The Casual Runner

A Year of Running Disney

2015 runDisney Retrospective

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida; Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA; Castaway Cay, Bahamas

Events: multiple races and dates throughout 2015

After a year of completing ALL of the runDisney event weekends, what did I get out of it?  Would I do it again?  Are there races I would skip and races I will make an annual event?  Did my opinions of races change after I got away from the immediate moment and had a chance to reflect on them?

I’m sure many of our regular readers know which events constitute the runDisney race series, but since they occasionally change from year to year here’s a quick recap of what was offered in 2015:

2012-12-03_00-15-14_378What: WDW Marathon Weekend
When: mid-January 2015
Where: Walt Disney World, Florida
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, Goofy Challenge (half marathon + marathon), Dopey Challenge (all 4 races)
Races Run: 5K and half marathon

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Dopey runners overshadowed my events. Bummer.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: If you don’t Dopey, don’t bother.

What: Parks-to-Paradise 5K Challenge on Castaway Cay
When: mid-January 2015 immediately following Marathon Weekend
Where: Disney Dream cruise to Castaway Cay, Bahamas
Races Offered: 5K
Races Run: 5K

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Lovely run on Disney’s private island.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Awesome Disney cruise; nice Disney run.

CosRunning: Lightning McQueen

IMG_20150108_151216614_HDRWhat: Star Wars Weekend
When: mid-January 2015
Where: Disneyland Resort, California
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, Rebel Challenge (10k + half marathon)
Races Run: half marathon

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Wish I could’ve done Rebel Challenge.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Great course, great costumes, great fun.

What: Princess Half Marathon Weekend
When: late February 2015
Where: Walt Disney World, Florida
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, Glass Slipper Challenge (10 + half marathon)
Races Run: Glass Slipper Challenge (10K and half marathon)

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Liked this weekend better than Donald.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Ariel had fun; Ralph had flu.

CosRunning: Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

IMG_20150502_192817969_HDRWhat: Expedition Everest
When: early May 2015
Where: Walt Disney World, Florida
Races Offered: 5K scavenger hunt
Races Run: 5K scavenger hunt

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Skipped most obstacles, aced the clues.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Fun event; sorry it got cancelled.

What: Tinkerbell Weekend
When: mid-May 2015
Where: Disneyland Resort, California
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, Pixie Dust Challenge (10K + half marathon)
Races Run: Pixie Dust Challenge (10K + half marathon)

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Overall favorite of the Disneyland courses.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Strong course but theme was weak.

CosRunning: Shadow Flight & Lost Boys

IMG_20150906_065828616What: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend
When: early September 2015
Where: Disneyland Resort, California
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, Dumbo Double Dare (10K + half marathon)
Races Run: Dumbo Double Dare (10K + half marathon)

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Mental games…ran mile 10 twice.

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Smoked it; best Half time ever.

IMG_20151106_181200550What: Wine and Dine Weekend
When: early November 2015
Where: Walt Disney World, Florida
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, half marathon
Races Run: half marathon

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Bad weather, short course; still fun!

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Hurt foot; short race was godsend.

CosRunning: Monsters, Inc.!

What: Avengers Weekend
When: mid-November 2015
Where: Disneyland Resort, California
Races Offered: kids races, 5K, 10K, half marathon, Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10K + half marathon)
Races Run: Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10K + half marathon)

Jennifer’s 6-Word Story: Finished strong and faster than Jake!

Jake’s 6-Word Story: Costumes rocked even though I walked.

COMING SOON! CosRunning: Fred, Honey Lemon, and Winter Soldier


In 2015, Jake and I each covered 120.9 miles over the course of 14 races, for which we brought home 21 medals.  We completed 7 runDisney challenges.

We ran together in 7 races and ran our own races 7 times.

We ran our first international race.

Jake PR’d 4 times. While, I never did PR, I did successfully overcome a significant mental block in my final races.

We pulled costume inspiration from 14 different Disney/Marvel/Star Wars properties.

We talked friends into joining us at 6 of the event weekends, and convinced them to wear costumes with us twice.

