Aug 25, 2014

runDisney Primer | Mickey Monday

I was taking a look over my blog the other day and realized something; there isn't enough Disney on my blog. That's not to say there is none, but there certainly isn't enough for a blog with Disney in the domain. That requires a certain level of commitment, one I am fully ready to take on. With that in mind, I've decided to start a new weekly post called Mickey Monday. That way, every week on Monday you can look forward to a dose of Disney related blog goodness. Or, if you're one of those people who doesn't care for Disney (also known as "grown-up suity suit men") you can know to avoid my blog for the day. But do come back after, please. Seriously, I still want you to read. For my first officially Mickey Monday post, I'm going to give a primer on runDisney.

What is runDisney?

I thought this would be a perfect place to start. Then I tried to answer the question and I couldn't write one that I liked. So we'll take the high school graduation speech, but instead of turning to Webster's we'll turn to the runDisney site About page.
runDisney is a series of events that provides runners the unique opportunity to run through Disney Theme Parks at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and the Disneyland® Resort in California, earn Disney-themed finisher medals, experience legendary Disney entertainment & Guest Service, and ultimately celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation. 
That does a pretty good start. Usually, the first thing I would say is it is a series of races run through Disney parks filled with Disney magic. That's the side of it that's hard to put into words, the Disney magic. The races, and runDisney, are more than just the races. It is the Disney experience, the attention to detail, all the small things that pull it together. It's hard to match running down Main Street U.S.A, or out of Cinderella's Castle. The precision of how the race is run, the supplies, the service is fantastic. runDisney is how Disney does running: a step above and pace ahead.

What is there to run?

Lots of bling options, I mean distance options.
So what does runDisney have to offer for races? They have races that start with a diaper dash for the wee little ones and go all the way to a full marathon. Every race is part of a race weekend. That weekend holds a selection of events to choose from. Each include a set of kids races which vary on length allowing any kid the opportunity to run and complete their own race. They may vary race weekend to race weekend, but include distances such as 100m, 200m, 400m, 1 mile and of course the cute little diaper dash. The kids races are for those 13 and younger. All runners get a t-shirt and medal, so they won't be left out of the bling. I've seen kids in the parks with those medals, and let me tell you, they were smiling ear to ear.

For the rest of us, the kids at heart, weekends include a combination of races. Most, except for Expedition Everest Challenge, include a "long" distance, either 10 miles or half marathon. Every January, there is also a full marathon as part of Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Weekends always include a 5K distance, to help encourage everyone to take part. No matter your fitness level, you can be sure to find a distance that fits your needs.

What about the parks and the characters?

One of the most unique and magical parts of the runDisney races is the opportunity to see the parks from the soles of your running shoes. You even get to cut through backstage areas, which for a Disney geek such as myself only ADDS to the excitement. For the full marathon, for example, you run through all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT) as well as ESPN Wide World of Sports and the raceway. How often do you get to do that?

Castle Selfie
I'm about to run through Cinderella's Castle, but first, let me take a selfie!

And speaking of "how often", how often while you're running up an incline do you get yelled at by a giant plastic green army man? Do you often see Darkwing Duck as you go by or Goofy looking ready to tee off on the 16th tee. On all of the races, there will be characters to be found. They wait off to the side and you'll able to stop for a quick photo opportunity with all the characters. The longer the race, the more opportunities there will be. Certain races, like the Tower of Terror 10 Miler (ToT), lend themselves to certain themes. In the example of ToT you'll find more villians.

What do I get when I runDisney?

Ah, the swag question. As I mentioned in my last Friday Five post of Five Things I Love About runDisney, one of the things I love are the swag. Or more specifically the race shirt and medal after you complete the course. I love the quality of the technical shirts you get as well as the (literally) heavy duty medal you get. It's easily the highest quality medal I own, and there isn't even any that come remotely close.

Disney head-to-toe
In addition, when you pick up your packet, you have the expo. There is plenty of runDisney merchandise for your shopping therapy needs: pins, magnets, shirts, hats, headbands, jackets, sweatshirts, almost anything your heart desires and your wallet can handle. Then there is the rest of the expo. The size and popularity of the race will cause variations in the expo size, but all of them have something to offer. Like any race expo, you have vendors with free stuff to try and get you to buy non-free stuff. At the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend expo, the size of the expo meant lots of free stuff just for taking a walk. Have you been meaning to try a new running product? Chances are I have it there.

Then, there are the shoes. Not just any running shoes. No, these are the runDisney specially designed New Balance shoes. The first year featured a Mickey men's design and a women's Minnie. This past year featured two show types, each with their own design. This lead to a Sorcerer's Mickey Mouse and (my personal favorite) Goofy design for the lads and then a Minnie Mouse and Cinderella design for the lasses. I bought my pair not even for running, but just for occasional comfortable walking (need to make them last).

What are these "challenges" I hear so much about?

Ah, so you've heard of something like the Dopey Challenge or Glass Slipper, or maybe the Dumbo Double Dare that is about to take place in Disneyland. Many of the weekends offer some sort of official challenge, when one race and it's distance isn't enough. These various challenges involve running a minimum of 2 races, on back-to-back days, to complete the "challenge" and earn an addition medal for the accomplishment, to accompany the bragging rights. The most difficult of these is the Dopey Challenge, where in four consecutive days you run ALL of the races at WDW Marathon Weekend: the Family Fun Run 5K, the 10K, the half marathon followed by the 26.2 miles of the full marathon, resulting in 48.6 miles being conquered and earning the title of Dopey. Then, you'll likely tell yourself "never again" only to have runner's memory kick in come registration time.

Is it true you wear costumes for runDisney events?

While not a requirement, one of the awesome things about runDisney are the costumes. Like the Halloween parties, it's one of the times as an adult you can get away with a costume inside of the Disney parks. (The young of age can of course always do so, the young of heart are a little more limited.) You'll see everything from Comic-con level cosplay outfits to outfits that look like Snow White took up running to pass the time at the castle. Some may hint at a character while others are a little more obvious. In the end, you can do what best fits your style. I prefer the more outright costumes for the shorter races while sticking to the more standard running gear hinting at characters for the longer distance.

So, it's some Disney races, with nice stuff and costumes?

That's not all it is. Just like running is its own community, runDisney is its own sub-community. The easiest case in point is Team runDisney (TrD). TrD has it's own blog, full of great stories and tips. When I first started running and planning to do my half, I came across the site. Then, over a day or two, I proceeded to read every entry, every story of running at Disney. It was a fantastic guide and just helped hook me in.

Team runDisney
But wait, there's more! Team runDisney also is a very active fantabulous Facebook community. A great place to ask questions, share your accomplishments, costumes, ideas or meet runners like you. It's one of the few things I use Facebook for anymore. Lastly, but not least, they even recently started their own forums. I must admit I'm not very good at keeping up on there as much as I'd like. I just tend to forget about it.

With runDisney, like many things, you get some really passionate (in a good way) people. Many love running and love Disney. They can be great resources if you don't know much about Disney. I myself think I'm quite knowledgeable about Walt Disney World, so I love to share my knowledge and experiences. However, for Disneyland, I have zero actual experience there, so these are some of the first people I'd turn to for opinions.

This insta-connection with others is what I love about runDisney. It happens with other runners, bonding over running tales, but it is different with runDisney (to me). It's that factor, that's hard to put into words, that I love about it. I can't quite quantify it, but I could talk about it for hours, which I think speaks volumes itself. That is runDisney to me.

How about a #MickeyMonday Link-up?

That's a fantastic idea, almost like I had thought of that very question myself. This week, there is no link up, but fear not. Next week, you'll be able to find a link up on this. very. blog. I'm going to team up with Katie from Adventures by Katie (also a member of Team runDisney I might add). She already posts plenty of great Disney content, so feel free to check her blog out. If you want to join us, and why wouldn't you, prepare any Disney related post for next week. I have several runDisney related posts set for MickeyMonday, but the point is to spread the Disney love: the parks, the food, the characters, whatever your little heart desires.


  1. Such great info for anyone who is a Run Disney newbie! Love those shoes!

    1. Thanks. I tried to provide a good intro with enough details to be useful. I plan to dig a little deeper into different portions for future posts.

      I wanted the Goofy shoes as soon as I hear they were making a Goofy pair, because he's my guy. After I saw them, they were the option I liked best, even if you removed him from then. In fact, I think I'll wear them tomorrow just because.