Todd’s First Guest Post: Perspectives of a runDisney Newb

Hey guys, happy Friday! So I thought I’d end the week with something new and exciting: my first guest post! I decided to take a little break from blogging today and let my other favorite writer share a post with you, and with all of the the Dopey, Princess, and Dumbo excitement, I thought it was only appropriate that he write about his very first runDisney experience.

I think there might just be a bit of wisdom here for anyone who will be (or is considering!) taking on the Princess Half, Dumbo Double Dare, Wine and Dine, or any of the other upcoming 2014 Disney races for the first time, and for the rest of us runDisney fanatics, possibly even a bit of nostalgia — I don’t know about you guys, but I know I’ll never forget my first time running through the castle! :)
Hi, everyone. I’m excited to write my first guest post for The Final Forty! As many of you already know, I’m Todd — Jen’s BF (and her partner on many a long run).DSCF7814
You’ve probably seen my mug plastered throughout this site, most likely in some sort of Disney-related costume. Yeah, that was me dressed as Donald Duck for the Disney World Half Marathon. In fact, that was my first runDisney race!
Jen thought it would be cool if I shared my thoughts about this first-time experience. Something tells me, though, that this won’t be my only time in a duck costume. :)
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When I met Jen, I didn’t even know that Disney put on races. Then again, I was a relative newb when it came to running, with only a few short races under my belt. Jen had already run the Princess Half Marathon in February and was soon about to run her first Disneyland race: Dumbo Double Dare.



The idea of running throughout the parks seemed pretty cool, especially passing by the attractions and getting a sense of Disney that you don’t normally see. What I didn’t realize, and maybe couldn’t comprehend until now, was what Disney races are mainly about: the EXPERIENCE. And trust me, earlier this month I had an experience that I’ll never forget.
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A few people have asked me what it was like running Disney. Here’s the best way to sum it up: It’s a show. It’s an event. It’s a spectacle. And it’s FUN. Really, what race sets off fireworks at the start of each corral?!
In my short running career, and especially in the half marathons I ran with Jen this fall, one of my top goals was to see what I could really do during the race: improve my time, better my pace, set a PR. The backdrop and environment were important, yes, but my focus was on performance. I learned that what makes a Disney race so special is just being there.
When Jen first told me about runDisney, it was hard to fathom exactly what these races were like. “What do you mean there are characters on the course? They’re just there, along the side of the road? You, like, stop running and take pictures with them? What about your time?” DSCF8331

I couldn’t really understand it. A race mainly for fun? That seemed like a foreign concept.DSCF8348

What I find interesting about a Disney race is that you make it to be whatever you want. Whether you’re trying to set a personal goal, survive (I’m talking to all you Dopeys!), or just take in the experience, it’s up to you. And however it is you cross the finish line, that shiny HUGE medal is yours to wear around the parks for the rest of the weekend. Even though I didn’t earn as much bling as Jen—one medal as opposed to six—it was awesome getting congratulations from Disney cast members and visitors even days later. Yet another reason why running Disney is so unique.Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 9.08.25 AM

I joined Jen for the half marathon—day 3 of her four-race Dopeython. I can’t say I was looking forward to getting up so early; in the back of my mind, I was thinking that I’d be a zombie for the start, barely able to stay awake. I don’t know if it was the excitement or the adrenaline or seeing a group of strangers do the Dougie, but at 4:30 in the morning, I was fully conscious and ready to go, as were the thousands of other costumed folks (especially the lovely Daisy Duck next to me) equally as pumped up. I quickly learned that at a Disney race, time of day isn’t important.

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As a first-timer, it was so fascinating to see everyone stop and take pictures and capture the moment, even in the middle of the race.


Plus, it was exciting to see what character would come up next along the course. Naturally, Jen decided when we should stop; as you’ve seen, we ended up with quite a collection of character photos!



You’ve probably read Jen’s half marathon recap already, so I won’t go into more particulars about the race. But I’ll highlight a few of my favorite moments overall from the weekend:

The expo: I found the whole expo fascinating. I mean, the line was out the door an HOUR before opening…and it was just for shoes!

Photo credit: runDisney

Photo credit: runDisney

At the start, I was excited but actually a little apprehensive; I wasn’t sure if there would be a mad dash for merchandise, like what Jen had experienced at previous expos. Overall, it was crowded but not overly chaotic.

DSCF8019Running through the Magic Kingdom entrance: This was the first big highlight of the half marathon. For the first few miles, we were just running on highway, but as soon as I saw the lit-up sign for Magic Kingdom, I felt a wave of enthusiasm (as I’m sure others did).
DSCF8304It was a symbol that the big moment was approaching—running through our first park!
Crossing the finish line together: Leading into the race, Jen and I knew that we’d be running together the entire way. It was great to share this moment with her and have some photos of us crossing the finish line hand in hand.
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Seeing marathoners run through Cinderella Castle as a ChEAR Squad member: I had a good view stationed right in front of the castle. What I found interesting was that none of the beginning runners, the elites, stopped for a picture. Slowly, a few runners began to stop, and then almost EVERYONE did. Runners were posing for MarathonFoto, taking their own pictures, coming to the ChEAR Squad to greet loved ones.


It was pretty exciting, especially after my own special someone came by for a sweaty hug and a few smooches.


Experiencing the finish line in the ChEAR Zone: After getting off the monorail back at EPCOT, I had a little trouble making my way to the ChEAR Zone. But once I planted myself on the bleachers, I got to witness everyone crossing the marathon finish line. It was definitely a cool experience, and I enjoyed hearing the folks on the microphones making jokes and calling out finishers’ names. As part of ChEAR Squad, I was also entitled to free beverages and private port-a-potties. OK, this wasn’t pure luxury, but at least there were hand-washing stations!
Seeing Jen finish the marathon: I’ll admit that while I was sitting on the bleachers, I got a little emotional thinking about what Jen was about to accomplish. She had worked so hard and was so eager to earn those medals. She’d sent me text messages indicating where she was and when she’d be coming in. I kept looking to my right, standing and sitting, trying to find a purple hat and green shirt amongst the pack. I wasn’t sure if my standing was blocking anyone’s view, but I saw other people doing it, and I didn’t want to miss her. Finally, she came through, spotted me, and blew me a kiss.
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With everything that Jen told me about runDisney, I felt I had to see it for myself. And I saw EVERYTHING. After being part of Marathon Weekend, I now truly understand why she feels the magic of running Disney…you know, even when dressed as a duck. :)


Tell us about YOUR first runDisney race! What was your favorite part of the experience?

If you’ll be taking on your first runDisney event this year, what are you looking forward to?


  1. I love hearing about someone’s first Run disney experience! Absolutely loved the outfit! Gives me an idea for future Disney races! My first disney races ( and first race ever) was the royal family 5K several years ago! I’ve been hooked ever since! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Meranda! I know, I love finding inspiration for future costumes from other peoples’ blogs, haha. :)

      Oh, wow — that’s awesome that a Disney race was your first ever! I’ve heard great things about the Royal Family 5K — I can see why that could be the start of a new runDisney addiction… ;)

  2. I love that Todd shares in your excitement for runDisney, and even dressed up in matching costumes with you. If that’s not love I don’t know what is! :)

    I’m excited about everything related to the PHM this year! I wish I had signed up for Glass Slipper, but at the time I just couldn’t even imagine doing back-to-back races. Now I know I could since this training cycle my running coach is making me do back-to-backs every week as part of my normal training. She says doing my long runs on fatigued legs will make me appreciate my fresh legs on race day even more, haha.

    • Hahaha, he was more willing to do the whole “matching costume” thing than I thought — definitely a keeper. ;)

      No worries — there’s always next year for GSC, right?! I’m super excited for you, you’re going to love Princess. I’d definitely agree that back-to-backs help make you stronger. I learned that the hard way during Dopey training, that’s for sure. Haha.

  3. More amazing costumes! You two looked great! Even though I was excited for my race, I was more excited about being a part of my son’s first half marathon experience. Like you, watching Jen, I was so proud cheering him on to the finish and knowing what he had accomplished. This was the first Disney race for all of us and we all agreed that our favorite part was congratulating other runners while we walked around the parks (being congratulated was kind of nice too!). It was a cool community of runners and we’d all shared in something great together. It was a bubble that we didn’t want to leave! Thanks for your post! Brought me back to the happy place!

    • I know what you mean; after the race everyone was so nice and congratulatory, and even though what you came to the park to do was over, you didn’t really want to leave! Congrats on your first Disney race, and on your son’s first half marathon! :) — Todd

  4. My first RunDisney race was the 2013 PHM, I have never had more fun in my life!! I also did the Wine & Dine this past November which didn’t disappoint! This year I’ll be going to Disneyland for the first time to tackle the DDD, and then running the Wine & Dine again to finally get my coast to coast :) There is nothing better than a RunDisney race!

    • YES! :) PHM was my first, too, and you really can’t ask for a better experience! Wine and Dine was a blast, too. I’ll be in DL for the DDD again, too, and congrats on the C2C — by far my favorite medal! :-D

  5. That was my first RunDisney Half Marathon, too! Glad you enjoyed it, Todd!

  6. christi in ma says:

    I’m hoping to take part in Wine & Dine this year. We’ll be there that week on vacation with friends. I’d love if they added a 10K. If not, I’ll do the 5K. I want to experience the runDisney that I keep reading about (but I am not ready for a half!!0

    • You’ll love Wine and Dine weekend — it’s such a fun time. If you run the 5K, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be back to do a half eventually! ;)

  7. I love that y’all ran the half together! That’s so sweet. Plus, I bet it made your 3rd day of racing a bit more exciting!

  8. My first rD race was Mickey’s Inaugural Halloween 5k in 2010. It went through MK and there was some fog given the humidity, which added to the atmosphere of running towards the castle.

  9. I always love reading about someone’s first experience with runDisney! It really is a magical time and they absolutely know how to put on a race!! So glad you had fun, and the fact that y’all were able to cross the finish line together is awesome! Maybe I’ll see y’all at a race someday!

    • Awesome! I agree — I love hearing stories from first-time runDisney participants. I absolutely loved sharing it with him, not gonna lie — and I definitely hope we can meet up at a race sometime soon! :)

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