Runners Can Put A Little Magic In Their Step At The Happiest Place On Earth

Calling all runners who want some Disney magic in their races! Did you know that runDisney has a bunch of running events at their parks each year, including a "marathon weekend" in the beginning of January? Maybe a marathon seems very "sports-y," and you don't feel like you'd fit in. Maybe you're an experienced runner who didn't know that you could do a race with Mickey and friends at Disney World or Disneyland. If you could use a little bibbity-bobbity-boo to put some pep in your step, a race with Mickey Mouse may be what you need to succeed. 

While the January 2024 events are sold out, there are some virtual options to do runDisney races right where you are. For those, you pay the entry fee, run at home, and the medal is sent to you. No travel required! Plus, there are always more race events happening throughout the year. 

The runDisney weekend in January is a favorite. There are usually a bunch of distances to choose from, like a 5K (3.1 miles), a 10K (6.2 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles), and a full marathon (26.2 miles). There are also often "challenges" for you to do multiple races. For instance, this year, there is the "Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge," which is the half-marathon and the full marathon, or the "Dopey Challenge," which is all four race distances over four days! Let's take a look at the wonderful world of Disney running!

Getting ready for your magical race

If you're racing in person, you'll be required to visit the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to pick up your credentials first. Your friends and family can come with you. There are vendors and lots of Disney goodies to buy, like water bottles and shirts. 

Running through a Disney resort is one of the coolest things a runner can do. There are characters and entertainment on the courses and refreshments while you're running. Plus, seeing characters and rides you've loved since childhood is the best thing to distract you from tired legs.

After the race, you get a participant shirt and a finisher medal. You'll also get a finisher certificate to print at home. If you're doing a challenge event, like the Goofy Challenge, you'll get a medal for each separate race, with a third medal specific to the challenge event. Something like the Dopey Challenge (the 5K, 10K, half, and full marathons), you get a medal for each distance, plus the Goofy Challenge medal and the Dopey Challenge medal. That's a lot of Disney bling! You can get photos after the race to celebrate what you've accomplished. 

Don't be intimidated if you haven't raced before. There are downloadable training programs for beginners and experienced runners and running tips from former Olympian runner Jeff Galloway . These online training courses don't even require you to run every day!

What the race experience is like

We've run a lot of marathons, so here are some tips we wanted to share with you. First, runners are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet, especially at a race. If you get tired and stop, someone will yell out encouragement. If you fall, someone will stop and help. The supportive and funny spectator signs will give you that extra boost of motivation. Having done theme park races, we can say they are the most fun you'll ever have while running. It's a totally different park experience, and Disney World and Disneyland are the friendliest places on Earth. 

You'll be up early in the chilly air, so bring something warm. Many runners get blankets or warm clothes from a secondhand store and put them in gear check (a broader version of coat check) right before the race starts, which really helps. You'll sweat while running, so you should absolutely stop at hydration stations to drink up. The big secret you might not know is that people do walk if they can't run and stop for drinks and fuel at races — and so should you. 

If you're new to running, follow Jeff Galloway's training plan (or another one that you like) on the runDisney website. Don't skip those rest days. They're there for a reason. You can find all the information about upcoming races at Do keep in mind that these races sell out far in advance, so if you see one you want to do, book it right away.