LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Since its rebrand in 2010, runDisney has become one of the premier race organizers in the country. From kids races to the most magical 26.2 miles on earth, runDisney offers unique race weekends at various Disney theme parks – at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., on Disney’s private Bahamian island Castaway Cay and at Disneyland Paris beginning this year.
The magic of runDisney, which began in 1994 with its’ first-ever event (the Walt Disney World Marathon), continues to translate into significant growth and popularity in recent years, both in terms of runners and number of events. Runners nationwide and internationally (a total of 230,000-plus in 2015) have clamored to sign up for these popular race weekends.
Frequently, runDisney races sell out in record time. For instance, the 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort sold out in 34 minutes and the 2016 Rebel Challenge (10K and half marathon) at the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side at Disneyland Resort sold out in 24 minutes.
As the series continues to expand (there will be nine race weekends in 2016), runDisney remains focused on providing creative ways to bring new runners into the sport of running as well as into Disney parks. First-time runners as well as aspiring Olympians can experience the legendary Disney entertainment and guest service, while ultimately celebrating their accomplishments with a Disney vacation.
Increasing the Race Portfolio Around the World
On the heels of the debut of the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend and the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side at Disneyland Resort in 2014, runDisney announced the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend, which debuted Sept. 23-25, 2016 at Disney’s Theme Park in France and marked the first international race weekend for runDisney.
Also, runDisneyadded a second Star Wars race, this one at Walt Disney World Resort. The Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side, which took place April 14-17, 2016.
Leading the Industry Trend of Multi-Day Race Challenges
For runners seeking the ultimate test, runDisney is leading a widespread trend of race organizations offering multi-race challenges.
runDisney offers the “Dopey Challenge’’ during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna, which invites participants to complete four races for a total of 48.6 miles in four days. It also offers 19.3-mile challenges – a 10K and half marathon over two days – at many race weekends, including “Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge” at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, the “Dumbo Double Dare” during Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna and the “Glass Slipper Challenge” during Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Since 2014, runDisney has challenged runners to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge by running a race at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in the same calendar year, offering a unique medal to commemorate the achievement.
In 2015, runDisney added the Castaway Cay Challenge, a special 5K event hosted in partnership with Disney Cruise Line on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. More than 700 runners participated in the inaugural event, which was the first of its kind to be held amid the lush palm trees and turquoise waters of a private island paradise, on the heels of the annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. And in 2016 runDisney is adding another challenge – runners can earn the Castle to Chateau Challenge medal by running the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and any other runDisney half marathon or marathon race.
Offering Unprecedented Amenities for Runners and Families
Runner’s World magazine has identified runDisney races as the perfect races for new runners because there’s less pressure, no required qualifying time and guests can enjoy the sights of a Disney theme park and world-famous Disney characters during their race. There are plenty of opportunities to get the whole family involved, as many race weekends feature a health and fitness expo with guest speakers, runDisney Kids Races, a family fun run 5K, a 10K and a half marathon.
Disney offers a number of amenities to runners and their families that really set runDisney races apart from others. Participants have access to official training consultant Jeff Galloway and official nutritionist Tara Gidus, who offer training tips to make finishing a runDisney race more achievable to all runners.
Participants can take advantage of the VIP Race Retreat during the Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends, which includes a designated tent at the race with brunch, WiFi, TVs, Disney character meet-and-greets and more. There is the ChEAR squad, which helps guests cheer on the runners with cheer signs, noise-makers and even special viewing areas. There are also several pre-race and post-race parties inside the theme parks that provide exclusive experiences for runners, along with their family and friends.
To commemorate the 10th annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in 2015, participants received a unique 10th annual medal and attended a special Disneyland Half Marathon Annual party at Disneyland Park. As the event coincided with Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration, the party also offered runners an exclusive viewing of Disneyland’s new “Paint the Night” Parade.
Facilitating Economic Impact in Surrounding Communities
Additionally, runDisney races help facilitate substantial economic impact in the community. The Princess Half Marathon Weekend, for instance, attracts some 40,000 participants and is considered to be the second largest women-focused race weekend in the nation. And the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is considered to be one of the largest race weekends in the country with more than 50,000 runners participating and attracting approximately 50,000-plus spectators for a total attendance of more than 100,000 coming into the Central Florida area. In Anaheim, it’s estimated that the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend drives approximately $20 million to $30 million in additional economic activity locally, attracting thousands of out-of-area runners to Southern California.
With all the unique experiences that runDisney provides participants, the result continues to be a winning finish. Runners can start training and sign up for a runDisney event at www.rundisney.com.