Category: Race Weekend Events

The Inaugural Star Wars Kids Races

Yesterday Kate shared her experience running the Inaugural Star Wars 10K with her son.  Right after that race, she took her 3 year old on his first runDisney adventure running in the Star Wars Kids Races!  Try not to freak out over his adorable costume…I totally did!


Kids Race morning started early for us, since I ran the 10K with my older son, Russell, and friend, Lori. We went straight from the race finish line to the Info Tent to beg for my younger son’s bib. I was so worried about picking up my older son’s 10K bib because he had no photo ID, that I didn’t realize until we got back to the hotel that I didn’t have William’s Kids Race bib. Given the amount of bibs and bags I was handling, I assumed I dropped it and therefore it would be a hassle to get a new one the morning of. But it was there in the box at Info, so…whew! I’m happy he was able to get his personalized bib, because every kid needs his first Disney bib preserved for all time!

We met my mother and William at Starbucks, refueled, and headed back to the start line to get my Yoda ready for battle. Um, I mean, racing. At no point did I prep him by telling him that as a three year old, he was at the top of his age group and could knock over toddlers in his attempt for victory. (I also opted for no lightsaber with his costume. You’re welcome, other parents.)


The corral entrances were very well marked, and well-guarded by cast members – one, and only one, parent was allowed in with the kids. After getting Yoda into his costume, my entourage headed to the finish line to take pictures while I went into the 1-3 corral with William. There were four races for kids – the Diaper Dash for the Under Ones, the 1-3s, the 4-6, and the 7-8s. WDW runDisney events have the mile run for 13 and under, but I assume there’s not enough room in Disneyland.


I made his Yoda costume out of fleece so I didn’t have to hem them. 😉  I found the costume and ears here (I enlarged the size by about 500%!) and the robe here.  The hat isn’t very hat-like because I’m not a great 3-D sewist, and I added ties to keep it in place.

The last time I was involved in the Kids Race, the older child ran alone, so doing the corrals was new to both of us. We walked around the edge of Downtown Disney to the start line, and…waited. Since we were near the back of the corral, we waited a good twenty minutes to reach the front. And since this was the babies and toddlers, there were quite a few meltdowns over the waiting. (I know how you feel, kids. Welcome to the world of Disney racing.)


The kids go in waves of about 5-6 each time, and it is very organized for what is, essentially, herding cats. The start line is taped off so each child has a ‘gate’, and they wait till each wave is nearly to the end before starting the next one.

Once we finally reached the front, we got the “Ready, set, GO!” and immediately…stopped and looked around.


Toddlers are the worst racers. He was so distracted by the people along the edge, and the other kids’ costumes, that I was pretty much dragging him along toward the finish line. I don’t really blame him – there’s nothing cuter than a barely-walking little girl in a Chewbacca tutu.


At this point, it seemed like it was taking longer than the 10K to get to the finish line. But we did manage to pass some of those babies right at the end. Thank goodness.

He was quite happy to receive his medal!

All the Kids Race bibs have a tear-off number for the parents to claim the correct child (not just the cutest one), and I had mine in hand as we approached the cast member to get out of the finish area. These situations make me nervous, as William is adopted from Korea. I shouldn’t have worried – the CM checked the numbers and didn’t bat an eye as she waved us through. They probably see a lot more families that don’t look alike than I have experiences being that family.


We collected the entourage, danced to the after-party music, and took some pictures of the whole group. My kids are adorable. And horrible at pictures.

And then it was back to the hotel for showers and park time in our “I Did It!” shirts before prepping for race #3 of the weekend! (I really should have gotten a 19.3+100m magnet for the car.)


Kate Starcher is a quilt designer, blogger, Half Fanatic, former Disney cast member, and so much of a Star Wars nerd that she has a cat named Tycho Celchu. See her quilt hidden Mickeys on t-shirt quilts at

Cigna Blogger Cook-Off During Marathon Weekend!

Besides missing all the races during big runDisney race weekends, there are so many other great events that I was pretty bummed to miss out on.  Like the Cigna Blogger Cook-Off, it sounded SO FUN!  Cooking in Disney with a bunch of running bloggers!  Well since I couldn’t attend, the first person that popped in my head was RAD contributor Hannah from Mission to Marathon.  I knew she would have a blast and it looks like she did…check it out!


I was really excited to have the opportunity to attend the Cigna Blogger Cook-Off at Walt Disney World Marathon event!

The event was held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at one of the outdoor tent/pavilion areas. Normally at Disney this would be an awesome location. Unfortunately, mother nature swooped in and gave us some chilly, damp weather that made it pretty cold and icky to be outside. But, cheers to CIGNA and Disney for finding some great blankets for everyone to use to keep warm!


