Rampant runDisney Excitement: Is It the Shoes? Or Races?

Update January 23, 2013

Editor’s Note: Speaking to the popularity of the runDisney races.  Officials announced today that the races of Disneyland’s Half Marathon weekend sold out within 26 hours of opening online to the public.  Of the more than 25,000 runners who registered for the race weekend, 17,500 runners will participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon and 8,000 in the Disneyland 10K – including 5,000 in the Dumbo Double Dare.

“Runner response to the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is overwhelming,” says Disney Sports Marketing and Communication Director Faron Kelley.  “This points to the growing popularity of runDisney events and runner demand for two-day, back-to-back race challenges, along with the ever popular 10K distance.”

A very limited number of registrations are available for the half marathon and 10K through charity and travel groups.  In addition, registration remains open for the Family Fun Run 5K and runDisney Kids Races.

Please continue reading for our thoughts on the growing popularity of runDisney events.

Original article from January 11 follows…

Thousands upon thousands of runners, walkers, spectators, and families are currently at the Walt Disney World Resort for the 20th Anniversary of runDisney’s Walt Disney World Marathon.  There’s quite a buzz about this edition of the marathon, and runDisney’s putting on quite the show bringing in running luminaries like Jeff Galloway, Bart Yasso, and John Bingham; former Olympians Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Jim Ryun; and celebrities including Drew Carey, Joey Fatone and Colin Cowherd.  More than 65,000 runners are registered to take part in one (or more) of the races over the weekend, the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Half Marathon and/or Marathon, that make up the largest marathon festival weekend in the nation.  However, before the races even got started, there was excitement from runDisney that spilled over into the non-running community.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Expo Photo by Debra Peterson

Late afternoon on Wednesday, January 9th, Disney Sports announced an agreement with the running shoe company New Balance to create an official runDisney shoe.  To commemorate the partnership, New Balance designed a special men’s and women’s limited edition runDisney shoe (based off their NB 860 shoe) inspired by the Disney characters – Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  New Balance and Disney announced the shoes would be available at the 2013 WDW Marathon Health and Fitness Expo starting January 10th.

Walt Disney World Marathon Expo

Photo by Debra Peterson

Walt Disney World Marathon Expo

Minnie Mouse New Balance 860v3 Running Shoe Photo by Debra Peterson


Boom!  The following day the Expo doors opened and the feeding frenzy was on!  Posts on facebook and twitter were:

“I want them!”

“That might get my rump motivated to start running.”

“I hope they are in mass production.”

One entrepreneurial spirit took orders online, went to the Expo, and purchased shoes for people who could not attend.  New Balance priced the shoes at $125 a pair – reasonable considering the regular version cost $110, and by noon all 1,000 pairs were sold out.  Poof!  Like magic… [although if you look on eBay you can purchase a pair for $400.]

Update January 18, 2013

New Balance and runDisney provided this video giving a look at what went into creating the runDisney edition of the New Balance 860 shoe.

Original article from January 11 continues…

Walt Disney World Marathon Health and Fitness Expo

Photo by Debra Peterson


Meanwhile, over in another part of the Health and Fitness Expo, lines at the runDisney registration booth stretched 2.5 hours long.  Wait, aren’t these folks already registered to run one, two, or three races?  And yet they are waiting over 2 hours to plunk down money for yet another runDisney event before they even run the said 1, 2, or 3 races?  Can’t they just sign up via computer when they get home?  That’s just Goofy, what gives?

Walt Disney World Marathon Expo

Photo by Debra Peterson


The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, August 30 – September 1, 2013, is the big draw.  Last month, runDisney added a new race, the Disneyland 10K, to the weekend’s events.  Runners who finish both the 10K and Half Marathon will complete the Dumbo Double Dare, and receive a special finisher’s medal (and running shirt).  Only a limited number of participants can sign up for the Dumbo Double Dare starting January 22 online, OR you can register on site at the Expo.  Disney Cast Members on site were speculating the events of the Disneyland Half Marathon could sell out soon after registration opens to the general public on January 22 due to the large number of onsite registrants at this weekend’s Expo.

runDisney logo

So there you have it, couple the passion of the Disney fan with the enthusiasm and dedication of the long distance runner, and you have a recipe for hysteria… ok, maybe not hysteria, how about a hullabaloo.

I tip my cap to runDisney for two reasons:

1.)    The business decision pairing the runDisney brand with New Balance and creating Mickey/Minnie Mouse shoes was genius.  The shoes stuck a chord with not only runners but the general public as well.  Disney makes money from licensing and New Balance taps into a new market to sell shoes – a win/win for both parties.

2.)    More importantly – I congratulate runDisney for encouraging people to be healthy and active.  runDisney uses the allure of the Disney Parks and Characters to get people who may not otherwise be motivated to complete a race to do so.  Yes, I know it’s a business, and the races make money for Disney – but they still get many people moving.

Case in point, my 11 year old daughter and I are currently training to run runDisney’s Expedition Everest Challenge on May 4, 2013.  I won’t say running in Walt Disney World is the only reason my daughter is running, but it certainly is a powerful draw on those days she doesn’t feel like getting out the door.  And now that I think of it… she’s currently running in a nonDisney version of the New Balance 860.  Hmmmmm… I wonder if New Balance needs product testers?  Nevermind, it seems the shoes are selling just fine on their own.

runDisney New Balance shoes

photo courtesy runDisney, all rights reserved


Going back to the original question, is the current excitement for runDisney due to the shoes or the races?  I’d have to say both, and the underlying enthusiasm for Disney and running that was already there.  Combine all those ingredients together, and you have an elixir for success.  Congratulations to runDisney for creating a buzz and excitement for running.  And to those of you out there considering registering for the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare – you better be ready at your computer on January 22, 2013.

A special thanks to Debra Peterson for sharing photos of the Walt Disney World Marathon Health and Fitness Expo.  For more running adventures, family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.