Since today is the day that registration opens up to the general public for the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon in January, I thought I’d take this opportunity to report on one of the best aspects of any runDisney event: the kids’ races.
Disney bills the 5k as a “family-friendly fun run,” but 3.1 miles is still a heckuva distance for the littlest ones among us. In response, they’ve set up the kids’ runs, which have a “race” for every member of the family–right down to babies crawling in the diaper dash.
We happened to be in Orlando and at Walt Disney World last October during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Timed to coincide with that event is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. We couldn’t resist signing the kids up for a race and checking out what runDisney has to offer our youngest athletes.
The race experience (for everyone) begins at the Health & Fitness Expo. At Walt Disney World, that means the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Race packet (including bib and t-shirt) pickup is here, and there’s lots of stuff for sale from various vendors. There’s a few things that small kids might find interesting, but on the whole, there’s not much for them here. If possible, it might be a good idea to do this without the little ones in tow. For Zoey, the most interesting part of this outing was getting to see the Braves spring training field.
Race day (as you might expect from Disney) is quite an event for the kiddos. For the Wine & Dine version, there was a stage set up with two emcees playing music, telling jokes, being Christmas-y, and generally being goofy (pun intended).
The atmosphere was excellent, and the organizers did a great job of keeping to the schedule and making sure everyone knew what was happening when.
Both of the Roarbots ran in their respective heats: the little one 100 meters, and the older one 200 meters. The youngest age group (1-3 years old) obviously has the most parents running in tandem with their kids. Because of this, the track can get crowded, but the kids (and their grownups) start in waves, so it’s not total pandemonium.
For the older age groups, there are far fewer parents sharing the track, and the kids really put their hearts into it. Everyone cheers like mad, so every kid feels like a superstar as he or she runs around the track.
If you ask the kids, I think most of them would agree that the absolute best part of the race are the tables of goodies after they finish. A mountain of bananas, fruit snacks, craisins, granola bars, juice, water…it was certainly enough to make my Roarbots happy.
It would be all too easy to just give kids a t-shirt for running and be done with it. That’s what happens at most races. But not Disney. They don’t skimp here. Every finisher gets a medal. They’re not the hard, metallic medals that are usually given out to Half Marathon and Marathon finishers (they’re made of a softer, flexible plastic), but they certainly feel “real” to kids. It’s a fantastic way to make them feel even prouder of themselves for finishing.
Verdict? If you’re in the area of Disneyland or Walt Disney World during a runDisney event–and you have kids–I would definitely recommend it. Even if you’re not running a longer race yourself, it’s still a fantastic event for kids. It’s a great experience, and it’s never too early to set an example of healthy habits and good exercise.
Keep the following in mind:
- Different runDisney events have different schedules. For example, the Wine & Dine race had kids’ races scheduled for one morning. The WDW Marathon in January has kids’ races scheduled for four separate days.
- Costs vary but include a personalized bib, t-shirt, and finisher medal.
- Almost all runDisney events sell out. The kids’ races generally take a lot longer to fill up, but they do sell out. So plan early and reserve your spot.
- The age groups are as follows:
- 12 months and under: diaper dash
- 1-3 years old: 100m dash
- 4-6 years old: 200m dash
- 7-8 years old: 400m dash
- all children 13 and under: Mickey Mile