Why runDisney Does It Right

Now that I’ve followed along virtually with those who ran during Princess Half Marathon Weekend, my feelings about runDisney have only been further confirmed.  Although I virtually followed runners at other races this past weekend, there’s something truly magical about the runDisney races that can’t be found at many other races.

If you don’t believe me, then believe the statistics.  When registration for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon and Dumbo Double Dare opened up last month, Dumbo was sold out less than 45 minutes after registration opened.  Both the half marathon and 10k were sold out within hours of registration opening.

The 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend isn’t the only race that has sold out within a very short amount of time.  The inaugural Dopey Challenge, which Preston ran last month, sold out within three days of registration opening.  The inaugural Disney World 10k (part of Marathon weekend) and Glass Slipper Challenge (the new Princess Half Marathon challenge) also sold out the day that registration opened.

What’s the hype all about?  Why do so many people flock to their computers when runDisney race registrations open, eager to run through either Disney World or Disneyland?

There’s countless reasons.  Ask any of the thousands of people who are eagerly awaiting runDisney’s announcement of a new race later today, and I’m sure you’ll get any number of answers.  There’s been talk about new races since runDisney made their announcement about “future races” at the On the Road to Disney Parks Meetup in Atlanta back in November, and social media has been a buzz with talk about the potential races since then.  Sunday evening at Downtown Disney during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend Cool Down Party, runDisney displayed this announcement:

Photo Credit: runDisney

Photo Credit: runDisney

So why am I eager to find out what the big announcement is?  Why is it that I have found a passion for runDisney races, even after just participating in one race weekend as a runner and a second weekend as a spectator?

Photo Credit: runDisney

Photo Credit: runDisney

The races go off with a bang with fireworks!  Not only are the fireworks shot off at the very beginning of the race, but they’re shot off with the start of each corral.

Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Where else can you run a race and take pictures with some of your favorite characters along the way?

There are plenty of water and fuel stations along the route.  At the Disney World Half Marathon there were nine water and Powerade stations, as well as a Clif Shot station.  This is by far the highest percentage of water stations for the race length that either I or Preston has ever experienced.

Thanks again Lesley from Greater Fitness for making my tutu.  I loved it!

Thanks again Lesley from Greater Fitness for making my tutu. I loved it!

Where else is it socially acceptable to run in a costume, or better yet, a tutu?

One of the many amazing volunteers I encountered during my first half marathon

One of the many amazing volunteers I encountered during my first half marathon

There are more than enough volunteers along the course at runDisney races.  Not only are the volunteers in plenty, but they are also some of the most enthusiastic and supportive volunteers that I’ve ever encountered at a race.


How many other races give you race medals as large and sparkly as the runDisney ones?

After finishing a race, how many other races prepackage your food into easy to carry boxes instead of having you pick up each individual food item?  I couldn’t carry everything at the end of Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach last September and had to leave some of the food I wanted behind since it was only available in the secure finisher area and you couldn’t return once you exited.  And the food in those boxes?  Absolutely amazing!  Whoever decided to put chips and cheese in the food boxes for Marathon Weekend deserves a raise because those hit the spot!

I have yet to experience a race with as many spectators as I did while at Disney World.  Maybe this will change in the future as I run more races?

Mom and Dad in the stands at the finish line

Mom and Dad in the stands at the finish line

Not only does runDisney get runners pumped up, but they also get the spectators pumped up as well.  My parents were beyond impressed with the race announcers at the finish line and how pumped up they got the crowd going and kept the crowd going during Marathon Weekend.  runDisney certainly knows how to make the race experience magical, not just for the runners but also for the spectators themselves, particularly through the ability to participate in ChEAR Squad.

Not every race is perfect though.  What are some of runDisney’s flaws?

It isn't cheap to run a runDisney race!

It isn’t cheap to run a runDisney race!

The races and cost of travel quickly add up.  Unless I win the lottery, I won’t be able to run these races as frequently as I’d like to.

runDisney, like many other major races, likes to nickel and dime you.  Want to participate in Race Retreat?  That’ll be extra.  Want to go to the pre race dinner?  That’ll be extra.  But like I said, most other major races also nickel and dime you.  For example, Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, which Preston and I are running next month, offers runners guaranteed parking at the finish line, but for an additional cost.

Despite the couple of negatives associated with runDisney races (what race is perfect?), there’s a passion that I’ve found for runDisney races.  If money and time were of no object I’m not sure that I’d run every race, because it would cause the magic to not be so magical.  But I will be returning for another runDisney race in the future.


