Category: runDisney Meet Ups

On The Road To Disney Parks: runDisney Visits Atlanta!

I’ve been a HUGE fan of the Be Our Guest Podcast for at least 4 years now.  Not only is the show a great way to fill that Disney void between trips, but the community is like nothing else!  Everyone is beyond friendly and supportive, and there are a bunch of runners in the community as well!  So when I saw that one of the hosts of the show, Rikki Niblett, was lucky enough to get into the first runDisney Meet Up on the road in Atlanta, I reached out to her to see if she’d cover the event for RAD.  I’m so glad she agreed because she wrote up this awesome recap of the event.  This got me so excited for future runDisney events around the country!  Take it away Rikki!

I am not a runner.  I don’t pretend to be.  Running has never been something that I’ve been interested in.  Matter of fact, I’ve always said that I don’t run unless someone is chasing me.  At Disney races, I’ve always been a member of the chEAR squad. I love to support the real runners, but that’s as far as I like to take things.  (Heck, I even married a runner and while he was out doing “fun” runs around the neighborhood, I would sit at home happily on the couch with my iPad in my hands and the TV on.)

So, I bet you’re asking yourself…how did this non-runner get signed up to attend the first stop in the runDisney On The Road To Disney Parks Atlanta meet up?

For that story, we have to go back two years ago, back to 2011.  You see, a friend of mine’s daughter was supposed to run the (then) Disney Halloween 5K, which was tied to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  With no training, what-so-ever, I said I would run it, did so, and thus started my running relationship with runDisney.

2011 Race

I hadn’t done a race since then, at least until this past July.  My best friends are all runDisney participants, so when we were all onboard the Disney Dream, they wanted to run the Castaway Cay 5k.  I begrudgingly got up early to go run around the island.  Run…heck…I walked it…came in last, but I still got my medal!  So, here’s this non-runner that’s now two runDisney events.

Castaway Cay 5k

Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago.  My one bestie told me that she’d seen that Disney was going to bring their first ever On The Road To Disney Parks events to my city, Atlanta!  I decided to stalk the website with every intention of just signing up my husband.  Once we sent his email off to be entered to be chosen for the event, I thought about it and decided…you know…it’s only two miles…I’d just done three a couple of months ago…I should sign up too.  So, I did.

A few hours later, the list of names was announced and we were both on it.  Which is when panic mode set it.  Um…I was going to have to do this two mile fun run.

So, I logged onto my Pinterest account where I’d recently and ironically saved information on the Couch To 5k method.  I better start “practicing,” as I like to call it.  So, out I went, every day for practice runs.  I went from someone who could barely run 2 minutes to being able to get in 7 full minutes of running right before the event took place!  I’d officially run a little over a mile in my neighborhood during my practices and…I was kind of liking it.  I was ready for the event!


The On the Road To Disney Parks event took place on Saturday, November 16.  My husband and I got super up early and drove down to Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves play.  Check in started at 6:15 am and as soon as we walked in, we could see the large runDisney logo emblazoned on the video screen.  We checked in, got our shirts with the awesome logo on the back and waited, snapping pictures and meeting up with friends, both new and old.


The event started off with an introduction from Michael Cain, who represented the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Then we learned about Good Form Running from Brian with New Balance.  After that, Mickey Mouse came out to help cheer us on as it was now time to run!

Mickey's Here to ChEAR!

Mickey’s Here to ChEAR!

They split us up into two groups.  Group one was full of the runners, where as group two would be going out with Mr. Jeff Galloway himself to try out the 20/20 running method.  (Running for 20 seconds/walking for 20 seconds.)  I of course, chose the Galloway method, since I certainly couldn’t run the whole time.  Group two would also feature the 2008/2012 British Olympian Barbara Parker! (Who I kind of ran with for a few minutes during the event…how cool?  I can now say that I’ve run with an Olympian!)

Running With Jeff Galloway ©Disney

Running with Jeff Galloway!

I will admit, personally, this fun run was really hard for me.  It could be because of a couple of reasons.  One was that I’d never trained like that, so it was difficult for me to get a handle on it.  The second reason why I had a hard time doing the 20/20 method is because the majority of the runners participating in the event were also doing this method.  This meant that there was quite a large crowd all running together and by the time the front runners were starting running, we were just starting to walk…it was incredibly difficult to keep the correct pace.  I’m not knocking the method.  I’m sure it’s a wonderful one to use.  But for me, a new runner, it was incredibly difficult to get the hang of.  (Maybe I need to go outside and practice with it around my neighborhood to get the real sense of how it’s supposed to work.)