I was a little nervous because this was my first blogger event and I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was very friendly and two other bloggers came and sat down with me. Smitha, from was super nice. I forget the other woman’s name (I should learn to write things down, or take phone notes, oops!). Smitha was running Dopey and sounded a lot like me when I say, I’m not a runner, I just run, haha!

The event started with an intro and some info from Pascale Jean, Cigna’s Health Promotion Manager and nutritionist. She was great to hear speak and offered some tips on getting to the finish, especially if you were doing Dopey.


We were then divided up into teams and assigned a chef from Disney. Our Chef was PJ who gave us lots of tips and told us all about being a Disney chef. He said he was working the Race Retreat and was telling us how they had to prep all the food overnight so it was ready for the morning. The food sounded so good! Maybe I’ll try race retreat for my next race?!



We were given a “mystery” protein at each group and ours’ had beef. We got working pretty quickly and decided to do a beef stew (at the suggestion of PJ). There were tables with herbs, spices, starches, and vegetables. I was a little surprised I didn’t see potatoes. Up here in Pennsylvania, beef stew has potatoes in it, haha.

We ended up with a delicious beef stew made with red wine, herbs, and vegetables. On the side we had pan roasted vegetables and some rice. It smelled sooo good and tasted just as delicious. Two of the people in my group were from Pennsylvania so it was really cool to meet someone from home when I was so far away. Funny how that happens so often, right?

Because of the cold we ended up huddling around the cooking food to keep warm. Everyone was very friendly and talking about their races, training, food, and their blogs.





The other groups had vegan/vegetarian protein (not sure what that was because they didn’t have a lot so it didnt’ end up on the final buffet), shrimp, chicken, pork, and turkey.


Everything turned out so good! Once we were done cooking, Chef Mickey showed up for some photo ops! Yay for Chef Mickey!


By then everything was done cooking and on the buffet so we could finally eat (I was starving)! Yum! The blogger prepped foods were very good and the buffet also included some rolls, salad and finished off with a chocolate chip bread pudding (sooo good) and berries.


Before we left they handed everyone a gift bag with some Cigna branded products (chap stick, band-aid packet, etc) and a Disney Gift Card.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend this event. It made me feel re-invigorated and want to blog more, but also to seek out more bloggers to follow. I have my staples, but I’d love to read about what other people are doing.


By the way, Cigna was promoting healthy lifestyle choices and celebrating the things that get runners to the start and finish line by using the Blippar App to Blipp images during the race weekend. I’m new to the whole Blippar thing so I’ll be spending some time figuring it out, but it looks pretty cool!

Thanks Cigna for a really cool event and thanks to Sarah for inviting me to attend!


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.


2015 WDW Marathon Weekend Kids Races!

What better way to get kids active and healthy then to get Mickey Mouse involved?!  runDisney Kids Races are held during every race weekend, but we don’t hear much about them.  They seem to get lost in all the hoopla around the big races, when in reality they are probably one of the highlights of the weekend!  I mean they are just TOO CUTE!  Well after Melissa ran the 10K this year, she headed over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where her son participated in the Kids Races for the 3rd year.  You might die over his tracksuit!!


Disney’s Kids Races are my favorite part of Marathon Weekend. This is how Disney hooked our family for the races. There truly is something for every member of the family at Marathon weekend. You can walk any of the races or run your heart out from young to old. This year is our 3rd year doing the kids races and the changes that Disney made this year were FANTASTIC.


Packet pickup for the kids was easy and fast. Unlike the adult races you get the shirt right there with your child’s bib so it makes the process just a little faster without having to go to a second location at the Expo. This year the kids race shirt was blue! I was thrilled as the last 2 shirts my son has were white which were stained and pretty unwearable before we even left the parks. However a this blue shirt will be around until it does not fit!


My son was running the 200m dash for ages 4-6, so he was the second batch of kids running as they start with the 100m. The kids races started at 11:00 am on the dot with the first wave of 100m little runners. The 100m dash is for kids 1-3 and usually the most fun to watch. Lots of crying kids who just don’t understand what they are supposed to do while everyone and Mickey Mouse cheer them on.

My sons distance would be starting around 11:20 am and he actually ran at 11:25 am. You can always count on Disney for being punctual! There are no set corrals for the kids race however they do start in waves. Parents and kids just line up at the start line and go when they are told. My husband waited with my son while I got a spot close to the finish line to take some pictures.


This year they started at a different part of the track running in the opposite direction as last year. I felt that this gave way more opportunities for pictures. The center of the track also felt less congested from last year and they started less children in each wave which was fantastic. I did not see one parent knock over a child do to over crowding and it also gave the kids a bit more space to run their little hearts out.


I love that parents can run with their kids but kids also have a parent claim tag attached to their bib that you can get your kids at the finish line. With so many kids and parents around it doesn’t hurt to have the claim ticket just in case you get separated.



At the finish line Mickey Mouse is waiting for the kids to give hugs and high fives before the kids get their hard earned medals. Just like the adult races once you get your medal there is water and snacks for some post race fuel. 200m is a long distance so my son was sure to make sure he had some snacks!



After the race we explored the 2 tents of activities located in the center of the track. One of the tents had caricature artists and the other had arts and crafts for the kids to do such as crown making and coloring stations. It was nice to have something to do before and after the race. Since the kids races are very short it did help expand their experience. We did not wait in the line for caricatures since it was pretty cold and windy but they did have some adorable car magnets with the kids race distance on them.


My son said it was the best race yet and I have to agree. Overall the Disney kids races do not disappoint. They truly have a way to make the kids feel like they are a big part of marathon weekend and entertain us parents at the same time. Plus where else at Disney could you have a cool experience, a Disney shirt, race medal and some snacks for under $20!



Melissa Rubenstein is a Family Chiropractor in Miami and a Homeschooling Mom.  She is married to a streak runner and has completed numerous runDisney races. 

The Health & Fitness Expo – A Runners Dream!

The Health & Fitness Expo at any runDisney event can be an endurance event in itself.  There is SO MUCH to buy see and do!  It’s a great place for all runners and fitness enthusiasts, even those not participating in the weekend’s events, to come and see the latest gear.  Jackie isn’t running until Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but that didn’t stop her from checking out all the rad things at the WDW Marathon Weekend Expo.  Let’s take a look!


While I have yet to run a race during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I have attended this race’s Expo many times, including this past one. The runDisney Health and Fitness Expo is the best way to kickoff the 2015 racing calendar and a run filled year. The excitement is contagious and you can’t help not wanting to be apart of it!



The second you walk inside the Jostens Center at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, you immediately feel the energy of thousands of runners anticipating their races and the vendors who are just as excited. As you are directed downstairs into the expo, you are immediately greeted with Raw Threads and the facade of the New Balance booth.



Not being able to resist the Raw Threads booth, with their cute designs and soft fabrics, I walked through their space to see what was available. They were fully stocked with favorite character designs and also had some newer Frozen and Star Wars designs, which are perfect for the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend next month!


My next stop was the New Balance booth. They had apparel and accessories available, but the main attraction are the official runDisney New Balance shoes! The latest shoes to join the collection are the limited edition 990v3 featuring Retro Mickey and Minnie, which were inspired by Steamboat Willie. You can checkout the new shoes and the older designs here.



After exiting the New Balance booth, I made my way to the back of the Jostens Center where all the runDisney official merchandise was. There surprisingly was not a long line waiting to checkout, like there normally is during the expo; it’s better to get there early or in the middle of the day!

They had all different styles of shirts for each race, along with accessories, bottles, mugs, and much more! I love the ‘I Did It!’ shirts-there was one available for each distance, plus Dopey and Goofy Challenges. I saw a lot of these walking around at the end of the weekend at Downtown Disney at the Cool Down Party.





Right in front of the runDisney booth, you can check out the medals for the weekend and chat with Jeff Galloway, who makes appearances throughout the day. I missed him this time around, but I did see him last year at Princess!



As I made my way to the front of the Jostens Center, I stopped by the Transitions photo booth and Sweaty Bands. Transitions had tons of fun props to put on for a photo that they send to your email. They also had this booth setup at the Cool Down Party! Sweaty Bands always has super cute headbands in many different prints and patterns. You can even find ones to match your running costume!



I had to stop by the Fit2Run booth, which is fully stocked with all your last minute weekend race needs from nutrition to apparel and shoes. You can pickup anything you may need for the weekend and training, which makes stopping by the Expo super convenient! I love how you can chat with the brand reps who will help with advice and their knowledge about the different products the booth carries. I had my eye on many things here, but my plan is to stock up Princess weekend! I have been eyeing some Dona Jo printed tights and I wish I just got them this weekend!


After you leave the Jostens Center and enter the Champion Stadium, you could spin the Fit2Run wheel and win all different prizes including Fun Runs to spend at their location in Downtown Disney!



Kicking off the year with the WDW Marathon Expo and Races are the perfect start to 2015! The camaraderie felt and excitement you experience at these expos just makes you more excited for your next runDisney event. Though I did not make any purchases this time around, I scouted out the goods for Fit for a Princess Expo next month and made a long list of items I have to get! Later this year I will register for the Walt Disney World Marathon (my first!!) and already cannot wait to come back and visit the expo and celebrate with all our fellow runDisney and RAD runners!

The Secret to WDW Marathon Weekend Expo

The first stop of any runDisney race weekend is the Health & Fitness Expo!  This is a HUGE event in itself and can get a bit overwhelming.  Suzanne is here today and fresh from Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  She’s got some great tips (and secrets) on how to navigate the Expo and get the most out of your visit!



