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[Update #2 Wednesday, April 3: It appears that Active.com has opened up general registration for the WDW Marathon six days before the official registration period. We don't know how long this will last, but we've verified that the system is currently working. Good luck! Update #1: Annual Passholders can register early for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend begins today! Very limited entries are available during the early booking period. For more details, visit http://di.sn/gB8 or call 407-938-3398.]
Perhaps you're a member of our MousePad discussion board and see the Team MousePlanet forum pop up in your list of active discussions. Or you've visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World over a weekend when the place seemed to be crawling with healthy-looking people in shorts and running shoes. Maybe you've even participated in some endurance events—be it a community fun walk, 10K, or even a marathon—and have heard that there are official running events organized by Disney.
The first thing a lot of people ask about runDisney events is, "Do you do the whole marathon inside Disneyland?" While the technical answer is "no," in these events, you do get to run through the Disney theme parks.
This article is a quick overview and primer of what runDisney (Disney's division in charge of organizing all endurance events) currently offers in its list of running events.
All runDisney events occur over a weekend, so the official names for these end with "Weekend." The exception to this (and most other generalizations for these events) is the Expedition Everest Challenge, which is a very short obstacle course/scavenger hunt event held at Disney's Animal Kingdom park.
The distances you want to be familiar with are:
- Marathon – 26.2 miles. Note that a "marathon" is not a generic term for a long road race.
- Half-marathon – 13.1 miles
- 10K – pronounced "10-kay." Short for 10 kilometers, which is 6.2 miles
- 5K – pronounced "5-kay"; 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles
Most of the weekends culminate with the headlining event happening early Sunday morning, with related events happening on Fridays and Saturdays. All runDisney weekends include:
- An anchoring event of the longest distance
- A short 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) fun run/walk held either on an earlier day or earlier in the day if the anchoring event is at night
- Kids races, giving the children of the runner's family a medal-rewarding activity to also participate in
- An expo, where participants pick up their packets, running numbers, shirts, and shop for merchandise
Regardless of event, all of them offer the one thing no other running event in the world can boast: Courses that traverse through a Disney theme park. In addition, all of them are known as high-spirited events filled with fanfare and Disney characters with whom you can have meet-and-greets (albeit quick ones) during the course.
The granddaddy of all the Disney endurance events, the Walt Disney World Marathon is currently the only full marathon Disney offers. Typically held on the second full weekend in January, the Walt Disney World Marathon anchors a dizzying array of related events.
For 2014, runDisney has announced an inaugural 10K race for Friday, allowing you to register for four events (for a steep $495) to earn extra medals. The events include the following (prices shown are for early registration only):
- Walt Disney World Marathon ($160) – the 26.2-mile event is considered the headlining event, held on Sunday morning. The event is nicknamed "the Mickey" since Mickey Mouse always appears on the finisher's medal. Participant shirts are typically unisex long-sleeved tech shirts, with Mickey Mouse (no women's style).
- Walt Disney World Half Marathon ($175) – the 13.3-mile half-marathon is held on Saturday morning, the day before the marathon. Nicknamed "the Donald" since Donald Duck is the event's icon. Participant shirts are typically unisex long-sleeved tech shirts with Donald Duck (no women's style).
- New for 2014. Walt Disney World 10K ($95) – this 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run is brand new for 2014, with Minnie Mouse serving as the event's character. The 10K is scheduled for Friday morning.
- Disney Family Fun Run 5K ($60) – held in the past on Friday mornings, this 3.1-mile fun run/fun walk has been moved up to Thursday to accommodate the inaugural 10K.
- Kids Races ($15) – the weekend offers something for everyone, including children under 13 years old who can run the Mickey Mile ($30), all the way down to crawling babies for the Diaper Dash.
- Pasta in the Park Party – scheduled to occur the evening before a race, which for this weekend means a partay every night (that is, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening). Held in Epcot's World ShowPlace Pavilion, this event costs extra to attend.
- Race Retreat ($120) – concierge service for an extra fee offers things like private porta-potties and a separate tent lounge.
- Cool Down Party – at Downtown Disney, showing your medal gives you some discounts and specials.
In addition, there are two special registrations available for this weekend:
- Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge ($340) – for those "goofy" enough to complete the half-marathon on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. Finishers get a special Goofy medal. Registration price automatically includes both running events; one need not register for the marathons in addition to the Goofy. Participant shirts are typically unisex long-sleeved tech shirts, with Goofy (no women's style).
- New for 2014. Dopey Challenge ($495) – is brand new for 2014 and offers an additional medal for those dopey enough to complete the 5K, 10K, half, and full. When you complete all four events, you also automatically get a Goofy medal.