Despite how hard the running ended up being for me, I had an absolute blast!  It was kind of a chilly and foggy morning, but none of that mattered once we got on the road!  We started by running through the streets of Atlanta, going through a portion of the area that was used in the 1996 Olympics and past the Olympic Rings (with an Olympian!  Crazy!).  We then made it to the Capitol building, running all around it, then circling back to Turner Field.


running through rings

Once we made it into Braves country, we started to run inside the stadium, through the back tunnels.  This was fun!  Then, we turned a corner and saw the light, literally, as we could see our path lead us to the field.  Once we got on the field, we started taking photos in the dugout (I’m a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, so I made a joke about the Braves postseason run…though can’t say we’re the champions either…) and then we got to meet up with Miss Minnie Mouse herself.

in the dugout

with Minnie

We ran the rest of the way, around the warning track and made our way back to the main entryway for the park.  Here, runDisney had a fantastic breakfast for us that featured yogurt, cereal, a spinach and egg quiche, coffee, fruit, and water.

Once settled in, the guest speakers series started.  First off, Tammy Jacobson, marketing area manager for runDisney talked about a new hashtag that will be introduced called #WhyIRunDisney.  People will be encouraged to submit their own stories of why they run Disney and they may just want to share your story.

Jeff Galloway then discussed his run/walk method and gave encouragement that truly anyone can run in the big races.  Diet Diva Tara, runDisney’s nutritionist, got on stage to discuss proper nutrition and the importance of fueling up for runners.  She talked about how gaining wait while training can happen if you over indulge because you know you ran.

Diet Diva Tara

Diet Diva Tara

After that was the part that most of the crowd was excited for…the representatives from New Balance.  While they didn’t show the actual shoe, they did give us a sneak peek at which Disney character would be featured on the heel.  (Sorcerer Mickey will be on the men’s version, and pretty in pink Minnie will be on the women’s option.)  The shoes will be the same model, but an updated version of the 360.  Also announced was that there would be a kids shoe that would correspond with the adult version.

2014 Men's Shoe Design

2014 Men’s Shoe Design

2014 Women's Shoe Design

2014 Women’s Shoe Design

Olympian Barbara Parker then got up and spoke about what it’s like to train for the Olympics and she also announced that she was pregnant during the race that day.  She shared a few tips on how to properly run while expecting.

Barbara Parker & New Balance

Olympian Barbara Parker & New Balance

Finally, from Runner’s World, Warren Greene discussed that they are bringing back their challenge to the 2015 runDisney events.

Warren Greene from Runner's World

Warren Greene from Runner’s World

We all then got to take photos with Mickey and Minnie together!  Once it was over, we received some awesome swag bags, with a water bottle, Cliff and Luna bars, a gift card for Puma, and more.

With Mickey and Minnie

It was a truly awesome event that I am so, so glad I got to participate in.  If one of the One The Road To Disney Parks events comes near you, I strongly suggest you try to sign up!  They did a phenomenal job.

Personally, I believe I am living proof of what runDisney’s mantra is.  That anyone can run.  While I still wouldn’t call myself a runner, I have to say, I am excited to get out and go running now.  I can’t say that I’ll be doing the next Disney race I can sign up for, but I can say that I’m ready to get more active, a Disney race may be in the cards though.  You never know.  As for right now, I think I’m going to head for a run.  Thanks runDisney!  You officially worked your magic on me!

Thanks so much Rikki for this great recap!  I love to hear when someone else gets inspired to get out there and get fit from a runDisney event…that’s what it’s all about!

Where do you want to see the next On The Road To Disney Parks event ?

runDisney 2013 Wine & Dine Meet Up!

My running buddy Jim DeMarco was one of the lucky few who got into the very first runDisney Meet Up to be held at night over Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  He was awesome enough to recap the whole event for RAD and it looks like it was a blast!  Take it away Jim…  

Well, it was my third Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend, and I was extremely excited (and nervous) as the time got closer.   The week before the race though, something great happened…I was one of only 125 people lucky enough to be chosen for the runDisney Wine & Dine Meet Up!!!   This was my second meet up (first one was in Disneyland in August), but this was also the first nighttime meet up!

