The Casual Runner

Top 10 Things to Know To Select a runDisney Event

Top 10 Things to Know To Select a runDisney Event

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Casual Runner Team are big fans of runDisney events. runDisney has a phenomenal team that puts together great events that appeal to a broad base of runners, and especially to Casual Runners.  As a part of our runDisney coverage, we previously brought you Mike’s Top 10 reasons why he runsDisney and Carly’s dream to one day RunDisney. We have also brought you coverage of specific race events held throughout the year at Disney parks located on both coasts – Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California.

Last week, runDisney announced their complete schedule for the 2015 calendar year.  Almost immediately, many Casual Runners began texting, emailing, Facebooking, and calling their running buddies to plan that next magical runcation to Florida, California, and even the Bahamas.  We know that, as Casual Runners, our desires often outpace our means and our wallets.  Whether it be limited vacation time, family obligations, or, yes, money, we are all inevitably forced to make decisions as to what runDisney events we can and will run.


Magical experiences really do await you at every runDisney event.

To help you out in making your own decisions, the Casual Runner Team has assembled our list of the top 10 things that we think you should know to help you decide which runDisney event – or events – you will run:

1.  Plan in advance.

runDisney races sell out fast.  Let us repeat that: runDisney races sell out FAST.  In fact, a lot of the multi-race challenges will sell out in less than a few hours.  It reminds us of trying to buy concert tickets.  If you snooze or dawdle, you will miss out.  So if you think you want to enter a particular event, you need to start planning in advance and gather your travelling buddies and race buddies as soon as possible.  Then, when noon hits on the day the events go on sale, be at your computer and logged in to the runDisney website and be ready to hit refresh and go.  There may even be opportunities for pre-sales for Disney Vacation Club members, Disney Visa Card holders, and Annual Passholders, so keep an eye out for those as well.  If you wait until the event goes on sale to start your planning, you will most likely miss out.

2.  You don’t have to run alone.

We have borrowed Tom Bell’s line (from the Dis Unplugged) before, and will do so again here: Disney is always more magical when it is shared.  The same goes for runDisney events and runDisney runcations.  We’ve all been there, we want to enter a runDisney event, so we start scrambling to find friends and family who are willing to make a trip to the House of the Mouse, because it is always more fun with others.  But if you cannot find someone who has the vacation time or money to spare, it does not mean that you have to miss out on the fun. There are a ton of resources that will help you connect with other runners.  For starters, there is most likely someone from the Casual Runner community at every runDisney event weekend, so let us know and we’ll help arrange introductions.  Additionally, there are some great Facebook groups dedicated to specific runDisney events and even singles groups that arrange meetups at event weekends and help you find someone to share the magic with.  You never know, you may just leave a runDisney with more than some great SMOs, you may leave with some amazing new friends.

Mike - 2014 Dumbo Double Part 1 - Pic F

Mike is joined here by new – and great – friends and Casual Runners he met at the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare, and one wise Rafiki.

3.  Pick you distance.

runDisney offers a variety of race distances, everything from diaper dashes and kids races, to 5k, 10k, 10 miles (which is not on the schedule for 2015), half marathon, and full marathon races.  They even have a challenge race – the Expedition Everest Challenge that combines running with obstacles and clue game challenges. Each of these races offer specific (and often times unique) courses, themes, and experiences.  Find the one that is not only right for you, but one that you believe matches your training goals.

4.  Is one enough? 

runDisney discovered that race challenges and are popular, and offer these at most event weekends. In short, a challenge is an extra incentive (usually an SMO and race shirt) you receive if you complete multiple races. These combinations can be a half marathon & 5k (Star Wars Rebel Challenge), a half marathon and 10k (Dumbo Double Dare, Glass Slipper Challenge), a half marathon and full marathon (the Goofy), or, if you are really, um, er, DOPEY, a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon all in the same weekend (the Dopey Challenge).  If you want to take on one of these challenges, you must sign up for the challenge at the time you register.  Once the challenge sells out, you cannot enter it, even if you separately register for all of the races that make up the particular challenge.


Even the starting lines are extra special.

5.  Which coast is right for you?

Do you want to run the theme parks in California or Florida? Our Team has run races in both locations, and can tell you that they offer very different experiences in everything from the nature of the courses, the amount of time you spending running in the various theme parks, and the logistics involved with travel and getting around during the race weekend itself.  As if two choices were not enough, runDisney now offers races and challenge/SMO opportunities in the Bahamas as a part of special Disney Cruise Line Vacations to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

6.  What time is right for you?

The runDisney schedule includes races in January (Florida & California), February (Florida), May (Florida & California), August (California), and November (Florida & California). In selecting an event weekend that will work for you, you have to consider what opportunities you will have to train at home. Mike ran the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon, which, while the weather conditions were perfect in Florida for the race, his long mile training took place in Ohio during the polar vortex.  Additionally, typically, race weekends do not necessarily match up with kids school vacation schedules. So that is always something to consider.


Where else do you get to run through a castle?

7.  Its all about the theme.

Part of the magic of Disney is that we all have our favorite characters and music that we love.  The different runDisney races have themes that afford you the opportunity to run with and meet your favorite characters. If you dream of a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, then the Star Wars race weekend (California) is for you. If you prefer superheroes, you may want to break through your proverbial running wall with the Avengers (California).  Disney Princesses (and the occasional non-princess) delight in their own weekend that offers both a 10k and half marathon. Foodies and wine…er, not sure what the word is…winos?…get a nighttime half marathon that finishes in the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (Florida). There are also races hosted by specific characters, such as Minnie Mouse (10k, Florida), Donald Duck (half marathon, Florida), Pluto (5k, Florida), and Stitch (5k and 10k California).  So, whatever your preferences may be, chances are, runDisney has a race theme for you.  Oh, and there is a good chance that your favorite characters and their friends (and some of their villainous counterparts), will be waiting out on the course for you.

8.  Its all about the bling.

One thing that sets runDisney apart from other events is the consistently high quality of their SMOs.  All races and challenges, other than 5ks and kids races, offer race-specific metal medals with themed event ribbons.  These medals consistently receive the highest praise in the SMOpinions from both the Casual Runner Team and our readers, and are a great addition to any Casual Runner’s  bling rack.  runDisney has even been known to step up their game for medals awarded during the anniversary years for specific event.  The kids and 5k race finishers receive rubber medallions.


Once you start collecting these awesome SMOs, you may not be able to stop.

9.  Race regret. 

Unless you are our friends Gayle and Kim, you cannot run all of the runDisney races.  You have to pick and choose, and prioritize what events you want to enter.  Be honest with yourself as to what you can afford, and stay within your limits.  There is always an explosion of social media activity before every runDisney event, and you can experience some remorse and lamentation about having decided to sit a race out.  Just stick to your plan and your budget, your time to run your own magical miles will come soon enough.

10.  Caution: runDisney events are addicting.

You know that little voice in that back of your head that says you will just do one and be done? Yeah, we’ve all been there.  Once you cross the finish line at a runDisney event, you may not be able to resist toeing the line again, we couldn’t! You’ve been warned. Now go out, have fun, and enjoy all the magical miles runDisney has to offer.

Still interested in learning more about runDisney events? Take a look at some of our past features of these great events:

The review of the 2013 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Part One, Part Two, and video recap.

The review of the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare and “signs” video.

The review of the 2013 Disneyland 10k and the all along the course video

The review of the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon and the all along the course video.

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!