Note that in order to receive the Dopey and Goofy shirts and medals, you must register specifically for those options; registering for all the races individually does not offer the collective achievements.
Update: Descriptions at the runDisney WDW Marathon Weekend website have been updated to indicate that participant shirts for the 10K, half-marathon, marathon, Goofy, and Dopey will be available (for the first time) in both unisex and women's styles.
Important: Registration for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events opens promptly at noon Eastern on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 (one week from today). If you're considering registering for either the Goofy or Dopey, we cannot stress enough the importance of signing up as soon as registration opens. Disney limits capacity on these omnibus events; the Goofy sold out in a matter of a couple of hours for 2013. In addition, the inaugural nature of the 10K means that will also sell out fast (the inaugural Disneyland 10K sold out in a little over an hour).
Early registration options are available:
- Disney Vacation Club – If you are a DVC member, you can register starting tomorrow, April 3. Go to the DVC special offer page for details.
- Runner's World Challenge – For a "concierge" upgrade via Runner's World magazine, you can register now for the Runner's World Challenge. Not only do you get customized training advice from the staff of Runner's World magazine and other benefits, but the challenge basically upgrades everything during the weekend, including tickets to all pasta party nights and access to the race retreats for both the full and half. Be warned that the challenge doubles the cost of registration (the cost of the RW Challenge for Dopey is a whopping $999.00). You are not limited to the Dopey for the Runner's World Challenge; you can register for WDW Marathon Weekend events individually.
For complete details on the WDW Marathon Weekend (including registration), visit runDisney.com.
Scheduled on the weekend following the WDW Marathon so that it can be held over a holiday weekend, 2014 sees the third year of this popular women-focused event, held in Disneyland (January 17–19). Events include:
- Tinker Bell Half Marathon – navigates through both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland before winding through the streets of Downtown Anaheim. Considered a nicer route by many than the larger Disneyland Half Marathon, this event has had about half the registrants as that of the Princess Half. Registration for this past January was $150. Participants can typically choose either a women's or unisex long-sleeve tech shirt at the time of registration.
- Tinker Bell Half Marathon Team Category – for twice the registration price, the primary benefit is that this allows a man to win the event (but only in this team category).
- Never Land Family Fun Run 5K – happens on Saturday, offers a 5K course inside Disneyland.
- Kids Races
- Pasta in the Park Party
- Breakfast – offered after the 5K on Saturday, this is basically character breakfast at the Disneyland Hotel. This is not a full buffet, however; instead, you get a continental breakfast. You aren't paying the $69 for a biscuit; it's a meet-and-greet.
As a women-focused event, the ratio of female to male runners is about 10 to 1. Fast men should note that men are not allowed to be assigned to the first corral, and are not allowed to win overall first place. Women are encouraged to dress up in green or in fairy wings, although some complain that the wings make passing groups of runners more difficult.
This event sells out, but typically not in the first few weeks of registration. For complete details, visit runDisney.com.
The East Coast version of Tinker Bell celebrates its sixth anniversary in 2014. The participant pool is about twice the size of Tinker Bell, and also sees skewed registration with mostly women. Women are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Disney Princess, from simple tiaras to full outfits (many opt to go with an adapted runner's outfit). Events include:
- Disney's Princess Half Marathon – held on Sunday morning, the course is the same as the Donald, which means going through Magic Kingdom and finishing up by Epcot. Participants can typically choose either a women's or unisex tech shirt at the time of registration.
- Disney Royal Family 5K – offers a wonderful view as it winds its way through Epcot's World Showcase before going past Spaceship Earth and finishing up outside in the parking lot.
- Kids Races
- Pasta in the Park Party
- Race Retreat
- Breakfast on Saturday after the 5K
For complete details on the Princess, visit runDisney.com.
The most unusual of runDisney events, Expedition Everest Challenge (held in May) is itself "just" a 5K race. The twist, however, is that this is a scavenger hunt, which means you may be at an advantage if you sign up as a team. The entire event is held inside Disney's Animal Kingdom, and happens at night. Events include:
- Expedition Everest Challenge ($110 individual; $220 for two-person team) – starts at 10:00 p.m. Participants shirts are typically unisex short-sleeved tech shirts (no women's style).
- New for 2013. Expedition Everest Challenge Family Edition ($35 per person) – introduced for 2013, this event happens at 10:30 in the morning at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and allows children as young as 4 to participate. Individual registrations are not allowed; all must be a team of at least two persons, and up to six.
- Kids Races
- Pre-Race Picnic ($18) – a box lunch at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex offered on Saturday
- Post-Race Party ($39) – offered immediately after the Expedition Everest Challenge inside Disney's Animal Kingdom.
The Expedition Everest Challenge, in addition to being an unsual event for runDisney, also boasts an intriguing finisher's medal. Rather than a typical medallion, finishers in the past have received a medal in the shape of a compass. For complete details, visit runDisney.com.
