Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge

For the past few years, Disney Cruise Line has offered a free 5K on their private island, Castaway Cay. For those sailing to the island paradise, they could participate in an untimed 5K event that included a race bib and finisher medal. (Note: the medal was actually plastic.)

In spring of 2014, runDisney took the Castaway Cay 5K one step further – the Castaway Cay Challenge! Participate in any race (5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon or challenge) during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, sail on Disney Dream during the specific 4-night sailing, and run the Castaway Cay 5K for an additional challenge medal! The challenge sold out within days, followed by an announcement of another Castaway Cay Challenge opportunity during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

To sign up for this inaugural challenge, you had to be registered for a Marathon Weekend race. You then had to book a stateroom on the Disney Dream (sailing January 12, 2015 for 4 nights), then sign up for the Castaway Cay Challenge once registration opened. (You had to include your cruise booking number in your registration.) The cost was $65 per person and included a shirt, Castaway Cay 5K medallion, Castaway Cay Challenge medal, post-race refreshments and activities onboard.

Since Megan had booked that specific cruise prior, she considered the Castaway Cay Challenge a bonus to her anniversary trip. However, it is worth noting that what could have been a more empty ship, was now filling up due to the challenge. (While on the cruise, we learned the ship was not to capacity.)

Prior to Marathon Weekend, not much information was available regarding the challenge. The medal was revealed (and is beautiful!), but runDisney didn’t include information about the cruise, where to pick up our packets, etc. When the official event guide came out for Marathon Weekend, there was a booth in the Field House that was named “Castaway 5K”, so it was assumed that is where packet pick up would occur.

About a week before Marathon Weekend, final race instructions were finally sent out to race participants and was available on the runDisney website. Similar to other runDisney races, this pamphlet included information about packet pick up, race safety, the race course, etc. It also included information about the cruise including official race merchandise and a speaker panel.

Packet pickup was very smooth and there wasn’t a line at all. Along with a gear check bag, we received a white short-sleeve tech shirt, race bib, race instructions and safety pins. Then it was time to run the Marathon Weekend race (or races)!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

On Monday morning, we headed to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Dream. The first night included the opportunity to get race merchandise. It was located in Sea Treasures onboard, however the store doesn’t open until after the Dream sets sail (around 5:45 pm). As per usual, the merchandise line was long! However, it moved fairly quickly (they were only letting in a certain amount of people at a time). Merchandise included “I Did It” shirts, race specific shirts, magnets and Bondi bands. Although there were a lot of runners purchasing merchandise, it was very well stocked – even days into the cruise!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

On Tuesday afternoon, there was a speaker panel that included runDisney nutritionist Tara Gidus, Runner’s World editor Elizabeth Comeau and the runDisney course director. Along with training and nutrition advice, we were given information about race day, the course, the medals and it opened for question and answers. Here are a few highlights:

  • It is a new course, specifically for the Castaway Cay Challenge
  • There are around 750 runners
  • A Castaway Cay 5K rubber medallion will be awarded for every 2015 run
    • The “regular” 5K run will occur after the challenge 5K
  • Characters will be on course and post-race (challenge only)
  • Food will be available after the race
  • Photographers will be on the course and those photos will be available at Shutters (with your other cruise photos)
  • Reedy Creek medical personnel will be on course
  • If you wanted to spectate, you had to come with the runners
  • The island would not open until 8:30 am, so you had to return to the ship after the race if finished prior
  • There are “no current plans” for additional Castaway Cay Challenges, however they always are open to suggestions and will see how these two challenges go

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

The next morning, we made our way to the Walt Disney Theater at 5:45 am (in true runDisney fashion!) There was a buffet at Cabana’s starting at 5:00 am for those interested, as well as fruit, bagels, water and coffee outside the theater. Inside the theater, we sat in our corrals (three total) where we were reminded to have our Key to the World cards AND photo ID in order to get back on the ship later.

