runDisney Races through a Charity Group

It is no secret that registration day for runDisney races is chaos. When 12 PM Eastern hits, runners are frantically clicking the registration link and hoping to get themselves and even friends and family registered for the races before they sell out.

So what happens if a race does sell out and you still want to run?

runDisney Charity Group

One fantastic option is through a charity group. On runDisney’s website, you can click on the registration tab for the race weekend you are interested in, then scroll to the official charity groups for that weekend. If the group has space available, it is a guaranteed entry!

While we have both experienced many runDisney races in various ways, participating through a charity group was still on our list. So when the opportunity arose for Megan to come to Princess Half Marathon Weekend, she was excited to join a charity group for her race participation!

The first step is to research the official charity groups. For the 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend, there were 18 to choose from. Link by link, Megan researched each group. Some were very well known (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Special Olympics) and others were newer. Each held a story that tugged at your heartstrings, making us extremely thankful that organizations work together to help families in various needs.

Along with the stories, there also was a bit of fine print to pay attention to. Each group requires a fundraising minimum. It is very important to not only be aware of the amount involved to meet your requirement, but also the time frame in which you need to complete it by. Another aspect to consider is that some groups offer additional race amenities like a tent near the family reunion area, or even jerseys to wear during the race. Specially-priced Walt Disney World Resort hotel rates and park tickets are also available to those interested.

After all the research was done, Megan sat down and thought about which one meant the most to her. While it is very hard to choose one over another, being a former math and science teacher – she kept coming back to the Teaching & Learning Collaborative.  Their mission is to provide innovative, high-quality professional development and support for educators in math, science and technology – specifically for girls in STEM programs. Knowing that many of these programs deal with funding issues, this was an area she was more than happy to work with!

runDisney Charity Group

She contacted the group and they directed her to a link where she would register for the race. She paid the race fee and received a special link through that registered her directly with runDisney (through the charity group). After a few days, she was in runDisney’s system, allowing her to update her proof of time, etc.

After she was registered, the Teaching & Learning Collaborative sent her information on how to create her fundraising page. They even offered fantastic ideas for fundraising, such as asking for donations in the digits of Pi ($3.14 or $31.41), getting donations to have a pie thrown at you, a bake sale of pies, etc. (Do you sense the theme?) From there it is Megan’s job to get the word out and get the donations coming in!

This is a fantastic way to not only participate in a runDisney race, but raise money for wonderful causes. We highly encourage you to consider this option in the future – let’s make a difference in the world!

If you would like to donate to Megan’s charity group for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, please visit her TLC Pirate Princess Fundraising Page! In the spirit of STEM, consider donations in the digits of Pi! 


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Under “Villain Free Skies,” Manuel Lemus wins his first-ever US marathon; Mexico’s Alex de la Huerta defends her title as the top female finisher; This year’s marathon weekend included a new 10K Captain America race as part of the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge

2015 Avengers Half Marathon

Photo: © Disney

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2015) – Pedro Manuel Lemus Reyes of Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico, won this year’s Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon on Sunday, blazing through a field of more than 13,500 registered runners. Manuel smashed last year’s half marathon time by over three minutes.

Manuel led the Avengers pack from the start and never looked back. His time of (1:11:09) was three minutes faster than last year’s Avengers half marathon winning time, second-place finisher Nicholas Bowerman of Arlington Heights, Illinois, finished with a time of (1:11:48). Chris Trebilcock of Tampa, Florida, was third at (1:14.45).

“It was a very nice race,” said Manuel. “I really enjoyed all the support from the crowds of children, families and Disney cast cheering all along the course.”

Top women finisher Alex de la Huerta of Mexico City, wins back-to-back Avengers half marathons beating her time last year by fifteen seconds with (1:22:27). Kellie Nickerson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, repeated with a 2nd place finish at (1:28:29) and Jenessa Rose of Carlsbad, California, finished close behind to take third place at (1:28.58)

“I could not be happier with winning again this year,’’ said Huerta, returning to defend her title. “I always enjoy the great atmosphere of running in this race, the cheer of the fans all along the way makes me feel as if I am not even in a competition and I can just have fun, which is incredible.”

Cheered on by Avenger characters at the starting line, over 6,000 out of an estimated registered field of 13,500 runners in this year’s Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon exerted superhero strength as they ran in both the 10K and half marathons over the weekend for the honors of completing the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. New to this year’s runDisney Avengers Marathon weekend, is the Captain America 10K race – runners completing both races over the weekend, receive a special Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal in addition to receiving their 10K and half marathon medals.

The 13.1-mile course took runners through Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Park, Angel Stadium and four Orange County cities, with the final stretch going past Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel for an exciting finish. All along the route, they were greeted by cheering fans, music and live entertainment.

Sunday’s half marathon race was the finale of the three-day race weekend that continues to build in its popularity from last year’s inaugural debut. The new 10K Captain America race – part of the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge – sold out in just over 40 minutes.

In addition to the half marathon, other weekend events included the Avengers Super Heroes 5K, Captain America 10K and the runDisney Kids Races. In all, the race weekend included runners from ages 14 to 79 and all 50 states, plus over 25 countries.


