More than 44,000 runners of all ages enjoyed the four-day Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort. // © 2017 Walt Disney World
Feature image (above): Orange County, Calif., resident Jennifer Serna won first place in the annual Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort. // © 2017 Disneyland Resort
With races that span from a full 26.2-mile marathon to a “Diaper Dash” for crawlers younger than 1 year old, there is something for everyone at runDisney race events.
“RunDisney gave us an opportunity to create exciting events that appeal to a broad audience,” explained Tina Trybus, manager of marketing strategy for Disney Sports and Youth Programs. “From elite athletes to first-time runners, runDisney races give friends and families a chance to participate in race weekends that are unlike any others.”
Trybus points out that through franchises such as Disney Princess, Marvel and “Star Wars,” Disney has the ability to connect runners with the characters and stories they love.
Disney Park Events
Every January, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., hosts a fun-filled weekend of races for everyone in the family. In addition to marking the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, in 2018, the resort will stage half-marathon, 10K, 5K and runDisney kids’ races, plus Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and the 5th anniversary Dopey Challenge, in which participants run all four races — the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and full marathon — over four consecutive days.
The only full marathon of the entire runDisney slate of events takes place on the most magical 26.2-mile course on earth, through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and all four Walt Disney World theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Racers who register for the marathon are also eligible to participate in Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, but there’s certainly nothing goofy about this two-day, 39.3-mile event, which combines Saturday’s half-marathon with Sunday’s full marathon. Runners who complete both races within the pacing requirements earn the coveted Goofy Medal in addition to their Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse finisher medals.
Across the country, at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., Labor Day weekend is when runners of all ages take off for a 13.1-mile “Happiest Race on Earth” through Disney California Adventure and Disneyland to a surprise-filled finish near Disneyland Hotel. In addition, there are 10K, 5K and kids’ races scheduled, with Disney characters cheering participants on every step of the way. Racers who take on the Disneyland Double Dare challenge will run the 10K on Saturday, followed by the half marathon on Sunday.
‘Star Wars’ Events
In the tradition of the “Star Wars” saga’s continuing battle between the light side and the dark side of the force, Disney offers runners the chance to choose their destiny at two half-marathon events: the Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side, at Walt Disney World Resort in April, and the Star Wars Half Marathon - The Light Side, at Disneyland Resort next January.
The power of the force meets the magic of Disney at both events, which also include 10K, 5K and runDisney kids’ races, as well as challenges that combine participation in both the 10K and half-marathon in a single weekend. Whether running for the light side or the dark side, the force will be with racers at both events.
Princess and Tinker Bell Events
Girls and women of all ages can channel their inner princess or fairy for two magical women’s-themed race events.
In February, Walt Disney World Resort hosts the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. For princesses who are truly royal, the Glass Slipper Challenge is a 19.3-mile adventure held over two days, with participants running the Disney Enchanted 10K on Saturday, followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.
In May, runners can put on real or imaginary fairy wings and fly through the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort. For racers looking for more adventure, the Pixie Dust Challenge combines the 13.1-mile Tinker Bell Half Marathon with the 6.2-mile Tinker Bell 10K.
Super Heroes Event
Marvel fans will assemble in November at Disneyland Resort for the power-packed Avengers-themed Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. Racers who take on the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge will put their superhero skills to the test by running the half-marathon and the Super Heroes 10K for a total of 19.3 miles through Disneyland Resort and the streets of Anaheim.
RunDisney Kids’ Races
Little runners — and crawlers — can get into the action at runDisney events by participating in kids’ races. There’s a 100-meter dash for ages 1 to 3; a 200-meter dash for ages 4 to 6; a 400-meter dash for ages 7 to 8; and an adorable Diaper Dash for crawlers 12 months and younger. Parents can race with their kids, but only registered children receive special finisher medallions. During the Walt Disney World race events, kids ages 13 and younger can also participate in a 1-mile run.
When runners visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World, the fun doesn’t stop at the finish line. Both resorts offer great travel packages so the whole family can enjoy the parks after the racing is over.
“By designing destination races that are uniquely Disney, runDisney gives participants the opportunity to run through their favorite Disney parks; earn Disney-themed finisher medals; experience legendary Disney entertainment and guest service; and, ultimately, celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation,” Trybus said.
All runDisney race participants receive a commemorative Disney-themed finisher medal; an official race shirt; an official digital event guide; a virtual goody bag; a personalized race bib; on-course and post-race refreshments; and a ChronoTrack B-Tag timed race with live runner tracking signup for friends and family.
In addition, transportation to race events is included with stays at Walt Disney World Resort hotels. The on-site hotels at Disneyland Resort are within walking distance of all race events, but transportation is included from select off-property Anaheim-area hotels.