Virtual Races with Real Life Magic

Posted:  Events Great Ideas! Recreation

Last year, I participated in my first Run Disney race; one of my biggest takeaways is that there are no other races like a Run Disney event!

Run Disney Welcome Sign

The energy from the spectators and the on-course entertainment were excellent.  Yet, it was the feeling of being part of a racing community leading up to the event that I loved, and couldn’t wait to do it all again!

Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. greeting participants as they run through the Magic Kingdom

Oh, and the massive amounts of merchandise that overlap both my loves of Disney and running was also nice. 😊

Merchandise area for the Run Disney races

Looking ahead to this coming weekend, the Star Wars Rival Run is only a few days away and once again runners from around the globe will be arriving at Walt Disney World ready to run with magic surrounding them.  To all of the participants who will be running this weekend, I say “good luck, have fun and enjoy every moment of it!”

However, when Walt Disney World is a 3 hour flight away, and with a busy life schedule, being at WDW for their races is not always possible.  So for me, the next best thing was to try one of Disney’s Virtual Races.

Race Bib for the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon

Disney Virtual races began in 2017 and allow guests the chance to have a connection with the magic, while still being in their own neighborhood.  Registration happens on the Run Disney site, and for this year’s Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon, the cost was $59.  The registration fee for the Virtual Races covers the expense of your medal and having it shipped directly to your door once you’ve completed the run.

Once registered, participants have a date range to complete the distance and can choose any course they want.  So if you’re an outdoor runner pick any route you’d like, and that works.  Or if you prefer being indoors and, on a treadmill, that works too!

A key component to Disney’s Virtual Races is that it’s an honor-based program.  Runners submit their times to the event website and do not have to provide proof of completing the distance in the submitted time.  With this honor-based program, it’s possible that people would list a faster time than what they ran; yet from my perspective, that would only be cheating oneself. Each time I complete 13.1 miles I want to shout it from the rooftop!  Yes, many people run faster than me (there are even turtles that run faster than me).  But for each of my races, I chose to focus on my own time.  I’m competing with myself, my previous times, and not in competition with the runners around me.  With this mindset, a virtual race was a great option!

Let’s take a look at how my virtual race day panned out!

Generally speaking, I’m an outdoor runner.  I like the change in scenery to help distract me while I run, and whenever feasible I’ll choose to be outdoors.  On the day I had planned to complete my virtual race, I opened the blinds and looked out to see that the weather conditions were….snowy.

snow covered neighborhood snow covered neighborhood

It’s true, some runners will run in the extreme cold and snow, but not me.  When I saw that much snow, I changed my plan from an outdoor run to being inside on a treadmill.


I printed off my virtual race bib, pinned it on my shirt and headed to the gym.  Although I was not at Disney for this race, I wanted to have fun with it!  I chose a running outfit that matched the race bib, and I wore the race bib with pride, making a few fellow gym goers smile that day.

Team Member Kelly ready for her half marathon virtual race

Once I got home, I logged onto the event website and submitted my time.  From there I was able to print off my finishers certificate and was told that the medal would be mailed out soon.  Disney aims to have it delivered within 30 days of submitting your time.

A few weeks later a box arrived, and I couldn’t wait to open it up and finally have that medal!

medal from the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon Virtual Race

I often joke that when I run it’s not for the love of running, it is for the medal. A bonus is that there was also an “I Did It” magnet with the event details and still makes me smile when I see it on the fridge.

Star Wars Virtual Race magnet and shipping box

As for the medal, it’s the same quality as a traditional Run Disney Event that happens in a park and is now hanging on my runner’s wall!

Team Member Kelly’s Runner’s Wall of medals

Looking back, I had a good time with my first Disney Virtual Race.  It’s a way to stay connected to the Disney running community for those times when you can’t be at WDW.  It adds a little magic to your own neighborhood; for me, it took a regular run and made it a whole lot of fun!

Team Member Kelly with the Run Disney Sign



DVC Rentals Magical Hat