The Pros and Cons of runDisney Challenges

It started with the Goofy Challenge. Those brave (or goofy) enough to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday morning, followed by the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday morning during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. For over 10 years, runners have been earning their extra medal with a smile on their face (and possibly a small limp in their step).

In the past few years, runDisney has announced many new challenges – six that are less intense than the Goofy Challenge, and one that only the truly crazy consider taking on.

Pros and Cons of runDisney Challenges

The Rebel Challenge, Glass Slipper Challenge, Dark Side Challenge, Pixie Dust Challenge, Dumbo Double Dare and Infinity Gauntlet Challenge allow runners to experience both the 10K and half marathon events and earn another medal. The Dopey Challenge (during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend) takes running to a whole new level as runners take on the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon.

With the continued announcements of these challenges, there has been a lot of talk – both positive and negative. Take a look at some of our excitement, and concerns.

Dopey Shirts


Price Tag. runDisney events are expensive. The 5K alone begins at $65! When you are running multiple events, that price tag only increases. For example, the Glass Slipper Challenge starts at $305, the Goofy Challenge is $360 and the Dopey Challenge is $550. And that doesn’t even include travel expenses like flights, hotel and meals. These prices continue to rise and we have to wonder – when will it become too much?

Quick Decision. As the popularity of runDisney events continues to rise, the races sell out at even faster rates. That means that runners need to decide on whether or not they want to register for the event over 8 months in advance! That is a lot of money to put down, not to mention all the issues that could arise between registration and race day. In the past, runDisney announced a new challenge just a few weeks prior to registration – making the decision turn-around time very fast. This has resulted in many runners signing up, before really taking a good hard look as to whether or not it was a wise choice.

Risk of Injury/Burnout. These challenges are no joke. Running two (or more) events back-to-back requires a lot of training, and possibly quite intense training. Preparing your body to run a longer distance on tired legs, not to mention running multiple days in a row, means a lot of time on the road for many months leading up to the event. Even experienced runners have a risk of injury with the training involved, so it’s important to know how your body may react to the training involved.

Planning Issues. With multiple early mornings involved with these challenges, there are scheduling issues to consider. (The first possibly being how you are going to wake up at 2 AM up to four mornings in a row!) With Marathon Weekend, you are adding another day or two onto your race plans. This requires checking your work and travel schedules. With all of these challenges, you need to consider extra days at the hotels, time on your feet at the parks, childcare, meals and much more. These considerations bring a whole new aspect to race weekends – one that may be difficult to plan.

runDisney Challenge


More Bling. It’s no secret that the runDisney medals are fantastic, so the chance to get even MORE medals is very alluring! Everyone is very excited to see what these new medals will entail. In the case of new challenges, the challenge medals will be the inaugural version  and having the ‘first’ of something is always exciting. Not to mention all the tech shirts you’ll have!

New Distance Offerings. It is very exciting to see new distances offered as part of runDisney race weekends. The addition of the 10K is something runners have been asking for, especially since it’s a great bridge between the 5K and half marathon distances. Also, creating challenges like Dumbo Double Dare and the Glass Slipper Challenge offer an opportunity for those runners who are not quite ready to tackle the Goofy Challenge. Having multiple distances to consider makes the race weekends even more exciting!

Multiple Race Opportunities. When the Disneyland 10K and Dumbo Double Dare were announced (the first of the “shorter” challenges), they sold out very fast. By offering 10K events and challenges to other race weekends, there are now many other opportunities to enjoy these new distances and challenges! If you missed out on one registration, there are others to choose from. And for those who are fortunate (and in shape) enough, you can take advantage of the multiple offerings and run them all!

Many Magical Moments. Walking into the Expo and getting your bib. Getting to the start line. Enjoying the enthusiasm from the runners around you. Taking photos with your favorite characters. Crossing the finish line with a smile on your face. There are MANY magical moments throughout a runDisney event, and these challenges offer multiple opportunities for you to experience them again and again!

runDisney Challenges

While these new challenges offer a great opportunity, there are definitely things to consider before signing up. As long as you are making a decision that fits with your goals, training plan, family schedule and vacation – anything is possible!


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More than 14,000 runners complete 6.7-mile shortened course due to weather; Canada’s Stephanie Zammit is top woman finisher

2015 Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Photo: © Disney

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (November 7, 2015) – Despite a weather delay and shortened race course, John Mott overcame recent knee surgery to win the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Saturday night at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando.

With a winning time of 34:30 over the entertainment-filled course that was shortened to 6.7 miles due to weather, Mott, 28, finished 12 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Juarez Silva of Sao Jose, Brazil (34:42) and 30 seconds in front of third-place finisher Fredison Costa, a Brazilian who resides in Kissimmee, FL and trains at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

“I came here as a workout because I’m training for a marathon, so this was kind of a last-minute thing,’’ Mott said. “I’ve just been getting over a knee injury. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish or not, but actually, cutting the course played in my favor because I didn’t want to put too much stress on my leg. So I’m pretty happy with it.”

