Posts Tagged by Disney Halloween 5K

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 ?

Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run Medal Revealed!

Yesterday, runDisney revealed the medal for the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run and it is very cool!  It features Mickey and Minnie in their traditional Halloween attire trick or treating.  It is so fun and colorful…I can’t wait to get mine!

The Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run is taking place on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 7:00 am at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  The course map has not been released yet, but the race will be taking place on various terrains including pavement, grass and sand.  As of the beginning of this week, the race was 60% full.  August 1st is the deadline to register and still have your name appear on your race bib, so if you are interested in participating, the time to register is NOW!

Are you running the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run?  What do you think of the medal?

How It All Began: 2011 Disney Halloween 5K Recap

My good friend Estelle has has been holding Animal Kingdom Appreciation month over on This Happy Place Blog and I thought I would support her cause (a noble one in my opinion!) by recapping the Disney Halloween 5K through Animal Kingdom on October 1, 2011.  This was the race that started it all…my journey to get healthier and run a half marathon!  Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

In 2010, my husband Barry and I ran the Disney Halloween 5K, which was our first race ever.  This was the first year the race was held during the inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend.  The course went through the Magic Kingdom and it was a blast!  We had done very minimal training leading up to this and it was more of a fun experience to have with our friends.

First 5K Medals!

The following year we were returning to the World for the same weekend to cheer on friends in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and attend all of the “Epic October” festivities.  We had both decided that we were not going to run the 5K in 2011 because it was so exhausting the prior year with everything else going on that weekend.  Well this was until about 3 weeks prior to our trip when I succumbed to some serious peer pressure from my “friends” and registered for the 5K.  Barry was not as week as I was, so I was doing this one solo.  Not really, but sans husband.

I was up, dressed and out of the hotel by about 5:45 am the morning of the race.  It was still dark and eerily quiet at Saratoga Springs.  We had a rental car so I was able to get over to Animal Kingdom fairly quickly.  There was a small amount of traffic when I arrived, but it looked like I got there just in time because the line of cars started building around the parking lot behind me.  I got a great parking spot right across from the starting/finish line.

When I entered the pre-race area, I had my eye out for my Be Our Guest Podcast family and all of my other peer pressure filled friends 🙂  They were pretty easy to spot because of the awesome signs the Chear Squad had made for us runners!

BOGP Chear Squad

We had at least 30 minutes to hang out and catch up before we headed into the starting corral.  For Disney 5Ks, they have signs posted with different pace times throughout the corral.  You simply line up behind your anticipated pace and wait.  I know I’m probably not supposed to do this, but I tend to go a little farther up than where I should be because I’m always scared I’ll finish last!  You probably shouldn’t follow my lead here…

Starting Corral

Starting Fireworks

So the starting fireworks went off and we stood…and stood…  It took a while to get moving.  There was a large group participating in this race.  As you can see from the photo above, we were pretty far back from the starting area, which actually curved through the parking lot.  Since we were moving at a snails pace, I grabbed a pic of my festive black cat ears I wore for the race.  The closest thing I would get to a costume when running 3.1 miles.

On the Move

We finally made it over the starting line which is when I realized the beginning of the race was mainly going to take place in the parking lot.  Booooooring!  I wanted to see some animals!  I guess this makes sense that even though Animal Kingdom is a large park, there aren’t a lot of areas to actually run the race on.  Most of the space is reserved for the animals.

Animal Kingdom Parking Lot Roundabout

As we neared the entrance of the park, I could see a serious bottle neck ahead.  The course had runners filing into a very narrow walkway to the left of the tram drop off area instead of taking us on the road the tram uses.  Try getting 5,000 people into a single file line…not so good.  We stood around and inched our way onto the walkway then headed through the gates of the park, which was equally congested.  I hope this is something Disney remedies for this year’s race.

Congestion at the Park Entrance

The course went through the left side of the Oasis and into Discovery Island.  This was absolutely beautiful right at dawn. Everything seemed to be coming to life right before my eyes.  As I’m sure you know, the Oasis is uphill into Discovery Island which was a bit daunting, but we were rewarded with this gorgeous view of the Tree of Life in front of us.  Sigh.

Tree of Life

When in Discovery Island, the course went left into Africa.  From what I recall, this was the first character area I saw.  Come to think of it, I don’t recall many character photos areas at all on this race.  Here in Africa we came across the Hyenas from The Lion King.  They were pretty funny as they would dance around everyone who came up to them.

Entering Africa

Hyenas Causing Trouble

Now here’s where the race got boring.  I thought the parking lot was boring, but at least there was the anticipation of entering the park.  After leaving Africa, we entered a backstage area for a loooooong down and back.  I’m pretty sure this road went all the way back to Conservation Station, you know the area you usually take a train to.  It felt like it went on forever.  The only bonus was that right after the turnaround, cast members had some animals out cheering on the runners!  I was just glad I was moving faster than this tortoise! 🙂

Tortoise on the Course

I was happy to leave the backstage area knowing now that there was only 1 mile left to go.  We finally entered Asia, my favorite part of Animal Kingdom.  There are so many wonderful details in Asia to look at, which was a welcome change.  I have to admit I was a bit sad to be running past Expedition Everest instead of riding it, but I kept on moving.


We went past Finding Nemo: The Musical and into Dinoland USA.  From here we exited the park and into another backstage area.  Here is where my favorite photo stop of the race was…the Gravediggers!  They always put on a great show.  I just wish there was a better backdrop than a Ryder truck and Porta Potties…

Jack & Sally with the Gravediggers

As we came upon mile 3, the sun was just beginning to appear over the horizon.  What an amazing sight…truly breathtaking.  Disney couldn’t have planned that any better 😉  This area also gave a great view of the backstage area of Expedition Everest.  I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a real mountain!!

Gorgeous Sunrise!

Backstage of Expedition Everest

Finally, we were back in the parking lot and back at the finish line.  I made it!!  I was thrilled to finish this race, as it was much more difficult than the year before because of my lack of training and the lackluster course.  I LOVE Animal Kingdom as a theme park, but it’s not ideal for a race.

Finally...the FInish Line!

So yes, I huffed and I puffed my way through the race.  I finished with a not so stellar time of 48:10, but I didn’t care.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and a new found desire to keep going and do better.  That evening I saw my friends cross the finish line at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and I knew I had to do it….I had to run a half marathon.  And that’s when the training began.

Super Red Faced!!

Now look at me, only 6 months later.  I have completed my first half marathon and I’ve shaved 10 minutes off of my 5K time.  Don’t get me wrong, I still huff and puff and my face gets just as red, but it’s slowly getting easier.  While this wasn’t my favorite race course, I appreciate Animal Kingdom for igniting my passion.  Every time I’ve been back to the park since then and I know every time going forward, I can smile and think about that day…the day it all began.