My husband has enjoyed running for a long time, but my 12-year-old son's newfound interest in the sport has opened our eyes to runDisney races. With his love of Disney and our proximity to Walt Disney World, my son naturally wanted his first races to be runDisney 5Ks.
My family is far from unique in the desire to run those magical miles, but until I began tackling the registration process, I did not know just how popular the runDisney races have become. Getting a bib for a runDisney event has become as challenging as securing a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.
Race veterans no doubt know their way around the process, but for other fellow newcomers, I'd like to share what we've learned so far.
First, know that registration for runDisney events takes place many months in advance. You can find a schedule here. There are two remaining race weekends in 2015 at Walt Disney World -- Expedition Everest Challenge and Wine and Dine Half Marathon - and both already are sold out. However, the next races you can choose to run are during runDisney's biggest weekend - Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2016 - and they go on sale to the public on April 28.
runDisney races are selling out more quickly than ever, some within 30 minutes of being available to purchase. So, what's a runner to do?
First, take advantage of early registration if you are eligible. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members typically can register two weeks in advance. However, this does not guarantee you can register for a particular race. A percentage of bibs is designated for early registration, and, unfortunately, those seem to fill up just as quickly as the spots open to the general public. Still, it's worth a shot, especially if you are trying to register multiple runners. I was able to register my son for Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K during the Wine and Dine weekend, but the early registration closed before I could register my husband or my 10-year-old daughter.
If that happens to you, don't panic. Do prepare for the public registration, however, by planning to be on your computer and ready to go with all your information and credit or debit card in hand when the registration window opens at noon ET on the designated day. In addition, have a separate person on a different computer prepared to register each runner. If you try to do more than one booking yourself, you run the risk of not getting everyone registered. These two tips are the most important pieces of advice I can offer - and runDisney will tell you the same things. You really have to divide and conquer to get multiple runners registered. Also, note that the Active.com system forces you to register and pay for each person separately anyway.
Suppose you still can't get everyone in your group registered for a particular race or you want to run more than one race in a weekend and couldn't get everything in the system before the spots filled up. There are still two avenues open to you, if you act quickly.
Runners can register with a charity group that is approved by runDisney. Look under each race weekend tab on runDisney.com for the list of charities and contact them directly to find out the individual requirements. Each group has an allotment of bibs and in exchange for meeting a fund-raising requirement, you can secure one. Some charities also include room stays, pre- and post-race parties and other perks for different levels of fund-raising. Don't have time to fundraise? Some runners choose to pay the charity donation themselves and write it off on their taxes. Charity spots seem to fill up quickly, too, but they do take names for wait lists.
The other option is to book a race through a runDisney travel partner, which also are listed on the official website. These travel agencies also have an allotment of bibs that they can issue if you book your weekend stay through them. They advertise special rates for Walt Disney World hotels, theme-park tickets and other race amenities.
Finally, know that ALL runDisney purchases are non-refundable and non-transferable, whether it's a race bib or commemorative merchandise.
Although I managed to secure bibs for two upcoming runDisney 5Ks for my family members, they have yet to run a race. When they do, look for more newcomer tales from the races.
The previous post in this blog was Walt Disney World to host On the Road to the Radio Disney Music Awards concert.
The next post in this blog is Florida artists bring pixie dust and props to Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival.