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!
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.
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!
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).
Any spectator can sign up for an e-newsletter for free as part of the “Bronze Package.”
The next level is the “Silver Package.”
This 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).
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.
Only 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.
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).
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.)
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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!
Have other questions about the Princess Half Marathon weekend? Be sure to check out all of the other posts here!
Have your spectators ever invested in ChEAR Squad?
Any questions on ChEAR Squad? Please don’t hesitate to ask!