It’s Back! Coast to Coast Challenge Returns in 2024!

I know I am not the only one who is excited to finally have the opportunity to not only run a race at Disneyland, California, but to get the coveted Coast to Coast medal! These were discontinued several years ago when Disneyland races were put on pause. I’m really hoping to add “all the medals” to my wall, and this is a giant leap forward!.

So what is Coast to Coast?

Simply put, Coast to Coast is a medal runDisney runners earn if they run a long race (10 mi+) at both Disneyland and Disney World in the same calendar year.

Runners do NOT have to register for the challenge; it’s automatic. (What’s that… no separate fee? Like really? Disney passed on a money-grab opportunity? Huzzah!)

So besides money, why is this tricky?

There are two factors (other than OMG I’m running races two weeks in a row?????) that look really important to consider right now:

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Florida) and Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (California) races are back-to-back in January, 2024. Yup Florida is January 3-7 and California is January 11-14. If you want to do both, you’d better be able to have 2 weeks in the bank or be willing to accept a really chaotic remote work schedule.
  • Registration for the Disneyland races is soon… SOON! Club runDisney members start their registration on Feb 7; general registration is on Feb 14. No time for general registration has been announced yet. I’m presuming it won’t be 10 a.m. ET just since they should be catering to the Pacific Time audience, but that is only my opinion. I’ll post more when I know it.
    • Keep in mind that it has been years since there has been a Disneyland race. If you thought Dopey 2023 registration was bad… you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I predict instant bloodbath.

So what else do I need to know?

  • There will be two different versions of the C2C medal offered. One for those who complete a race during Marathon Weekend first, and one for those who complete a race at Disneyland first. Do we know the difference? No. Did runDisney make it clear that the medal for those who complete the Marathon Weekend first (thus doing back-to-back weekends) is special to 2024 ? Yes. Is that the money grab? To get marathoners to sign up for Disneyland one week later? Maybe.
  • You can only get one C2C medal per year. If you run Marathon Weekend then Disneyland, there’s your medal. No double-dipping if you head back to Florida for Princess.
  • Virtual races will not qualify. This makes perfect sense to me. The point of the medal is to go to California and then go to Florida. If you do it all on your treadmill, where’s the challenge in that?

So which races qualify?

  • Per the runDisney site, challenge or 10 mile races will qualify you in 2024. You must have a Florida and a California race/challenge:
    • Walt Disney World Half Marathon (FL)
    • Walt Disney World Marathon (FL)
    • Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (FL)
    • Dopey Challenge (FL)
    • Disneyland Half Marathon (CA)
    • Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (CA)
    • Princess Half Marathon (FL)
    • Fairy Tale Challenge (FL)
    • Springtime Surprise 10-Miler (FL)
    • Springtime Surprise Challenge (FL)
    • Wine and Dine Half Marathon (FL)
    • Two-Course Challenge (FL)

I personally am beyond exited. Can I pay for this? No clue. I’ll have to make some choices and beg my boss for a lot of time off. But I am ready to charge forward.

Is it bad that I am simultameously thinking “Castle to Chateau????”

Wine & Dine Countdown is On!

Wine & Dine jacket design

We’re less than a week away from Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, and I am so excited I could nearly burst. I haven’t been on property for a race weekend since the 2019 Marathon, so in the words of Lizzo, it’s about damn time!

If you’re headed to Orlando next week, there is one notable change to procedures. Due to demand issues (as in limited quantities of items getting wiped out quickly by resellers) and crowd management, Disney has opted to go with a virtual queue for merchandise shopping on day 1 of the expo (Thursday, November 3). There will be no standby line available.

This has not been a particularly popular decision, but I’m not going to debate the pros and cons and fairness of it all, just the facts.

Virtual Queue Details

The RunDisney Blog has a detailed post on the new process, but I’ll summarize:

1. You must have a smart phone with location services enabled, and the My Disney Experience app installed.

2. Virtual queue will open at 7:30 a.m., with first groups being allowed to begin shopping at 10:00 a.m.

3. You must be within 45 miles of Wide World of Sports to enter the virtual queue.

4. You will receive a push notification on your phone when your group is called, and then you will have one hour to make your way to the merchandise building at Wide World of Sports.

For Club runDisney members, you will not need to utilize the virtual queue. Platinum members can enter at 8:30 a.m. and Gold members can enter at 9:00 a.m.

So, what can I buy anyway?

If this is anything like past expos, there will be tons of runDisney merch available… everything from car magnets to shot glasses and keychains. The wild card is always the event-specific merch. Just in the nick of time, Disney has revealed a first look.

I probably have enough t- shirts and jackets to last me a while, but I will be all over that pin set for sure!

What about you? Got your eye on anything? Leave a comment and let me know.

Why I Joined Club runDisney

April 19, 2022 is a date that is going to live in infamy within the runDisney community. Not to spread unnecessary negativity, but Marathon Weekend 2023 registration was in no uncertain terms, a logistical and public relations disaster. Pent up demand for races converged with server traffic overload, and a total meltdown was in progress.

The registration queue waiting room opened up as expected at 9:45 am, and visitors, expecting registration to open at 10 as promised patiently waited for the “Thank You For Your Patience” spinner to change to the estimated wait time screen. That is, those who were lucky enough to get into the waiting room at all.

Another cohort of visitors reported they couldn’t get in to the waiting room –the entire runDisney site was reduced to an error page with the Seven Dwarfs insisting “We’re working on it.” That ceased to be cute in short order. As time ticked by, social media sites started lighting up when would-be registrants started to panic, cancel plans for the day, and of course, gripe.

