After each runDisney race, participants can pick up a bottle of water and/or sport drink, a banana, and a runDisney snack box.
What's inside the box? There was only one in-person race weekend in 2021, so the answer for this year is below.
Usually, though, the contents vary from weekend to weekend. I think if they ever got rid of the chips and cheese, there would be mass outrage. I shared what I got during a couple of 2017 race weekends here:
A few things seem to come back time after time. The rest depends on things like the race series, time of year, and participating sponsors.
runDisney's return to in-person racing took place during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November 2021. It also marked the return of the runDisney snack box! Here's what I got in my post 5K-box.
Just four food items is surely more than adequate for a post 5K snack box, but more items would be nice for the longer races. In the past we'd get six items. I definitely missed having GoGoSqueez as a sponsor this year!
In their Zazzle shop, Disney offers a huge selection of officially licensed apparel and other gear. I previously shared how to use Zazzle's tools to customize race t-shirts.
Zazzle also offers athletic-style leggings and all-over-print tank tops in costume style, making for easy and officially licensed costume choices for races.
The leggings are made of a comfortable and slightly compressing polyester-spandex blend. Note that these do not have pockets of any kind, so you'll have to carry any necessary nutrition and/or gear in a waist pack, armband, or other method.
The tank tops are also made of a poly-spandex blend.
I'm highlighting these for the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2022, but these would be great for other races where running in costume is part of the fun.
Note that both of these garment styles are made using a cut-and-sew process, which means that the design elements on the different pieces of fabric might not line up exactly, which especially depends on the size of garment you're purchasing. This is normal and shouldn't be too noticeable while wearing.
Dress up like old-school astronaut toy Buzz Lightyear with this easy kit. With the origin-story Lightyear movie coming out next summer, this Toy Story character is as popular as ever. Consider adding a blaster as an accessory to go with this printed kit.
Dress up like Woody's gal pal sidekick Jessie with this legging and tank top set. I dressed as Jessie for the 2017 Disneyland Half Marathon with a different kit (self-painted shirt, denim-look skirt, cow print socks). Consider adding a red hat to complete this fun costume look.
Like Jessie above, consider adding a costume hat to complete your Woody costume.
Note that this costume top is an everyday cotton shirt, not a polyester or sport blend. For that reason, this outfit might be best for a 5K distance. Add a pair of long black sweatbands to your wrists to copy the superhero look -- they're cooler than gloves.
If you decide to use one of these kits or costume pieces for your race, check if Zazzle has any coupons or promotions to apply. If you're not in a hurry, wait until a great sale before making your purchase.
Disney races are back! The successful Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend took place during the first weekend of November; a full schedule of three more race weekends is slated for the rest of the season. If you're looking to run a future Disney race, you could consider creating a custom, officially licensed t-shirt for the run.
For my first full marathon, the final race during the 2018 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World, I decided to wear a shirt with my name boldly printed on the front. I got an obnoxious neon greenish yellow tech top with the balloons from the Pixar movie UP printed on the front and back. On the back I added the slogan 26.2 Miles of Adventure are Out There.
I purchased my shirt from Zazzle, a Print-on-Demand company that partners with artists and content creators to offer unique designs on apparel and other merchandise. The partners range from individual artists to brands like Disney.
Using Zazzle's tools with officially licensed Disney art, it's possible for anyone to make a custom shirt like the one I wore during my first marathon. In my case, I found this shirt on Zazzle and made changes to it for my race day outfit.
Here's a quick tutorial to show how to do it. Note that these instructions refer to using a desktop computer; the mobile platform instructions are similar but not recommended for making fine edits.
In this example, let's pretend we're looking for something to wear for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend next February. For the half marathon, we can find a design featuring Mulan, the princess who appears on that race's medal. From the Disney Princess shop, we can search for Mulan and pick out our favorite design.
I like this image of Mulan and Mushu kicking.
But I'll need that on an athletic shirt, in an adult size. And I want to add my name, and maybe some other fun text. I can use the blue "Edit Design" button to start making changes.
On the editing page, I can move Mulan and Mushu around, make them bigger or smaller, and add text. Note that sometimes elements cannot be moved or adjusted. In this case, the Disney copyright text cannot be moved.
I used the tools to copy/paste the image onto the back. I added my name in large text on the front, and a motivational phrase over the image on the back. I picked out a font style that I thought goes well with Mulan. I could have changed the font color, but I left it black. Here's what my design looks like so far.
Design tip: When you're designing your own shirt for a race, remember that you'll have to wear a bib! Be aware of your design placement to avoid covering up elements you want visible on race day.
