Have you ever considered participating in a runDisney event but weren’t sure if it was something you would enjoy?
Good news! We just participated in the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Event Weekend and I can assure you it’s fun and inclusive!
We were very worried about participating in our first runDisney event, but it was not only doable, it was fun too! Plus, the 5K event is a family friendly run! They also offer events for kids during the runDisney weekends.
It’s very easy to participate in a runDisney Event.
You just locate an event you would like to do on the runDisney Events button at the top of the page. They even offer Virtual events you can do from your own home town at your own pace.
How far is it?
Usually they will offer a 5K (3.1 miles,) 10K (6.2 miles,) and a half (13.1 miles) or full marathon(26.2 miles.) 10K and up have a minimum requirement of 16 minutes a mile for time, but the 5K does not. Keep in mind the 10K and up have a minimum age of 14 to participate. Keep in mind they also offer special “Challenges” for running more than one race and they have medals for those as well.
If you are looking to start out the 5K is a great choice, plus it’s fun, there are character meet and greets, cast members and “cheerleaders” urging you on and kids are allowed to participate, as long as they are 5 years old by race day. We saw many people of all different fitness levels walking, running, and a bit of both, on race day.
Here’s what you do.
First you need to register for the runDisney events. You can book a package through a runDisney authorized travel agent (we recommend Mickey Vacations or you can call them directly at (609) 978-0740) You can also locate which one you would like to do and register through the runDisney site. You will be transferred to Active.com to complete registration. There is a registration fee for these runs, but they include medals, bibs, t-shirts, and more.
When you arrive for your stay at the parks you will need to head over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex during their Health and Fitness Expo times to pick up your bib and t-shirt.
At the expo you can check out vendors that are offering health and fitness merchandise and there are some special photo ops available. The host resorts for the event will offer special buses to and from the ESPN Complex.
You can also stop by the runDisney merchandise area and pick up event exclusive merchandise. They offer T-shirts, hats, pins, special Dooney and Bourke bags, athletic wear and more! They also have some great photo opportunities. They even had Jabba the Hut there during the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Event.
Now you are ready for race day. Make sure to attach your running bib to your shirt with your information visible. The bibs will list your number, name (if you booked by the name printing cut off,) and corral number.
There are buses that will pick participants up in the early morning hours. We caught our bus around 3:45 AM. They will take you over near the starting line and drop you off.
**There are bathrooms available at the starting line/finish line areas. Runners can use bathrooms along the course as well.
You will proceed to the starting area (just follow the herd,) and if you have a bag, pouch, fanny pack, etc. there is a bag check area. If you have items you don’t want to run with (like jackets, big bags, etc.) they give you a clear bag when they give you your shirt at the Expo. Put items into the bag and check it at the designated area. Then you can pick them up after the race is over.
I believe the longer runs will have extra steps with trackers and such, because they do let you know where you placed later one.
Once you are ready, there will be a section of starting corrals that are marked by letters. Just find the large letter on the upper right hand corner of your bib, and go to that corral area. The earlier you get in the closer to the front of your corral you will be.
Before the race starts they will do a pre-show event on a stage by the starting line (also visible on big screens in the front of each corral.) Close to the start of the race they will start emptying the corrals into the starting area, beginning with Corral A. (Now I can only speak for the 5K, if anyone can explain any differences to the longer runs please share!)
There are many starts to the 5K as each corral goes in waves. But, this means that a 5:30 AM race start might not equal that start time for you waiting. I didn’t start until much, much later, well after 6AM. But the energy is amazing. People are so excited and very supportive of each other. It’s just a uplifting event! Plus the costumes! People come in costumes that they can run in and it’s great! So much fun!
After the race start you will run, jog, or walk onto the track.
The Running Track
Each mile is marked so you know where you are at. For the 5K the track went around the parking lot, behind Test Track and into the World Showcase.
It was so cool! The torches were lit, the buildings were lit, and there were amazing character photo opportunities throughout! There are cast members and people acting as cheerleaders cheering you on. It’s really an energized and positive experience!
(please excuse the jiggly video..we were in motion)
The track took us around most of the world showcase and down to the International Gateway, around the back and out again into the UK by the red telephone booths, then out through Future World toward Spaceship Earth. Then we turned left through the Character areas and past the Land, back through the Character areas, past Spaceship Earth and out behind the Universe of Energy (Where the Guardians of the Galaxy Construction is taking place) and back out to the parking lot to the finish line.
The last bit behind the Universe of Energy and into the parking lot they had meet and greets for several Star Wars characters. You are allowed to line up, the lines aren’t bad at all.
After you cross the finish line you get your 5K medal and they give you drinks and fruit. You are free to return to the bus pick up and go back to your hotel. You can also pick up any checked items or go to the reunion area to meet with family that might have been in the spectator stands.
There are different tracks for each event. The 5K was through Epcot.
We were worried because it was our first time, but it was really simple if you follow the steps. They make it very easy for you to participate! If you haven’t done one we strongly recommend it! I can’t wait to try again. I think I would like to try the Wine and Dine in November or the Princess Half Marathon Events in February. I think we’re going to do the 5K and the 10K next time.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask or if you are a seasoned runDisney participant please feel free to share more info about the 10K or longer runs. Tips and helpful information in the comments section below. We would love to learn what we can from you.
Wanna go to Disney?
We recommend Academy Travel, a Disney Diamond Earmarked agency. Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World and more -- they can do it all, and at no extra cost to you! Fill out the form below or call 609-978-0740 today!