So I signed up for another distance race. On November 10th, I will be running my 3rd Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon, in what will be the 3rd year of the event. I’m obviously a fan of the race, and this will be the 6th runDisney event that I’ve entered since 2010.
Why Do I Keep Coming Back?
- Location A big part of it is convenience. I live about 45 minutes from WDW, so being able to run a local race cuts down on some of the extraneous costs associated with traveling to an out of town race. I don’t have to pay for a hotel or restaurant meals, airfare, or anything else that pops up for a destination race, which is nice.
- Big Race While some people might be turned off by running a race with 10,000 of their newest friends, I find it totally inspiring. You see, before my first long race (which was a full marathon–smart choice eh?) I had the picture in my head of what distance runners looked like–and I didn’t fit in at all. I thought most distance runners wore those short running shorts and tank tops. I thought that serious runners were rail skinny and had legs up to their armpits. While there are some of “those runners” that show up to a runDisney event, they are hardly the norm. In fact, I’d say there really isn’t a norm for appearance at a Disney race. There are literally people of every shape and size that complete these events, and you don’t often get that type of a ratio in similar races of a smaller size, in my experience anyway. So, for this fact alone, I love the size of the race for the inspiration I get from the multitude of runners.
- Bling The medals are pretty cool. Finishing any long race is a great accomplishment, and when you get a big medal to hang around your neck it feels pretty awesome. The medals are a great memento of the race and the dedication to training you had to put in to complete the race. And it’s awesome walking around with the medal receiving congratulations from so many random people during the rest of your time at the parks.
- Guest Relations Disney also knows how to take feedback from their guests, and at a runDisney event, the runners are their guests. After the race, you may get an email with a survey in it to fill out regarding your experience during the race weekend, from the expo all the way through the post race festivities. While this isn’t something that I would consider uncommon, I like to feel like my voice is being heard. And after seeing the difference between the first and second runnings of this race, Disney definitely paid attention to some of the details that were poorly thought out in the first race and made some great changes for the second year. While they didn’t heed all of my requests (the water station at mile 1 was a gigantic bottleneck both years) the changes they made for the finish location, bag check, and party in the park were fantastic. And who knows, maybe this year those not wanting water at the first mile won’t be hemmed in because of the set up of the station.
Enough About Me, What are The Real Reasons People Sign Up for a runDisney Race?
- Vacation Excuse Name a better destination race. I don’t think you can. Sure, certain people might have a place they’d rather run than Disney, but for the masses it doesn’t get much better. Especially those runners that can’t go on a vacation without running, this is a great excuse. Bring the family along for the sights and the fun, and no one will give you a hard time when you go for a run. I mean, that’s the purpose of the trip!
- Clever Sayings The marketing possibilities are endless, and Disney takes full advantage. Whether it’s the Happiest Race on Earth, Running with Pixie Dust, 26.2/13.1 Magical Miles, or whatever other saying they use for a specific race, the marketing for the races are dynamite. And even though your rational mind knows that these are just clever marketing gimmicks, you still can’t help but smile and enjoy running the Wine and Dine, or any other runDisney event.
- Fast Course In WDW races at least, the layout tends to be a pretty easy, flat course. These races probably get more 1st time runners than any other because the course is pretty flat. While I’m one of the idiots that enjoy a few hills during a run, most would prefer something without much elevation change. And that is what Disney delivers. And if you’re looking for a PR, there’s nothing better than a flat course for that either.
- Character CheerleadersThe on course entertainment is pretty good. While some races have bands and music at different places throughout the course, it would be hard to beat stopping for photos with Mickey and the gang along the way. There are literally dozens of characters out on the course cheering on runners and posing for pictures, and you just can’t get that kind of vibe at any random local race.
Are There Any Negatives About a runDisney Race?
- Price To me, this is the biggest issue to running these races. They are pricey. But if the races fill to capacity, why should Disney think about lowering the price? As long as the benefits of the race are enough to justify the cost, runners will keep signing up. And to date, more and more keep signing up. So the price point probably won’t be changing.
- Packet Quality Worst. Goody. Bag. Ever. If you’ve never participated in a Disney race before, prepare to be disappointed by the goody bag. Basically, all you get besides the shirt (which is usually good) are coupons for overpriced, non-Disney merchandise and ads for other races. Although, last year’s Wine and Dine bag did come with a preloaded money card for the post race party, which was pretty awesome. But overall, I’d have to say the bags have typically been a let down to me.
- Refreshments A banana, maybe a bagel, and some PowerAde is about all you can expect. Although for the Wine and Dine race, the party in the park afterward does have plenty of food and beverages available. You have to pay for those items, though. But if we get the pre-loaded card again this year….
As with any race, there are going to be some things that work better than others. And there is no way to make everyone happy in every aspect of the race. Overall, they must do a pretty good job since every race every year seems to be bigger than before. And there are people like me that end up running a race or two every year, despite the little things that may irk some of us.
Running a Disney race is an experience that will be difficult to equal at any other race, so I’d recommend adding a runDisney event to your running bucket list. You may not make a habit of running them, but you’ll enjoy doing a race once. Guaranteed.
For those running your first runDisney race, enjoy it. Soak in the atmosphere and all of the on route entertainment, because it really is something special.
And for those joining me in running this race again, I’ll see you on Soarin’ shortly after midnight.
Are you running the 2012 Wine and Dine Half Marathon? Or another upcoming race? Are you new to runDisney events, or have you done it a few times? I’d love to hear your story and why you are running in the comments section!
*Disclaimer–DK FitSolutions is not associated with runDisney in any way. Any inaccuracies are unintentional, and all views presented are solely those of the author.