The meet up took place the Thursday before the race.   Check in was in front of Epcot at 7:00 pm, where we received a great maroon runDisney shirt, as well as a Fast Pass for Test Track!  Something to do until we had to reconvene at 8:45 pm!   What was at 8:45 pm you may ask?   Exclusive priority viewing for Illuminations!!!!   I haven’t seen Illuminations in years, and boy, did I miss it!  All 125 of us got to mingle for a few minutes before 9:00 pm and the main show took place!

01 W&D MeetUp

After Illuminations ended and cleared out, we all marched over to the American Garden Pavilion to have some vegan chicken skewers, cookies and vegan wine (who knew there was vegan wine?  Not me!!!).

After we all got to nosh on some food, we sat down for the main presentation.   Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director at Walt Disney World, acted as MC to introduce the main guests!

02 W&D MeetUp

First up was Jeff Galloway and Diet Diva Tara Gidus (Fitness Consultant for runDisney).   They offered some great tips for fitness, and how to have the best run possible!

03 W&D MeetUp

After Jeff and Tara, we were treated to a presentation by two of the chefs and a wine connoisseur for Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival!   They talked about their favorite foods and wines, and even guided us on what vegan wine actually was!

04 W&D MeetUp

Then came my favorite part – the New Balance folks took the stage to talk about the 2014 runDisney running shoes!   While we didn’t get to actually see the sneakers, we did get to see a video, which showcased new running shoe inserts coming in 2014.  The inserts will commemorate the races of those special weekends!   Even the box that the shoes will come in has been redesigned for 2014, featuring Mickey on the cover!!!  (Get a sneak peak of the new shoe designs here!)

05 W&D MeetUp

After the New Balance presentation, we got to have pictures taken with the BIG CHEESE!!!   (here’s one of me and the head honcho!).

06 W&D MeetUp

Now it was officially time to do some running!   We were split into two groups, straight running and the other group was Run/Walk (Jeff Galloway method).   We did one and ½ loops around World Showcase and then headed to the big fountain in Future World for a group photo (BIG GROUP!!!)

07 W&D MeetUp

Well, the clock was about to strike midnight…and what does one do during the Wine & Dine half weekend at midnight?  Have a champagne toast!

08 W&D MeetUp

Overall, it was a great meet up, got to meet some great people and see old friends, and spark the flame for the weekend!    runDisney meet ups are amazing!  If you ever have the lucky opportunity to attend one, get pumped for some fun and surprises!!!    Cheers!

A Mad runDisney Meet Up Through Disneyland!

To say that my first trip out to Disneyland was magical is an understatement, but who knew it would be mad?!  Well runDisney did of course!  With the new Disneyland 10K theme focused around Alice in Wonderland, it was only fitting that the runDisney meet up theme would be centered around the film as well.

As with most runDisney meet ups, the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend meet up started at the crack of dawn.  Over 50 runners met under the Sorcerer’s Hat at the Disneyland Hotel bright and early to run our way through the parks, we must be mad to do that!

01 RD-DL-Meetup

runDisney BFF Amanda & I!

runDisney BFF Amanda & I!

We made our way over to Downtown Disney to get the low down on the run from Tony Morreale of Disney Sports and get some great tips on good form running from the folks at New Balance.

03 RD-DL-Meetup

04 RD-DL-Meetup-New-Balance

Let’s Make Excellence Happen  is the motto when it comes to running and New Balance, and they are dedicated to helping runners achieve their goals in a safe and healthy way.  We were given the four main goals of good form running, which are:

  • Posture
  • Mid-Foot
  • Cadence
  • Lean

They came up with a great mnemonic to remember this by: Party’s Make Cinderella Late…genius!  We walked through each goal and were encouraged to try to use these tips as we ran through the parks.  Easy for them to say…I knew I would be distracted by all the Disney goodness on our run 🙂  Luckily there is a video available to brush up on good form running while at home.

Then guess who interrupted our lesson??  The White Rabbit of course!  And as usual, he was LATE!  But what else were us Disney runners to do, but chase him??

05 RD-DL-Meetup-White-Rabbit

So we took off in pursuit of the White Rabbit and into Disneyland, but obviously I had to stop for a pic with Joey Fatone first…we did become BFFs at the WDW Marathon meet up after all 😉


Off we ran through Downtown Disney and into Disneyland Park.  Even though I had visited the park for the 2 days prior, there was something magical about being there at dawn.

