runDisney Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 1:45. I had only gotten about two and a half hours of sleep, and I knew I would pay for it later. But, it was time to run a half marathon!

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I stumbled around the hotel room, thankful I had laid out my costume the night before, and started getting ready. My amazing tutu came from this great Etsy shop. She does tons of Disney characters, so be sure to check her out for your next runDisney race! (You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.) I knew just where to find the best shirt to complete my outfit, Raw Threads. They always have a great booth at the runDisney expos as well. I ran in my new ASICS Meta Run shoes, they are so comfortable and the black goes with any costume.

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We were running a little behind, but thankfully Hilton Bonnet Creek had multiple buses to take people to the start, and we had plenty of time to grab some food and get onboard. Once at Epcot, we realized we were really early and still had a lot of time to kill, so we got in line for a character picture, which we usually never have time to do.

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Daisy told me Donald was getting ready for the race, but he wished us good luck.

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We used the bathrooms, and then headed to the corrals as soon as they opened. We made it to the front of F, and took a seat on the ground to wait. It was truly amazing watching all the people try to sneak into the wrong corral. I mean dozens and dozens of people. Those volunteers have a TOUGH job. People were trying to hide their bib under a sweatshirt, put their finger over part of the letter to make it look like a different one, begging and pleading because their best friend wanted to run with them, you name it. I am glad we had tough volunteers who didn’t let anyone in that wasn’t supposed to be there!

Before long, it was our turn to be at the starting line. Since we were in the front, they kept pushing us up closer and closer to the start line…and then I got a text saying I had started the race (I was tracking myself). NO! I had NOT started the race, they had made us squish up so close to the line that the official tracker started! It wasn’t until about a minute later that we were sent off, so it was a bit frustrating starting the race already losing 60 seconds!

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The first few miles were pretty uneventful. It was cool but not freezing, but SO FOGGY and very very humid. I soon started sweating pretty badly, and made a stop at a medic tent for some body glide. We kept a steady pace, and made it to the Magic Kingdom sign.

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After a couple more miles, we went through the TTC, and then the Magic Kingdom was in sight. I was stoked that the still had the icicle lights on, because I had not yet seen them this year, or the year before actually, so I was really happy to run down Main street towards the gorgeous castle. Bobby snapped the below picture of me and I love it. I think it really captures all the feels of running down Main Street!

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The crowds were great as usual, and I heard a couple of people shout my name and I waved in the general direction of the noise, so if you were yelling to me and I didn’t see you, I’m sorry, but I did hear you!

I knew I wanted to stop and get a pic in front of the castle. It was so foggy it barely came out though, but I think the castle looks kind of cool.

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I had told Bobby before the race that I didn’t care how long the line for the Queen of Hearts was, that if she was out, I wanted a picture. We saw her just past the carousel in Fantasyland, and even though the line was about 13 deep, we stopped anyway.

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We made it to the back of the castle, and had to stop for a shot of these guys. Imagine how long the line would be if they were on the ground! I also wanted to get a shot of Bobby by the castle but it didn’t come out too well.

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We sadly came out of the Magic Kingdom, knowing the most fun part of the race was over. We wound around by the Grand Floridian and Wedding pavilion, and I was thankful the road opened back up again. At about mile nine my lack of training started to get to me, and I was mentally done. Once we hit mile 10, we started counting down saying things like “it’s just a 5k left”, and that seemed to help.

We made it to the turn that kills my IT band every time, and Bobby wanted a picture with our green army man friend.

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Once we were on this new road headed to EPCOT, I knew we were getting close and didn’t even want to stop for water, I was just ready to be done. It was also about this time I told Bobby I was SO GLAD we weren’t doing Dopey again this time! I may have cried if I had to run a full the next day.

We made it up the last bridge, and down into EPCOT where I saw my favorite sign….”run like Steve Harvey is trying to give your medal to Miss Colombia”. I died yall, love it.

We made it around the EPCOT ball, and were finally in the home stretch! This last part is always hard because I get excited I’m “so close”, but really have more to run that I think, and I try to kick harder way too soon and I die out. Whoops. I heard the choir singing, and knew we were REALLY close.

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Wwweeee! Finsih line in view! We made it!

