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The mouse is out of the bag…this girl is a major Disney parks lover! Between Disney World and Disneyland, I’ve visited the parks nearly a dozen times in the last few years (and even had my bachelorette party there – catch the details here!), but you may be surprised to know that many of the trips were for RunDisney races. After completing my third and fourth RunDisney races at the 2016 Wine and Dine Half at Walt Disney World (I even got to be in a video with the Oh My Disney Team!! Click through to watch it!) and the Super Heroes Half at Disneyland with my friends from Mistfit (they make the most amazing activity trackers!!) I’ve decided to put together a post rounding up all of the reasons why YOU should totally run a RunDisney race, featuring photos and details from all of my RunDisney experiences. Whether you like or love Disney (or are a total Disnerd like me!); whether you’re an avid runner or have never really ran at all, RunDisney races are the perfect way to get fit and have a ton of fun along the way.
Click the read more button below to read all of the reasons running a RunDisney race is the best idea ever + read about my personal experience at the four RunDisney races I’ve completed, along with some tips for any first time RunDisney runners.
Before I dive in with all twelve of my reasons YOU should totally run a RunDisney race, this Oh My Disney video I got to be a part of (which was a MAJOR fan girl moment as a huge fan of the Oh My Disney blog!!) will give you a little glimpse at what race day is like.
1. It’s Perfect For First Timers
I ran my first-ever half marathon at the 2014 RunDisney Princess Half Marathon with my friend Lara (I dressed as Cinderella and she was Belle!), and I remember being so nervous. I was never a long distance runner before I started my training and following the training guide put together for beginners by RunDisney, I had only done one long, 12 mile run. But after crossing that finish line, I was hooked. In fact, the only other half marathons I’ve ran have all been RunDisney races. I loved it so much that I convinced my brother, sister and Cole, my then-fiancé, to sign up for the next year’s race, where we dressed as the Frozen ensemble (see below + keep scrolling for more photos!)
2. No Pressure
One of the things that instantly calmed my nerves at my first race was hearing that I wasn’t the only first time runner in the race. There were thousands of runners who were running their first-ever marathon. Some were planning to run the whole thing, while others did a walk run method or even walked the entire thing. It was no pressure either way, and no one took themselves too seriously, which was a huge relief for this first-timer.
3. The Races Are SO Fun You Forget You’re Running 13.1 Miles
This sounds crazy, but RunDisney events offer so much entertainment and things to see along the way that those 6, 13.1 or 26.2 (if you’re brave enough for the full marathon!) miles fly by. From the fireworks that go off before each corral group at the start line to the amazing character stops and getting to run through the theme parks before they open, there is so much to see and do along the way to the finish line. I even forgot my headphones at one of the races and was completely entertained every mile! PS – you can catch more details from my mermaid ensemble + read about why I chose Ariel as my princess inspiration on this post with Disney Style!
4. You Are SO Well Taken Care Of
For my fourth and the latest RunDisney Half I completed, my friends at Misfit sent me along to the 2016 RunDisney Avengers Half weekend in Disneyland to share my experience. I ran the entire race solo and it was so cool to take in all of the hospitality and encouragement the runners receive from the Disney staff, the local community and fellow runners. Every other mile there is water and Powerade as well as quick energy packets, food and icy hot stops along the way. The streets are filled with bands, cheerleaders and community members with posters, music and all of the encouragement you could ever need to make it to the finish line.
5. It Gives You Motivation To Work Out For Months
One of the things I love most about signing up for a half marathon is that properly training is a slow and steady process that takes weeks, so you end up getting your body in great shape during training. RunDisney races ensure you have plenty of time to train because registration opens nearly a year in advance (and sells out quick, so be sure to check up on the race you’re interested in long ahead of time!) Thankfully, last year I had my Misfit Rey tracker to help with my training so I was extra prepared for my back-to-back half marathons in Disney World and Disneyland.
6. It’s an Excuse to get Your Family to Go to Disney
Okay so this one is for my fellow Disney fans out there, but signing up for a RunDisney race gives your family a reason to go to a Disney park, even if you don’t have kids yet (which I HIGHLY suggest because it’s a totally different experience!). I’m not sure I would have been able to convince Cole, my brother and my dad (my mom and sister are easy – they love Disney as much as I do!) to go to Disney World two years in a row if we hadn’t signed up for the half marathon events.
7. It’s Acceptable to Dress Up Like a Disney Princess
Not only is it acceptable to wear a running costume that pays homage to your favorite Disney character or princess, it’s almost a requirement. Whether you decide to go all out and purchase a handmade Etsy costume like I did for my Ariel and Anna costumes, make a DIY costume like I did for my Cinderella and Elsa costumes, or simply wear the same colors as your favorite Disney character, it’s so much fun to see everyone’s unique running attire. PS – I linked up my costumes + more of my faves for you to shop at the top and bottom of this post!
8. You Don’t Feel Guilty Eating ALL of the Disney Goodies
Not that I ever feel guilty about indulging in some Mickey-shaped yumminess at Disney World or Disneyland, but you definitely deserve multiple treat yoself sessions during a half marathon weekend. During the 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, we especially indulged in beer, wine and delicious food from all around the world since we were there while the Epcot Food and Wine Festival was going on.
9. You Get Exclusive Access to Parks
One of my favorite parts about RunDisney races are getting to see the parks before they open. In most of the races I’ve ran, I got to watch the sunrise as I was running through the parks and it was so cool to see everything from that point of view (and it also made for some amazing photo opportunities!) In some races such as the Wine and Dine Half weekend, you get the option to stay after hours in an exclusive after party for runners. It was so much fun exploring Epcot until 2:00 am this year with the fam!
10. You Get Dibs on Amazing Disney Swag
The RunDisney Expos hosted at every race weekend brings some of the most amazing, hard-to-find Disney swag, such as these Ariel-inspired New Balance x RunDisney sneakers. I always wished we had an extra day just to shop and explore at the RunDisney Expos during our park trips!
11. You Get Discounts on Disney Hotels
Disney offers amazing vacation packages with discounted room rates at their hotels for all of their runs. Staying at a Disney hotel means free transportation to and from the race too! You can check out packages for Disneyland races here and options for Disney World here.
12. You Get Some Pretty Cool Bling
I’m always amazed at the creativity that goes into the medals for each of the RunDisney races. Every year features something a little bit different and you can complete different challenges for extra medals. This year I was extra excited because I got my Coast to Coast Challenge medal which you can only receive from completing a RunDisney race at Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year. Totally worth the leg pains from my back-to-back half marathons. 😉
Stay tuned for more Disney parks + travel tips here on Vandi Fair. Check out all of my travel posts here.