When you think of Walt Disney World and “marathons”, you may only think of the marathon of park hopping: Waking up at 5:30 am, at the parks by 7:00 am, park hop for the next 12+ hours, head back to the hotel, pass out from exhaustion, and do it all again the next day. To your surprise, there is a whole different meaning, which includes actual marathons…which is where runDisney comes into play.
runDisney started in 1994 with its first race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. In the past 25+ years, runDisney has added many races for runners of any caliber, including our youngest of athletes! The events currently offered by runDisney include: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend in November, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, and finally, Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in April. Don’t want to run a full marathon? Don’t worry! In each of these race weekends, there are many different race options including children’s races, 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon. During each of the event weekends, about 100,000 runners and spectators trek to Walt Disney World Resort to compete in what most say, the most fun run you’ll ever race in! Want to learn more?
Lucky for us, we were able to chat with a well decorated runDisney Runner, Meghan Kelly! Meg is a two-time NYC Marathon finisher who has been running in runDisney events for the past six years. She has given us some insight into the world of runDisney! Check it out below.
Meg ran her first runDisney Race in 2016, where she competed in the Princess Half Marathon. She has competed in every Princes Half Marathon Weekend since then, including the Glass Slipper Challenge, where she ran the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon in three consecutive days! Major hardware for that!
Meg had run her whole life but always as a way to clear her head, not in a competitive form. Before 2016, Meg had run one half marathon. That 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend was truly the catalyst in her competitive running career.
What were your first impressions of your first runDisney event?
As with anything Disney, it was extremely organized and extremely over the top, which of course, is why I continue to compete in these events over and over again. runDisney makes each mile magical with photo ops and character greetings along the course. No matter what race you are in, the runDisney staff, and race organizers & sponsors do their best to inspire you, motivate you, hydrate you, and push you to the finish line.
We just signed up for our first runDisney event. Help! What do we need to know?
For each race weekend, typically, races are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These races will take place early in the morning so as not to conflict with regular theme park operating hours. Leading up to race day, runners will pick up their bibs and race shirts at the runDisney Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex located on Disney property.
Meg’s biggest tip for the expo: GO EARLY! Lines build up quickly and if you want any race gear or merch, this is one way to secure it!
Are there benefits to be staying on WDW Property during race weekends?
Transportation to and from the race is most convenient from a Walt Disney World Resort. Buses are available outside all Walt Disney World Resort lobbies. These buses will bring you to the start of the race, and pick you up at the finish line. There is lots of traffic on those days so being on property is one less obstacle you need to stress about.
Any last tips or tricks for us?
Be ready for any early wake up call. My alarm is usually set for 2:30 a.m.! I am out the door and on the bus by 3:30 a.m. This gets me to the start of the race and in my corral with little to no stress, the perfect way to start a race day. The races typically start at 5:00 a.m. This ensures that all runners will be finished by the scheduled time the theme parks are supposed to open.
Why do you continue to choose runDisney events year after year?
Throughout life, running has always been my way to clear my head and ever since I was little, I have loved coming to Walt Disney World. When I found out I could combine the two, it was a no-brainer! I have loved running in the New York City Marathon, but there is just something about the runDisney events that I never get tired of. Maybe it’s the fellow contestants and their costumes, maybe it’s running through Cinderella’s castle at dawn, maybe it’s the post-race churros, all I know is that every mile is magical even when you’re pushing yourself towards the finish line!
Does this article have you lacing up your shoes? Remember spots are limited and many races reach capacity upon registration opening, it’s best to be ready and act quickly!
Contact me today right here, to find out the best way to claim your race spot and resort reservation today!
Official runDisney website: https://www.rundisney.com/