I love to run, and I love to RunDisney. To date I completed 2 RunDisney Half Marathons (Princess, Wine & Dine) and the 2014 WDW Marathon. I also escorted my oldest nephew in his first runDisney Kids Race. He loved it, so we count it. In the coming months, I plan to do a whole lot more running at Disney: the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare (the Disneyland 10k + Half Marathon); the 2014 Wine & Dine Half Marathon; and the 2015 Dopey Challenge (5k + 10k + Half Marathon + Marathon). Why do I do all of this? Because I love to runDisney of course (I feel like I may have already said that). Below are my top ten reasons why I runDisney. Be warned however, that runDisney events are VERY addicting and you may not be able to resist the temptation to keep signing up for more and more events.
Now that you have been duly warned, here are my top 10 reasons why I run to RunDisney:
10. Unique Courses and Race Icons. So you are telling me that I get to run a race that goes into the Disney theme parks? Yeah, I am sold. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved going to Walt Disney World. Now, I get to combine my love of all things Disney with my Casual Running. Not to mention that, when you feel as though you are running low on gas in the later miles, seeing one of those magnificent park icons (Cinderella’s Castle, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth [the big golf ball thingy], the Tree of Life, the Sorcerer’s Hat, the Osborne Festival of Dancing Lights…well, you get the idea) adds a little pep to your step and helps to keep you going in a way that few other race icons can. I also promise you that running down Main Street USA in front of thousands of excited fans will be one of those most memorable Casual Running experiences you will ever have.
9. Great On-Course Support. I have run a few races where the hydration and food stations have been, well, sub-par. I have run 52.4 miles during RunDisney events, and I have never once encountered a hydration or food station that was not efficient, well-stocked, and accessible. The RunDisney team does an excellent job of spacing out their stations to reduce traffic jams and they train their volunteers well to handle the crowds. This is key because, if you do not fuel your body properly, you will not be able to finish the race.
8. Amazing crowds. Ok, the truth is that Walt Disney World is HUGE (it is roughly the size of the island of Manhattan), and to get between the parks you have to spend a lot of time not in the parks. This means traversing a lot of miles along tree-lined roads, golf courses, and the occasional water treatment plant (past WDW Marathon runners know exactly what I am talking about). The layout of the Disney World property means that the courses cannot be constantly lined with spectators, but when you do see them, they are as enthusiastic as any crowds you have ever seen. Those hearty souls who are willing to trudge out to in the early morning hours on their own vacations are rewarded by sharing a special form of Disney magic, and it spreads to the runners on the course.
7. Unique Signs. All Casual Runners love seeing signs along the course. But let’s be honest, they do tend to get a bit repetitive (but we nonetheless give folks credit for trying and we appreciate the effort). Signs at runDisney events seem to take on a life of their own as they call upon a treasure trove of Disney references to spice up the traditional running ones. My favorite? I was running through the Ticket and Transportation Center during the Walt Disney World Marathon (on our way to the Magic Kingdom), and I saw a sign that encouraged us to “Have fun storming the castle!” Triple points for working in references to Disney, on-course geography, and the Princess Bride.
6. The Costumes. As if RunDisney events don’t already have enough entertainment (see #8 and #4), the runners really bring their game when it comes to costuming. When you walk through the parks, little kids are often dressed up as their favorite Disney characters. At race time, it is their parents’, uncles’, aunts’, and grandparents’ time to play. I have seen some pretty remarkable costumes along the course and it is fun to see the creativity the runners have. It is also great to see runners interacting and commending fellow runners on their costumes before, during, and after the races. I myself have never costumed up for an event, but if you want to see what costuming is all about, check out our gallery of the race costumes Jennifer and Jake create and Jake’s COSRunning series, for Casual Runners, they are true COSRunning pros.
5. The Volunteers. I have no idea how they do it, but runDisney always seems to find the best, most enthusiastic volunteers to staff their events and courses. I have never seen an event where the volunteers are so eager to interact with and support the runners. While I have never had the chance to volunteer at an event myself, I get the feeling that volunteers get to experience their own brand of Disney magic. I hope so, because these races would not be possible and would not be the same without them. So make sure to say hello and to thank them, no matter how tired you may be.
4. Entertainment.So I have a very short attention span and tend to get bored easily when I run. Because of this, I prefer races that have festive atmospheres and interesting entertainment. Well, needless to say, runDisney events have entertainment in spades. Whether it be mystery characters posing for pictures against ornate set pieces or enthusiastic high school bands, there are exciting and entertaining surprises around every corner. There may even be the occasional gospel choir – who wants to stop running when you are being serenaded by a gospel choir?
3. The bling. Yes, I love shiny medal objects, and nobody does it better than runDisney. From the ribbon to the medal itself, RunDisney SMOs are works of art and great keepsakes of your event experience. Though, be warned, collecting RunDisney SMOs can be very addicting – you may want to check out our growing SMO Gallery, but you were warned!.
2. Fellow RunDisney Runners. As I wrote about in my review of the Princess Half Marathon, runDisney races about are more than just the race, they are about the entire event. Sharing the comradery of your fellow Casual Runners throughout the event weekends makes the whole experience bigger and more special.
1. A Disney Runcation. I love travelling to Walt Disney World, and having excellent race events scattered throughout the calendar gives me excuses to start bugging my family, friends, or a combination of both to get on a plane and fly down to “the World” with me. RunDisney is also giving me the excuse to head out to California to spend some time at Walt’s original park in a few weeks. While the Magic of Disney is amazing, it is always better when it is shared. (Thanks to Tom Bell from the Dis Unplugged for letting me steal his line. If you have never run a RunDisney event, here is the best way that I can describe it. Completing races are a great experience. Trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland are always special and memorable. When you combine the two, the memories and possibilities are endless. So enjoy!
There you have it, the top 10 reasons why I run to runDisney. Have you ever runDisney or are planning to runDisney?
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