Running Universal: Top 10 Tips for Universal Studios Hollywood’s New 5k Races

What is a ‘Running Universal’ race like?

On May 12th, Richard and I strapped on our running shoes and suited up for the Inaugural ‘Running Universal’ Minion-themed 5k at Universal Studios Hollywood. Read on for our experience, plus a few tips for the next Running Universal Jurassic World-themed 5k in November.

The course began at Universal’s front gates. In fact, we were in a corral right next to the Universal Globe. We ran through Universal’s upper lot, including Minion Mayhem, Springfield U.S.A. and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From there, we flew down the long and winding tram trail to Universal Studios’ historic backlot before finishing at Universal CityWalk’s 5 Tower stage.

Richard and I are no stranger to running events, having racked up 42 5k, 10k and half marathon medals between us. So how does Universal Studios Hollywood’s Running Universal Race stack up? Here are our Top 10 favorite things, including tips and tricks, for Running Universal.

Run through the Historic Universal Backlot

In the misty morning, we found ourselves running through an area that the general public only sees when they are taking the tram tour. We ran through movie locations such as Amity (JAWS), Bates Motel (PSYCHO), burned wreckage of a jet plane (WAR OF THE WORLDS) and the “John Williams Dr.” sign. Since we weren’t on a moving tram, we took numerous pictures and selfies.

TIP #1: If something looks cool and you think you want a photo? TAKE IT! At the end of the race you will either have an awesome photo, or regret.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wizarding World at Dawn

The atmosphere of Hogsmeade always bewitches the mind and ensnares your senses, but never more so than magic hour. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it.

TIP #2: If you’re recording video, don’t forget to check that you’re actually recording! We realized too late that we didn’t press the ‘Record’ button through Hogsmeade, so that beautiful Wizarding World dawn is only captured in our memory.

Characters on the Course AND at the Finish

The Inaugural Running Universal race featured Minions and was dubbed “Minion Rush”. Universal did not disappoint – there were 4 character stops along the 5k race course, as well as a flyby (you can only take selfies) with Gru and his brother Dru.

TIP #3: Missed the Minions during the race because you were running for time? If you skipped those, another Minion or two posed for pictures at the Finish area.

17 Minute Mile Requirement

Races must necessarily have a pace requirement, especially when you’re running through a theme park that must open to guests later that morning. Running Universal has a generous 17 minute mile pace limit. This actually means a 17 minute mile for the last person to cross that Start Line in the final corral. If you started before that last person, you have much more leniency to stop and take pictures between bouts of jogging. For example, we were in the third corral to start, but finished an hour and fifteen minutes later at a 24-minute mile pace simply because we took a lot of pictures and video. However, never did we see a line closure for characters or dreaded “balloon ladies” marking the final runners.

TIP #4: Rather than being corralled by pace, you were sorted into color groups based on when you entered the corral area. If you were the first to reach the corrals when they opened at 5am, you were among the first to run at 6am. Each subsequent corral left at 3 minute intervals. Remember this for future Running Universal races and plan accordingly.

Complimentary Parking

Even if you didn’t spring for the VIP Race Bib (which includes complimentary Valet Parking), you still receive a free parking pass for the ET parking structure. At $25 for general parking, this pays for ⅓ of your race ticket!

TIP #5: Spring for the VIP if you want a car in close proximity to both the Start and Finish Line. While the ET Parking Garage is not that much farther, the actual race course circled around the ET Parking Garage and through Universal CityWalk, which meant that anyone trying to access the ET Parking Garage before or during the race was forced to walk up and over two pedestrian bridges to access the structure.

It’s All About the Bling – and Running Universal has GREAT Medals!

If you’re a veteran of running events then you know – it’s all about that shiny medal at the end!

TIP #6: If you are contemplating your very first Running Universal 5k, just know that the medal is heavy (which means it’s expensive) and super-cool. The Minion medal even spins! You can make your minions run backwards or forwards around the dial.

Race Photos through Photo Butler

Running Universal partnered with PhotoButler to provide race photos based on your bib number. As of now photos are not yet available to view. But I will update this once I know how much these photos cost to download.

TIP #7: Make sure to take plenty of pictures or video along the race course with your own camera so you have plenty of pictures to choose from.

Discount On Your Next Race

We received a number of items in our cute Minion swag bags during Packet Pick-up. These included our race bibs, a race-themed Minion shirt, Race Itinerary, coupons and a Minion Pin, along with a fun surprise – a new race announcement! The next Universal-sanctioned race will be the Running Universal 5k featuring Jurassic World on November 16th! Join in the fun, and the inaugural kids’ Raptor Run 1k as well.

TIP #8: The new Race Announcement came in the form of a coupon with this little memo: “As a thank you for participating in our inaugural run, you have exclusive access to receive special 5k pricing starting at $65”. While it’s not guaranteed, Universal may include a coupon code for the next race in each 5k moving forward. Make sure to read all the flyers in your packet!

Play all Day with Specially-Priced Theme Park Tickets

Want to spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood after the 5k? The 5k Standard Registration includes an opportunity to purchase post-race entry to the Theme Park at an exclusive Running Universal price, including early park admission. Or you can choose a “Play All Day” 5k package upon registration. Prices for the Jurassic World-themed November 5k will be available here BONUS: If you Play all Day, you can wear your medal in the Parks and get awesome photos like these.

Photo courtesy of the fast-fingered Jessica Muchow

TIP #9: After running the 5k at a leisurely pace and changing back at the Parking Garage, we realized it was 8:30am. This meant we could enter Universal Studios Theme Park early (it opened at 9am) and head to The Three Broomsticks for a hearty English Breakfast complete with coffee and Pumpkin Juice.

TIP #10: Later in the afternoon, treat yourself for a run well done and order Strawberry Peanut Butter Ice Cream at The Three Broomsticks. Trust us, it’s amazing.

We hoped our tips help you navigate your next Running Universal race. So are you tempted to join us for the next Jurassic World 5k? For more information and to register for the event, be sure to visit the official Running Universal website.

About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod