Love running? Love Disney? Can’t make it to a theme park?
runDisney has figured out how to bring the race experience to you. Those who have been fortunate enough to do a runDisney race know how special it is. But not everyone can make it to Orlando or Anaheim to participate, let alone the new race at Disneyland Paris. Some like being able to run with their pets which they aren’t able to do in the theme parks. And some want to participate with a person who wouldn’t be able to make the trip. Now they don’t have to. The Virtual Shorts series, in just its second year, offers runners the opportunity to earn those beautiful Disney medals for accomplishing the hard work of a 5K run in the area of their choice.
I asked Tina Trybus, Manager of Disney Sports and Youth Programs about their experience with the series last year in its debut “run” and she said the event did really well in social media despite not being publicized much. Summer runs are always tricky, but this gave people options to do it at their own pace in their own way to maximize the training conditions. “For running to be optimal,” Tina shared, “one of the many considerations we have to think about is the weather. There is definitely a finite running season between our two domestic locations and after a certain level, running is not optimal. With all of our events, we have so many people commenting and engaging in social media, but for a variety of reasons they can’t commit to one of our events or they want to run with their pets which we can’t do at the parks. But we took all of the insight into what our guests want and really listened and came up with Virtual Shorts. More and more people can connect to running and runDisney and through Virtual Shorts we can extend the experience in the parks to their homes.”
Tina said that she has heard lots of great feedback about the Virtual Shorts program. “We’ve had people tell us, ‘I’m so happy I can run with my dog!’ which is great. This year we’re getting it out a little earlier and extending the registration period. We’ve taken the feedback we got from last year’s event and have been working had to make it an even better experience.” One of the unexpected and elements from last year’s Virtual Shorts are the number of international runners who participated. People from 72 different countries took part including those on military bases! And another great result of the series? Three percent of the participants were never previously registered as runners so it not only extended the running season for runDisney fans, but brought even more new people into the sport!
Inspired by the runners who wanted to run with their dogs, this year’s event mascot is none other than Pluto! And at the end of each 5K, the runner will earn a different Pluto medal. The June 5K offers a Pluto Dog Tag Medal. The July 5K offers a Pluto Dog Bowl Medal. And the August 5K offers a Pluto Dog House Medal. If you complete all three races you earn a completer medal and a Coolcore towel for your efforts. Those who sign up before April 30th will also earn a commemorative dog tag for their pet and a special collapsible bowl.
The medals are such an integral part of the runDisney experience. They are so well crafted and beautiful, especially for Disney fans. And the Virtual Shorts series even had an impact on the races in the park! For the first time, runDisney offered 5K participants in the theme park races metal medals instead of the synthetic ones that have been handed out in the past. “We’re always working on trying to elevate the whole experience and we thought if we could give out metal medals to our Virtual Shorts participants, why can’t we do that at our theme park events, too? We should be the same on all levels.” So for the Disneyland 5K Country Bear Medals were introduced and they were a smashing success. Especially for this Country Bear fan. One of the experiences that theme park runners enjoy is an extended amount of runDisney merchandise available exclusively to participants apart from the bib and the medals so Tina told us they were looking to expand the amount of merchandise available to those running in the Virtual Shorts series.
Now if they could just send out characters to your house to cheer you on…
- If you’re curious about a runDisney theme park event, read about my Disneyland 5K experience from this past year!
- Want to know about the runDisney Expo? Find out more about what cool discoveries I found
- runDisney is a great way to get introduced to the sport of running for Disney fans! Read about my first ever Disneyland 5K experience and how much I loved it