Soon we were making our way off the ship, where the sun had not yet risen. It was a sight to see the Dream all lit up at Castaway Cay! If you wanted to check a gear bag, you dropped it off and they brought it to the finish line area for you.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

The walk to the start/finish (along the airstrip) was almost a mile, but with the sunrise occurring – it was beautiful! We entered into our corrals and listened to the music of the DJ. The cruise director, Christian, along with Mickey provided entertainment before the race start.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

At 7:00 am, Corral A was off! (There were about 5 minutes between corrals.) The course started on the airstrip, where you made your way to Serenity Bay, the adult beach. Donald was at the beach for a character photo. We made a right, along a narrow path near the cabanas. Goofy wasn’t far away for another photo opp. After the 1 mile mark, there was a turn around and you followed the path back to the airstrip. (The path was quite narrow, which made it difficult to pass other runners as we were going both ways.)

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Along the airstrip was a water stop, which included small Dasani water bottles. You then made a left toward the Observation Tower, which included a loop for just over a mile. Near the tower were two cruise cast members, dressed in jogging suits, keeping us pumped up! (In fact, they were trying to get us to do the wave!) When you made it out of the loop, you took another left and the finish line was in view. Christian was announcing as you finished, claimed your two medals, along with water, Powerade and the runDisney snack boxes.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

After the finish, Minnie was near a backdrop to take photos with your new medals. Then it was the hike back to the ship until 8:30 am, when you could get back on the island. (Or take a shower – it was HUMID!) At 9:00 am, the “regular” 5K began. There were no characters on the course, however they did follow the same course (which will not be the norm).

Since many of the runners wanted a photo with ALL of the medals they had earned over the past few days, they did set up the backdrop in the atrium area later that evening for photos. Dopey even appeared on Wednesday for a great photo opportunity for the Dopey Challenge runners!

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Overall, this inaugural event was handled very well! While communication was lacking at the beginning, the event itself was a lot of fun. The only things they could improve upon are:

  • Possibly another character on the course. (Both characters appeared before mile 1.)
  • More activities onboard the ship. The initial information regarding the challenge states “VIP experience” for the runners onboard, and there really wasn’t much beyond merchandise and the speaker panel.

While the Castaway Cay Challenge is most definitely unique, it is worth noting that the “normal” Castaway Cay 5K is much different than the challenge explained above. Here are a few details regarding the Castaway Cay 5K (held for any sailing going to Castaway Cay):

  • Sign up is onboard. Go to the Port Adventures desk to sign up for the race. The 5K currently has no charge, however there is an age requirement of 10 years or older.
  • The Castaway Cay 5K includes a race bib (given to you on the day of the race) and finisher’s medallion. For 2015, the rubber medallion will be given at all Castaway Cay 5K races!
  • On race day, you will meet at the location stated on your registration ticket (or it can be found in the daily Navigator). The location time will be around 8 am for a 9 am race start.
  • The course follows the airstrip, as well as the loop around the Observation Tower. One thing to note is that you loop around the Observation Tower twice, so be sure to study that course map!
  • Water is provided on the course, near the Observation Tower loop.
  • If you would like a Castaway Cay 5K shirt or other merchandise, they are available in one of the shops on the island.
  • The course is not officially timed, however there is a time clock located at the finish.

Inaugural runDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

We are very anxious to hear if this challenge continues in the future!

*For another look at the Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge, listen to the Mickey Miles Podcast (episode 244) as Megan joins in on the fun!


Buy Book 2015


Let the 2015 runDisney Season Begin!

We would like to wish you all a VERY Happy New Year!

2015 runDisney Season

With that, let the 2015 runDisney race season begin!


January 7-11, 2015 – Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

January 15-18, 2015 – Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

February 19-22, 2015 – Princess Half Marathon Weekend

May 1-2, 2015 – Expedition Everest Challenge

May 7-10, 2015 – Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

September 4-6, 2015 – Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

November 6-7, 2015 – Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

November 12-15, 2015 – Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend



Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

Vacations at Walt Disney World usually include a lot of time on-the-go as you explore the theme parks. During your runDisney racecation, you may be spending a little more time relaxing than usual. That may mean spending more time at the pool!

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

Here is a look at a few of the best pools at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels!


Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

Stormalong Bay is such a great pool area, it could almost be called a water park! There are close to 3 acres to explore, including a sand-bottomed pool, water slide and even a lazy river. Even the littlest swimmers have their own play area, including their own water slide.


Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

The Nanea Volcano Pool continues the theme of the Seven Seas. With a water slide, poolside cabanas and a view of Cinderella Castle, the magic is all around. If you are looking for more relaxation, head to the Polynesian East Pool and enjoy the sounds of the islands.

(Note: The main pool area is under construction through spring 2015, and construction will follow after in the quiet pool area.)


Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

Nestled in the serenity of the pines, the Silver Creek Springs Pool offers one-of-a-kind views. The pool actually starts as part of the Creek inside the resort! Enjoy a trip down the water slide, or follow the smaller kids to their own pool area. If you want a quieter feel, head toward the villas and enjoy the Hidden Springs Pool.


Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

Doubloon Lagoon is the only pool that includes a water slide shaped like a sea serpent! The feel of Mardi Gras continues throughout the pool area, including the kiddie pool, poolside bar and whirlpool. Guests of both Port Orleans resorts can enjoy this pool, as well as the pool at Riverside.


Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Best Walt Disney World Resort Pools

The Big Blue Pool offers something that no other pool does – underwater speakers! Dive in and listen to familiar sounds from your Finding Nemo friends. Along with this zero-entry pool, there is a splash and play area for the smallest swimmers. The resort also includes two more pools, themed after Cars and the Little Mermaid.


No matter what Walt Disney World Resort you stay at, the pool continues the theme of the resort. This allows for a unique experience every time! Be sure to take in the surroundings near the pool areas, from playgrounds to music. There are a lot of ways to relax and enjoy the pool during your runDisney vacation!

Buy Book 2015


runDisney Training – Keeping the Injury Away

While training for a race, it’s normal to feel a few muscle aches and pains. However, there is one thing all runners fear – injury.

runDisney Training - Keeping the Injury Away

The last thing any runner wants is to be sidelined, during training or during a race. So how do you keep injury away? Here are a few of our tips!

Listen to your body. This is without a doubt the MOST important. You know your body, therefore you know when things aren’t quite right. If there is an ache or pain that is abnormal, stop. While it isn’t easy to halt training for a few days, that may be all it takes. If the pain continues, visit your doctor. You don’t want to make things worse!

Get fitted for proper shoes. Whether you are new to running or a veteran, you need to make sure you are running in the correct shoes. By going to a running specialty store, you get one-on-one attention as your gait and stance are evaluated. Having the right shoes can keep injury away. Be sure to find out their return policy, as many stores will let you try them for a week or two and return them if they don’t work!

Take care of the small pains right away. Especially as you ramp up the mileage, you may find that your muscles and joints are a little more tender. As long as the pain is not substantial, items such as compression gear and KT Tape can keep things rolling as you run. KT Tape has videos for multiple applications that many runners use – from shins to knees, IT bands to shoulders. Apply the tape as directed and that could be all it takes!

Remember to RICE. Rest, ice, compression and elevation. If you are finding a specific area hurting a little more than normal, apply RICE therapy. Take an extra couple rest days. Make sure you get some ice on it. (Only 15-20 minutes at a time.) Get out the compression gear and elevate.

Evaluate your running form. It is very possible that your running form could be the culprit! Especially as you get more fatigued, your running form may start to suffer. Take a quick evaluation to see how your form is holding up. Keep your shoulders down, strike mid-foot and stay upright.

runDisney Training - Keeping the Injury Away

It cannot be stressed enough – listen to your body, especially as you increase your mileage. The small aches and pains are usually easy to handle, however you don’t want to make something worse. If you are worried, a trip to the doctor is well worth it!

Our friends at KT Tape were kind enough to offer a giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win a roll of KT Tape and keep your injury away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Throughout these blog posts, we will cover all aspects of training from our own personal experience. Please note that we are not medical doctors, personal trainers, registered dietitians or in any way qualified to give individualized recommendations. If you have something you would like us to address, please send an email to!


Packing Tips for a runDisney Challenge

Packing for a destination race can be tough. Not only do you need to make sure you have virtually anything you may need before, after or during the race, but you also need to make sure it gets to your destination! (Or fits in a carry-on.) Add in multiple races and it may seem daunting.

Packing Tips for a runDisney Challenge

Here are a few of our packing tips for the multi-day runDisney challenges!

