So, not many of you readers know me personally, but I’ve made an appearance in my column pictures every now and then.  If you need a refresher, this is me:

I’m the one in the Minnie Mouse tutu.

Totally your idea of a runner, right?  Believe it or not, I’m NOT a runner . . . unless homicidal clowns and spiders are chasing me.  But, if there were one run in the world that might ever encourage me to break my streak of not running, it would be Tower of Terror Ten Miler Weekend.  I love Disney.  I love Halloween.  I love the Tower of Terror.  So, when registration for the Happy Haunted 5K opened, my mind took a short vacation, and I signed up for it.  Having just finished my first race weekend at Disney, here are a few of my tips.

1. Just Do It

Is it cliche to use the famous phrase?  Probably, but it’s definitely my top tip.  If you waver back and forth or wonder if you can do it, it may fill up or you might talk yourself out of it.  Pick a race weekend that speaks to you and sign up as early as possible.  I signed up for the Happy Haunted 5K the day it opened for registration.  Not gonna lie, the fact that it was non-refundable did keep me motivated.


2. Do a Little Training

Is it possible to hit the track for your big day without training at all?  Sure, especially if you’re doing the shorter runs, but, like I said, I was an absolute novice despite coming from a family of military and school track stars.  I downloaded one of the numerous 5K apps and let it guide me to my run weekend.  I also happened to get into better shape and become healthier along the way, so that was a nice added bonus.



3. Embrace the Disney of It All

One of the most fun parts of a Disney race weekend is seeing the participants go all out with costumes and make-up and encouragement posters.  Not knowing exactly how the weather would be, I opted for a leftover Minnie Mouse skirt from last year’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and a custom-made tee.  I have to say I was very impressed with some of the ensembles, especially those who ran the ten-miler in full costume.


ŸGet Race Wise: runDisney races offer photo ops and character pictures along the course, so bring a camera along to capture some of the fun during the run!

4. Make Friends

I had originally planned to run the 5K with friends, but they were unable to participate due to extenuating circumstances.  With my non-refundable fee in mind, though, I went through with it.  As I joined my corral on race morning, I was almost immediately adopted by a group of women, one of whom was also running her first 5K.  We had a great time chatting Disney and encouraging each other as we met along the course


5. Plan to Rest

While we often have pre-park opening breakfasts and busy days while at Disney, I made a point of planning downtime both after the 5K and the next day after the all-night Villains Bash.  An afternoon of shopping and a late brunch made for a more relaxing weekend.

ŸGet Race Wise: Be proud!  Wear your medal all day and all week if you’re making a vacation out of your race weekend.  I pinned mine to my bag, and I’ve been chatting with other participants all week.


I had a great time during race weekend and can’t wait to do another one!  If you’re even considering a runDisney event, I encourage you to register for the next one.  A 5K was a perfect gateway drug to the other events, and if I can do it, almost anyone can do it!!

Have you ever participated in a runDisney event?  Which one?  Any tips?

  • poohmeg

    Congratulations! I am so glad it was a good experience for you! I apologize if I overlooked it in the article, but did you run or walk? I know people who have done other RunDisney events and said there was a minimum 15 minute mile pace, which would be a brisk walking speed for a lot of people. I used to walk 5Ks frequently but really have gotten out of shape the last few years. I’d like to get back into it – maybe not starting with Disney since the cost might be a bit much for workout motivation, but if I ever could line up a trip with a time that one of the shorter events is going on, that would be really cool!

    • FerretAfros

      runDisney races require 16 minute/mile pacing, which is among the most lenient out there. They do enforce it during the longer races, but there’s typically more leeway with the 5Ks due to the abundance of families and character photo ops along the way. I’ve done several rD races of varying lengths (5K to marathon), and I definitely recommend!

    • Thank you!! I did intervals, which is a combo of both. Walk for a few minutes, jog for a few minutes, back to walking, then jogging…you get it. Like FerretAfros mentioned, there is a 16 minute pace requirement, but it didn’t seem to be enforced during the 5K, but I ran into some very upset runners who had to “cut the course” during the ten miler. If you’re looking to start up with 5Ks, though, I say go for it whatever your pace may be!

