Running and walking are, at their very core, not expensive sports. A good pair of shoes every couple of months and depending on where one lives, a selection of seasonal clothing is really all that is needed (we’ll talk about cool gadgets in another article). Where true cost comes into consideration is when a runner or walker makes the move into the world of half or full marathons, where the $100-plus entry fee can be just the beginning of what can be a very expensive weekend. So how does one go about choosing the right event to spend your hard-earned cash on?
According to a recent survey on Women’s Running.com, the number one reason given for selecting a race is location. Perhaps so, but I would like to also suggest that the finisher’s medal must run a very, very close second in importance. Observe the number of runDisney participants proudly sporting their finisher’s medals after completing a half or full marathon; for many runners and walkers, that medal won’t be taken off for days. After completing my first half marathon in 2006 at Walt Disney World, my hard-earned Donald Duck finisher’s medal didn’t come off for three days except for sleeping, showering, and going through airport security. It’s a visual symbol (along with the post-run, stiff-legged-monster walk) that you’ve joined a very exclusive club. No matter if you came in first or last, you earned it.
If you have been a long-time Disney endurance-sport participant, you probably noticed that the first four years of medals for a particular event are typically the same design, with the exception of the "inaugural" notation on the first year, and the finisher’s lanyard, which changes each year. Given the large number of first-time participants at runDisney events, keeping the design consistent provides an opportunity to earn the same medal that may have got them interested in the event in the first place. And of course, every fifth year a runDisney event is offered a special commemorative finisher’s medal is awarded to everyone who crosses the finish line.
In 2012, runDisney offered three special commemorative medals; the 15th anniversary Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the inaugural Chip n Dale Marathon Relay, and the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon. If you haven’t yet seen runDisney: The Art Behind the runDisney Medals video on YouTube.com, I would recommend taking two minutes to watch how David Brotherton, Disney art director and runDisney designer, turned his ideas for each of these events into reality. It’s a short but fascinating look at the thought, process, and Disney magic behind each runDisney medal.
To be honest, the 2012 Princess Half Marathon medal didn’t stand a chance against the other runDisney medal competition. The inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal, with its rotating pixie and distinctive fairy wings, frankly crushed the poor Princess medal in a head-to-head competition. As the fourth medal in the Disney’s Princess Half Marathon series, the once-unique crown design, while still way above most other half marathon medals, was inching closer to turning into the preverbal pumpkin no matter the color of the "crown jewel" or lanyard.
Similar to the fifth anniversary Disneyland Half Marathon medal in 2010 and the newley designed Disneyland Half Marathon medal in 2011, the 2012 Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal became the must-have runDisney medal. It wasn't uncommon to see race expo attendees in the runDisney booth gravitate to the medal display and single out the Tinker Bell medal to inspect and admire. There were a lot of very disappointed runners and walkers when they learned the inaugural event was sold out, and many made a vow to not miss the 2013 event. Could the desire to own that medal have helped drive the record-breaking sell-out pace of the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon? One has to believe it was a contributing factor.
In 2013, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon moves into the magical commemorative status with the fifth anniversary event. That’s right; it’s been five years since the Fairy Godmother, with a wave of her magic wand and a puff of pink smoke (which unfortunately choked the runners in the first corrals), opened the first women’s runDisney event. This leads to the question: Will the new medal be enough of a "wow" to help drive 2013 registration numbers to a faster sell-out than in previous years? In 2012, it took seven months and 16 days—just one week prior to the event—to reach sold-out status. Given the quality and originality of the previous runDisney anniversary finisher’s medals, it definitely could be a big decision factor for many participants. Let’s hope we get to see it before too much longer.
While a great medal can’t make up for an event plagued with issues such as the 2011 Rock n Roll Las Vegas half and full marathon, a great medal and a good location can turn a "do it once" into a "have to run again" event. And in the case of runDisney events, a great medal and a great location can help make memories that will last a lifetime.
The RunningFool Says: In 2013, the fifth anniversary Disney’s Princess Half Marathon will easily take the medal crown from the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.
(Send an email to Lorree Tachell)
Lorree is known to her friends as the RunningFool. Of the 50+ half marathons she's run since 2006, over a third have been runDisney events. She is a Disneyland Half Marathon Legacy Runner (meaning she has run it every year since its inauguration), and she looks forward to being a Perfect Princess at the Princess Half Marathon in 2013. Lorree also hopes to continue her legacy / perfect streaks with the Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Wine & Dine and Tinker Bell Half Marathons as well. In January 2013, she completed her first (and only) full marathon at the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon. "Yes, I do love running the Disney parks; there is something very special about a runDisney event."