If there’s one thing runners know how to do, it’s ‘push through’. You’ll see runners out in all kinds of weather, injured, sacrificing comfort and time with their families in order to achieve their goals.
Runners describe themselves and each other as “Badass” and “Beast”. They brag about losing toenails.
So once in a while, don’t these toenail-less, tough as nails runners deserve a little pampering? You better believe it, and runDisney has them covered with their fabulous VIP amenity known as the Race Retreat.
You register for it via Active.com in much the same way you register for your race (or ‘races’, since the Race Retreat is offered for both the half and full marathons). You can register for one day at $120, or as a Goofy or Dopey runner at $200 for both mornings – a savings of $40. Next, you pick up your armband at the Expo from the Race Retreat booth, which is located in the same area where you pick up your bibs. One-stop shopping. (“Stop” and “shopping” in the same sentence relating to the expo just seems wrong somehow).
Your Race Retreat morning can start as early as 3:30, where you’ll flash your wrist-band at the Race Retreat bouncer and make your way inside to stretch in the padded stretching area, hand over your bag check bag to the private bag check area, take advantage of the dedicated portopotties, grab a bagel, some fruit, some coffee, Powerade or water and sit down at a table to sort out your race kit. If it’s at all possible, you can relax.
It’s runners only until 5:30, at which point it opens up to Platinum ChEAR Squad members. (What’s a ChEAR Squad? Glad you asked. Be sure to head over to Disney Donna Kay’s blog as part of the Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Blog Hop to find out.)
After you’ve run your 13.1 or 26.2 miles, you can head back to the Race Retreat for hot breakfast items, check in with the live tracking to see where your friends might be on the course still, check out the live feed of the finish line, indulge in a $10/10 minute massage, self-administer first aid (ice and whatnot), change in a private changing tent, and visit with characters. This year, thanks to Disney’s film Saving Mr. Banks, the theme for the VIP Race Retreat this year is Mary Poppins, so you can be sure Mary and Burt will be there to congratulate you on your amazing accomplishment.
The brunch buffet is available until 10AM on Half Marathon Day, (Saturday) and until 2PM on Marathon Day (Sunday).
The biggest question I hear about Race Retreat is “is it worth it”. That depends. If you’re looking just at the cost of a breakfast and you don’t care about the rest of the amenities, for example, probably not.
Put another way, however, think about this: in 2010, Marathon Weekend was exceedingly and surprisingly cold. Ice formed on the ground at water stations. Think about how cold it would be at 3:30 – 5:00 AM in that circumstance. Then think about a heated tent. Last year, Marathon weekend was very hot – like, course warnings hot. Not a lot of shade in a Florida parking lot, which is where the runners finish up. Picture getting out of that sun right away while you rehydrate and cool down.
Mentally compare these two images, too:
Finishing the race, getting a box with crackers, some hummus, a bite of chocolate and a banana, then squatting on the ground to eat those morsels, or heading over to the long bus lines back to your resort.
Finishing the race, enjoying a brunch buffet with hot and cold items, taking them to a table, sitting down and eating like a normal human being. You can relax in comfort while you let the bus lines die down, compare notes with other runners and marvel at your brand new commemorative socks and towel. (In past, the towel has been a Chill Towel, which was very welcome.)
For me, the Race Retreat is worth it. I enjoy having a quiet space out of the elements (cold, heat, rain) to get ready, reflect and prepare myself mentally away from the crowds, and I appreciate the ability to sit down and eat real food when I’m done. Last year, we were very thankful for the Race Retreat at the Half Marathon, since we lost my sister at Mile 9 and she had the opportunity to check our progress on live tracking and it gave us a place to meet once Greg and I finally crossed the finish line. I also appreciated being able to get Greg out of the hot, hot sun after he ran the Marathon last year and somewhere where he could sit, take in some PowerAde and a popsicle and cool down.
Personally speaking, I will always add the Race Retreat whenever I runDisney – including this upcoming WDW Marathon Weekend when I will be there both days thanks to Goofy.
Have you ever done the Race Retreat? Do you plan to?
Don’t forget to check out the other participants in today’s Virtual Run Disney Blog Hop
I am an actor/writer/director based in Chicago, IL.