The dreaded Dwarf screen

At 10:37, the waiting room page flashed a message asking us to stay put, and not to refresh the page. It was very ,very difficult to resist refreshing – whenever someone tells you not to push the red button, all you want to do is push it, right?

So another message flashed at 11:15…11:30… 11:45… you get the point.

At this point, social media anxiety was out of control, people were calling their congressmen, claiming conspiracy theories that this was planned by Disney to boost registration in the incredibly overpriced Club runDisney, and of course, the memes were flying.

Finally, around 12:20, they announced that registration would begin at 12:30. Thousands, THOUSANDS of anxious people had been sitting at their computers on standby, not even daring a potty break for two and a half hours. I was just lucky because I happened to have the day off from work, but I know that there were many people who had changed their schedules so that they could register, and just weren’t able to stay by the computer. Seriously who expects that they need to take a day off to register for a race?

This time it went off as planned, but wait times were lengthy. I was lucky and got a place in the queue in about 40 minutes. I managed to get the races I wanted and get checked out. By the skin of my teeth. Nearly as soon as I got my confirmation email, races began to sell out.

The whole experience left me drained and exhausted, but as the social media posts started rolling in, I realized how fortunate I was. So many people had waited it out only to end up at the end of the queue and missed out completely. Even more heartbreaking were the stories that had races in their shopping carts to get a “Not Available” (sold out) message when hitting “I’m ready to pay”.

As dreams got crushed, normally positive social communities (understandably) turned their anger towards Disney and sometimes on other community members (bad manners, folks!). Many people were bitter. Others set their sites on alternatives – looking for a charity bib and thinking about fundraising, selecting a virtual race, or looking for a different race all together,

I knew I wasn’t up for this type of emotional roller coaster again, and frankly who knows if they will have the time to sit and wait in the queue on a future registration date? At this time in my life, I still have the endurance for long races, and I’ll look for any excuse to get to Orlando. Who knows if my circumstances will change and running at Disney is no longer an option for me?

The other route for peace of mind registration is joining Club runDisney. It’s the super pricey way to buy a jacket, and at some price points, a guaranteed opportunity to register for future races and better corral placement.

Three tiers are currently offered, and these are the benefits highlights

  • Silver, which gets you a jacket, a virtual race and bragging rights will set you back $265.43
  • Gold also guarantees you the opportunity for registration for yourself for a full year of races and early access to merch at the expo for the low, low price of $531.93. Keep in mind that this is not your registration fee. This is an extra tax to give you the chance to spend even more money to register for next year’s events.
  • Platinum offers the lower tier benefits, the chance to register 2 people for all race weekends, an upgraded expo experience, and an upgraded corral placement. I hope you’re sitting down or very, very rich, because the total with taxes and fees is $851.73

I guess that there are enough runners with money to burn here, because when the Club runDisney memberships went on sale today, the Platinum level sold out within an hour. So… again I guess Disney proved that they can charge whatever prices they want, because there’s always someone willing to pay it.

To save myself from going through the registration hell again, I opted for the Gold level. Will I have to eat ramen for an extended time? Yep. Will I need to wait a little while before changing out my running shoes? Yep. Will my kid get to go to college? No clue. Will the Club runDisney expense be worth it? Only time will tell, I guess. Until then, I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my jacket to show up!

Runners, take your marks! Get ready for runDisney!

Here’s your start line for conquering the runDisney races

Hello, friends! Welcome to the Disney Park Runner blog! This is the place to get the low-down on runDisney races, theme park tips and tricks, and our take on all things Disney.

Have you ever thought about registering for a runDisney race?  They’re big fun for new and experienced runners.  There’s always such a magical vibe on race weekend.  Costumes! Characters!  Parks! Medals! And the feeling when you cross the finish line that you can’t wait to do it again (maybe after a margarita in Mexico and a soak in the hot tub at the resort).

So what is a race weekend?  4 weekends a year, Walt Disney World hosts 3 or 4 days of back-to-back races.  There’s always a 5k and a 10k, sometimes a 10 mile race or a half marathon, and the signature event, the Walt Disney World Marathon is held in early January.  For the adventurous, intrepid, or plain foolhardy runners, there’s always a challenge option, that allows you run multiple races and score some seriously exclusive bling.  If you can’t make it to Florida, there is usually a virtual option as well.  Yeah, it’s not as much fun, but (slightly) more cost effective, and the hardware still looks great hanging on your wall.

In-person racing goes on hiatus in the summer months, but to keep you in the flow, runDisney offers virtual races in the summer.  You’re on the honor system to earn your medals, but the virtual races can be a fun way to keep up your training through the summer months. 

Here’s the typical race weekend timing:

Early January – Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

  • 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (Half Marathon and Marathon), Dopey Challenge (all FOUR races…yes, very, VERY Dopey idea)

Late February – Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

  • 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Disney Fairy Tale Challenge (10K and Half Marathon)

Late March – runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend

  • 5K, 10K, 10 mile, Springtime Surprise Challenge (all three races)

Early November – Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend

  • 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Two Course Challenge (10K and Half Marathon)

Other events might be held in conjunction with race weekends.  Sometimes you can register for a yoga event or an after party.  If you’re running a race, you will ALWAYS need to attend the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo the day before your event to pick up your bib(s), so make sure you plan for an extra day in your schedule.

Ready to join in?  These races are so much fun, they fill up FAST – sometimes in minutes, so stay tuned for tips and tricks for navigating the registration process.