The number one question I hear when it comes to Race Retreat at runDisney races is “Is Race Retreat worth it?” In fact, I was asking myself the same thing over and over again last year. I kept wanting to add it to my Walt Disney World Marathon experience, but couldn’t pull the trigger.
Thanks to runDisney, I had a chance to check out Race Retreat at the Walt Disney World Marathon last weekend. Is it worth it? Read on to find out!
This is where I think you get the most bang-for-your-buck out of Race Retreat, or at least I did. I’m an anxious racer. I am up well before my alarm every single race morning. In fact, last weekend, I was so jittery that I woke up at 1am (a full hour before my alarm). This means I was more than ready to jump on the first bus to the staging area at 3am. And while I live in the frozen wasteland that is Western New York, I was still shivering on race morning. I was happy to escape to the (warmer) Race Retreat tent where bagels, bananas, water, and real chairs awaited me. Sitting on the cold parking lot asphalt was not something I wanted to do for over an hour. I was so thankful to have a table I could spread my gear out on, a chair to put my feet up on, and plenty of food to fuel my run. We could hear all of the announcements and music, too.
And did I mention the private changing areas? Oh yes. No lines at the porta potties. And, if we’re being honest, they were a lot less “used” and gross than the ones by the corrals. It was something small that made a huge difference in my morning.
gEAR check is much easier at Race Retreat, too. I just dropped my bag off at a table and I was done. I was even able to grab my bag back quickly before the race to add some stuff to it.
Oh, and did I mention I got to meet Mary,Burt, and some penguins?
(yes, of course my eyes are closed. Because every single pre-race character photo I have has my eyes closed. Apparently my eyes don’t open at 3am.)
Your Race Retreat experience doesn’t end once you start your race. After the race, you can return to Race Retreat for some pampering and relaxation. As you walk into the tent, voluntEARs are there to greet you with a huge round of applause, a towel, and a pair of the comfiest socks I’ve ever owned. I was able to walk right up to the Self-Care table to grab ice and Bio-Freeze, grabbed my gEAR bag, and sat down to watch the live streaming video of the finish line. Hot and cold breakfast items were available (I was too nauseous from adrenaline to eat, but it looked delicious). You also get access to massages ($10 for 10 minutes) and a padded stretching area.
Race Retreat during the marathon closed at 2:30 this year. I crossed the finish line around 1:30, which didn’t leave me with a ton of time to take advantage of the post-race amenities. Had I arrived earlier, I know I would have eaten some breakfast and purchased a massage after my adrenaline died down. Even with the limited time after the race, I still enjoyed having a shaded area with a place to sit, put my feet up, and ice my knees.
The cost breakdown: (2014 prices)
For Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:
Walt Disney World® Marathon – $120
Walt Disney World® Half Marathon – $120
Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge or Dopey Challenge – $200
For Princess Half Marathon Weekend:
Glass Slipper Challenge- $185
Disney’s Princess Half Marathon- $120
Disney’s Princess Enchanted 10K- $70
Family and friends who aren’t running the race can purchase a Platinum ChEAR package, which allows them access to Race Retreat after the start of the race. There was a great little Kiddie Corner with Mary Poppins playing and lots of room for little ones to keep themselves entertained.
So, is it worth it?
In a word…yes. For me, comfort and convenience are everything, especially on the morning of the marathon. If you’re doing a challenge, your Race Retreat value only increases. The only thing I’d add to the Race Retreat experience for marathon morning would be one glass of champagne for each runner, or the ability to purchase a glass inside the tent. Once I was in the tent, I didn’t want to leave!
I can honestly say I’ll be purchasing Race Retreat during future Princess Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon weekends. It’s a splurge, yes, but it added a lot to my race day experience. I highly recommend Race Retreat for anyone running their first marathon. It helped ease my mind on race morning to know I had somewhere comfortable to wait before the race, and a place to relax and recuperate after the race.
Have you used Race Retreat at a runDisney race or are you considering it?
Thanks again to runDisney for providing the Race Retreat access. All opinions here are my own and talking points were not suggested.