• lelsethagen0

Why I Run Disney

By Lexy Elsethagen


Before I ever ran a race, I volunteered with runDisney. It takes a whole lot of people to make a race event come to life and it’s such a fun environment to volunteer in. I often worked in the information booth starting as early as 3am on race days at the Disneyland Resort. One day I was standing at my post in the booth watching Disneybounding runners walk by and overhearing their conversations about the awesome characters along the course. That’s when I decided I wanted to run a Disney race. I mean it looked fun and I was pretty sure I could do it. 



I jumped straight into a half marathon for my first Disney race. I’d already run a 5k when I decided to sign up and it was the longest distance I’d ever run. Yet here I was, signed up for a half marathon. I was really nervous. I invested in some good running shoes. Then I spoke with my runner friends and started training. 


The day of the race came and I was full of butterflies. My friend from another state came to run with me. We were ready to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in our Inside Out-inspired outfits. The race started on Disneyland Drive. We raced through both Disney Parks, down the streets of Anaheim, to a crowd of cheering fans in Angel Stadium, and around the Honda Center. My legs tensed up as we crossed the finish line in Downtown Disney but it was worth it! We saw several Disney characters and had the magical experience of running through the Disney Parks! We passed crowds holding signs, cheerleaders, bands, and a car show. It was an experience I’ll never forget. 


I’ve considered giving other races a shot after running Disney but it just wouldn’t be the same. I honestly think the only reason I made it 13.1 miles was because of the excitement of being surrounded by other ecstatic Disney fans in all sorts of costumes. Such a fun energy no matter your pace along the course. 


A couple years later, I decided to run the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon over on the east coast. I knew a race at Walt Disney World would be different, things would be more spread out at a larger Disney property. The best decision I made that half marathon weekend was to stay at a Disney hotel. I booked a room at All Star Sports. 


Outside my hotel, there was a bus stop for runDisney in the normal theme park pickup area. At specific scheduled times the bus took runners to the expo at The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and to the start of each race. I quickly realized that even though things were spread out, it was just as easy to navigate the event as it had been at Disneyland. 



Highlights of my first Disney World runDisney event included being the first race to run through Pandora—The World of Avatar and a special event for the runners at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. There was truly something special about never having to leave Disney property for all 13.1 miles. It was fun running through multiple parks and I admit I may have almost tripped over myself in excitement when I saw the Mary Poppins penguins along the course. 


I run Disney because there is nothing more magical than running through the Happiest Place on Earth. I love the energy, excitement, creative running costumes, and Disney characters that fill the course. I highly recommend the experience no matter if you’re a fantastic runner or not. If you’re interested in booking during a half marathon weekend reach out to your ConciEAR. 

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