QOTD: What are your overall thoughts on runDisney races?

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20 Responses to Why runDisney Does It Right

  1. Yep, the demand for the Disney races is huge but I’m with you, it’s definitely expensive. However, they definitely put on a memorable race series. I ran Dopey this past year. Not exactly looking forward to seeing what kind of price increase it will be for 2015. lol. I just wish I lived closer to one of the parks, as it would be much more economical. 😉

  2. Totally agree! runDisney races are my absolute favorite!!!!

  3. kathleenb85 says:

    I haven’t run a Disney race yet, but I definitely have made a bucket list of them!! I wish I had an infinite budget too, but I’m thinking they will be around for awhile, so I’ll be able to do all the ones that I want to eventually 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    I wish I could agree with you on this. I really do. The fact is, Disney races have fallen so far from what they used to be that I’m debating the value of even hanging on to my Tinkerbell legacy status. If you’re comparing Disney to Rock and Roll races, that’s apples to apples. Both are large organizations looking to make a profit. I’ve done 4 full marathons and 21 half marathons, and Disney really doesn’t conquer in terms of anything you’ve mentioned. The medal is large, but Disney doesn’t even have the sense to change it up every year, and medal design is becoming a huge offer in many races. I did one last year for Halloween that ranks as my favorite medal in my collection. It’s as large as the Disney bling and it’s colored. In terms of people on the course, any large municipality is going to have people out cheering. Just this weekend, I did a 10K that was entirely put on by volunteers and the course support was amazing. I got a women’s shirt (which Disney has only recently gotten the message about) and there were dozens of sponsors giving out product samples and free beer at the finish line. It was in LA’s Chinatown, so there were firecrackers instead of fireworks. The cost? $38. I had a better time than I did at both Disney races I’ve done this year.
    I wish I could still stand behind the Disney races, but the fact is, I’m not having fun there anymore with the crowds, the Black Friday mentality at the expos, the people who don’t respect course etiquette and cut you off when they see a camera, and the cost. Sorry for the long response. I should probably write my own post on this, but your post just hit a nerve because I’m depressed at how much the races have changed since I started doing them.

    • Karen says:

      I am looking forward to my first WDW in January, but have these same concerns as they seem to be common complaints. I’m doing it anyway, because I’m celebrating and want to have that celebration at Disney… but I’m not sure how many I’ll do. We’ll see how it goes.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you feel they way you do. Hopefully you find the races that best suit you and your interests.

  5. Kristin says:

    Oh my gosh, your Minnie Mouse skirt sealed the deal!! You are so adorable!! Love the beautiful, invigorating pictures!!

  6. kristenk says:

    I just ran my very first Disney race this weekend (which you already know haha) and I loved it! But yeah, there were tons of crowds on the course, it was expensive, and I felt like people were a bit crazy at the expo and during the race (elbowing people out of the way, being rude, etc.). Overall I am so happy that my first half was at Disney and I loved being able to dress up and run down Main Street and through the castle. I wouldn’t trade that opportunity for anything! But when people ask if I’ll do it again next year I definitely hesitate because of the cost, the amount of people running, and the crazy humidity that I was not expecting in February! I’ll have a full race recap up tomorrow so you can check that out!

  7. Denise says:

    Your pictures are awesome 🙂 I agree with you about the runDisney races, they are so fun! I did my first two races last year (Tink and W&D) so I could Coast to Coast. I have to travel to get to either park so for cost considerations I didn’t register for the 2014 Dumbo, even though I would have really loved to run it. So I’m saving up instead to do the 2015 GSC (deferred) – and 2015 Dopey too if I can get in!

  8. I agree, I really do find runDisney races magical! As much as some people complain about them, if people still sign up, runDisney is still going to up the prices and have 26,000 runners. I think they’re best if you go in with a running-to-have-fun mentality. That’s what I did this year for Princess and had an awesome time running, stopping to take pictures, and taking everything in!

    • It definitely has a lot to do with mindset. I went into last month’s half marathon wanting to have a great time as I ran my first half, and because of that, I either didn’t encounter or neglected to notice some of the other flaws that others have pointed out on social media and on their own blogs. There are races to race for time, and others to race for fun, and Disney is definitely the place to race for fun! Are runDisney races perfect? Of course not. But what race is?

  9. OMG once in my life I will fly to the US and do a rundisney race as I just think it sounds like so much fun 🙂 I saw on my IG feed lots of photos from the race over the weekend and thought it looked amazing too.

    Love the tutu you wore for your race, so cute!

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