Updated: Aug 19, 2019
RUNDISNEY RACE WEEKEND
Anyone who has been to Disney World can agree that the sheer size and amount of activities available can be overwhelming. From park hopping, to resort activities, to Disney Springs, there are a wealth of opportunities for fun.
But how does this compare to what it's like during a runDisney race weekend? How should you prepare differently than a regular Disney vacation? This blog post will provide insight into what a race weekend is like and give you some tips on how to prepare.
A RUNCATION EXPLANATION
RunDisney is the road race division of Disney and hosts several themed race weekends throughout the year at theme parks in Orlando, FL, and Paris, FR. It’s a sore subject to seasoned runDisney fans, but there used to be race weekends held at Disneyland in Anaheim that were put on hiatus without a return date. This post will focus on race weekends held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. RunDisney hosts 4 race weekends in Orlando: Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in October/November, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, and the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend in April. Each race weekend hosts 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances and Marathon Weekend in January offers the sole marathon distance race (in addition to the other distances) offered by runDisney. Each weekend also features ‘challenges’ which dares runners to complete multiple races in the same weekend for the chance to earn additional medals. For example, during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, runners can run both the 10k and half marathon races to participate in the Fairy Tale Challenge. As a result, finishers will receive both the 10k and half marathon race medals AND a Fairy Tale Challenge medal for completing both races.
ARE YOU A PRINCESS OR JEDI KNIGHT? CAN YOU GO THE DISTANCE?
Choosing which race weekend you’d like to participate ultimately comes down to your personal preferences. If you’re a princess or Star Wars fan, then participating in one of those weekends should be your priority as they are heavily themed. If you want to run a marathon, then Marathon Weekend in January is your only option. And finally, if you’re a big fan of the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, then Wine and Dine Weekend is for you. More information on each race weekend is available on runDisney’s website. Once you have decided which weekend to participate, it's now time to decide which distance you’d like to run. In making this decision, it's important to consider other factors such as your budget, time/ability to train, and any non-race plans you have while at Disney.
Budget is an important factor to consider because, as magical as they are, these are some of the most expensive races available. The average cost of a runDisney 5k is roughly $85, 10k’s are usually $125, half marathons are generally $200 and challenges range from $350-$600 (most expensive is the Dopey Challenge). In addition to race fees, you must also budget for theme park admission (no, it's not included in your race fee), hotels, food, transportation, and all of the other normal costs of travel. One other thing to consider is if your race distance (and fee) is worth the planning and travel to Disney World. For some, running a 5k is more than enough of an excuse (and celebration!) to make travel plans. For others, taking part in a longer distance race or a challenge makes a more convincing argument to participate.
Once you have an idea of how much this race weekend will cost, be honest with yourself and determine if you have the time (or willingness!) to train for the race you’re considering. If you just want an excuse to go to Disney World in January, signing up for the marathon probably isn’t the best idea! Also, take into consideration any non-race plans you have for the trip. Are you planning to ‘rope drop to fireworks’ all of the parks? Will these plans hinder your ability to enjoy or even participate in some of the races? Personally, I am running the Dopey Challenge during Marathon Weekend in January. The Dopey Challenge consists of running 4 races in 4 days, the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon totaling 48.6 magical miles. Let that sink in. 48.6 ‘magical’ miles…as much as I love Disney World, you probably won’t find me in the parks for long if at all. I have some dining reservations and plan to take some photos after each race but there probably won’t be any rope drops or fireworks in my future. If that sounds like a complete bummer or you’re questioning my sanity, then chances are the Dopey Challenge probably isn’t for you (yet!). Overall, be honest with yourself in balancing your priorities during a race weekend. Just because you’re there during Marathon Weekend, doesn’t mean you have to run it if you’d rather be in the parks!
JUST TAKE MY MONEY
Now that you have decided which race weekend and distance is right for you, its time to prepare your wallet! I’m only half-joking because these races sell. out. FAST. If you would like to participate in either a 5k or 10k during any race weekend, then listen up! These race distances are the most popular and are sure to sell out on registration day. Set your alarm, have the runDisney website open in multiple windows on your computer (I know, but just do it), and have your credit card in hand. This will ensure that you’re ready to hit that ‘register now’ button before any of the other 20,000+ people! While registering, you can also add on extras like ChEAR Squad packages, preorder merchandise, race retreat, etc. but you can always do this later when you stop sweating. For now, just make sure you’re registered for the race.
AND NOW…WE WAIT
Or not! There are lots of things to do (besides training of course) before your race weekend. As a planner, this is my favorite part of the process (lol again, besides training of course!). This is when you get to dream up what you want your experience to be like before your budget model shuts you down! Where do you want to stay?! What angle of the fireworks view will your room have?! How many times will you eat at Victoria and Albert?! The possibilities are endless. My next steps in booking the rest of my race weekend look something like this: (1) secure hotel room; (2) book dining reservations (180 days in advance), especially at popular locations; (3) book flights, hello red-eye my sweet friend; (4) start costume planning; (5) preorder must-have merchandise; (6) book fast passes (60 days in advance).
I realize not everyone is a planner, so in that case, there are many qualified travel agents that specialize in Disney vacations (and are runners themselves!). As an Orlando-native, I’m too proud to use the service but recognize that it’s a great option, especially for first-timers.
I hope this post was helpful to you all! Please leave a comment below if you have any additional tips or suggestions regarding a runDisney race weekend. Wishing you all a practically perfect race-cation!
Thanks for reading!