You are registered. You are super excited to go get some goodies. Where do you start? First of all, WDW does a great job of marking and directing your stop!  First stop is at Packet Pick Up. Be sure to have your ID ready for them to check you in. If you forget your waiver (which is a must) you can print them outside the entrance to the packet pickup area.

The VoluntEARS are so wonderful about getting the participants in and out. We didn’t have to wait very long at all to get your bib, shirt and gear check bag.  One of the very nice things that WDW makes sure to do is to have everything you need in one bag. When you leave the packet pick up area, you aren’t juggling 52 things in your hands along with your bib. It is all nicely wrapped in the gear bag for you, which is awesome as well because it means one less stop!


The next best thing is that just a few steps away there was a spot for people to try on their shirts. I, of course, had to try mine on right away. I can’t have a shirt that doesn’t fit. I need to be able to show it off! If yours didn’t fit, you could go and exchange your shirt in just a few more steps. It was really nice to have everything for your packet in one area without having to make 15 stops along the way to get all your Disney goodies. Well played Disney!

Our next stop was to the Health and Fitness Expo. Almost everything that you might need for your race was available. One thing I will be sure to mention is that it is VERY busy and VERY crowded during the expo. If you are interested in getting the PRIME Disney merchandise/souvenir selection, then be sure to get to the expo early on the first day that it opens to get your Disney souvenirs. Literally, I witnessed one man have his shopping basket FULL of pins and magnets. There is no limit to buy on Disney racing souvenirs, so if collecting pins is a hobby for you, try to hook up with some other runners that are going on the first day if you can’t make it. I don’t know if they hold back souvenirs for each day, but based on the feeding frenzy that I witnessed, you better have what you want in your hands and don’t set it down!


One of the bonuses is that there are two Disney race merchandise areas in two separate halls, so if you are interested in getting a souvenir and it is out in one location, be sure to check the other location. When it was time to check out from the merchandise area, even though the line wrapped outside the booth and and down the row, the line moved very fast and the Disney staff was very organized to keep the lines moving.

After perusing the runDisney Merchandise area, it was onto the expo. Keep in mind that the expo is in two locations. If you are looking for running gear, massage systems, or just all around fun items (think tutus), there is all you can imagine. Be sure to head outside as well because there are vendors outside the exhibit halls, too. Located on the outside of the exhibit halls was the awesome, leather-smelling, Dooney & Bourke purses booth! You could smell the scent of the brand new, never been used leather as soon as you walked into the room. The great news was that you could purchase a purse even if you hadn’t pre-ordered one. I was worried that I might have missed the opportunity, but no worries! They had a location. I was able to go in and see the purses to see if I needed to purchase one. I like to see the purses first to be sure it is something I will actually USE. I am so glad that I walked around the outside vendors. I might have missed out on commemorating my vacation with an awesome purse!


The last stop we made was at the Disney Artists booth. I didn’t even know this existed. Right next to runner tracking signups are these great Disney character artists. For FREE (which as you know, very few things are free with Disney), the artists will draw a picture of you in a funny, cartoon-like manner. They are such phenomenal artists and to see what they draw is so fun! In speaking to them, they said that they work for Disney and do different Disney events. They are incredibly talented, and I was super-excited to get my own personal piece of Disney memorabilia.


So, what’s the secret? Get there early if at all possible and if you can, PLAN IT. If you are taking Disney Transportation (which is awesome by the way…no too small yellow school buses for runDisney people… charter baby, all the way), be on the first bus there! If you are an experienced expo-goer, try to plan out the booths that you want to go to first. It makes it much easier to navigate, and you don’t have to feel like a sardine in a feeding frenzy for long. If you are a first-timer, check out all the booths. It is pretty fun to see what is out there in the running world. If you forgot any items like me (who needs gus when you can pack your much needed Minnie ears!), it is easy to pick them up at the expo. However, if you desire a certain type/flavor of an item (nourishment/hydration), you may not be able to get your favorite one there. But at least you won’t be without an item that you need. Yay! Disney to my rescue!


Disney does A LOT of things right (transportation, navigation, people moving, friendliness, course support, etc). They are awesome about moving A TON of people around expertly. Think 30,000+ people over the course of 3 days! They have a variety of vendors for the expo, and they are fantastic about getting wonderful, friendly voluntEARS to help them. Be sure to say thank you to all the voluntEars and the workers at expo and at packet pick up. They will love you for it! If you have the chance to runDisney, DO IT! You won’t be sorry!

Run strong,

Suzanne Berkey



Suzanne Berkey is a Disney-loving, motivational speaking, running junkie. She is the chief writing officer aka “The Boss” of The Warrior Within Me blog. She uses her own personal 100lb. weight loss experience to guide others to find their own warrior within them. Why does she run? Because she is finally able to! Check her out at  

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