06 RD-DL-Meetup-Disneyland

And then running down Main Street USA with Joey Fatone (totally surreal for this ‘Nsync fan) and through Sleeping Beauty Castle made it even more magical.

07 RD-DL-Meetup-Main-Street

08 RD-DL-Meetup-Castle

As we entered Fantasyland, I noticed the group in front of me slowing down and wondered what was happening.  Then I saw Alice and was so excited for a fun photo op!

010 RD-DL-Meetup-Alice

What I wasn’t expected was that we were going to be able to ride the Mad Tea Party!!  As a Walt Disney World native, I must say I LOVE this version of the attraction.  It is out in open and the lanterns are so whimsical.  I often find it difficult to get someone to ride the tea cups with me in WDW because of all the spinning, so I was excited to get to experience this in Disneyland with no wait!

011 RD-DL-Meetup-Teacups

09 RD-DL-Meetup-Sarah-Amanda

But what made the experience even better was riding with these folks:

012 RD-DL-Meetup-Teacups

How many celebrities can you cram into a tea cup?

Yes, there is video…

I totally could’ve stayed on there all day, but we had to move on.  We ran through Tomorrowland and back down Main Street towards Disney California Adventure.  Do I look excited??

014 RD-DL-Meetup

We headed towards Cars Land, which was equally as beautiful in the early morning hours, and then on to Hollywood Land and what else but the Mad T Party area!

013 RD-DL-Meetup-Carsland

There we were greated once again by Alice who was now joined by the Mad Hatter.  I LOVE this character…he is always so fun to interact with 🙂

015 RD-DL-Meetup

We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock of Disney Sports and treated to a continental breakfast and some much needed coffee.

016 RD-DL-Meetup

Bob Hitchcock

Then the highlight of the morning…something I totally was not expecting.  Bob and Faron Kelly of runDisney Marketing unveiled the new runDisney medals for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekends!  O.M.G.  they are gorgeous!  I can’t wait to get that new Wine & Dine medal in 2 short months!!!

017 RD-DL-Meetup-MedalsTo say the group was excited is an understatement.  Bob and Faron fielded questions about upcoming events and any new races that runDisney has planned, but didn’t give up too much.  Faron just eluded that runDisney is “efforting” new races…does this mean a Disneyland Paris race is in our future??  We can only hope!

Once we all composed ourselves, it was was time to move on to some other fun presentations.  First was a sneak preview of the new ABC series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland starting this fall.  Apparently this is a blending together of Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin, where Alice falls in love with the Genie…interesting!  I’m a big fan the show Once Upon a Time, so this is right up my alley.  Check out the official trailer here:

Next up was Cindy Lynch, the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon 1st place women’s finisher.  I always find it fascinating to hear from elite runners like this because I will NEVER be in their league, but they always offer great advice on how to improve you training and race routines.  Some tips Cindy offered are:

  • Interval runs, tempo runs and long runs are the essentials for race training.
  • Don’t forget to take in the scenery!
  • Roctane is great for fuel while running.  She takes one every 30 minutes.
  • While negative splits are always a goal, even she struggles with them.  (I’m glad it’s not just me!)
019 RD-DL-Meetup

Cindy Lynch

Official runDisney Nutritionist, Tara Gidus, spoke next on how to properly fuel for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge and how recovery in between the races will be the key to our success.  She also went on to tell a funny story about how someone recently called her a buzzkill on the runDisney blog because she broke the myth that just because you’re training doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.  So if you ever run into Tara at a race, make sure to tell her she’s a buzzkill 😉

Tara Gidus

Tara Gidus

My favorite running coach, Jeff Galloway, shared his story of how he began running.  Who knew that super skinny Olympian was once a fat, lazy teenager??  I never would’ve guessed it!  Well he was until he joined his cross country team at the age of 13 that he began running.  He did it because he wanted to be part of a team, which is how he feels about runDisney events.  We are all part of one big team, encouraging each other along the way.  That couldn’t be more true.

021 RD-DL-Meetup

Jeff Galloway & Bob Hitchcok

Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, and Sean Astin (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings) continued with the motivational theme and their struggles with staying on track.  Ali finds motivation in races.  Once she is signed up for a race, it gives her that push to keep training even though she hates getting up in the morning.  She has even signed up for the Dopey Challenge in January!  Sean shared a wonderful story about running with his daughter and how the Galloway run/walk method helped to get her out there.  They have found what motivates them and stressed the importance of finding ours!

Ali Vincent

Ali Vincent

Sean Astin

Sean Astin

Joey Fatone, fresh off his VMA performace, finished the presentations by talking about his emotional journey completing the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge over the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend for his wife.  He also follows the Galloway run/walk method by doing a 1:1 ratio.  He even compared the excitement of finishing a race to the N’Sync reunion…interesting 🙂

Joey Fatone

Joey Fatone

No runDisney meet up would be complete without some great giveaways.  A few lucky attendees won the official runDisney New Balance sneakers, runDisney laptop cases, runDisney travel bags and even a race entry for the 2014 season!  Giveaway ALL the runDisney swag!

This was another fun and memorable event!  What a great way to get a completely different perspective on the parks as well as some very useful tips along the way.  It’s also a great way to meet your fellow runDisney enthusiasts…we’re all a bit mad in our own way 😉

Faith, Amanda & Myself

Faith, Amanda & Myself

Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports

Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports

Have you ever attended a runDisney Meet Up?  What speakers would you like to see there?

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this as media.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

A Royal runDisney Meet Up!

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend is full of tutus, tiaras and sparkle unlike any other race out there.  With all of these runDisney fanatics in one place (myself included), it’s no surprise that the coveted runDisney meet up/ tweet up was a seriously hot ticket.  So hot in fact, the Disney Parks Blog was brought to a screeching halt a week before the event!  I mean it’s understandable, right?  Where else can you run through an empty Disney park being led by some seriously elite runners?!

The meet up began at 6:30 am with check-in at the entrance to Epcot.  I love this time of day at Walt Disney World.  Everything is quiet, peaceful and just coming to life…a stark difference from the throngs of people that would be arriving in a few short hours.

Good Morning Epcot!

Good Morning Epcot!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

We all checked in, signed our lives away to Disney waivers and were given a runDisney t-shirt.  I LOVE these shirts…the women’s cut is great!

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

What a gorgeous morning, despite the insane humidity.  There is something different about Florida skies that we just don’t have up here in Connecticut.  The clouds are breathtaking…what a treat!

SE Sky

Before the morning started, we had some time to chat with the runDisney folks, celebrities and fellow runners.  It was great to see a lot of new faces at the meet up and also reunite with some old friends from past races.

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Amanda, Susan and I Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Amanda, Susan and I
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Group Shot

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Before I knew it, it was 7:00 am and we were ready to start our run!  We were briefed by the runDisney team on the course, a 3-mile run around World Showcase and Crescent Lake finishing in the Germany pavilion.



There were two groups that went out.  The first was a faster group keeping a 9 minute mile pace and led by reigning Princess Half Marathon champion Rachel Booth.  I’m nowhere near fast enough to keep up with that crew, so I decided to stick with the group led by Jeff Galloway.  I’m a huge fan of Jeff’s, so any chance I get to run with him I will.  Plus, the 30 sec run/ 30 sec walk intervals are more my speed.

We went through Future World and clockwise around World Showcase Lagoon…and look we saw some Princesses along the way!


Future World



Snow White in Germany!

Snow White in Germany!

When we reached the International Gateway, we headed out towards the Boardwalk Resort and around Crescent Lake.  This is a gorgeous area for a morning run, but running around there was bringing back some painful memories of the Walt Disney World Marathon a few weeks prior!

We entered back into Epcot and circled back towards Germany where a nice breakfast (they still need some healthier options!) and some much needed cold water were waiting for us.  We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Faron Kelly of runDisney who told us a bit about the history of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon and gave us ladies some serious props for making running so popular.  Did you know that this race has grown from 7,000 runners in 2009 to 27,000 in 2013?!?  Go ladies!

Bob Hitchcock

Bob Hitchcock

Faron Kelly

Faron Kelly

Jeff Galloway and Tara Gidus, official nutritionist for runDisney, took the stage next to give us some helpful tips for the race.  A heat advisory had been issued for the weekend and they helped prepare us for dealing with that, including proper nutrition, hydration and pace.  Rachel Booth, two time Disneyland Half Marathon winner and reigning Princess Half Marathon winner, also made a brief appearance.  What an amazing athlete!!

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway  Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Rachel Booth

Rachel Booth

Next up were the truly inspirational moments of the morning.  Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, spoke about her weight loss journey and how adopting a healthy lifestyles completely changed her life.  She had a few gym towels to give away and had a very unique way of choosing who received them.  She asked everyone who had ever lost weight to raise their hands and then asked people to put down their hands based on how much weight they had lost, getting up to 100 pounds.  It was quite amazing to see how many people had lost significant amounts of weight and be able to congratulate them for their accomplishment.

Ali Vincent

Ali Vincent

Most inspiring of all was April Holmes.  Wow…just wow.  After a train accident 12 years ago resulted in April losing her left leg below the knee, she set out to be the fastest Paralympic athlete in the world and accomplished that many times over.  April has won numerous gold medals in the Paralympic Games in both 2008 and 2012 and continues to break World Records every year.  Her story of loss and overcoming the odds almost brought me to tears and motivated me to try and be better in everything I do.  She left us with this: “Your gold medal comes from being better than you were yesterday.”  From now on when I’m having a tough day, I will think of April and her strength.  Simply amazing.

April Holmes

April Holmes

The final presentation was from the folks over at Senses Spa, which recently opened at the Grand Floridian Resort.  They talked about various recovery techniques including foam rolling and massage.  Two lucky attendees were chosen for the demos!

Massage Demo

Massage Demo

Now it wouldn’t be a runDisney event without some giveaways.  The folks at New Balance were on hand to talk about the success of the new runDisney shoes that debuted over Marathon Weekend and they gave away a few pairs!  Look who chose the winners…Sean Astin!

Sean Astin

Goonies Never Say Die!

New Balance assured everyone that there would be plenty of shoes at the Expo that weekend, but encouraged people to get over there early just in case certain sizes sold out.  Good advice because the Expo was CRAZY!  More on that later…

The meet up wrapped up with an appearance by none other than Princess Minnie!  I mean obviously she would be there.  We also found out that is was Sean Astin’s birthday, so everyone joined in to sing to him!

Minnie & Bob

Happy Birthday Sean!

Happy Birthday Sean!

We all headed outside and were given some great giveaways of H2O products, a water bottle and other small tokens from the sponsors.  Princess Minnie and a few other Disney princesses were waiting for us for exclusive photo ops…score!  Minnie and I shared a few laughs and we’re now BFF.  Would you expect anything less from me?  The meaning of Sarah is Princess after all 🙂



S A & Minnie

The 3 Best Girlfriends!



Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines...

Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines…

And that concludes another magical runDisney meet up.  These events are so fun and give you a great opportunity to learn more about runDisney and get inspired to become a better athlete!  If you are interested in attending one of these meet ups, watch the Disney Parks Blog for an announcement about a week before any runDisney race weekend.  The competition is fierce, so you’ve got to be quick!  Hope to see you at the next event 🙂


Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend runDisney Meet Up

The 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend certainly lived up to all expectations.  The entire resort seemed to be overtaken by runners…I have never seen so many in one place!!  To kick off the weekend, runDisney hosted one of their infamous meetups that I was lucky enough to be invited to.

I met up with Jenn from Eat, Sleep, Run Disney bright and early and we walked over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the 6:30 am check-in.  This was the largest meetup runDisney to date with over 100 people in attendance.  It was great to see so many fellow runDisney fans, catch up with old friends and meet new ones!  We were all given white runDisney t-shirts upon arrival, which was a nice change from the usual black shirts.  Unfortunately, there were cotton and not tech shirts, which weren’t the best for that super humid morning.  But beggars can’t be choosers, I am happy with any runDisney shirt 🙂

Pre Meet Up

Mickey, Donald & Goofy were all there in their awesome track suits and as good Disney fans do, we all lined up to get our pictures taken.  I absolutely LOVE the Studios and it was great to get this photo op on an empty Hollywood Boulevard.

Me & the Big Cheese!

Me & the Big Cheese!

Goofy's Warming Up for the Run

Goofy’s Warming Up for the Run

We were greeted by Tony, Bob & Darrell from Disney Sports and given instructions on how the 2.5 mile run portion of the meetup was going to go.  There were 2 groups, one for strict runners and one for run/walk.  The runners were going to keep a 9-10 minute mile pace and Bob was leading the pack.  However, I heard it was more of an 8 minute mile!  The run/walkers were led by Jeff Galloway and they were doing 30 second intervals.

