RunDisney and RunUniversal (QandA)

Posted by on July 23, 2020 in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Carrie Fulton

With running season being the only sports season still open, many are looking at planning some bucket list trips to for destination races.  While some may feel that exercising on vacation is torture, doing a destination race is actually pretty amazing and certainly helps offset any extra pounds I can find while away from home.

I’ll be answering some questions I’ve gotten over the years about my RunDisney and RunUniversal experiences.

  1.  I think I’ll stay with my friend/family member and drive in the morning of the race instead of staying on property.  What do you think? 

Well, that depends on if you’re doing RunDisney or RunUniversal events.  For RunUniversal, the races start just outside their huge parking garage.  The races are smaller so far so it’s possible to do it, but staying at one of the resorts on property gives you the chance to get into the parks nearly immediately after you finish and cool down from the race with their Early Park Admission….talk about an endorphin high!  And I can attest to Butterbeer being a great way to rehydrate!!!  Also be sure to spend some time in CityWalk after since there were several restaurants and stores offering discounts if you brought in your race bib.  I happened to have stayed on property and loved that I could just get in a boat to ride back to my resort quickly.  As for RunDisney, I suggest staying on property for at least 1-2 nights simply for logistics and bussing to and from the events. Traffic and parking are huge issues for these events.  I love that they drop you off as close as they can get to the entrance for the Expo then take you back to your resort with your purchases and packet after.  Definitely stay at one of the resorts the night before your race.  I’ve been at a few races that were delayed because they were still waiting for a large portion of racers to get parked while we were dropped off at an entrance right next to gear check, got to get in line to see characters, stretch and get into our corrals quickly!  It was annoying waiting especially since these are chip timed races, but I’ve been at other races where the start time was pushed back for the same reason.

  • What’s gear check like?  Is it safe?  How will I get my stuff back?

I didn’t check my gear for my RunUniversal races since it was a quick boat ride back to the hotel, and I just keep my ID and room key in one of my pockets for all my races anyway.  However, for my half marathons I prefer to change shoes as soon as possible.  RunDisney has gear check down pat!  You go into a secure tent, write your bib number on a card secured to your bag and it’s put in order for the numbers in that section.  Super slick, protected from the elements and supportive volunteers who are way more awake than runners!

  • Florida weather is sometimes iffy.  How do I know that I’ll get to run my race? 

All I can say is that I get it!  Disney has been wise to plan their races outside of Hurricane season which is helpful and so far Universal has done the same.  What I do know is that I was at the 2015 Wine and Dine half marathon.  It was held at night so we were supposed to start running at 10:30pm in November…well after hurricane season ends.  However, this night had it all.  Lightening, thunder and winds that were concerning to Florida residents.  RunDisney did an amazing job ensuring we were safe!  We were sent to the stadium and arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for about 90 minutes while the weather cleared out.  They surveyed the course and found to downed trees in Animal Kingdom and potential for more bad weather so they decided to shorten the race.  Was this awesome? No.  It kind of stunk because I wanted to run that course.  However, I do know that I have a picture where I crossed a half marathon finish line with a clock time of under 2 hours which I will never do in my real life.  Safety is always most important, and I’m thankful that race officials kept THOUSANDS of people safe rather than risk a single injury. 

  • Disney has Virtual races.  Do you think they are they worth it?

Several years ago, I participated in the first RunDisney Summer Short Series.  Basically, you ran a 5k on your own time and course in May, June or July.  And if you did all three you got a medal for completing the series.  It was fun to pick my own area to run in, and I did treat it as close to a race as possible.  For a long time, it wasn’t my favorite type of run, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t do another virtual race…until COVID-19 shut races down this year and races I had already planned on participating in went virtual.  So to ensure I get some magic in my life and in my miles this summer, I decided to participate in the Summer Short Series again.  I’m looking forward to listening to my Disney classics music while pretending I’m in the parks!

  • My friend went on a Disney Cruise and did a 5k.  How can I do that too? 

Any of the Disney Cruise Line destinations that have a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay has a 5k.  This is a VERY information 5k on the island that is at no extra cost.  You get a bib and rubber medal as well as on the island earlier than anyone else so it’s good to do so you can secure some great seating for the rest of your time on Castaway Cay.  The course is a simple out and back, and it’s another way to get some activity in if you tend to hit up that soft serve ice cream machine more than once a day like I do. There is now a Premium Package you can purchase which includes a water bottle, drawstring backpack and ball cap all with the Castaway Cay 5k logo on them.  For my next cruise, I’ll consider getting this though you are able to purchase a Castaway Cay 5k cotton or wicking shirt on the island.

  • Challenges – What are these challenges I see listed on the RunDisney site?  Who is crazy enough to do those? 

RunDisney Challenges are when you run certain combinations of races.  Now every half marathon weekend has a two course challenge meaning that if you run a 10k (6.2 miles) on Saturday and then a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday bringing your weekend total to 19.3 miles.  That’s the standard challenge.  I also did 2017 Glass Slipper Challenge and 2017 Pixie Dust Challenge.  The Glass Slipper Challenge was during the Princess Half Marathon weekend, and the Pixie Dust Challenge was in Disneyland during the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend.  Doing half marathons in Disney World and Disneyland in one calendar year meant you had completed the Coast to Coast Challenge and doing the Princess and Tinkerbell halves yielded a special purple Coast to Coast medal in lieu of the regular blue one since it was themed for the ladies!  If you’re doing the math, four races gets you seven medals…but who’s counting?  Well, actually, I was counting!  They don’t do races in Disneyland anymore which I hate, but since they don’t have as much property in Anaheim there are more logistics to manage in a major city.  Guess that means I need to work on getting to do the Castle to Chateau challenge for those who do a half marathon in WDW and in Disneyland Paris.  Then there are the bigger ones only held during the Disney Marathon weekend.  There are two.  One is the Goofy Race and a Half for those who complete the half marathon one day then the full marathon the following day bringing their total to 39.3.  Finally there is the Dopey challenge for the truly courageous or truly dopey depending on where you are in your training for this challenge.  This challenge is for those who complete the 5k, 10k half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days for a total of 48.6 miles.  It’s a pretty amazing feat and takes some equally amazing feet to do it!   So if you’re interested in doing any RunDisney or RunUniversal race or plan any trip to Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line, or Universal Studios; email me at

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