Summer has come to an end, the weather is beginning to cool down, and RunDisney race season is almost upon us here in Central Florida! For those who don’t know, runDisney is the name of the company who organizes the races at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and, for the last two years, Disneyland Paris. There are several races each year, and the ones in Central Florida run from late fall until early spring (in other words, once the temperature is tolerable for running long distances!) Races range from family style 5ks, to a full length marathon each year in January, with each race weekend having a theme of its own. Best of all, each weekend hosts a number of runDisney kids races; anything from a diaper dash for little crawlers, to the 100m and 200m dashes for young kids, to the Mickey Mile for budding young athletes. My kids have tried each of the races over the years, and always look forward to the next race weekend and their next opportunity for a medal! If you are visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays and over winter, or in the early spring, this is definitely a fun extra to add to your trip! I thought I’d write a little bit about the runDisney kids races at Walt Disney World, and everything you need to know if you think this is something your kids would like to try out.
When do the runDisney kids races occur?
Although race weekends are always subject to change, there are some that have happened regularly over the last few years that no one expects to change any time soon. The first race weekend of the season is the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November, and the last is usually the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend in April, with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January and the Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February. Each of these race weekends has a runDisney kids race attached to it, so there are usually four opportunities for kids to race at Walt Disney World each year. Official event information, including race dates for each race weekend, will be posted on the runDisney website.
If your child wants to participate, it is advisable to register for the runDisney kids races as soon as registration opens or you know that you will be visiting Walt Disney World that particular weekend. Registration can fill up for the races quite quickly, and it’s easy to be disappointed if you go to register and nothing is left. Registration is done through your My Disney Experience account so make sure your account is set up and ready to go before you try to register.
What ages can participate?
Children up to 13 years old are eligible to participate in the runDisney kids races. There are four different race categories, each one organized by age:
– Diaper Dash: for babies 12 months old and younger
– 100m dash: for kids ages 1 through 4
– 200m dash: for kids ages 4-8
– Mickey Mile: a one-mile run for kids under the age of 13
How much do they cost?
In general, the dashes cost $20 per child, and the Mickey Mile costs $30.
What is included in the price?
Included in the price of the dashes are a finishers medallion, a runDisney kids races t-shirt, a personalized bib (as long as the registration is completed in time for this to occur, usually about three months prior to the race itself) and post-race refreshments (usually water, a banana, and an applesauce pouch). Participants in the Mickey Mile receive all of the above, as well as a finishers certificate (usually emailed to you, and able to be printed at home after the race) and a timed chip on the bib (for my ultra competitive 4-year old, this is the most important thing about the Mickey Mile, to see if he’s improved his time in each new race!)
What should my kids wear?
Anything they like, as long as they’re comfortable and can run! Some kids dress up in costume, and those are always fun to see, especially those little diaper dashers! Most kids wear their included runDisney kids races t-shirt, some form of sweatpants or running shorts, and sneakers. For older kids running the Mickey Mile, some wear professional running attire. Whatever your kid wears, they won’t look out of place – just make sure they have something comfortable on their feet! Your kids should have their race bibs pinned to their front (make sure it’s the front and not the back if you want those Photopass photos – for my son’s first race age 13-months, we put the bib on the back because he kept playing with it, and missed out on all the photos because of it!) Attached to the bib is a parent claim tag, and remember to tear this part off if you don’t plan to run with your child; they won’t be allowed to leave the finishing area until a parent has arrived with a matching claim tag.
Where do they run, and can I watch?
Runners will need to collect their bibs from the Health and Wellness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports prior to race day; the expo is usually held Thursdays through Sundays of a race weekend, with the kids races traditionally being on the Fridays and Saturdays. Parents are able to collect their kids bibs for them with a photo ID, and this is something I’ve always done for my kids; the expo can be a little crazy, strollers are not allowed inside the buildings, and I’d rather not deal with two cranky kids while waiting in line to collect the packets. The race packet will include the runDisney kids races t-shirt (you order a particular size when you regsiter your child, but these can be changed when the packet is collected), their bib, safety pins to attach the bibs to their shirts, and usually a Cliff bar or some sort of healthy snack.
The runDisney kids races take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and it will be pretty easy to spot where. The location will be marked in the race event guide that is issued a few weeks prior to the event, and then there will be plenty of signs and Cast Members directing you where to go on the big day. The dashes are all well-marked with starting flags and a finish line, and times are staggered so that the different distances don’t all go off together. This way, not only does it prevent a huge pile-up of little ones, but parents with kids in different categories can watch both kids without trying to be in two places at once.
Not only can you watch the races, but you can run with your little ones! For the dashes, the majority of parents run with the younger kids (I know at least for my kids, if I wasn’t running with them there would be little chance of them going where they were supposed to!) Some kids take off running like champs, others are more reluctant, and some downright refuse to participate at all. As kids get older, fewer parents tend to run with them, but know that at any age, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep your little one company as they run. For the Mickey Mile, the older kids generally don’t have parents running with them, but plenty of parents run alongside the course to cheer their kids on. Of course, there are hundreds of parents cheering at the finish line, and there’s always a Disney character on hand to make sure they have some motivation to cross that finish line!
Anything else I should know?
These races are fun runs; in other words, your child does NOT have to be a competitive runner to participate. Kids of all ages and abilities will be running in the races, and everyone is incredibly supportive, no matter where (or if) you finish. The buzz of a race weekend is thrilling experience, and if mom or dad are running in a race, this is such a great way to allow kids to be part of the fun.
Have your kids participated in the runDisney kids races? Did they have fun? Let me know in the comments!