runDisney: The Beginning of Improvement?

Seems like it’s been a big week for runDisney!

First, the Castle to Chateau medals were revealed. So. Freakin’. Adorable! I adore the colors and the designs. (I’m a huge fan of the Remy medal!)

Yesterday, runDisney debuted new 5K medals. Many runners have complained about the lack of “medal-ness”, for lack of a better term, from previous races. (For those just jumping on the runDisney bandwagon, they were rubber medallions.) Material-wise, it’s an incredible upgrade. Design-wise, however, they’re a bit lackluster. I can hardly distinguish WHAT is happening on the medal because there is little to no color contrast. The lanyards look super sweet, though!

Also, runDisney is shifting towards digital event guides. I’m at a crossroads with this. While they’re doing their part for the whole “Going Green” movement, I personally like to have something in my hands to flip through and reference at a moment’s notice.

Now that it seems like runDisney is actually starting to listen to the complaints of the consumers and are slowly, yet surely, acting on them, I am curious to see what other changes are coming our way. Personally, I’m hoping for changes in the following areas:

  1. Quality vs. quantity with regard to runner perks.
  2. Race-day transportation fluidity for those on-site.
  3. Providing a map of character stops for those racing solely for pictures.
  4. Bringing back the oldie-but-goodie runDisney aspects, such as the night races and better perks for Wine and Dine after-party in EPCOT.

 

Any other thoughts from the peanut gallery on these recent changes?

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The Great runDisney Debate…To GSC or Not to GSC?

So…here we are.

Princess Half registration is coming.

Glass Slipper registration is coming.

Usually I’d be bouncing off the walls with anticipation.

But this year? Not so much.

For the first time since 2012, I haven’t felt the same pangs of anticipation and happiness like I typically do for my signature runDisney event.

Honestly, I feel…hollow. Numb. Apathetic.

Can I even say…burned out?

InsideOut

I’ll admit, runDisney is highly addicting. The feeling when you run down Main Street U.S.A. toward the castle cannot be replicated. Accomplishing your fitness goals at the Happiest Place on Earth yields the same reaction. The energy and camaraderie (for the most part) is contagious among veterans and firsties alike, and we’re all in it together to get across the finish line. In subsequent years, you give back and become one of those cheerleaders/kinda-sorta “runDisney Experts” and offer your advice and words of wisdom through social media and IRL.

It’s exciting and thrilling…but also mentally draining, and…perhaps to an extent…

Unfulfilling?

I have been debating heavily for a few weeks now (and the thoughts have crossed my mind for months) about registering for 2017’s Glass Slipper Challenge. For those that have followed my blog and socials, you know that this is my signature weekend: PHM 2013 was my first ever race, I’m on track to be a GSC legacy (three for three so far!), and I wrote an entire PHM Survival Guide last year detailing multiple aspects that runners should be aware of when they meddle in the middle of the magical mess* that is runDisney.

(*If you got the “Cabinet Battle #2” Hamilton reference, give yourself a gold star.)

When I went down for GSC this year, I felt mentally prepared. I essentially reviewed everything I knew through my Survival Guide and couldn’t have been more prepared logistically. Physically, however, was a different story. (For those wondering, little to no fiber + long days = massive stomachaches and no PRPs.) When I finally arrived to do the race weekend, I felt like I was going through the motions: go here for packet pick up, browse the expo, spend money on some things (or not at all!), sleep/wake/leave/arrive at ass-o-clock in the morning, be herded into intensely packed corrals, run or run/walk the courses, take pictures, say hi to people, update socials along the way, cross finish line, get medal, rinse and repeat.

I’ve done the above list for four years now.

Looking at it…I don’t feel inclined to do it again. At all.

Hell, I don’t even feel like writing about anything PHM-related. (I tried doing an updated registration blog post, and I deleted it halfway through writing.)

Is it possible that this is my time with PHM/GSC is drawing nigh?

My brain says yes, and my heart is close behind.


There are far more reasons behind my decision-making than emotions, obviously. A viral blog post by Chris Smith (@DopeyRunr) of Team Shenanigans made its rounds through the runDisney world after Star Wars Dark Side weekend, which you can read here:

http://teamshenanigans.org/breaking-up-with-rundisney/

I’ve reread this several times and realized that many of my decisions to potentially give runDisney/Princess weekend a rest align with what he wrote. So, here I am to give my two cents…


1. Increase in Pricing, Decrease in Magic

We all know that runDisney is all that and a bag of marshmallows, and it ain’t cheap by ANY stretch of the imagination. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have spent to run these races in the last four years. However, for the cost that runners shell out just for registration fees, you would think that runDisney would step up their hospitality, especially since prices have increased dramatically within the last few years. In the past, there have been complimentary park registrations and goodies out the wazoo. Nothing like that is seen anymore, except for maybe the free parking fee on the morning of the races if you’re driving yourself to EPCOT. (Hey, $20 is $20. I’ll save wherever I can!)

The quality of the runDisney Experience has taken a severe nosedive in recent years, and it affects runners and non-runners alike. Tempers do run high, especially with PHM weekend. Ask yourself this: is it really worth shelling out $1000+ for a weekend just to see women fighting over wine glasses and breaking things at the expo? To watch non-runners stock up on runner-specific merchandise just to turn around and upsell it on eBay? To witness fellow runners demoralizing each other over social media through virtual catfights and name calling? To run through 13.1 miles with two character stops (when in years’ past, there would be no less than eight or nine)? To contract transportation companies with little to no knowledge about how Disney operates their bussing systems, resulting in stranded runners needing medical assistance in hot, non-shaded parking lots?

