A Class Act …… Run Disney

I am blessed to know runners of all shapes, sizes and levels of ability.  I can look one direction and say hello to a low 3 hour marathoner, then another and greet a 6.5 to 7 hour runner.  This is specifically why I love running so much, it’s for anyone who WANTS to do it.  Not many sports can say the same but running, yes, we take anyone, regardless of pace.  A little desire & motivation to haul your bum out the door and you too can be a runner.  That makes me proud to be part of such a diverse group.


Run events are a lot like people.  We have good ones and bad ones.  Some make me ashamed to have been swept up into the hoopla and actually have participated, others make me smile.  Very few leave me thinking that they provided a classy event, cared  A LOT about their runners and delivered exactly what they promised in a race experience.

If you run or even know any runners, then you may have heard about a “little” event taking place this weekend at “The Happiest Place on Earth”…… Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL.  The mega travel/media/PR/experience agency RunDisney sells a very magical weekend for runners.  They even offer special gifts for booking your race & travel experience thru them.  So if you plan to “run” Disney, then don’t forget to just go to the people who know it best and book thru them so you get all the available goodies!

I must say that I have never even considered “running” Disney.  For the last several  years I have seen so many ladies running off to Disney for their dream “run”cation.  They go alone, or with girlfriends, some take the family but most just go to experience their favorite thing in the “most magical place on earth”.    It always made me chuckle cuz to be honest, I wouldn’t go within a 100 mile radius of Orlando ever again if it weren’t for the kids.  Disney to me does not mean magic, or fun, or romance, or girls getaway but instead …… standing in lines, in horrid heat and melting the day away …. all while be pawed by a toddler who is intimidated by the insane crowds but who doesn’t want to miss a thing.  My fun at Disney comes from watching the kiddos light up with excitement when something on screen becomes reality.

aby disney1_2008           aby disney2_2008 

Seeing the characters/actors take the time to talk to the little ones and give them the magical experience that we so dearly wanted for them.  (Aby – Disneyland, Sept 2004)

aby disney3_2008               aby disney4_2008

I don’t think of Disney as an adult destination and therefore would never think to go “run” Disney for fun.  However, a few things I’ve heard as of late, have made me think otherwise.  When I was at Ragnar one of my teammates, a man, kept saying that the Disney Marathon was the BEST.RACE.EVER.  He kept referring to the marathon as the best of the best.  I thought that to be odd.  Then I kept seeing everyone heading down to Orlando for their dream “run”cation and it was the same, loads of excitement and very happy people.  Now these are also people who paid a very high price tag for their race weekend between flights, hotels, and entry fees.  I was hoping that RunDisney would be able to provide half the race for the hype; I just wasn’t sure they would be able to pull it off but I was watching.  I’ve been watching all weekend via instagram, twitter, facebook & various message boards.  Looking for the one person who was going to tell it like it was …..  or maybe tell it like I expected it to be, that this was just one more race where the hype did not live up to reality.  However, I haven’t seen it.  The very opposite in fact. 

The thing that actually sold me that maybe RunDisney was actually worthy of the rep, the hype and “possibly” even the price tag was when a friend of mine had to call it quits during the marathon today, at Mile 15 due to foot pain.  She is scheduled for surgery in the upcoming weeks but went to “run” Disney as her last hurrah before having to take an undeterminable amount of time off running.   Yes, she probably should have stayed home but I think she did exactly what all the rest of us would have done.  She went with the intent to just enjoy the experience regardless of however long it took her to complete the journey. Pain unfortunately took her out of this game.  She wanted to finish, her body wouldn’t allow it.  She stopped at Mile 15 and according to her, 

“They radioed for a car and it was there in seconds.  I was taken to the car park at the finish.  Four medics met me, along with a lady with my medal.  They put a space blanket around me, wrapped me in ice and gave me my medal.  They also gave me snacks, drinks and took me to a shaded tent.  They could not have been nicer”.  See Jenny G below with her medal and also icing her feet in her Disney gear check bag.

Jenny_Disney medal

     Jenny on Ice_Disney Marathon

She also described amazing volunteers who offered sunscreen, Tylenol & Vaseline in the corrals as they awaited the start.  Then BioFreeze, Tylenol & Vaseline throughout as on course support. 

I’ve heard lots of stories about races this year.  Some races didn’t have enough medals to cover all the participants and those at the back of the pack left empty handed.  Other races were super stingy with their medals and not wanting to give them to participants who didn’t make the time cut-off.   Stories like those make me cringe.  I’m an equal opportunity runner and think that everyone who covers the distance deserves the “bling”.  It means more to some than it does others.  In fact, some people identify their success with the bling they bring home.  It lessens the accomplishment for them if they don’t have that to show for their effort.  So I was beyond impressed that the RunDisney officials not only gave her a medal, when she didn’t necessarily even expect one, but also for just being there.  For being fast and making her feel important at a point when she was not only tired and hurting but also super sad about not being able to make it the finish under her own power.  From my friend, myself and all the countless people who have had an amazing experience “running” Disney today or at any point in the past.   Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!

I officially give RunDisney a big THUMBS UP for being an upstanding organization.  Congrats RunDisney, you are officially on my radar. 

** Happy Running & Racing  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

17 thoughts on “A Class Act …… Run Disney

  1. Wow!! Yes I did the Goofy Challenge, and everything you have heard is so right On! The miles zoomed by, the support crews everywhere and they were everywhere, it was a race I was running for fun, not time. I didn’t get to train for it since I was injured, it was a last minute decision to run. I have never seen this much support on a course, nor had so much fun at a Race! This is a great race! This year was the 20th anniversary of the marathon distance, so it was an even bigger deal,. In 2 years it will be the 10th anniversary of the Goofy, which is the 1/2 and full marathon same weekend. Much Fun!