Stephanie Zammit, 41, of Canada was the first female finisher with a time of 44:18. It was Zammit’s sixth Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and her first victory. Sara Ellis of Orangeville, Canada was second (44:45) and Jill Johnston of Fairhope, AL, (45:31) was third.

“The atmosphere is amazing, the course is amazing, and the people are great,’’ Zammit said. “Everything is amazing. I love it.”

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon capped off a sold-out weekend that included more than 20,000 runners during the two-day event. This included more than 14,000 runners who ran through multiple Disney theme parks Saturday night. The runners celebrated their accomplishment at an exclusive after-hours Finish Line Party at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, featuring more than 30 marketplaces offering fine cuisine and wine, plus Disney characters, musical performances and the opportunity to ride signature Epcot attractions.

The race began at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and weaved through Disney’s Hollywood Studios before finishing at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

During the holidays, there is a lot of extra magic to experience at Walt Disney World! One of the favorites is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, held from mid-November through late December.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

This ticketed event occurs multiple evenings each week. Officially beginning at 7 pm, Magic Kingdom is closed to everyone but those attending this party. Tickets begin at $74 each (plus tax) for adults and $69 each (plus tax) for children ages 3-9.

Throughout the evening, there are special holiday events for your family to enjoy. The shows are a must-see, including the Fairy Godmother lighting up Cinderella Castle and a Totally Tomorrowland Christmas full of music and dancing. And don’t forget to be on the lookout for your favorite Disney characters – they may even be in their holiday best!

Two of the most exciting events are Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes. The Christmastime Parade includes the favorites you recall watching on Christmas morning, from the dancing reindeer and toy soldiers, to Saint Nick himself! Holiday Wishes is a special version of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, with fun holiday music.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

To fully enjoy this party, here are a few tips:

  • Even though the party officially begins at 7 pm, in the past you been able to arrive to the park beginning at 4 pm.
  • Be sure to pick up a party-exclusive map. This will show you where you can enjoy complimentary hot cocoa and cookies (look for the lit-up candy canes), along with the times of the special events and shows.
  • This party has been a great addition to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Be sure to secure tickets early, as the party during race weekend often sells out.
  • Did you know that it snows on Main Street USA? That’s right, during the party your family can be in the midst of a magical snowfall!


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Choosing your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

With many options throughout Walt Disney World, it may be difficult to decide which hotel you will stay at during your next runDisney race weekend! Here is our guide that can help you make that tough decision a little easier.

Choosing your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

Be sure to check and see if your resort is a host resort during your runDisney race weekend BEFORE booking!

Resort Type

Walt Disney World offers four resort types for your family to enjoy. While price is definitely a factor, it is worth noting that some amenities are different as well. Take a look at the four resort types available:

Value – this is the least expensive option at Walt Disney World. Along with smaller room sizes, these resorts tend to have the least amount of amenities. Each resort includes two double beds or a king size bed, along with a coffee maker, mini-fridge and wireless internet. These resorts also have a quick service meal option as well as a pool area. (Note: Art of Animation is considered Value Plus as it also includes family suites and fantastic design.)

Moderate – for those wanting a mid-range resort, the moderates offer slightly larger rooms, along with the addition of a table service restaurant. Additional amenities such as recreational offerings and more room types are also included.

Deluxe – the deluxe resorts offer larger room sizes and fantastic locations. While the price tag is definitely higher, there are many additional amenities to enjoy. Club Level rooms are available for those wanting to enjoy snacks at the lounge. Along with pool areas and recreational activities, a spa and fitness center is also available for guests to use. Many deluxe resorts also offer different modes of transportation, including the boats and/or monorail.

Deluxe Villa – if your family needs room to spread out, the deluxe villas offer just that. Options include studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and even grand villas. Along with many of the deluxe resort amenities, there is also a community hall that includes board games, crafts and more.

When choosing your resort type, it is easy to look only at price tag. Be sure to decide what amenities are also important to your family so your resort is truly the right choice!


Once you choose your resort type, it is time to take a look at the location. While all resorts are on Walt Disney World property, each are located nearest to one park. For families that may be spending more time at Magic Kingdom, it would be worthwhile to choose a resort closest to that park.

Below are the park areas each Walt Disney World resort is located:

Magic Kingdom – Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge & Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Epcot – Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort & Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Animal Kingdom – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort & Disney’s All-Star Resorts

Disney Springs – Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside & Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter


If resort type and location aren’t enough, each Walt Disney World Resort hotel has a unique theme! Want to wake up and see animals outside your window? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is for you. Want to be transported to Radiator Springs? Book a room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Want to walk along the Boardwalk at night? Enjoy a room at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. There are many wonderful themes to experience, truly keeping the Disney magic alive when you head back to your resort!

Want more information on themes and resort amenities? Check out our resort reviews!

Choosing your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

No matter which Walt Disney World Resort hotel your family chooses, it will include the Disney magic you have known to love. Even better, you can keep coming back – trying out a new resort every time!


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