This is the sort of “Disney Magic” (or lack thereof) that deters me from participating again. With every race, the quality steps down another two or three notches. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

(Side note: can someone update the runDisney website? Please? And maybe hire a PR team to answer inquiries on a timely basis? runDisney is really lost with this whole communication thing and it loses major points every time I log on and see that the website hasn’t been updated since 2012 or something.)

2. The Racing World Extends Beyond the Walls of WDW

This is one of the biggest points I’m making with this list. There ARE other race series other than runDisney, which is something I’ve had to beat into my head recently. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K in March and absolutely loved it. I’ve also run the Marine Corps Series and will be experiencing the NAFHALF in September, the Vacation Races series in November with the Everglades Half. The Hot Chocolate 15K series is another one I want to experience, as well, plus the World Marathon Majors….etc.

 

 

See what I mean?

99% of the time, these other races are far cheaper than a single race or challenge run that runDisney offers. For example, I calculated that I could do at least four RnR fulls ($80-ish/race) or halfs ($70-ish/race) for the price of Glass Slipper (around $330 for two races).

Plus, these series are offered in areas where I haven’t traveled yet, and I LOVE TO TRAVEL! Win-win.

I also have other racing goals on my mind, specifically accomplishing the World Marathon Majors and earning Hall of Fame status with Rock ‘n’ Roll. GSC legacy status is wonderful and everything, and the concept early on was enticing…but it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I want to experience something new and fresh, and by stepping away from runDisney, I can achieve that.

3. Virtual Races Are Really Not That Bad

I have always detested virtual races.

Personally, I’ve always thought that they were never “real races”, and that people would do them as a cheap cop-out for running IRL.

Well, I’m here to apologize for that assumption. Virtuals are not that bad after all.

I experienced my first ever virtual race when I went to Atlanta at the end of June. Chris and I ran the #OrlandoUnited 5K, bibs and all. It was sunny (87 degrees with humidity around 60%), very uncomfortable, and I felt like I was gonna die (we Northerners do NOT like the heat!)…but we coached each other through and took walk breaks when we needed to. We finished around 45 minutes, and we also ran for a really great cause: through this race, Final Mile Race Management raised $100k+ for the families of the Orlando tragedy. I am SO proud to be a part of that, and we earned cute medals!

I’m here to renounce my seemingly profound hatred for virtual races, and I honestly look forward to signing up for more.

4. World Marathon Majors…London-Bound?

London-Marathon-Jess-Medal

Let’s jump back to #2 for a second. The World Marathon Majors is a lifetime goal of mine. My name is currently in the lottery for the London Marathon, and I’ll find out in October if I’m selected. The money that I would be using for GSC would easily go to my travel expenses. This is a hypothetical factor, obviously.

But what if I don’t get selected for London? What else can I do to kickstart my WMM journey? Fundraise for Boston, perhaps? The possibilities are endless.

5. Adulting Priorities—Financials

rundisney money

The biggest concern, of course, is the financial aspect. Judging by how much I’ve spent in the past for runDisney events, it is very easy to plunk down upwards of $1000 or more on a racecation here. With rent and transportation eating up a good chunk of my paycheck nowadays, I have to be very careful where I spend my fun money. Glancing back at point #1, the prices seem to rise for runDisney (and Disney in general) every time you turn around. By cutting out one race weekend, I can easily save (and allot for cheaper races, or funnel it into London, for example).

I did both the WDW Marathon and GSC this year, and had to get very creative on a limited budget for even the basic necessities. (Staying off-site at a hotel I found on groupon.com saved me SO much.) Don’t get me wrong, I did sign up for 2017 Goofy, so I am committed to that. I may make that my only runDisney excursion for 2017. During 2016 Marathon weekend, I managed to get everything that I needed park-wise done, and had a blast doing so. When I returned for GSC in February, I had zero desire to go back to the parks, since I was JUST there. ($220-ish saved on park admission.) I also discovered the Boardwalk and Disney Springs as being wonderful places to hang out at without paying an entry fee.

Maintaining legacy status for GSC is pretty cool and everything, but at what price? Why am I paying exorbitant fees for the same course year after year, and essentially the same medal with one or two things changed? I also ended up with a patellar tendonitis injury during GSC that set me back over a month in my running endeavors. (Probably due to the abrupt stopping and starting stress on the knees that one experiences by being on a runDisney course with a billion other runners.) Honestly, my desire to continue experiencing the same things is waning, and I’m ready to move on to other experiences in the running world (back to point #3).


Final thoughts…

Unless I find a huge pile of money somewhere, I’m going to sit out Glass Slipper 2017.

I just said that. Holy shit.

I will not be poised and ready to go at 11:50 AM on July 12th on active.com as I await the link to go active for this race.

I will calmly sit back and watch the chaos and craziness unfold before me from a distance.

I have done my time with this race weekend. Now, it’s time to pass the torch along to someone else looking to continue their legacy status, or run their first GSC.

I’ll still cheer you all on, and answer any questions you may have. After all, I’m a nice person like that.

But for me, it’s time to seek new adventures and different roads to run.

If you’re in WDW during Marathon weekend, I’ll see you there.

If you’ll be participating in 2017 Princess weekend in whatever capacity, I wish you all the best. Adjust those tutus and lace up your shoes. You have slippers and tiaras to earn.

Trust me, I will be watching. See you at the finish line.

❤ @runDisneyBelle