The runDisney Team

The runDisney Team

I had unfortunately been battling a nasty cold in the days leading up to the meet.  In fact, I had a fever of 100.2 just the day before!  In order to save myself for the marathon a few days later, I opted to not run that morning.  I was bummed to not get the experience of running through the Studios and meeting the characters, but my health had to come first.  Good news is I got some fun pics of the Galloway group starting off!

The Galloway Group

The Galloway Group

Look at some of the characters they encountered along the way!

Minnie still looks fancy in her running gear

Minnie still looks fancy in her running gear

High fives with Pluto!Photo Courtesy of runDisney

High fives with Pluto!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Woody & Buzz!Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Woody & Buzz!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

The second half of the meet was held at Lights, Motors, Action!  I walked over there with the rest of the runDisney staff and waited for the runners to arrive.  It was a pretty cool entrance.

Lights, Motors, Action!

Lights, Motors, Action!

Here comes Bob leading the runners

Here comes Bob leading the runners

Darrell, Heather & Jenn

Darrell, Heather & Jenn

Galloway Group

Galloway Group

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill truck was there to provide breakfast sandwiches for everyone.  They looked delicious, but sadly I couldn’t have one because they all had eggs.  Egg allergy fail!  🙁

ESPN Grill

We were once again welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Tammy Jacobson of runDisney, but they were quickly interrupted by none other than Joey Fatone!  He made a grand entrance and came cruising in on the “director’s truck” from the show.  Joey was gearing up to run the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge in place of his wife who recently sustained an injury.  He answered many questions from the group and admitted to barely training and being very nervous about the weekend ahead.  He also said that N’Sync won’t be getting back together, which was a serious bummer 🙁

Joey Fatone & Bob Hitchcock

Joey Fatone & Bob Hitchcock

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Earlier in the week, runDisney announced a new partnership with New Balance making them their official running shoe.  Members of the New Balance team were on hand to give us an overview on what to look for in a proper running shoes and the different varieties they have to offer.  They also talked about what went into designing the new runDisney shoes that were available for a brief time at the Expo.

New Balance Demo

New Balance Demo

Since this was the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, it was expected that there would be a few elite runners on hand.  The expo had some amazing speakers lined up for that afternoon and I was excited to see many of them at the meet up.  They offered some great tips for distance running and answered questions from the audience.  Bart Yasso admitted that his favorite race costume was when he dressed up like a penguin for the Marathon du Medoc in France where there are 23 wine stops along the way.  Now that’s my kind of marathon!

Next up was former NFL linebacker Eddie Mason.  He spoke about the importance of focusing on core strength to bring more balance to the body and how Cigna is leading this charge.  Core strength is something many runners overlook, but can be just as important as getting those long runs in.  He also talked about how you need to listen to your body and rest if needed.  You need to let your body heal in order to get stronger.  Great tips!

Eddie Cigna

Eddie Mason

Our final speaker was Drew Carey who was supposed to run in the full marathon, but is recovering from a broken clavicle…ouch!  He told stories about his experience at the Disneyland Half Marathon, what really goes on at the Price is Right (spending WAY too much time on this topic!) and also admitted to hating Sounds Dangerous, the show he stars in at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  They really need to get rid of that already!

Drew Carey

Drew Carey

Bob introduced one last special guest before the morning ended, Adriano Bastos.  Bastos is a seven time winner of the Walt Disney World Marathon and was going for his 8th win this year.  He adorned with numerous Disney tattoos and gets a new Mickey on his forearm for each race he has won.  Very cool!


Adriano Bastos

Before we left for the day, the Fab 5 came back out and we were able to get more photos.  I just love their running outfits!  All of the elite runners and celebrities were also on hand for photos.  Joey Fatone obviously had the longest line 🙂

The Fab 5!!

The Fab 5!!

Me & Pluto!

Me & Pluto!

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Joey Fatone & I are BFF!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Running Legends Bart Yasso & Dick Beardsley with lil ole me :)

Running Legends Bart Yasso & Dick Beardsley with lil ole me 🙂

runDisney always puts on great events and this certainly did not disappoint.  What a great way to kick off marathon weekend and get everyone excited for the big races ahead!

Who would you have been most excited to meet at the runDisney meet up?


Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

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