Ultimate Guide to runDisney Events: Run Through the Disney Parks

runDisney races are just another part of the Disney family that keeps guests coming back for more.  While other races offer that competitive spirit, Disney sponsored runs are indeed the most magical.  Where else can you run through a Disney theme park and see some of your favorite characters while hundreds of Disney fans cheer for you?  Plus, you’ll see the best cosplay this side of Comic-Con.

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runDisney is the official host of Disney races which began a few decades ago.  The runs started in 1994 at Walt Disney World Resort where they are still going strong today.  The Anaheim location joined in for almost a decade but has recently put the races on hiatus.  Disneyland Paris added races in 2016.

Disneyland runDisney Events- On Hiatus

The first Disneyland runs were a 5K and a full marathon in 1995.  It was scheduled just a few weeks after the LA Marathon which may have led to its downfall.  There’s not been a marathon on west coast Disney property since.  It wasn’t until 2006 that Disneyland starting taking the runDisney races seriously.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend ran on Labor Day weekend.  It included the 10K (added in 2013) a 5K and runDisney Kids Dashes.  The Dumbo Dare Challenge (10K and half marathon) launched in 2013.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend debuted in 2012 on Mother’s Day weekend.  Athletes could choose a 5K, 10K, and/or half marathon or all three as well as the runDisney Kids Dashes.  The 2015 inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge was the combined 10K and half marathon.

With both Marvel and Star Wars welcomed into the Disney family, more race themes were inevitable.  Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Race Weekend debuted in November of 2014.  The weekend events included a 5K, 10K, and half marathon as well as the races for the smaller heroes.  And, like the other race weekends, a challenge was thrown- actually the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge- which included the 10K and the half marathon.

Finally, to appease the Jedi within, Disneyland Resort offered the Star Wars Half Marathon- Light Side Races for the January slot.  Runners could select a 5K, 10K, and/or half marathon.   The Rebel Run Challenge included the 10K and half marathon.  Again, smaller Skywalkers could choose a Kids’ Dash race.

The last runDisney events hosted at Disneyland Resort were the during the Super Heroes Race Weekend November 2017.  Soon after, Disneyland halted all future races and put them on an indefinite hiatus.  The most feasible reason is due to the expansion of the park to include Galaxy’s Edge: Star Wars.  There has not been any word yet if the races will return once the new land opens but many of us have our fingers and running shoelaces crossed.

Walt Disney World runDisney Events

runDisney race going down Main Street towards Cinderella's Castle

runDisney hosts four separate race weekends at Florida’s Disney destination.  So, if you are interested in a running event, there are several from which to choose.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

January kicks off the race season at Walt Disney World Resort.  The second weekend of the month now hosts Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  Guests can choose a multitude of race options including a 5K, 10K, half marathon and FULL marathon.  Participants can run one, two, three, or all four races!  Each race course is specific to the race distance with favorite characters along the way for photo ops.

The weekend begins on the Wednesday before prior with the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo.  This event operates four days at which potential runners can hear keynote fitness speakers, check out the newest race merchandise, and score plenty of power bars.  Racers can also pick up their running bibs and specialized race shirts during this time.

Walt Disney World 5K Race

The 5K race features a 3.1 mile run through EPCOT early Thursday morning where finishers receive the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit medal.  Typically, the medal line-up for the four races represents Disney’s “Fab Four”- Pluto, Minnie, Donald, and Mickey.  But this year’s 5K mascot was Oswald!

Walt Disney World 10K Race

Friday morning will find racers ready to cover the 6.2 mile course through Walt Disney World Resort.  Minnie Mouse hosts this great warm-up race for athletes planning to run the longer courses on the weekend.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

For the half marathon, Saturday morning racers join their favorite duck on this 13.1 mile journey through the theme park with the start and finish in EPCOT’S parking lot.  Qualifiers receive the Donald Duck medal.

Walt Disney World Full Marathon

And what would a runDisney race weekend be without the big cheese himself?  Mickey hosts this race- a whopping 26.2 miles.  The Sunday morning course covers all four Walt Disney World parks- EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Runners will also take a quick trek through ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex.  Completion of this race garners the Mickey Mouse medal.

runDisney Challenges

If the half marathon or full marathon aren’t challenging enough, runDisney offers both the Goofy and Dopey challenges – because you’d have to be goofy and dopey to want to run these!

Goofy Race and Half Challenge

Racers finishing this challenge receive three medals total – Donald for the half marathon and Mickey for completing the full marathon.  The Goofy medal is added to the bling pile for crossing the finish line on this challenge.

Dopey Challenge

Imagine covering ALL four races?  Athletes from all over accept the challenge to run the 5K, the 10K, the half marathon, AND the full marathon for a total of 48.6 miles!  Those who complete the Dopey Challenge receive SIX medals – one for each of the individual races, the Goofy Race and Half medal, and the Dopey medal for completing the challenge.

Castaway Cay Challenge

Runners can also cover a land AND sea challenge.  Guests complete one of the four races during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, then on that following Monday, sail aboard one of the Disney cruise ships to head to Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private island.  Racers just need to complete the 5K on the island in order to secure the medal for this challenge.  The medal usually depicts Mickey and the cruise ship.

More Need to Know runDisney Information!

runDisney Kids Dashes

Smaller guests also have the option of their own race if the other runs seem too daunting.  Kids and infants up to the age of 13 can choose from four races specialized just for them!

  • Diaper Dash for Crawlers for 12 months and younger.
  • 100-meter dash for youngsters ages 1-4.
  • 200-meter dash for 5-8 year-olds.
  • One-mile run for athletes ages 4-13.

The fun event takes place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World Resort usually on that Friday morning after the 10K has finished.  Parents can run along side their kiddos and everyone receives a participant medal.

Race Retreat Package

The Race Retreat Package is the ultimate addition to make your race complete.  This VIP treatment includes:

  • Early entry into the Health and Fitness Expo on Wednesday (the first day)
  • Private finish line hospitality tent with live feed and results
  • Snacks and beverage pre-race
  • Private restrooms, changing facility, and security bag check
  • Catered post-race brunch
  • runDisney keepsake

ChEAR Squad

The ChEAR Squad lets spectators cheer on their favorite racers at a designated location and the participant will receive commemorative gifts for their support.

  • The Gold ChEAR Squad- Supporters will receive a ChEAR Squad bag, stadium blanket, and cowbell with a viewing area near Cinderella’s Castle in The Magic Kingdom, along with beverages and private restrooms.
  • The Platinum ChEAR Squad- Fans receive all the Gold amenities AND continental breakfast, catered lunch, character experiences, and hospitality tent with live feed and race results.

Prices

As you can see, there is plenty from which to choose even if you don’t run the races.  But, your funds may limit you as everything mentioned has a price.  Costs tend to go up every year so if you’re interested in any of the events, its best to check the runDisney website for updated prices.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Runners can have a happily-ever-after race retreat in mid-February with the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  Races include a 5K, 10K, and a half marathon filled with Disney’s princesses and their supporting characters.  These races are for princesses and princess of all race levels.  The medals received feature princesses but every year the theme rotates.  Again, corresponding race shirts and runners’ bibs can be picked up at the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo which opens the Thursday prior to races.

Disney Princess 5K

This magical 3.1 mile race has its own course which starts and finishes at the EPCOT parking lot on the Friday of the event weekend.  Racers will receive a designated royal medal.

Disney Princess Enchanted 10K

Princesses and princess alike will cover 6.2 miles on this course around Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday.  Finishers will receive the 10K medal.

Disney Princess Half Marathon

Chase your fantasy ending in this 13.1 mile Sunday race through Walt Disney World Resort with Disney’s favorite royalty cheering you on!  Runners will receive the finisher’s bling.

Disney Fairy Tale Challenge

Athletes can earn the coveted Disney Fairy Tale Challenge medal by running both the Enchanted 10K and Disney Princess Half Marathon races for a combined total of 19.3.  Runners will receive three medals total – one for each individual race then the challenge medal along with all three shirts for each event.

Like all runDisney race weekends, the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend offers the runDisney Kids Dashes, Race Retreat and ChEAR Squad packages.  Prices and events are usually the same each weekend but themed to the event.

Star Wars Rival Run Race Weekend

What used to be the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend- The Dark Side in mid-January has changed to Star Wars Rival Run Weekend in April.  As mentioned prior, Disneyland Resort hosted the Light Side Race Weekend to complement the Dark Side Race Weekend but with the hiatus of the west coast races, runDisney reschedule the Star Wars theme event.  The April runs are hosted on the first April weekend with the runDisney Health Fitness Expo kicking it off on the Thursday prior.  Tee-shirts and runners’ bibs again can be picked-up at the Expo.

Star Wars Rival Run 5K

Channel your inner Jedi in this 3.1 mile race that starts and ends in the ECPOT parking area.  Runners will receive a Star Wars themed medal.

Star Wars Rival Run 10K

Athletes can blast through the galaxy on this 6.2 mile course which follows throughout Walt Disney World theme parks then pick up the Star Wars themed medal upon completion.

Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon 

This 13.1 mile course starts at Magic Kingdom’s parking lot and concludes in EPCOT’S parking area.  Runners will defeat the dark side when crossing the finish line to collect the special Star Wars medal.