Although it lacks a full marathon, the Disneyland Half, usually held over Labor Day weekend in September, is considered the signature event for Disneyland. For 2013, runDisney has introduced a 10K event. Events include:
- Disneyland Half Marathon ($175) – the 13.3-mile half-marathon is held on Sunday morning. Participant shirts are typically unisex short-sleeved tech shirts (no women's style).
- New for 2013. Disneyland 10K ($95) – this 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run is brand new for 2013. The 10K is scheduled for Saturday morning after the 5K, and has an Alice in Wonderland theme.
- Disneyland Family Fun Run 5K ($65) – held at different times in the past, including a night event, this 3.1-mile fun run/fun walk has been moved to early Saturday morning to accommodate the inaugural 10K.
- Kids Races ($20) – the weekend offers something for everyone, including children under 13 years old who can run the Mickey Mile ($30), all the way down to crawling babies for the Diaper Dash.
- Pasta in the Park Party ($109) – scheduled to occur the evening before a race, which for this weekend is before the half marathon (that is, Saturday evening). Held in Disneyland Park, this event costs extra to attend.
With the introduction of the 10K, Disneyland has entered the multiple-event achievement sphere in the way of the Dumbo Double Dare ($280), which gives participants an additional medal (presumably of Dumbo) for doing for the 10K and half-marathon.
Early registration was widely available (for Disney Visa cardholders, Disneyland annual passholders, and members of the Disney Vacation Club), which meant that what space there was left for general registration for the 10K and Dumbo Double Dare sold out in little more than an hour. Registration may not be as frenzied next year, but if you plan on signing up for any of these events, your best bet is to do so quickly.
For complete details on the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, visit runDisney.com.
Originally introduced several years ago as a 13-kilometer race, this is 10-miler is an evening event that starts at 10:00 p.m. Typically held in October, this is where runDisney has fun with a Halloween theme. A lot of runners wear costumes (not just Halloween costumes,but also mystery and science fiction, to go with the Twilight Zone theme).
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler ($150) – the main event, the course starts and ends at Disney's Hollywood Studios, with runners going out to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Participant shirts are typically unisex short-sleeved tech shirts (no women's style).
- Disney Happy Haunts 5K Trail Run ($50) – the event is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and is held at 8:00 a.m. on the same day as the 10-Miler. That means if you plan on doing both, you'll have a very long day (some might recommend a nap or some rest in the afternoon).
- Kids Races ($15) – $30 for 1-Mile Run
- Disney Villains Hollywood Bash ($54) – a party held at Disney's Hollywood Studios and targeted at the 10-Miler participants, it actually starts at 10:00 p.m., which is the start time for the 10-Miler. This does give family and friends a place to hang out and enjoy. Note that the registration cost for the 10-Miler includes admission into the bash.
Registration is currently open for all events. For complete details on the Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, visit runDisney.com.
The Disney & Dine Half Marathon Weekend anchors the end of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and 2013 is no exception. This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, November 9, and like the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, also starts at 10:00 p.m.
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon ($175) – unlike the Donald and Princess half-marathons, the Wine & Dine has a unique course that starts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, then heads through Disney's Animal Kingdom park before winding through Disney's Hollywood Studios and finishing up by Epcot. In essence, the Wine & Dine lets participants experience a course very similar to the second half of the full Walt Disney World Marathon. Participant shirts are now typically unisex long-sleeved tech shirts, although in past years they have been short-sleeved (no women's style, however).
- Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K ($50) – the course runs through Disney's Animal Kingdom park.
- Kids Races ($15) – $30 for One Mile Run
- Pre-Race Taste ($79) – held on Friday evening inside Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show inside Disney's Hollywood Studios, this event offers a taste of the Food & Wine Festial and a private performance of the stunt show.
- Finish Line Party ($74) – like the after-party for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, attendance is included for runners; the ticket price is for friends and family only. The party runs through 4:00 a.m. and allows attendees to enjoy Epcot's Food & Wine Festival after hours.
Registration is currently open for all events. For complete details on the Wine & Dine, visit runDisney.com.
Stay in the Know
While signing up for email notification from runDisney is an option, those announcements are often delayed by as much as three hours, which for a highly coveted event may be too late for you to sign up. To keep your pulse on things, subscribe to the @runDisney Twitter feed, which is very active and provides immediate updates on things like event registrations.
We also strongly encourage you to read our Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board—the forum is where we have healthy lifestyle discussions (diet, nutrition, exercise, sports and fitness) with a heavy focus on training for Disney sports events. We welcome people at all levels of ability, skill, and experience to become part of Team MousePlanet by simply joining (or lurking) on the forum.