Virtual Princess Half Marathon Blog Hop: ChEAR Squad

Now that the Princess Half Marathon is just a few weeks away, I’m gearing up for the Glass Slipper Challenge by participating in a Princess-themed virtual blog hop — and thought I’d share some details about the ChEAR Squad with you guys!

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As all runners know, a race isn’t a race without spectators. And there’s no better way to keep your spirits up and energy high during a race than spotting a family member or friend cheering for you along the course.

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So far, I’ve participated in the Princess Half Marathon, Dumbo Double Dare, Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, and will be taking on the Glass Slipper Challenge later this month, and for each of these races (where applicable), I’ve gifted ChEAR Squad to my spectators — in my case, my mom, sister, and boyfriend.

I figure if these guys are willing to wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning and sit outside for several hours to catch a 30-second glimpse of me running by, the least I can do is thank them with the special benefits that the ChEAR Squad provides!

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During runDisney races, runners have the option of investing in a ChEAR Squad package for their favorite spectator, with varying levels depending on what kinds of benefits you’d like your spectator to have (and how much money you’re willing to shell out).

Credit: runDisney

Credit: runDisney

Any spectator can sign up for an e-newsletter for free as part of the “Bronze Package.”

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The next level is the “Silver Package.”

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 2.42.11 PMThis package treats your spectators to some exclusive ChEAR Squad gear: a cotton unisex t-shirt, Mickey clappers, and a waterproof stadium blanket (which my spectators have never used during the trip because it’s been HOT during all of my races, but have used a ton of times at home).

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The level I usually go for is the “Gold Package,” which includes all the goodies plus what is most important to me: the reserved viewing along the course.

This basically translates to: if you want a spot in front of Cinderella’s Castle, you have to pay for it.

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A view from the ChEAR zone!

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 2.42.23 PMOnly ChEAR Squad members have access to the hub in front of the castle — you’ll pick up a wristband during the Disney’s Fit for a Princess expo that will verify your ChEAR Squad status and grant you access to the special viewing zone on race day.

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So if getting a few shots with the castle as your backdrop is important to you (it definitely is to me!), then you pretty much have to cough it up. img_3788
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Otherwise, Magic Kingdom viewing for your spectators during the Princess Half Marathon is limited to whatever spot you can find along Main Street.

(Note: if you’re planning on investing in ChEAR Squad for Disneyland, just a heads up: last year, there was no special viewing near the castle…just what was available along Main Street, and then bleachers at the finish line).

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The other reserved viewing area is at the finish line, where ChEAR Squad members have access to bleachers to help make spotting your runner easy (and, you know, providing the opportunity to sit down when said runner is having a grand old time visiting with characters and having fun and taking just a bit longer on the course than anticipated.) :)

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The other benefits? Gold ChEAR Squad members will be treated to complimentary beverages — basics like coffee, water, and soda — as well as “private” restrooms, which is basically just an area of reserved port-a-potties at the finish line with hand-washing stations.

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The most expensive package is the “Platinum Package,” which includes everything I’ve just discussed along with access to the Race Retreat, which is a private tent that only runners who have paid for the Race Retreat and their Platinum ChEAR Squad spectators can access.

This a great feature if you’re looking to stay cool (or warm, depending on which crazy Florida weather scenario you end up with during your race weekend), plus there’s other benefits such as character meet-and-greets, live race results, and food. dscf2710

I participated in the Race Retreat during last year’s Princess Half Marathon and enjoyed lighter fare like bagels and coffee before I headed to the starting line. There’s a more complete buffet brunch afterwards (which I sadly didn’t take advantage of because we had lunch reservations and it took a tad longer to finish than anticipated!)

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Of course, this benefit will cost your spectators: it’s $120 per person, on top of your own personal Race Retreat fees.

Here’s the pricing for all of the packages (for the half marathon), which can be purchased via Active here. Just don’t wait too long — they do sometimes sell out!

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My overall opinion? ChEAR Squad is worth it to me because, as mentioned, I love seeing my spectators near the castle, easily spotting them at the finish line, and having them take those couple of extra photos in a prime viewing location.

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My mom, boyfriend, and sister — you know, my actual spectators! –  all said that having the drinks and port-a-potties were convenient while they waited a few hours for me to finish the races, and that it was nice to have access to bleachers and viewing at the castle to watch me and the other runners come in…but that it’s a little pricey overall for the benefits you receive.

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But, in my mind, race memories are precious…and there’s nothing more exciting than sharing that special moment of running through the castle or, better yet, crossing that finish line with someone there to “chEAR” you on!

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Have other questions about the Princess Half Marathon weekend? Be sure to check out all of the other posts here!