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Our official time was 2:25:07. Not bad with the stops, humidity, the timer starting before we were running, and (totally my fault..) lack of training. I still have a long way to go, but the goal for this one was to enjoy it and have fun, and I’m glad we didn’t take it too seriously.

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I got to cheer runners on as they approached the finish which is one of my favorite things to do ever. I also had a little chat with Mr. Galloway, and got to see part of my favorite announcer team.

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All in all a successful race and a successful day. We got a lift back to the resort from a friend, and showered and our car arrived to take us to the cruise…where we promptly fell asleep in the back seat! (See, I told you it would catch up to me!) Another great runDisney race weekend was over, another shiny medal to add to my collection, and many many more memories to hold on to forever.

QOTD: Has humidity every changed your race goals? Favorite costume you saw from marathon weekend?

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek

I had the privilege to stay somewhere new the night before the runDisney half marathon, somewhere I honestly never thought I would stay. I am a Disney loving “stay at a Disney hotel” kind of girl, so I was a little reluctant to try out Hilton Bonnet Creek, but I am So glad I did!

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I hope to have more info for you on the actual hotel and all the activities and food and things there at the end of February, but for now I want to specifically talk to you about Marathon Weekends.

Hilton Bonnet Creek has put together a special rate for those staying for runDisney race weekends, and it comes with some great extras that are not offered at Disney owned hotels. There was also a runner’s concierge in the lobby, and they could answer questions for us, get us signed up for the bus the morning of the race, and they also had a goodie bag for us. (Note that to ride the bus to the races you have to sign up ahead of time and are given a wristband as a “ticket” for the bus to and from the race.)

Hilton Bonnet Creek is actually inside the gates of Walt Disney World, so it is super close to the parks and other Disney activities. Check out the balloon at Disney Springs you could see out my room’s window!

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Those staying with the special marathon weekend rate are also given a card that saves you 10% on hotel food and beverages during your stay. They have so many restaurant options, and even special carb loading menu items for runners.

The real magic however came on race morning, where we were greeted in the lobby with signs and our own personal cheerleaders! The music was loud, the DJ was getting everyone pumped up, and it really helped to wake me up since it was, you know, 2:45 in the morning.

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They also provided a continental breakfast for the runners. It was nice to hang out in the warmth of the lobby, chatting with other runners (and using real bathrooms!) before heading to the race start.

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I ate a protein bar, a banana, and grabbed some water. (I had brought some food with me also since I wasn’t sure what I was going to feel like eating). I was told that the reasoning behind the certain food items was that they wanted to provide things that would be easy to eat in the corrals or walking to the corrals. Smart thinking!

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We took some photos out in front of the bus and were cheered on as we boarded. It was EARLY, yall, so it was such a nice touch!

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Oh, something else I didn’t mention, all runners staying for Marathon Weekends get a late 2:00 pm checkout, how cool is that?

Please note that at this time, there is no official transportation to the 5k and 10k races or expo which was a bummer, but the runner’s concierge can help you set something up if you would like. We grabbed a cab to come back from the expo and it was quick and easy. There is also  Mears shuttle you can take to and from the airport that cost approx. $21 each way when booked online.

They also had a runners reception at the pool with rum runners at noon after the half marathon, but sadly we had a boat to catch and were not able to stay. Next time!

I give Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends a thumbs up, and would definitely stay here again for a race weekend!

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The enthusiasm, the little touches, the breakfast, and the proximity to other Disney activities really swayed me. I think they have a good thing going here, and I sadly just learned about it last year! If you have any questions about marathon weekends, let me know and I can get the answer for you.

QOTD: Did you know this existed? What do you think about the early morning cheerleaders? Who wants to stay here now?!?

Disclosure: I was provided a free stay to check out marathon weekends for myself, however all opinions are my own.

runDisney Marathon Weekend Expo 2016

Hello friends! I am finally back home! I still have a lot of unpacking and catching up to do, but I wanted to let you guys know I am still alive, and I have a lot of fun recaps coming your way, plus a giveaway so hang in there. Today I thought I would tell you about the race expo, then I still have to recap the blogger meet up, an interview I did with some famous TV stars from Mexico, the race, the cool hotel experience I had, and of course the cruise!

We were actually only in Orlando for 24 hours, but a LOT happened in those hours. First after landing Friday I ran over to the Cigna blogger meet up with Megan, and then we went to the runDisney expo to get our packets for the half the next day. We had dinner at California Grill at 5:00 so sadly I didn’t get to spend near as much time at the expo as I would have liked, but I still got to soak up the runDisney magic and see some friends.

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First we picked up our race packets. It was weird “only” doing the half, since last time we participated in marathon weekend we ran dopey!

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Ready to run! or something like that (wait, we have to run? I haven’t really trained!)

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LOVE my new rundisney ears! They don’t give me terrible headaches like the ones from the parks. Maybe I just have a large noggin?

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We of course had to take the obligatory instagram photo before heading over to check out the merchandise. The guy asked how we wanted to pose and we said “something funny” and he just looked at us like we were crazy. No worries! We shall come up with something on our own!

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Hello expo floor, oh how I have missed you!

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A closer look at the shoes, and I dig them.

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I made my way to the Raw Threads booth (adorable stuff yall, go check them out!) and had a quick chat with my buddy Bobbi! Was great to see her again.

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I also ran over to my favorite running skirts brand and said hello to my former colleague and the sweetest girl in Minnie ears ever, Michelle!

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We literally flew through the official merchandise, I got an I did it shirt (I always get one) and a shirt for Emma Kate that says “future runner, catch me if you can” SO stinkin cute). and unfortunately we had to grab a cab back to the hotel so we could change for dinner.

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I wish I had gotten to spend some more time shopping and saying hello to other friends working expo booths, but there will always be other races, and hopefully for those I will be in town more than 24 hours!

QOTD: Is there an item you buy at every race expo?

runDisney Marathon Weekend 2016 Facts

Hey guys! I fly out to Disney TOMORROW for the runDisney marathon weekend! Bags are packed, house sitters at the ready, waivers printed. This one is weird for me because I am just running the half marathon. Last time I was in Disney for marathon weekend, I ran all the races…AKA the Dopey Challenge, so it’s odd to me that when I arrive Friday half the events will already be over! None the less, I am excited to get to take part at all in the weekend that started it all for me as far as distance running goes.

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Anyway, I wanted to share some fun facts with you all so you can follow along with the fun for the race weekend! I will be posting photos on my social channels and I am hoping to sneak in a periscope or two if I remember. (@heathersLG) Also, I will be attending a blogger event with Cigna, the title sponsor for the race, on Friday around lunch time, so be on the lookout! I will be live posting there as well. Also, I will be doing my costume reveal on social media Friday night. So much fun coming up!

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I am a numbers geek (aren’t most runners?) and love seeing all the “stats” on marathon weekend. How cool is it that there are more female runners than male, and check out all the countries represented! Crazy to think for the inaugural Dopey in 2014 I was one of those nutty 7,500 who were attempting something never done before in runDisney history!

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Also of noteworthy news are some of the cool people that will be attending this years event. One very important one being U.S. retired Master Sergeant Cedric King, a decorated war hero who lost both legs during combat while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He has earned both the purple heart and bronze star, and will be running the MARATHON! Cigna CEO David Cordani is running too, in addition to Olympian Paula Radcliffe (5k, 10k, and half), and actors Uzo Aduba, Aaron Diaz, and Laura Flores (5k).

The fun starts THIS MORNING with the 5k, and the 10k will ne tomorrow, with the half and full being run on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

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Also something really cool going on tomorrow is that runDisney is hosting a “state of the sport” forum and race director series. Check out the press release for more info. it sounds like it’s going to be really awesome!

“…Nearly 100 of the most highly-respected names in the global running sector – major race directors, media executives, industry influencers and former Olympic runners – are expected to attend the Jan. 7 forum, making it perhaps the most significant gathering of running industry leaders ever assembled.

The event, staged at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is being anchored by a panel discussion featuring race directors and executives from the world’s top running events – Peter Ciaccia (TCS New York City Marathon), Tom Grilk (B.A. A. Boston Marathon), Tad Hayano (Tokyo Marathon), Hugh Brasher (Virgin Money London Marathon), Carey Pinkowski (Bank of America Chicago Marathon) and Juergen Lock (BMW Berlin Marathon). The panel, moderated by Runner’s World editor-in-chief David Willey, is expected to tackle several key industry topics, such as the evolving demographics of runners, the impact of the upcoming Olympics, increasing runner participation and other best practices.

Additional speakers expected are Running USA CEO Rich Harshbarger, B.A.A Boston Marathon race director David McGillivray and Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Springs and ESPN Wide World of Sports. Other special guests will be reigning women’s world marathon record-holder and four-time Olympic distance runner Paula Radcliffe and former Olympian and runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway.

The State of the Sport forum kicks off runDisney’s new Race Director Series, which affords race directors from around the country with behind-the-scenes experiences during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. More than 40 race directors and race management personnel are expected to take part in the series that gives them special access and insight into various aspects of the four-day event operation, plus the Race Director Challenge, a light-hearted competition duringSaturday’s Disney Half Marathon race.

The State of the Sport forum aligns with runDisney’s goal of broadening participation in road running and encouraging people to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Next year, Walt Disney World Resort will once again become the center of the running universe when it hosts the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference during the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The annual conference brings together industry experts for sessions on best practices, panel discussions, industry awards and more.

Hosting the 2017 conference and this weekend’s forum build on runDisney’s growing stature as one of the leading running series in the world. In the last few years, runDisney has experienced extraordinary growth and popularity with the launch of four new race weekends – including its first international event, the 2016 Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend – and frequent race sellouts at events at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California.”

Thoughts? How cool to have so many well known race directors in one place!

Good luck to all the runners out there running any of the distances, especially to the first timers. runDisney is such a special place for a first race, and for that reason marathon weekend will always hold a special place in my heart as my first half marathon back in 2010. Above all else, have FUN, you are running in the happiest place on earth, so celebrate fun, friends, health, and life!

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QOTD: If you could run with any celebrity, who would it be?

Never Say Never…to runDisney

Well, when I woke up yesterday morning I did NOT have plans of sitting in a virtual que in a panic trying to register for the runDisney marathon weekend! I found out yesterday morning that they are offering the castaway challenge after the race, which I ssoooo badly want to do. I have talked to and begged runDisney to partner with DCL for years, so it’s only fitting I do the challenge, right?

Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge 5K Event on Disney Cruise Line Private Island

Bobby and I signed up for the half marathon with hopes of doing the Castaway challenge and cruising on the Disney Dream after the race, but we are realistic and also realize we may have to defer if things don’t work out in our favor. I am so so glad runDisney started to allow you to defer your race registration, it makes it a lot easier to pull the trigger and sign up!

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After missing marathon weekend this year, it will be fun to go back without the stress of waking up four mornings in a row for Dopey! We probably won’t arrive until Friday, will hit up the expo, run Saturday, then relax Sunday before getting on the boat Monday. I’m trying not to get too excited in case we have to defer, but I am going to try to make sure it happens!

Who has done the Castaway Challenge? Any tips? What to do what to skip, any pointers? I need all the info I can get!

So, now I get to hopefully see a bunch of you during marathon weekend, and maybe even some of you on the cruise?

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QOTD: Who is running and what are you running, and who is cruising with me?

P.S. I would love to book your cruise for the castaway challenge! Email me at [email protected]

runDisney Marathon Weekend Last Minute Tips

I know many of you are traveling down to Walt Disney World this week for the runDisney marathon weekend. Congrats! I know when I was first planning for marathon weekend my first time in 2010, I had a ton of questions and wanted to soak up as many race recaps and as much information as I possibly could.

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I thought I would do my best to try and help you by putting it all in one place. I hope you have a magical week/weekend and come back with some great stories and photos!

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Tips for the Dopey Challenge

Marathon weekend packing list vlog

Tips for running a runDisney race

5 reasons to run a runDisney race

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You can find all of my marathon weekend race recaps (along with others) on my runDisney page. I hope they pump you up and get you excited for a new adventure!

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QOTD: Best runDisney tip? Anything you are looking forward to most?

Castaway Cay Challenge

Have you heard the news? There is a NEW Castaway Cay 5k challenge coming to the Disney Dream when you sail on the January 12th sailing right after marathon weekend 2015!

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Check out the press release below for details:

Runners taking part in the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend can add the ultimate finish to their experience – the new Disney Castaway Cay Challenge, a joint venture by runDisney and Disney Cruise Line.

After competing in the 5K, 10K, half marathon and/or full marathon during the Disney Marathon Weekend (January 7-11), runners can compete Jan. 14 in the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge, a special 5K race on Disney Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private Bahamas island. Every runner who finishes this new runDisney Challenge event will earn two medals – an inaugural Disney Castaway Cay Challenge medal and a Castaway Cay 5K medallion, plus any medals earned for running any Disney Marathon Weekend events (5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon).

The Castaway Cay Challenge takes place during the 4-night Disney Dream cruise itinerary that sets sail Jan. 12, 2015 from Port Canaveral, Florida and includes a stop in Nassau in addition to Castaway Cay. The cruise will feature exclusive activities designed for Castaway Cay Challenge participants, plus special menu items and merchandise.

To sign up for the Castaway Cay Challenge, runners must book the Jan. 12, 2015 Disney Dream cruise at www.disneycruise.com and then register for the Castaway Cay Challenge at www.runDisney.com. Race registration opens May 23.

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My thoughts: WAY awesome, as I have wanted runDisney to get involved with Disney Cruise Line for years, and I already love the Castaway Cay 5k. However, I do wish they would have announced sooner, because now the only thing you can sign up for during marathon weekend if you now decide to do this is Goofy’s Challenge.

A cruise is a GREAT way to relax and unwind after marathon weekend if you can swing the time off work and the cost. The Disney Cruise Line has quickly become my favorite way to vacation, and Castaway Cay is my favorite place on earth!

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You can see some of my Castaway Cay 5k posts below:

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My original post from before they made all the changes is HERE.

QOTD: What are your thoughts on this challenge? Is it something you would be interested in doing?

runDisney Marathon Weekend Extras

Everyone knows that runDisney is about well….running! But, did you know there are other fun events you can participate in during the race weekend?

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Let me give you a few examples for marathon weekend that is coming up in less than TWO weeks!

Race Retreat: You can be pampered by signing up for the VIP Race Retreat for before and after your runDisney event. Before the race, stay warm and dry inside a private tent where you will enjoy a pre race breakfast, coffee, water, and PowerAde. There is also a private restroom area and your own bag check. Stretch out before the race on the padded stretching area or lounge around on the comfy seating. After the race, come back to the tent to check your results on the computers, enjoy brunch with hot and cold beverages, and reunite with family and friends. There is even a changing area and a self treatment/first aid station. Have some sore muscles? Enjoy a 10 minute massage for just $10. This is especially a good idea if it’s COLD outside!

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Even more exciting is that this years VIP Race Retreat has a Mary Poppins theme! You will also receive commemorative socks and a towel, special character meet and greets, and access to a live video feed of the finish line. You must sign up for the race retreat at runDisney.com, space is very limited, so hurry! (Fees apply). I had the opportunity to go to the race retreat once before a couple years ago for the Princess half marathon and it was a great relaxing atmosphere. Recommended especially for first time racers that are a little nervous.

Pasta in the Park Party: Carb up before the race at the Pasta in the Park Party. With your ticket you will get exclusive access to EPCOT as well as a pasta buffet (and dessert!) followed by a special viewing area for Illuminations. You may also run into Minnie, Mickey, and other guests while you party the night away with a live DJ and face painter. When I attended, it was a great time for special character interaction. I got to stand and talk to Rapunzel for at least five minutes. (Rumor has it Dopey will be making a special appearance!)

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Breakfast: Are you participating in the family Fun Run 5k or the Walt Disney World 10k? You can have even more fun by purchasing a ticket for the special Monsters Inc. themed breakfast at the finish line at EPCOT. (Did you know I LOVE Monsters Inc.? This sounds so, so fun!) This event is from 7:00-9:00 am the mornings of the 5k and 10k.

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Cool Down Party: After all the magical miles have been run on Sunday, it’s time for a celebration! Head to the Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney. Party with your best running friends, eat, shop, and enjoy special discounts at select stores by presenting your finishers medal. Admission is open to runners, their families, and the public.

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ChEAR Squad: If you are not running but still want to spectate the races, you can take part in one of three levels of ChEAR squad packages. More information and to sign up can be found here.

Related: Sign up for my free My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

Want more info on runDisney races and “extra” events? Check out runDisney.com.