After customizing the design, the final step would be to pick out the right apparel type for your needs. Click on See more under Style to see all of Zazzle's apparel options. Right now, Zazzle is offering a unisex Sport Tek moisture-wicking shirt, several styles of cotton shirt, and a few tank tops, in addition to other styles like sweatshirts and hoodies. You can click on as many styles as you like to see what they would look like.
You can pick out your shirt style before you make your customization choices -- it's okay to do step 4 above before step 3.
Once you have your custom design ready on the product of your choice, check if Zazzle has any coupons or promotions to apply, then make your purchase!
It's fun to dress up specifically for themed races, whether you're putting on a full costume, wearing a hybrid "bounding" style look, or wearing a special t-shirt made just for race day.
Like the marathon shirt I showed you at the top of this post, I used Zazzle's tools to customize another shirt for a different race day. I added the phrase RUN NOW CHEESE LATER, a play on "Run Now, Wine Later", to a Ratatouille t-shirt for the inaugural Wine & Dine 10K back in 2016, which featured Remy as the medal character.
The 2021 Wine and Dine 5K, part of Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, marked the return to in-person racing events at the resort. The last run at Disney World before the pandemic started was the 2020 Princess Half Marathon, held back in February 2020.
This race weekend typically consists of a 5K on Friday, a 10K on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday. Races for kids and diaper dashes for toddlers are also usually part of this and other runDisney race weekends, but those are not back on the agenda yet. I'm still nursing knee pain so I elected to participate in the 5K only.
I attended the expo on Thursday, November 4th; the 5K race took place on Friday, November 5th.
Before I get to my race, here are some of the differences I noticed during this return to racing event at Disney World.
There were some different protocols during this race weekend when compared to pre-pandemic runDisney events.
Digital waivers were used instead of printed waivers. Masks were required at the expo indoor venues (3 separate buildings as usual) and on buses. There were fewer vendors at the expo, and many vendor stands had fewer offerings. There weren't any character photo ops at the expo, though props and backdrops were available. Bib and shirt pickup were quick and easy, and there was mild chaos at the official runDisney merch area, which was pretty normal.
The pre-race staging area was very similar to past events, with normal security at the entrance, coffee and snacks available for purchase, a DJ entertaining the crowd, and photo ops with long lines. For the 5K there were two photo ops without characters available: the Evil Queen's throne and a jumbo Magic Mirror.
Instead of using "corrals" to divide runners at the start of the race, we were designated "start groups". These were divided into mini waves. We ended up getting on the course faster than in the past, but I'm not sure if this particular change was pandemic related.
On the course, there were some character photo ops, but there were no up-close character meet-and-greets.
The course was a very typical runDisney 5K starting in the Epcot parking lot, running through parts of the park, and finishing back in the parking lot.
Due to the forecast calling for rain, I decided to wear simple running clothes instead of a costume. My kit was a black Sparkle Skirt, black tech top from my running club, and black Sparkle Athletics visor. I thought wearing all black was at least mildly appropriate for a villains-themed race.
I had seen orthopedic doctor back in July to help with acute knee pain. Physical therapy is not helping as quickly as I had hoped, so I went into this race expecting to walk, hoping to be able to enjoy the course and atmosphere.
I left home at 2:15AM and had the car parked at Epcot by about 3:10AM. There was very light drizzle on the drive down, but once I parked, the rain had stopped. Before I headed to the start area, I stuffed an emergency poncho in my pocket, hoping it would not be needed.
I got my photo on the Evil Queen's throne after a short wait. Then I got into a long line for the Magic Mirror. Halfway through this wait, it started to rain. From what I could tell, it wouldn't really let up for the rest of the morning.
By the time I got my picture with the Magic Mirror, it was time to head to the start groups area. I had a quick porta-potty visit and then headed to s3.
The first runners started the race at 5AM (new start time). I ended up being in the final mini wave. When I crossed the start line at 5:55AM it was about 66°F with light rain. I ditched my poncho just seconds before crossing the start.
Mile 1: 15:08
I fully intended to walk the course, but being among the last to start gave me a little panic about finishing. So I did a sporadic :30 / :90 run/walk when I could. There were a lot of bottlenecks on the course where everyone had to walk.
Mile 2: 16:07
I miss running so much. I stopped to snap photos of the characters I saw, or the empty sets that I passed. I took selfies by the mile markers and a few other selfies on the way, but I never stopped for more than a few seconds.
Mile 3+: 16:13, 3:39
Since it was raining for much of the race, some of the characters weren't out for all of the runners. The character photo ops for the 5K were:
Old Hag (Evil Queen): I only saw the cauldron set, no character when I went by
Lotso: I only saw the Toy Story set, no character when I went by
Shan Yu: Out and socially distanced under cover in China
Frollo: He was going on a break when I went by; his spot in France was covered
Captain Hook and/or Smee: I missed seeing this spot completely; I heard different reports that the final course character was one of these two
I thought runDisney's return to in-person racing was almost perfect. The changes are small and understandable. I'm hopeful I can participate in more runDisney events in the future.
Garmin GPS time: 51:07 (my all-time fastest runDisney 5K!)
Race Amenities: Long sleeve tech shirt, medal
Advent calendars are used to count down the days between December 1st and Christmas Eve. Often shaped like a thick book or plank, advent calendars are typically filled with chocolates or other small gifts that can be revealed as the days are counted.
Traditional advent calendars were first used in Germany in the 19th century; today novelty advent calendars are most often filled with small chocolates. Increasingly, special niche advent calendars can be purchased. There are wine and beer advent calendars, calendars filled with dinosaur toys, makeup and jewelry, tea, LEGO sets, and much more.
But there doesn't seem to be a commercially available advent calendar for runners.
That's ok -- there are plenty of empty DIY advent calendars that can be filled with anything you can imagine. If you're looking to give an advent calendar to a runner friend, here are some ideas to fill those 24 boxes.
First, you'll need a vessel for your collection of advent calendar gifts. There are ready made calendars in the shape of a box, or more unique ways of wrapping the daily gifts -- you can go totally DIY with paper bags, reusable containers, or other options. Below are some empty calendars you can purchase to get started.
Since advent calendar boxes or containers are limited in size, look for small gifts. Keep in mind that you don't have to keep up the runner theme for 100% of the daily gifts. Think about your recipient and include things they might like that are not necessarily running related. Here are some ideas for filling those 24 little spaces.
Do you know what type of running fuel your runner likes to use on long runs? Consider offering different flavors, fuel types, or other snacks designed for athletes. If your runner likes trying new things to eat, you could fill several days in the advent calendar with race nutrition. You could buy a big assorted pack of GU like the one shown here to get started. Better yet would be to visit a local running store to make your purchase. You can get a bigger variety of race fuels without making a bulk buy. And you can probably find a lot more goodies for your runner's advent calendar.
Have a look around your local dollar store for ideas to fill some of the advent calendar days. Keep the price low on some days to have money left over for some splurges. Have a look at salty and gummy snacks, water bottles, hair bands and ties, exercise aids or physical games, sample sizes of health and beauty products that a runner would love, sanitizing wipes, and even runner accessories (I've seen running armbands at our local shop).
If your runner likes racing, gifting a bib is a great way to fill a box or two on your runner advent calendar. Have a look at race websites like RunSignUp.com to find a local race. Or pick a virtual race that supports a cause important to your runner, or one that includes fun or unique swag. Each race entry you include in your box is like including a t-shirt, bib, and race medal in that tiny box. Not to mention the fun and memories made on race day!
ROAD iD makes safety identification wearables for runners and other athletes. The tags can be worn on bracelets, on your runner GPS watch band, on your shoe, and elsewhere. In case of emergency, wearing a ROAD iD can save your life by providing identification and medical information to emergency workers, as well as emergency contact information. Giving the gift of ROAD iD is a great way to show your runner you care about them. ROAD iD offers gift cards in case you're not sure which style of ID your runner would prefer.
Here are some more ideas for filling your runner advent calendar. It's okay to include items like socks or race nutrition on multiple days.
Of course, there are plenty of pre-made advent calendars that would suit many runners, like the aforementioned beer and wine calendars!
I mean, Runner's World came out with a list of advent calendars for runners a while back, and none of them are actually for runners specifically. So you can definitely have fun with your DIY runner advent calendar. Heck, throw a beer or chocolate in there, too!
The supermarket chain Aldi has decreed today, November 3rd, to be Advent Calendar Day. That's because today is the release date for many of their extremely popular calendars, some of which typically sell out on day one (today!). That also makes today the perfect date for posting a list of runner advent calendar gift ideas. :)
The Global Energy Race is an event sponsored by Bimbo Bakeries to promote health, wellness, and nutrition. The company donates bread to those in need on behalf of race participants. In the past, the Global Energy Race has taken place in multiple cities all around the world. The first races were held in 2016. I ran the Orlando version three times: Orlando Global Energy Race 2016 | Orlando Global Energy Race 2017 | Orlando Global Energy Race 2018.
The race will be virtual again in 2021, and registration is free. Runners in some locations, including the United States, will be eligible for free swag. Start your registration process here:
You'll need to complete the miles between October 4 and October 10, and submit your results, in order to receive the goodies. Swag includes a tote bag, cooling towel, and finisher medal. Your participation will also result in a $1 donation to Feeding America by the race sponsor, Bimbo Bakeries.
I've signed up -- the free swag is hard to resist and it's fun to be part of something so big, even if only virtually. And of course it supports a great cause.
Since I've completely forgotten to run a couple of virtual races within their time allotment over the last month or so, I'll need to mark this one on my calendar to get it done within the event period!
The 2020 Rival Run Weekend was cancelled due to COVID-19. It would have been the 5th year for Star Wars races at Walt Disney World, and my 5th time running the half marathon. This is my favorite race weekend at Disney World and something I really look forward to each year. It was extra disappointing for all legacy runners who were looking forward to participating in the events for the fifth straight year.
Unfortunately, the 2021 race weekend, originally sold as an in-person event, was converted to virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. The Star Wars Rival Run Weekend 2021 was originally scheduled to take place on April 16, 17, and 18, 2021. I completed the series a couple of weeks early, during a pleasantly cool few days in early April.
In anticipation of many runners completing the races during the original race weekend, runDisney produced this video for participants in mid-April.
Virtual Race Goals
I had no time goals and planned to mostly walk all three distances. My main goal was to simply complete the series in three consecutive days as the live event would have been.
5K: April 1, 2021
Finish Time: 43:27
When I started at 8AM it was about 68°F. I completed this in my neighborhood.
10K: April 2, 2021
Finish Time: 1:35:42
I completed this on local trails. I started at around 8:28AM when it was a pleasant cool 54°F.
Half Marathon: April 3, 2021
Finish Time: 3:36:12
I walked a few loops through my neighborhood to complete this event. I put a cooler with water and snacks on a lawn chair in our driveway as a makeshift aid station that I walked by a few times. It was 54°F when I started at around 7:38AM. A local, in-person marathon and half marathon was taking place on nearby trails and I could see the runners each time I went by my house. Seeing the runners made me excited to do in-person events again.
Fun fact: this was my second virtual half marathon of all time, following the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon I ran back in March of 2018.
Another fun fact: my finish time of 3:36:12 was faster than three of my in-person half marathons! Disney races are meant for fun and I got my money's worth at the 2019 Rival Run (3:38:31), the 2018 Dark Side Half (3:45:20), and the WDW Half Marathon as part of Dopey 2018 (3:51:40).
As this was originally scheduled to be an in-person race weekend but later converted to virtual, registered runners had several options from which to choose when it came time to decide how to proceed, from full refund to various degrees of partial refund depending on chosen swag options. I decided to take the most swag with the least refund (More Galaxy Option for the 5K and Lightspeed Option for the Challenge). That got me shirts and medals for all events plus challenge.
For this race, the 5K was a separate registration from the Challenge (the 10K plus Half Marathon), but I received all of my shirts and medals in the same jumbo box.
Each race has a different set of featured characters, matching the overall Rival Run theme. The 5K features a two-sided medal with Ahsoka Tano on one side and Darth Maul on the other.
The 10K characters are Princess Leia in A New Hope versus a Stormtrooper.
The Half Marathon spinner medal has Darth Vader on one side and Yoda on the other.
The Challenge shirt and medal both feature a TIE Fighter and an X-Wing. The split spinner medal is a neat idea but the ships don't line up on my medal, unfortunately.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the swag. I like the medals. Yoda looks weird on the Half Marathon medal, but Vader looks good so I'll just display that side. Small bummer that the ships don't line up on the challenge medal.
runDisney started producing their own shirts last year after using nice tech tops from Champion for some time (at least since I started with rD in 2016). Those tops were thick and heavy. They have switched again to a different in-house style which is a good, lightweight tech material, though it has a bit of waffle-weave look and feel, which tends to snag very easily. In fact, my 5K shirt came pre-snagged with a small pick between the neckline and the design.
I'm glad I opted to do all of the Star Wars races virtually, (in my head I'm still 'legacy' on the Half), but I am so looking forward to the next in-person runDisney event. I can't wait for the next Star Wars race weekend! I'm crossing my fingers for 2022!
I ran this local charity race for brain cancer in 2019 and participated virtually last year. And in 2021 it was my first in-person race in over a year! I hadn't participated in a race since The House Next Door 5K on March 7, 2020. Even though I'm not running pain-free quite yet, it was super fun to get out and experience the exciting race atmosphere with fellow athletes, cheer on other runners, and cross a finish line once again!
