines, the race runs (pun intended) like a well-oiled machine.
You’re at Disney, so it’s probably expected that you’ll have a friendly and encouraging crowd with you, and that’s exactly correct. So many people show up to cheer you on along the route, and the cast members are scattered throughout the areas restricted to non-runners to cheer you on as well.
You Don’t Need to be Fast
When people sign up for runDisney races, it’s most likely that they’re not trying to get a new record for time. You have to keep a 15:00/mile pace overall, so you could speed walk a majority of the race if needed. If you plan on stopping for character photos, you can run from one photo op to another, and use the time in line to catch your breath and rest.
Don't forget that, after you finish your race, you're practically obligated to celebrate all day long with your favorite Disney World snacks and drinks. You definitely earned them!