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Have your spectators ever invested in ChEAR Squad?

Any questions on ChEAR Squad? Please don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Comments

  1. Since it was my first Disney race, I didn’t know the value of the CheerSquads. My mom decided to try to buy them during the expo, but they were already sold out. I will definitely be getting CheerSquad tickets for my future Disney races though!

    • Aw, sorry they sold out! It’s definitely worth looking into; it’s a bit pricey, but then again, so is just about everything at Disney, haha. In my mind, it’s worth it! :)

  2. GREAT info, I usually go solo for the races, but this is good to know if the fam comes which might happen next year. As a side…I LOVE your Ariel, Dopey and Mike costumes….totally adorable!

    • Glad I could help! Totally — definitely worth looking into it! Aw, thanks so much — I’m a little obsessed with running in costume now, haha. ;)

  3. I couldn’t agree more! Sadly I will not have anyone cheering for me because my “squad” is all running with me! I guess i’ll have a few thousand people I don’t know cheering for me, no?

    • You will definitely NOT feel alone with all of those spectators along the course, trust me! Personally, I’d take having people to run with me over spectators any day…you’re all going to have SO much fun! :)

  4. My parents did the chEAR squad package last year for Princess and my mother said she would NEVER not do it. She loved that they gave you coffee and had a place to sit, I don’t remember what level they did but they said it was worth it.

    That’s so awesome of you to gift the chEAR package to them! Great idea

    • Awesome! Yeah, I know my mom appreciated having somewhere to sit when it took me a loooong time to finish Princess last year. :)

  5. Did you find that your CHEAR Squad members could get to the Castle and then back to Epcot in time to see you finish? I would love to suggest this to my family, but I’m afraid that it might not be doable… or would be too stressful and not worth it.

    • Absolutely, no major issues at all getting from the castle to the finish line! Then again, of course it depends on how fast you are, but the second they’d see me at the castle they’d start making their way back to Epcot and always make it in plenty of time. The monorail makes it super quick and easy, I wouldn’t worry at all! :)

  6. I love the ChEAR squad. I bought it last year when I was watching my husband run the marathon and it was wonderful having a place with a little elbow room in front of the castle.
    The hot chocolate didn’t hurt, either!

    • That’s great! When you’re waiting for someone to finish a full marathon, I’m sure the extra perks really come in handy! :)

  7. That was so sweet of you to gift your spectators ChEAR squad! I’d like to chEAR someone on one day instead of run, lol. I love your costumes, too!

    • Haha, yeah, being a spectator every once in awhile is a nice change of pace. Thanks so much! Totally obsessed with running costumes, not gonna lie. :)

  8. You rightly point out that our spectators are very special people and should be treated right. It sounds as though you rewarded them well- which I’m sure means they’ll be back to watch you again and again. Smart girl!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Virtual Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Jen.

  9. I’m wishing I had invested in chEAR squad for my family this trip – maybe next time, now that I know all the deets!!!

  10. My teenie had the ChEAR package last year for the marathon, which was nice, because she could use the Retreat tent if she wanted to. She also loved the tee and the blanket that she got, although she was far too cool to use the clappers, lol

    • Haha, that’s okay, I don’t really see many people actually using the clappers. That’s great, though — glad she enjoyed it!

  11. I got the Platinum ChEar Squad package for my husband when I ran the 2013 Princess Half Marathon. 100% worth it in my opinion! I got to see him right in front of the castle when I ran through it, and he got to enjoy the tent time/food while waiting for me to cross the finish line! Win/win :0)

    • AWESOME! Honestly, I know it’s expensive, but seeing your spectator waiting for you in front of the castle and at the finish line (and knowing they’re enjoying their experience at the Race Retreat) can totally make your race even better! :)

  12. Chear squad definitely sounds like the best way to go for spectators!

  13. Great post! My husband has never participated in the official ChEAR Squad but after reading this, we might have to in the future! Thanks!!

  14. I love the ChEAR Squad options available for spectators! I just wish my spectators were willing to wake up to enjoy them, haha!

  15. I never heard about Cheer Squad before – what a fabulous idea.

  16. Great info! Thanks for sharing! Since my dad will be there cheering for my mother and I (my hubby will be sleeping in with our 4 kids) this is helpful info!

  17. I’ve never really considered the chEAR squad package before, but I might have to next time!

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] personal photographer in the ChEAR Squad, so I stopped to goof off a bit with her, too. (Side note: I know I wrote  a post recently about how “magical” this benefit is for your spectators, but they have seriously cut back on the perks as of late — namely, the refreshments — [...]

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