Melissa's Race is put on by Melissa Vosburg, Inc, a charity devoted to supporting brain cancer research through awareness education and fundraising. Last year's event was originally scheduled for April but pushed back, and eventually went virtual with runners encouraged to participate on what would have been Melissa's birthday in September. This year the event was able to proceed in-person, with COVID-19 safety protocols for participants, volunteers, and vendors.
On race day, I was about 10 days out from my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. Small and mid-sized local races have been proceeding for many months now with safety protocols in place, but I felt more comfortable waiting until I was vaccinated before participating. Protocols were similar to what I had understood other events to implement, like runners and volunteers required to wear masks in the start/finish area but could be removed when running; social distancing required at all times; no race-day registration; staggered start times to avoid crowding; number of participants capped at 650 (looks like we had 400 actual finishers out of 471 registered for in-person); water offered in bottles and snacks presented self-serve. At this event, mask wearing was hit-or-miss among participants but in the outdoor setting I felt safe and thought that others were being respectful.
Training & Goals
Following physical therapy in January 2020, my Achilles injury was starting to feel better and I was looking forward to building up my running stamina. As the pandemic began, I was running on my own and seeing improvements. Yay! But in mid-May I started to feel the injury return. I was very wary of catching coronavirus so I postponed getting help for that, and for my aching knees. In my current shape (also having been yo-yo dieting during the entire pandemic and currently carrying more weight than I'd like) I had very low personal expectations for this event. I was going to go with 30/30 run/walk intervals, and hoped to come in under 45 minutes.
Race Day: April 24, 2021
I hadn't picked up my packet prior to race day, so I made sure to arrive in time for that. I managed to shuffle back in time for our group photo. The first runners started at 7:30AM. It was about 66°F with 88% humidity and bright sunny skies when my wave started at 7:40AM.
Mile 1: 12:59
Oh joy, to be in a race again!
Mile 2: 13:19
Mile 3+: 13:56, 1:39*
I went out too fast so I added a few extra walking breaks and had to slow down a bit for each mile. Mile 3 was especially tough. Bummer, but being overweight, under-trained, and out of shape will do that! In the end I was pleased I came in under 42 minutes but I wish it wasn't so hard.
This is a well-organized local race for a very good cause. I hope it will be back as a large event in the coming years. Recommended.
Chip time: 41:46
Placement details: 19/41 in Age Group, 205th overall out of 400 finishers
Race Amenities: Swag included a nice cotton t-shirt, finisher medal, and drawstring backpack
Report written April 25, 2021
Branded photos (c) Almost There Photography
An unresolved, untreated nagging injury has kept me from making running goals. I finally got a referral from my primary doctor in mid-September (ugh, time flies!) but I've still got to make my appointment. I'm hopeful to have the motivation once I get my COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, I still have some virtual races lined up.
These virtual runs (walks) are mostly completed in my neighborhood or local trail so they unfortunately aren't particularly memorable; individual reports would be even more boring than the usual race report. I still want to note them, especially to shout out the charities involved, so here are some brief recaps from virtual events I completed in January, February, and March 2021.
This fun race series, when an in-person event, consists of a 5K on Saturday evening and the main half marathon/5K event the next day, Sunday. It was scheduled to take place in mid-January before being converted to a virtual event. Although I had signed up for the Feeding Frenzy 5K plus Shark Bite Half Marathon challenge event, I converted to the virtual 5K option.
This extremely popular local charity race had to go virtual for its 10th year. Arthur and I walked this together in 2019.
This race took place as an in-person event on January 30, 2021. I requested to convert my race to virtual and Track Shack kindly obliged. Unfortunately, I didn't complete this race within the date period so I didn't get to submit my results. Track Shack has had several successful in-person events during the pandemic and I am sure they are taking great safety precautions. I think I'll be ready for an in-person event after I get my COVID-19 vaccine.
This runner design spoofs the popular catchphrase from the British government during World War II. The phrase, typically "Keep Calm and Carry On", is taken over by runners with the adjustment: "Keep Calm and Run Slow". The crown icon that usually accompanies the phrase is replaced by a running cartoon turtle.
It's good to run slow! Changing up your pace as you run and train is great for keeping fit and working different muscle groups. Even the fastest runners have recovery runs or change up their pace during training to maximize performance overall and keep strong and healthy. Of course, there are those of us back of the packers who run slow on the regular, but we should change up our pace and effort as well.
This spoof design was made for runners of all abilities and speeds. No matter the reason, it's good to channel your inner turtle. Shown here on a tank top, you can get this design on a wide variety of apparel styles and hundreds of other novelty products via our production partner Zazzle here: Keep Calm and Run Slow.
This design is also available via Amazon. See our selection below.