Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is It Worth It? runDisney

So here I am, one year removed from my first half and full marathon. One year removed from my first and only runDisney race. Jason may be the more qualified person to write this article from that stand point, but I'm going to go with it anyway.

You may be asking yourself, what is runDisney? Actually, if you've made your way here you probably know exactly what is it, but let's pretend, shall we? runDisney is the arm of The Walt Disney Company that puts on the various races in the Disney theme parks. As of this writing, there are eight different races. Four are in Orlando and four are in Anaheim. Although Orlando is losing the Expedition Everest Challenge after this year and the Tower of Terror Ten Miler is on hiatus, so it isn't counted in the total. So let's get to the meat and potatoes of this article.

Price

Running a runDisney is on the pricey side. Yes, it's Disney, and you're running through the parks, getting character photos, and getting really cool medals and shirts. But when you compare it to similar races, both on a local and national level, it's expensive. Back when I was first looking in to running Disney races (2011), the DisneyLand Half Marathon was $130. This year the price is $199, You can (if you can qualify, or get picked in the lottery) run the Chicago Marathon for $185! And if you're planning on running the challenges? You're going to drop north of $300 for a regular challenge, and over $500 for Dopey! And that is Just for the race entry. Let's also factor in all the extras that you can pay for. The race retreat, pasta party in the park, ChEAR squad, and of course, MERCH.

Let's also talk about the newly announced Disneland Paris Half marathon. I feel like while this is targeted toward Europeans, I have no doubt that TWDC will market this hard towards Americans. Plane flight, passport, Parisian hotels. I see the dollar signs piling up.

In the end, it's all a matter of priority, but I feel like if you're in for a rD race, your cost is significantly higher than some of the other major races. Oh, and don't wait if you want to get in on most races. they typically sell out in a couple of hours.

Crowd

Let's not kid ourselves, Disney is insanely popular. And since it is so popular, there are a lot of people who want to run there. And there are also a lot of people who run their first races at these events. I was one of them. It was my first half and full marathon. It's very exciting, but it's also VERY crowded on the course. I was in the last corral for the 2014 Goofy Challenge, so when I got out of Magic Kingdom during the half, I had to either walk, like 99% of people were doing on that one lane road, or I could run in the mud on the side of the road down the hill. Fortunately the marathon was less congested, but if you wanted a picture with a character? Good luck waiting in that line while stressing about the 16 min/mile time limit (the balloon ladies are coming). On the plus side, the parks didn't seem to be overly crowded even with all the runners around. An the terrain of the races are good. Mostly flat, excluding the the ramps you run up and down, but they are too bad. Oh and the speedway. I hate the entrance to the speedway. Want to know why? Read my 2014 Marathon recap.

Drama

Ok, so let me get this out there. I HATE drama. Hate it. Like, seriously. I wish everyone could get along. But when it comes to Disney, there is always some kind of drama. Most of it dumb, in my opinion. But it's not so much during the race, as it is on social media, which is why I think it's so dumb. Yes I've heard the stories of people breaking down crying as the sweepers take them off the course. I do feel bad for them. But, as they say, rules is rules. I'm always very cautious about recommending facebook groups of runDisney runners and podcasts about runDisney to new people. Back when I was training for Goofy, there was one podcast in particular who told people that regardless of their training, under no circumstance should they attempt a challenge as their first races. Obviously I disagreed and didn't listen, but I often wonder if they knew the harm they could be doing. 

The biggest problem I have with the groups and podcasts mentioned previously are the people who act like they are the end all be all of rD and the community. I've been lucky to find a few group who are so supportive of each other, no matter what. And if it weren't for them, I probably wouldn't be able to keep up my training as often as I do. I'm also glad (even if I wanted to be a part of one) rD aren't doing meetups right now. The hate and vitriol surrounding those was awful.

So is runDisney worth it?

This is an answer you have to decide yourself. For me, I think it is. I look forward to the different races, even if they do cost an arm and a leg. And even if I don't get to run any, I do get to see friends participate via twitter and facebook. I love Disney (obv.). I wouldn't have started this site with Jason if I didn't. But you have to balance your expectations when it comes to these events. So in conclusion, here are some things I recommend doing to maximize your runDisney experience.

1. Get to the expo early - You want to make sure you get the merch that YOU want, so you have to beat the ebayers there. And yes, there are well known bloggers in the disney community who are guilty of it. the only way to ensure you get what you want is to beat them to the punch.

2. Have a plan for registration - I'm not saying you need to take the day of registration off work. but you do need to have a strategy. Especially if you are planning on doing a challenge race. If for some reason you don't get in, you can always run with a charity. It's a great experience that benefits both you and the organization you run for. I ran with AT Children's Project and absolutely loved it.

3. Hakuna Matata - What a wonderful phrase! But seriously, relax and enjoy. You're running races in The Most Magical Place on Earth! Trust your training, get the pics you want, and above all else, HAVE FUN!

Until next time, have a magical day!

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