Race Travel

runDisney Race Retreat: Is it Worth it?

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!

is runDisney Race Retreat Worth It

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.
runDisney Marathon Race RetreatgEAR 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?
Race Retreat Marry Poppins Marathon runDisney

(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

Other perks:
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.

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  • Reply Jackie @ MomJovi January 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for the breakdown. It sounds great, but $120? Yeesh. I’m not sure I could pull the trigger for that either. And I’m lucky I don’t have to factor in travel/hotel costs to Disney, but still. I think you’re right though — if I were to ever do any sort of challenge race (which I think is a pretty definite NO!) I think this would be necessary and nice.

    Very interesting!

    • Reply ashley January 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      It really isn’t cheap, but I’d forego something else on my trip to add Race Retreat, especially for the marathon or a challenge. Especially if they ever decide to add the champagne toast in. 😉

  • Reply Karen January 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    They had me at “climate control.” And it was sealed when I found out there are chairs for the long long wait. So when I do Disney next January, celebrating the last few years of healing from hip injury to resume running, I’m absolutely doing the retreat!

    Congrats on your event, and thanks for sharing the details!

    • Reply ashley January 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      Yes! Climate control is amazing. We had glorious weather this year, but it’s so unpredictable in January. I can’t imagine the heat of last year without a little oasis to hide out in after the race!

  • Reply Lauren January 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I was going to get it this year but then we started “saving money” (lame!) I think we I do Goofy and hubs takes on his first half we’ll be all over this 😀

    • Reply ashley January 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      I would definitely do this for Goofy!

  • Reply Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness January 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the review! I could see where this would be useful for before the race ( especially if the weather is cold). I don’t think I would get my monies worth after the race though. I always want to be right there near the finish line cheering on the other runners! Did I see somewhere else that race retreat does provide small outside tables near the finish line? Now that might be nice!

  • Reply Wendi January 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    This sounds wonderful!

  • Reply 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon: Your Questions Answered (Part I) - Fiddle Dee Me January 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    […] 7:30.  For my next marathon, I’d like to set more of a time goal and have more time to enjoy Race Retreat .  That’s really the only change.  I felt like I had an amazing experience this time.  I […]

  • Reply 2014 runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Recap February 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    […] line area.  My adrenaline was pumping and I figured I might as well get there early and explore Race Retreat.  (click the link to read about my full Race Retreat experience)  I was so excited to run into […]

  • Reply Tina October 15, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I am doing disneyworld marathon 2015 and it will be my first marathon! Im going back and forth of the race retreat. Do you get to wait in the tent until your corral start time, or do you leave for your corral really early from the tent?

    • Reply ashley October 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      You’ll still need to report to your corral by the assigned time. Your final race instructions will let you know what time you’re required to be in your corral by and there will be announcements made when it’s time to go. But the tent keeps you warm and out of the elements until then.

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