When registering for a runDisney event, there are many aspects to look at. The first is deciding which race (or races) to sign up for. Then there are commemorative items such as pins and necklaces to consider. Next are the Kids Races for your little runners or ChEAR Squad for your spectators. The list goes on and on. And for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and Princess Half Marathon Weekend, there is an extra special item to consider – Race Retreat.
With a $120 price tag for one event (or $230 for those participating in the Goofy or Dopey Challenge), this isn’t a cheap option, especially when tacked on to race registration, hotel, meals and other travel expenses. So the question remains, what is Race Retreat and is it worth it?
Race Retreat is available for the half marathon or full marathon races during Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends. It is a separate tent in the Family Reunion area, near the finish line, that requires a wristband to enter.
According to the runDisney website, the following is included:
- Pre-race bagels and fruit, plus coffee, water and Powerade
- Temperature-controlled tent with lounges
- Private restrooms and bag check
- Padded stretching area
- Internet access to check live results
- Live video feed of the race
- Brunch with hot and cold beverages
- Changing tents
- Recover Zone including padded stretching area, self-treatment and first aid station
- Massages (available for purchase, first-come, first-serve)
- Commemorative item, such as socks and/or a towel
- Disney character appearances
Race Retreat Package Pricing
- Walt Disney World® Marathon – $120
- Walt Disney World® Half Marathon – $120
- Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge or Dopey Challenge – $230
- Disney’s Princess Half Marathon – $120
New in 2017, Race Retreat will also include exclusive early access to the Health and Fitness Expo for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. From 10-11 AM on the Wednesday of race week, runners with Race Retreat can access the expo before it opens.
Race Retreat opens at 3:00 AM for runners. It is open until 10:00 AM for the half marathon races, and 1:00 PM for the full marathon. Spectators and family members can join in the Race Retreat tent after 5:30 AM, but MUST purchase the Platinum ChEAR Squad package to enter.
Throughout the past few years, we have experienced Race Retreat on numerous occasions. These have included Princess Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon and the Dopey Challenge, in particular.
Prior to the race, you are welcomed into the tent, which is full of round tables and chairs. Having a place to rest your legs while enjoying food such as bagels and fruit along with coffee and water was a nice touch. There are gluten free food options such as fruit, or you can also contact runDisney prior to the event to let them know of your food allergies.
Race Retreat also offers a separate bag check area and port-o-potties. Although the regular bag check at runDisney events is very well organized, it is nice knowing your bag never leaves the tent area and is supervised at all times. The separate port-o-potties are also a nice perk as those lines can get VERY long before a race! However, we have noticed the lines becoming longer in Race Retreat around 4:00 AM, right before heading to the corrals, but the line appeared to move fairly quickly.
Another plus to Race Retreat is that the tent is temperature controlled. Since it has been quite hot and humid during Marathon Weekend in the past, it is nice to go inside a cooler location (both before and after the race). Knowing that the weather can always be a factor, having a location to keep warm, cool or dry does give peace of mind!
After the race, runners can enjoy the Race Retreat area! It was nice to walk into a cool area and have a place to sit down and take off our shoes. It was easy to get our bags from bag check and grab some post-race food such as eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, fruit, bagels, coffee, water, Powerade and soft drinks. (We have also purchased the Platinum ChEAR Squad so that our spouses could enjoy Race Retreat while we were running the races as well as when we were finished.)
We were also given a commemorative towel and socks, which we still use regularly! There were areas to self-treat or get first aid, as well as a massage station. TVs also streamed the finish line area, and it was neat to see the smiles as runners crossed the finish line! And as an added bonus, there were Disney characters available to take photos with – and in our experience, they were unique characters! Inside the tent was never crowded and it was a great opportunity to talk with other runners.
So is Race Retreat worth the cost? It ultimately depends on what you want your runDisney race experience to be. Can you still enjoy a runDisney event without being in Race Retreat? Absolutely! We have run many runDisney events, so we know the races are fun without the addition of Race Retreat. However if you would like to have a pampering experience where you don’t need to worry about bag check, port-o-potties, weather conditions and food before or after the race, Race Retreat is highly recommended.
One big thing to note is that the Race Retreat for a half marathon may not be worth the cost. Depending on the runner’s race time, there may not be much opportunity to enjoy the amenities. During the Princess Half Marathon in particular, it was clear they were cleaning things up and informing runners to get their items and leave.
Overall, it is a fun experience, especially for the Walt Disney World Marathon or the challenges, or if you are just looking for a luxurious experience!