This past weekend was the annual Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort, and this year our family participated in our very first RunDisney event . . . the one for toddlers. We started with something easy since we are all novice runners and enrolled Fat Baby (the affectionate name by which many folks know our toddler) in the Kids’ Races. You have to start somewhere, right?
On Friday afternoon we visited the Health & Fitness Expo to pick up Fat Baby’s race packet. It was set up on the first level of the Disneyland Hotel parking garage, and walking down the carpeted ramp where the cars normally drive was fun for all of us. Once we were downstairs we saw booths with signs for every race, we were directed to pick up our packet by bib number. Disney emails you a personalized waiver that conveniently already has that information printed on it. The clear race bag included the runDisney bib, T-shirt, an informational brochure on the entire race weekend, and a kid’s Cliff Bar. If you order race merchandise ahead of time, you’ll also receive it at packet pickup. We felt very official with the race bag.
After we finished picking up our packet we headed up to the Expo, where there was a massive amount of running merchandise from all kinds of vendors, including Disney. This is also where you’ll find all of the official merchandise for the weekend’s races. I thought I had ordered a pair of commemorative race ears, but hadn’t, so we bought a pair in the merchandise tent. I’m glad we waited because they offered a 20% discount for annual passholders! A cast member said that they had long lines first thing in the morning, but we didn’t encounter them.
The Expo also has speakers and celebrity runner appearances scheduled, but we got there right before they closed so we didn’t see any of that. Truthfully, there really isn’t much for small kids to do at the Expo. Fat Baby enjoyed drawing a sign in the CHEARS section and the castle photo op set up in the lobby, but I probably won’t bring her next time.
This year, the races started at 9am in Downtown Disney. Disney recommends you arrive at the staging area by 8:45am, we ended up getting there around 8:55am and still had plenty of time to figure out where we were going. There weren’t very many signs but the cast members were very helpful and directed us to the Lilo and Stitch parking lot in Downtown Disney. Only one parent is allowed to run per registered child, and if you have multiple children in different age groups you can choose 1 race for everyone to run together.
Since Fat Baby is 2 years old, we ran the 100m dash. Everyone waited in the staging area until the race time. They had each age group separated into sections that were closed off at official race start. The 100m dash went first and we were led along the course until we got to the corrals.
There were a lot of parents in our age group, so I ended up carrying Fat Baby all the way to the front so she wouldn’t get stepped on. Disney had an announcer at the starting line releasing waves of 10 or so kids at a time. It took a while, but the kids were very patient and everyone was having a great time. The announcer promised the crowds that the kid’s races would be finished before the half marathon started the next morning!
When it was our turn, everyone cheered and screamed, which startled Fat Baby so much she decided she was not going to run AT ALL. I ended up carrying her the 100m to the finish line, where Mickey and Stitch were waiting with high fives. The kids races ended at the same finish line that the 10k used earlier that morning.
After the finish line we were given a finisher medal, water bottles, and bananas by VoluntEARS in their trademark yellow shirts. We also had a finisher photo op, but Fat Baby was very adamant about no pictures. For security reasons, in order to exit with a race participant, a parent had to show a tear off tag that matched the number on the race bib.
The exit lead us past a Kid’s Cliff Bar giveaway stand and back to stroller parking and the staging area. This is where everyone who wasn’t running was allowed to wait as well. We were able to see the 400m race start, and since there were so few parents on the course, the older kids were really running. The sidelines were still packed with spectators and the kids looked like they were having an amazing time.
Overall, the runDisney races for kids are an amazing value ($20!), especially compared to the entry fee for the big races. They’re well organized, well staffed, and most of all they’re fun. It’s a great way to get kids out of the house and exercising, and it’s great for the parents too! My fitbit recorded over 20,000 steps between the Expo the night before and the end of the race. We had an absolute blast and I can’t wait for Fat Baby’s next race. See you at the Star Wars Kids Races in January!
For more information on upcoming runDisney events, please visit http://www.rundisney.com/.
runDisney Kids Races Age Groups
- 12 months and under – Diaper Dash for crawlers
- 1-3 years old – 100m dash
- 4-6 years old – 200m dash
- 7-8 years old – 400m dash
runDisney Kids Races Participants Receive
- runDisney Kids Races T-shirt
- Kids Race Finisher medallion
- Personalized race bib
- Post-race refreshments