This is part 2 of our series on the Runner’s World Challenge during the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. See Runner’s World Challenge Overview for a look into what the challenge includes.
UPDATE: For 2015, Runner’s World Challenge is only available for the Dopey Challenge. It does not include the resort package as it did in 2013.
As Marathon Weekend approached, we were anxious to experience the Runner’s World Challenge, especially in correlation with a premier runDisney event. However, things don’t always go as planned and we did come upon a few issues.
We registered for the Challenge the week the package was announced. However, in the fall another Runner’s World Package was introduced. The package we had purchased was The Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge Package and included:
Runner’s World Challenge participants will receive:
Entry to the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World® Marathon, Half Marathon, or Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge with preferred corral placement
A membership in a 16-week training plan designed by The Runner’s World Experts, and Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso, who has coached hundreds of elites, celebs, and everyday runners (celebrity/VIP appearances subject to change or cancellation without notice)
Weekly e-mails from Bart with guidance on training, nutrition, injury prevention, and motivation
One year of access to the Runner’s World Challenge experts on nutrition, training, and injury-prevention
Access to a private Runner’s World Challenge web site, where you connect with other runners training for the race
A copy of The Runner’s World Complete Book of Running
A Runner’s World Challenge tech shirt
A four-month premium membership to Runner’s World Personal Trainer, our interactive training log
Private packet pick-up for Runner’s World Challenge participants
Commemorative 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend keepsake gift
Pre-race course strategy session with the Runner’s World experts and editors (on the afternoon of January 11, 2013 for the Half Marathon/Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge runners, or on January 12, 2013 for the Marathon/Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge runners)
Shakeout runs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with the Runner’s World team
Entry to the Pasta in the Park Party on Saturday night at Epcot® where the Runner’s World VIPs & editors will be in attendance (party includes buffet pasta dinner, live DJ, Disney characters and viewing of the fireworks spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot®)
Entry to the Race Retreat (Pre-race amenities include hot and cold beverages with fruit and bagels, dedicated stretching area, and private portalets & bag check. Post-race amenities include a nutritious buffet, massage, private portalet & bag pick up, and live results)
Post-race celebration on Sunday night at the Cool Down at Downtown Disney®
Three (3) night consecutive stay in a double-occupancy (standard) room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort or Disney’s Beach Club Resort, subject to availability with check-in on January 11, 2013 and check-out on January 14, 2013.
Hospitality suite at a location in the Walt Disney World® Resort (to be determined)
Private group motorcoach or similar transportation to and from the start and finish lines from the hotel (exact type and schedule of such transportation to be determined by Disney)
In the fall, another package was released which was called the Runner’s World Challenge, excluding Ultimate. (For sake of this post, we will refer to this package as the basic Runner’s World Challenge.) Since the basic package included a majority of what the Ultimate package did, it’s simpler to state the exclusions.
- Three (3) night consecutive stay in a double-occupancy (standard) room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort or Disney’s Beach Club Resort, subject to availability with check-in on January 11, 2013 and check-out on January 14, 2013.
- Hospitality suite at a location in the Walt Disney World® Resort (to be determined)
- Private group motorcoach or similar transportation to and from the start and finish lines from the hotel (exact type and schedule of such transportation to be determined by Disney)
Note: Pricing for the basic Runner’s World Challenge package was $449.00 for the half marathon or marathon, and $699.00 for the Goofy Challenge. Prices are for 2013.
Now, here is where things get tricky. The basic Runner’s World Challenge did not include accommodations which was actually an advantage over the Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge package. Why? Because in late fall, Walt Disney World offered a substantial room-only discount which covered Marathon Weekend dates. Therefore, Runner’s World participants who had booked their room separately had the opportunity to lower their room rate. Whereas, Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge participants were locked into a non-refundable package that prevented their room rate from being adjusted. Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge participants were paying 30- 40% more for their room rate (in a standard room) versus those staying in a Deluxe resort with the Winter Room promotion.
Additionally, in early January, we received an itinerary with details regarding the events associated with the Runner’s World Challenge. It was here we noticed a few errors and discrepancies from the original package we purchased:
- The phone number for the Runner’s World Challenge was incorrect.
- The shake out run was only available for those participating in only the full marathon. The run was scheduled at ESPN Wide World of Sports during the half marathon. Therefore, those participating in (or spectating) the half marathon or Goofy Challenge would still be racing or at Epcot.
- Private packet pickup was originally announced to be at the Beach Club Resort. However after adding the basic Runner’s World Challenge package, private packet pickup was moved back to a private area at WWOS.
- There were no details on the existence of a Hospitality Suite or private transportation (two of the three inclusions to the Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge package).
A week prior to Marathon Weekend, we received an email to inform Runner’s World Challenge participants that if their spouses or family members wanted to join us at Pasta in the Park or Race Retreat, separate tickets would need to be purchased. Typically, at other events Runner’s World Challenge has a private post-race tent where family can join runners for free. However, since Runner’s World would be using Race Retreat for their post-race party, having family members join for free was not possible. We were already aware that our family members would need separate tickets and we had purchased the extra Pasta in the Park and Platinum ChEAR Squad tickets for our spouses months prior. The delayed email also contained a discount code that we were unable to use since we had previously purchased admission for family members. While the discount was small, it is always frustrating to receive a discount code that you are not able to use due to your prior planning and preparation.
We took a closer look at the original description of the package and noticed a quite few discrepancies, including the above items. We also priced out the individual components of the package and realized that we were paying a very high premium for the extra perks involved. Therefore, we contacted both runDisney and Runner’s World Challenge to get explanations.
Jennifer from Runner’s World called us within minutes stating that they would address the issues immediately and someone would call us back by the next business day. Sarah from runDisney called us the next day to address our concerns. Although a few items were not able to be changed, both parties were willing to work with us to make the Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge a positive experience. From our conversations, it was evident that the issues we were experiencing were from the runDisney side, not the Runner’s World side of the package. We were thankful they listened to our concerns.
Realizing that this was a new package addition for runDisney (and during their largest event in their history), we tried to give runDisney the benefit of the doubt. However, it could easily appear there was some bait and switch going on – especially with experiences that are marquee events for Runner’s World Challenge which were now being excluded. We want to state that we feel that there was no intentional bait and switch on the part of runDisney or Runner’s World and the issues we faced were due to organizational challenges.
With our concerns addressed by both Runner’s World and runDisney, we were very anxious to see how this opportunity would unfold as it had been touted as a VIP experience.
Up next: Our Walt Disney World Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge Experience
Disclosure: The authors purchased the Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge package and were not compensated for this review. All opinions are our own.