Several years ago, I remember waiting in line at the Epcot Character Spot, and seeing a gentleman behind us proudly wearing a medal from a run he completed that morning. I don’t believe it was a runDinsey race, because I can’t seem to line up any of our previous trips with a runDisney event, but it was probably the first time I heard of a race that gave out finisher medals to participants and not just the winners. I was impressed and intrigued.
One of my early Disney friends posted not to long after that about participating in the Expedition Everest Challenge. She made it sound like so much fun, so I looked into it. A 5K seemed like such a long distance, and I wasn’t too sure about the obstacles or the clues, so I didn’t try to push the idea on my husband too much at the time.
A year or two went by, and my husband began taking up photography, and he was getting pretty good at it. He made some online friendships with a group of Disney photography enthusiasts, many of whom were also runners. This inspired him to run, and he began looking into runDisney events. He used to run when he was younger, so the thought of getting back into shape with a goal of going to Disney where he could take more pictures was now intriguing him.
So, we bit the bullet and signed up for our first 5K at the Expedition Everest Challenge in 2012. We also signed up for the Tower or Terror 10 Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and bought fancy running shoes. Yep, we were committed.
I tried the one of the popular C25K programs, and realized quickly that I do not like to run. I never got the “runners high” that many people talk about. All I could think of when I ran was, “Is this almost over?” Part of the reason, well, most of the reason, was because I was so out of shape. The other part was because I have such bad allergies and asthma that I did most of my training indoors. It is really boring running 3.1 miles on a treadmill. Real boring.
I switched to the Galloway training method that is endorsed by runDisney. This method is an interval method designed to keep you from wearing out with scheduled walk periods. This was more my style, since I can’t seem to run more than a few minutes in a row.
The time came for our first 5K at Disney. The expo was a little disappointing compared to what I had heard about runDisney expos, but then again, this was just a 5K. The event itself was a blast. We enjoyed running through and around Animal Kingdom at night. Nighttime visits to Animal Kingdom are still somewhat rare, since the park generally closes before or just at sunset. My husband took the after party as an opportunity to take some photos of the park at night. A friendly cast member even escorted us to the bridge to Africa so he could get photos of Expedition Everest.
The obstacles were not difficult, and we were able to figure out the scavenger hunt clues fairly easily. Our run time was nothing to brag about, since we ran as a team so my husband had to run at my pace. I did find that the atmosphere of the race kept me motivated throughout the evening.
Throughout the summer, my training dwindled and I was quickly reminded that I don’t like to run. I joke that I was born a Walker (maiden name), so running was not in my nature. When the time came for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I bowed out and let my husband run alone. I was very glad that I didn’t attempt Tower of Terror. This was the inaugural Tower of Terror, and it was at the end of September. It was still crazy hot and humid, even at 10PM. There were people getting sick and passing out everywhere. First aid tents were full and every stretcher had an ill runner laying on it. I believe there was close to 1000 people that started, but didn’t finish the race. When we were at the after party, they were continuously shutting down the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to clean it because too many people were getting sick while riding. We heard numerous announcements while we waited in line saying, “If you are feeling AT ALL sick, PLEASE DO NOT RIDE!” If I had attempted that race, I would have ended up on a stretcher, for sure.
We sold my after party ticket for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon when we arrived for that race for almost as much as my bib cost. I’ll admit, runDisney races are not cheap, and there are no refunds and you cannot transfer your bib to someone else. You are able to defer to the next year, but sometimes even deferrals sell out and you are stuck with it. The nice thing about the night races is that the runner registrations come with after party tickets. Even the after party tickets sell out and become hot commodities, so when we were able to sell mine to recoup some of the cost, that was a relief.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love runDisney events! I just limit myself to 5Ks and 10Ks. I like 5Ks for the shorter distance and 10Ks for the nicer finisher medals. 🙂 My husband, on the other hand, loves the half marathons and has aspirations to complete the full marathon some day. Our annual passes coupled with the fact that we live within driving distance have definitely made it convenient to go to 4 consecutive runDisney races at Disney World. We participated in the 2014 Wine & Dine Weekend, 2015 Marathon Weekend, 2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and the final Expedition Everest Challenge this past May.
Now that we have a little baby, we’ve found a way to allow her to enjoy the fun by registering her for the runDisney Kid’s Races. Yes, runDisney wants the whole family to be able to participate and enjoy the events, so they have races for kids of all ages. Our daughter has participated in three runDisney Diaper Dashes before she could even crawl. We are proud to say that she has graduated, and is now registered for her first 100 meter dash in January for Marathon Weekend. By the way, she is currently 15 months old and still does not walk. But we’re working on it!
Registering for these events also takes training. Seriously! Now that Disney World is down to three runDisney events per year (the Tower of Terror 10 Miler was left off the 2015 calendar), the races are filling up in record time. Having an annual pass or DVC (Disney Vacation Club) membership helps, as one of the perks is early registration. The early registrations can also sell out, so you still need to be at a computer with a reliable internet connection at noon on registration day. But being an AP or DVC member just means you have a second chance to register if you miss out the first time around.
There have been rumors of an announcement in the near future for another event at Disney World, but so far the recent event additions have been at Disneyland. They have been fortunate enough to add the Avengers Half Marathon and the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekends to their calendar over on the west coast. We will probably never see an Avengers race in Florida, because of agreements between Disney and Universal, so we’ll have to fly across the country to get one of those medals. The rumors of a new WDW event have been pointing towards a Star Wars race. It would make sense, after all, if the event coincided with Star Wars Weekends. No word on yet when the announcement will be, perhaps at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in September. Although, it seems a lot of announcements will be made at the D23 Expo later this month, so that would be a little nicer.
We are currently registered for Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend for 2016, and I’m sure we’ll be attending whatever the new race might be. Let me know if you are going to be there! I’d love to meet up with people that follow my blog!!