Thinking about running a race at Walt Disney World with your kids? I would wager that there’s no better place to take your kids and celebrate health, exercise, and the Magic of Disney. Here are a few pointers and resources to help you get started:
PICK A RACE:
RunDisney races are held year-round in both Florida and California. There are multiple themes to choose from: the Happy Haunted 5K for Halloween, Holidays at the Jingle Jungle 5K, Classic characters at the Walt Disney World Fun Run in January, the Royal Family 5K at the Princess Half-Marathon Weekend, and many more. Races are a great way to enhance your Disney vacation: they have added a measure of behind-the-scenes fun and reward to our vacations.
Races start at about $65 per-person for registration. This includes the race expo, a running-tech t-shirt, goodie bags, race entry and bib, a finisher’s medallion, a finisher’s snack box, course entertainment, one-of-a kind photo-ops and character meet-and-greets.
The backstage views of Disney that the races provide are fun for 1st-timers and seasoned Disney vets alike. We love riding the monorail early in the morning to get to the start line: the quiet, anticipatory views of the parks shine with race day lights. It is a sight most Disney fans never get to see.
Truth is, some families could get out and walk the 5K distance without a lot training. We found that walking was okay, but want to “up the ante” and run as much of the race as we could. We needed to condition ourselves to go the 3.1 miles. We use the Jeff Galloway method of training (a specific run/walk interval that caters to your desired finish time and fitness level).
Our girls are active kids: the Galloway method has been a fun and easy way to get them to go from walking, to run/walking and in our eldest’s case, running the entire way.
We take it easy with them, setting out on 1-2 mile walk/runs at least 3 months before the start of the race. We do this 2-3 times per week. We increase the runs to 2.5-3 miles, 3 times per week. We take 5 days off , prior race day.
Training provides us with a great window into discussing nutrition, hydration and self-care with our girls. We have found that while the race and trip is a lot of fun, it is the journey and training up to race day that is the most valuable. We spend time with them and check in. We learn a lot from them when we are out on the road –their feelings, their dreams and their stories. It is time well spent.
RunDisney races start early. If you are running one of the 5Ks at Walt Disney World with your family, you need to be in your start corral by 4:30am-5pm for the 6 am start. The Kids Races start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and start later in the morning (11:00 am of the kid’s dashes and 12:00pm for the Mickey Mile).
Many families wear costumes and we were no exception! The race expo is full of vendors who sell race-day wear and the ever popular running skirts. Our girls saved their holiday pennies to buy runDisney tutus. They looked cute with matching shirts and hair bows. You can choose a family theme (we chose Disney’s Robin Hood and Maid Marion) or your own individual character. You won’t out-of-place: it adds to the fun and enjoyment of the race! Make sure you pick something comfortable and easy to exercise in – everything but face masks are welcome.
It helps to lay out your (and your kid’s) clothes and running gear the night before. This make it easier to get your kids up and out. Have a small breakfast like granola bars, apples, bananas or raisins in a plastic bag to take with you to the corral. You don’t need to check the bag: carry it in with you and throw out once you finish your snacks.
The race start is full of excitement and music to get you all going – I promise: it will wake up the sleepy heads of your family!
A race well run is worth a celebration. Plan on a celebratory meal or treat for your family. Many racers wear their medals around the parks and the Characters love it: My girls love the special “high-fives” from Mickey and his pals. The Disney Resort can also provide special in-room gifts. Our extended family sent us a Mickey Mouse cooler filled with drinks, snacks, balloons and candy for our girls. You can see the special treats available to hotel guests at Disney Floral and Gifts.
Great Resource Sites:
1.) Running at Disney: A comprehensive guide to all the Disney races, planning and best practices.
2.) Another Mother Runner: A great guide to running at WDW and across the country. Training plans, 1st-hand perspectives and giveaways round out the site.
3.) runDisney.com: The Main Mouse’s site. The list for all-things runDisney related, registration and schedules.