  2. LOVE runDisney! At first I was skeptical but after running the Princess last year, I’m hooked. My husband, who is so not a runner, ran the Princess race too and he even loved it! So this year, I am running Tinker Bell (NEXT WEEKEND!) and Princess. And, I’m already trying to see if I can plan more Disney races for the end of the year. They are so much fun and really do bring magic to running.

  3. I ran my first marathon at Disney today and it was AMAZING!! I can’t think of one thing they could’ve done better. I would love to come back and do a Goofy. Someday!

  4. I ran Disney once and it was a pretty cool experience. Warm (later) humid early morn in the dark and it killed me later at 16-miles into that run….but I finished in not so stellar time of 4-hrs or so.

    I might disagree with you on the “bling” thing cause they are called “finisher” medals…so if you don’t finish…what is the purpose of getting a bling as conciliatory award. You didn’t finish (i.e DNF) and so that is way it should go done in the records and what one brings home with them. The finisher’s medal is irrelevant unless you finish! The effort…even when you don’t finish….well….that is something that goes home with the individual that ran the race.

    I am not opposed to those that accept blings for not finishing as long as they accept it in terms of “valiant” effort. Maybe marathons should do that and have some “valiant-effort” medals to give to those that don’t technically finish the race.

    I have always finished my marathons…so every bling I have is based on a finishing time….ditto for every other race of lessor distance I have run. No DNF’s for me. But….I understand circumstances can occur that bring a marathoner or runner to a halt and have to drop-out of the race. Happens even to elite runners. But…you don’t expect to get a “finishers” medal if you didn’t finish.

    Now in case you cite…staff gave runner a finisher’s medal and that is there discretion to do. I am sure runner you cite wasn’t expecting that, but will and should graciously accept that as a measure that you gave it your best effort! But…no race should be expected to give a finishers medal to anyone that didn’t finish. Doesn’t that diminish the meaning, to some effect….of those that did finish? Hence…I like the concept of “valiant effort” medals for those that come in short of finishing the full race distance.

    Doubt few will agree with me…but inevitably…whatever the runner experiences and ends up in a race…it is for themselves to find significance in their performance…their run. Simply put…you have to go the entire distance to get the finisher’s medal…the “bling”….or it isn’t worth keeping.

    That’s how I look at it…peace!

    • Is the medal she is holding in the above picture actually a finishers medal or rather the 20th anniversary medal? I think finishers got both finishers medal and the 20th anniversary medal, but am not positive as I have just been reading blogs about the race.

      • Now that you say that, I always keep seeing the finisher photos with 2 medals. I was thinking those people all had done the Goofy so had their marathon medal and the Goofy medal but maybe not. Possibly there was a seperate 20th Anniv medal. I’ll ask her tonight.

      • The one she is holding is the marathon finisher medal. The second medal people were wearing was the Goofy medal, which you picked up shortly after the finish line if you were wearing the Goofy Challenge race bib.

  5. I’ve already had this race series on my wish list. Now, it’s even more of a dream! Those stories are awesome. I think that it’s cool she got a medal, and I don’t agree with a previous commenter…I think that all races should. So what if you don’t finish a race..its not like it’s an olympic medal. A race medal only means whatever you want it to mean. I personally wouldn’t want the medal unless I finished the race, but if someone else does..then that’s their own deal! Maybe registering and training was a great accomplishment for that person?

    • I know the medal means A LOT to some people. To others, like me, it means nothing. I don’t have a brag room/wall, don’t display my medals. I don’t wear them. I usually don’t even let the volunteers put it on me when I finish. I run to run, period. So it kinda baffles me that everyone gets so medal crazed. I think getting to the start line is what takes the guts and glory. If someone worked hard to train, then had the guts to show up and run, they are totally worthy of anything the race is giving away. So yes, maybe it shouldn’t be called a finisher medal because I personally would give it to anyone and everyone. 🙂

  6. Disney is on my radar for potential races in the next couple of years. First, my kids would love it, we could escape from the winter weather for week, and- per your blog- it sounds like a good and organized race. Thanks for the info!

  7. I never thought I’d run a Disney race either but after my friend did the Goofy Challenge two years ago and then wanted to run it again, I decided to go for it. I was incredibly impressed with how well organized the race was and how friendly all the volunteers and other runners were. It was definitely more of a fun race (I was in Corral A and a lot of runners were averaging 8:30 min/miles) but I thought it was well done and I’d recommend to all types of runners (you can run this race fast so long as you’re not trying to run elite paces).

    Also, I’m so glad that your friend received a medal. I’ve heard stories of people not receiving them in years prior. I hope they changed their policy this year. Oh and that medal is the finishers medal, the only runners who received two medals were Goofy Challengers!

  8. I ran the Goofy Challenge this year. The event is incredibly well organized, the water stops were terrific (best ever) and the volunteers were awesome! I’d recommend the Goofy to any seasoned runner. If you are new to running, I’d suggest start with the half (Donald Duck), work your way to the full the next year (Mickey), and then throw yourself at the Goofy.

    We booked our trip through Marathon Tours; they secured the race entry and a room at one of the resorts (quality of the resorts depend on how much you want to spend). Four girls stayed in one room and I believe we each paid about $375 for the room and entry fee (considering the entry fee is $275 alone, that’s one heck of a deal!). If you keep an eye on airline prices and book when it’s the cheapest, plus bring some of your own food, you can get away with a fairly cheep and fun running experience.

    I plan on going back with the family next year to run one of their half marathons and enjoy the parks.

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