We traveled 26,183 miles via 13 cross-country flights, 1 rental car, and 1 cruise ship.

We stayed in 7 different hotels over 44 nights.

IMG_20150108_123914488_HDRGetting there/the lead-up

To an outsider, runDisney fans can almost come across as a cult:  There are multiple social media groups across all platforms, and they have their own lingo and outlook on racing and Disney.  But they are a wealth of wisdom and information, and you shouldn’t be scared to mine them for all they’re worth.  For anyone thinking about getting into a Disney race, I highly recommend connecting with some of these groups.  You’ll learn everything from registration tips to hotel suggestions.  Plus, once you become part of the online runDisney community you’ll find yourself with instant friends at your race.

Completing a full year of running Disney requires a lot more than just “faith, trust, and pixie dust”.  You’re not training for one race and then relaxing.  You have to maintain your fitness level nearly constantly for a year.  Honestly, this became a bit overwhelming for me and at times I lost the joy of running.  There were some event weekends where I was just happy to finish, and my training runs started to feel like a job.  Luckily, I had a coach willing to help me through the rough spots and modify my plans so I could be as successful as possible (thanks, Jeff Galloway!).


My favorite courses

Although some of the individual courses are identical or so similar that they are nearly identical (WDW Marathon Weekend and WDW Princess Weekend 5K, 10K, and half marathon courses; Disneyland 10K and DL Avengers 10K courses; and DL Tinkerbell 10K and DL Star Wars 10K courses), each race is unique and has its own pros and cons.  Overall, the Disneyland 10K courses were my favorites, mostly because we are in the parks for so much of the races.  Here’s how I rank them all:

  1. Captain America 10K (DL Avengers weekend)
  2. Disneyland 10K (DL Disneyland weekend)
  3. Tinker Bell 10K (DL Tinker Bell weekend)
  4. Expedition Everest 5K and scavenger hunt (WDW Expedition Everest)
  5. Tinker Bell half marathon (DL Tinker Bell weekend)
  6. Star Wars half marathon (DL Star Wars weekend)
  7. Wine and Dine half marathon (WDW Wine and Dine weekend)
  8. Castaway Cay 5K (Disney Dream cruise)
  9. Avengers half marathon (DL Avengers weekend)
  10. Pluto’s 5K (WDW Marathon weekend)
  11. Enchanted 10K (WDW Princess weekend)
  12. Disneyland half marathon (DL Disneyland weekend)
  13. Princess half marathon (WDW Princess weekend)
  14. Donald’s half marathon (WDW Marathon weekend)

The SMOpinion

IMG_20151115_171332242It was all worth it for this picture…

Looking back now

Jake and I are lucky that we have the time and resources to take on outlandish goals that involve 8 trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World as well as a Caribbean cruise.  Please understand that I fully recognize this and appreciate that my life situation permitted this opportunity.

On the one hand, Disney races are spectacles that really have to be experienced to be believed.  Other races may offer more history or wider vendor selection at the expos or don’t require a cross-country trip to do it.  But there’s an element of fun and whimsy in every runDisney race from the costume suggestions posted in social media to the cheesy storylines performed by the race announcers to the character stops on course.  There really is something special about each runDisney experience.

Even so, I’m glad this year is over because it has been exhausting and frustrating at points.  When you’re on your 4th race and 3rd city in 10 days and fighting off the flu, it is really tempting to stay in bed rather than getting up for the pre-dawn starting line.  There were times when only the sparkle of the medal got me out the door because I was sick of running.  And as fun as it is to go to Disney parks between the races, by November we were barely going on rides anymore.  Our lives revolved around Disney for a year between the training and the costume preparation and the traveling.  I’m looking forward to taking on new opportunities in the next year.

Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely.

Will I do another year of every Disney weekend?  Probably not.

Will I continue to runDisney?  We’re already signed up for the two 2016 Star Wars weekends, so that would a yes! We will see you at Disney!

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One thought on “A Year of Running Disney

  1. Pingback: The Casual Runner | COSRUNNING: BIG HERO FRED - The Casual Runner

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