Star Wars Rival Run Challenge

Combining the 10K and the half marathon, racers can challenge themselves to run at light speed through the theme parks with the Rival Run Challenge.  Racers receive the 10K and half marathon medals as well as the challenge medal and all three corresponding shirts.

Kessel Run Challenge

The Kessel Run Challenge was for athletes who ran both the Star Wars Half Marathon- The Light Side and The Dark Side on both coasts.  The option is still available for the Kessel Run Challenge medal, where athletes can sign-up to partake in the virtual version of the race.  Complete the virtual race during the designated time frame before April then complete the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon or the challenge to win your Kessel Run medal.  You must sign-up for the Kessel Run in order to secure the medals.  Runners will receive the additional shirts and the Kessel Run Medal which is usually the Millennium Falcon.  But can racers make it in less than 12 parsecs?

And again, the Kids Dashes, Race Retreat and ChEAR Square packages are all available during this race weekend.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend

The final yearly race weekend at Walt Disney World Resort is the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, usually in November to correspond with EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival. The race weekend kicks off with the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo on Thursday and concludes with the half marathon the following Sunday.

Disney Fall Feast 5K

The 3.1 route is through a designated theme park for ages 5 and up.  Dress in your favorite fall attire or character and race through the course to win your themed medal.

Disney Wine and Dine 10K

This course is a 6.2 jaunt around the theme parks and again, racers will receive the winning 10K medal.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Of all the half marathons runDisney hosts, this is the one to attend because at the end of the day, racers can enjoy an exclusive post-race party at EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival.  The race course is 13.1 miles throughout the theme parks with a special Wine and Dine finisher’s medal.

Disney Two Course Challenge

This challenge totals 19.3 miles combining the 10K and half marathon.  Racers will receive the corresponding three medals completing both individual races and the combined challenge.

Don’t forget about the runDisney Kids Dashes, Race Retreat and ChEAR Squad packages.  Prices and events are usually the same each weekend but themes alternate.

Virtual Running Shorts

Starting the beginning of June and running through the end of August, runDisney offers the virtual running shorts– 5K races you decide upon at your own leisure.  Just sign-up, pay the fee, submit the required information after your race and you’ll receive a medal.  Runners can participate in one, two, or all three races and then obtain a challenge medal on top of that!  The theme for 2019 has not yet been released but last year’s theme was the coveted Incredibles medals.

Disneyland Paris Run Weekend

If a more adventurous race is calling you, jump the pond and head to Disneyland Paris for the September race weekend.  The races for this event are the same as what Walt Disney World Resort offers- a 5K, 10K, and half marathon along with the Kids Dashes.  There is also the 31K challenge which is the 10K and the half marathon combined.  Finishers will receive an additional medal on top of the individual race medals.  Those seeking more course can also sign-up for the 36K challenge which is all three races!

Castle to Chateau Challenge

When Disneyland Resort hosted the west coast races, runners could vie for the Coast-to-Coast medal which was completing the half marathon at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.  With the races on hold in Anaheim, a great alternative is the Castle to Chateau challenge in which runners complete a half marathon at a Walt Disney World Resort runDisney event AND complete the Disneyland Paris half marathon.

Race Information

As a former runDisney participant, I’d be amiss if I don’t mention the dreaded balloon ladies.  These runners are the end of the racing line for athletes hoping to get a medal.  They set a 16-minute mile pace and if you stay ahead of them, the medal is yours.  I’m not the fastest runner but I never had the ladies pass me but I did seem them behind me during a 10K.  Yikes!  A shuttle will pick up runners who do not keep ahead of the balloon ladies or if there are racers who feel they can’t continue.

Along with the specialized shirt, bibs and medals, runners will receive on-course and post-race snacks, a virtual goody bag, and a finisher’s certificate available for downloading.  Guests participating in the race weekends in Florida will also receive complimentary transportation from the Event Host Resorts.

Training

Check the runDisney website for great tutorials and training schedules from Jeff Galloway, Olympian and runDisney trainer.  He has training tips and schedules for all races and challenges.

Registration

The registration for races opens up as early as 8 months prior to an event.  If you have your racing heart set on a particular event, you’ll want to know as soon as possible when registration begins so be sure to look at runDisney’s website for updates.  Sometimes however, spots are still open the day of the races as was the case of the Dopey and Goofy challenges this past January.

Many non-profit organizations will sponsors racers who can raise a certain amount of money for that charity.  RunDisney charity racers can purchase a running package before the event goes to public sale.

Plan Your Disney Vacation!

A runDisney event is more than the competing.  It’s a gathering of Disney fans who happen to run, who come to meet new racers and see old friends.  While I debate running the Dopey Challenge in 2021, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Disneyland Resort brings the races back to the west coast soon!  Happy trails!

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runDisney Guide and Events

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