Separate it out. While you may be able to pack for one race easily, it gets easier to forget something when there are multiple races involved. Buy some large Ziploc bags and separate items out for each race. This way you know you have everything you need (from fuel to socks) for each race! Not to mention, it makes the night before a race a whole lot more simple.

Bring multiple pairs of shoes. No matter what challenge you are running, be sure to bring at least two pairs of shoes. That way, if it rains or if your shoes are rubbing your feet wrong – you have a back up pair. Just make sure you train in the shoes you bring as well!

Expect the unexpected. While the weather forecast may look one way a few days prior to the races, weather can change quickly. Even though you may never need it, bring gear for any weather – rain, cold, humidity, you name it. Yes, it means packing more, but if some crazy weather comes along – it’s better to be prepared.

Double (or triple or quadruple) everything. For these multi-day challenges, you need to make sure you have enough of every running item. Socks, clothes, fuel – the list goes on and on. Make sure that you have enough for each race by doubling, tripling or quadrupling everything (depending on the number of races you are running). And when it comes to the necessities, bring more than you think you will need. Too much is better than not enough when it comes to runDisney challenges!

Take a look at the Expo vendors. While you should absolutely bring the shoes and clothes you have been training in (remember – nothing new on race day!), there are some items you can purchase at the Expo to lighten the luggage load. Look over the Official Event Guide and see what vendors will be at the Expo. You may be able to purchase your fuel, Body Glide and other small necessities at the Expo, instead of packing them in your luggage.

Don’t forget your chargers. With multiple race days, your electronics will be getting a lot of use! Make sure that you bring your chargers for EVERYTHING – phone, GPS watch, external battery, iPod, camera, etc. The last thing you want is for one (or more) of your electronics to run out of battery at the end of the first race!

Bring recovery items too. It’s very easy to focus on what you will need for your race days. However, don’t forget to bring items to help you recover in between the races as well! Compression gear, foam rollers, Biofreeze – pack the gear that helped during your training. And if you are running more than two days, bring extra!

Packing Tips for a runDisney Challenge

Soon all of the training and packing will be worth it when you cross that finish line multiple times! (Don’t forget to sign up and receive our FREE runDisney packing list!)


Magical Miles Buy Now 2


runDisney Training – The Need for Speed

Once you begin training for your first race, the goal is just to finish. Get a few races under your belt, and your focus may change a little. It’s very possible you may find that you want to beat your previous time. That’s right, you may have the need – the need for speed!

runDisney Training - Need for Speed

So how exactly do you increase your running speed? Here are a few tips on getting started!

Have a solid running base. It is highly recommended that you have a running base of at least 3 weekly runs for around 6 months. This means that your body is used to running and is more likely to handle the increase in speed. The key is to make sure that your body is ready – no one wants to be on the sidelines due to injury!

Add in speed bursts. During one of your normal runs, add in short speed burst. Sprint to the stop sign. Add a speed burst to the next driveway. They don’t have to be long, just get those legs moving! Be sure to add in a warm up and cool down mile as well, allowing your leg muscles time to acclimate.

Run those hills. It’s true – hills are speed work in disguise! Not only will the hill repeats strengthen your legs, they will also make you faster while on the level road. Find a hill nearby and run up and down it once a week.

Head to the track. After you have gotten used to adding in speed bursts or hill repeats to your training plan, it may be time to take it to the next level – the track! A local track allows you to work on various speed intervals like 400 m, 800 m, etc. The most popular is the 800 m intervals (thank Bart Yasso!) and is a great way to gauge your upcoming race time. No track? No problem! You can use a treadmill or fairly flat stretch of measured road as well.

Get some rest. While it may seem counterintuitive, rest is essential in getting faster. When you add in speed work or hill repeats, your legs will be tired. Make sure you are giving them the rest they need in between runs, and possibly even an extra rest day. Listen to your body – it knows when it needs a break!

runDisney Training - Need for Speed

While runDisney races aren’t always the race to get a personal record, getting faster is a great goal to have. Find a local race and show that the hard work was worth it!

Throughout these blog posts, we will cover all aspects of training from our own personal experience. Please note that we are not medical doctors, personal trainers, registered dietitians or in any way qualified to give individualized recommendations. If you have something you would like us to address, please send an email to!