  • So happy for you Jessica and congratulations! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    I’ve never done a runDisney event, but now I really want to!

    • Thanks! It was definitely a new and fun experience. Maybe next year’s fall trip should coincide with ToT Ten Miler Weekend!

  • DobbysCloset

    Jessica, that’s amazing! Congratulations! I’ll bet your family of “military track stars” is getting a kick out of this!

    Dobby says his legs are much too short for such nonsense and that he prefers the Sip and Nibble Challenge. I am wondering if we should be wearing pedometers when we go to the park so we can track our mileage. Maybe enter the interactive Mickey Fitness Challenge for most kilometers per day?

    • Thanks! They were very proud!
      I’d definitely put on a pedometer and keep track. A running tab always keeps me motivated by trying to outdo myself.

  • Micaela7

    Congratulations! Running your first 5K feels so daunting, even if you do train well, and finishing feels so awesome! I’m now wanting to run a half-marathon, and make the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon my very first one. I’m not from the area and I won’t know a soul there but there’s a link in my signature if anyone wants to help me out!

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    Oooh! I have always, always, always wanted to do this. But I am very out of shape and I feel like people are making fun of me when I try to exercise. I tried running around my block and one of the neighbor kids called out that I was an elephant loose from the zoo. That made me really sad and I have not tried running since. I need to try to get over this because I want to be here for my sons as they get older and I need to be healthy to do that.

    • JulieMouse

      Brady and Bradley’s Mom: This makes me sad…and makes me think you’ve just got to go for it one of these days! We all have our issues, that is for sure, I’ve recently started working out and just maybe I’ll tackle a RunDisney event one of these days!

      The good people of the world sooooo far outnumber the bad, you will have a ton of people rooting for you and I’ll be one of them, go for your dreams!!! By the way, I’m really loving the song Brave by Sara Bareilles, it’s in my heavy rotation lately…let it inspire all of us!

      Brave video:

    • Even if someone is rude while you’re out there, remember your job is to better yourself. It’s not your problem that their parents didn’t teach them manners. Just keep going!! Get your boys to join and make it family together time. The further I got into my training, I started running with the kids, my mom, friends, etc. Make it a social thing to keep your morale up. Let me also say that the aura of encouragement and camaraderie once you get to your runDisney race is wonderful! I also got TONS of support from friends. Spread the word that you’re getting healthy, and I bet you’ll have lots of “way to go!”s and “you’re awesome!”s headed your way. Good luck!!
      P.S. Feel free to contact me directly if you need some motivation!

    • jipis

      It’s not exactly SFW, but check out

      I’ve been running a few years now off and on, working my way down from almost 200 lbs last January to 175 today and (hopefully) 150 someday in the not-too-distant future. (And, at some point, a rD event — maybe my first marathon??) Run for you, for everything it can do for you. Can’t run more than 50 feet? Then jog those 50 feet and walk the next 100. Work up to 100 and 100. Then 200 and 100. If you’re feeling winded, take it slower. Don’t let what someone else says have that affect on you.

      You’ve got this!

  • DrIndianaJones

    I just ran my first RunDisney race, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.
    @ Everyone who says it is too hard, nothing is too hard if you set your mind to it. I was 40 lbs heavier when I signed up for the race (in March), but I used the race for motivation and as a goal. The 10 miles wasn’t easy (not in the least bit), but it was worth it! Start small and work your way up. When I first stepped onto a treadmill I couldn’t go a 1/4 mile, and in just 8 months I went from 0 miles to 10. Heck yeah!

    Now I have my eye on the half-marathon at Disneyland next August…

    • Woohoo for you! Wonder if I saw you running through the Studios. Such a fun weekend!!

  • CreamsiclesMom

    I’m planning to do one of the half marathons in a few years. I’m going to walk though.

    • Good for you! As long as you can keep the minimum pace, you can walk, run, hop or skip! Have fun!