New runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series

May 10, 2016 | runDisney

Last week, runDisney announced a new event that’s quite different from their lineup of Disneyland and Walt Disney World race events. From May 15 through June 30, you can participate participate in a Disney run – from anywhere!

Overview

The Virtual Running Shorts is broken into three 5K’s: Yellow Shoes, Red Pants, and White Glove. Registration is open, and the fee for each run is $39. Those familiar with runDisney knows they like their challenges for participating in multiple runs, and there’s no exception for this event. If you decide you’d participate in all three, you can register for the Virtual Running Shorts Series which costs $142. If you just register for the three runs individually, the total is $117, so you are paying an extra fee for the special challenge medal and Mickey Mouse tumbler. You do not need to submit proof of completion of any of the runs.

RunDisney mentions that it will make a gift to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and participants can make an additional donation when they register. Unfortunately, they don’t say how much this gift actually is.

$39 to Go Outside?

Virtual runs have gotten pretty popular, and it only makes sense that Disney decided to jump in on easy money. Like anything Disney-related, these virtual 5K’s come at a premium. Any one familiar with runDisney will not be surprised that these would cost more than other virtual runs. I’m not familiar with virtual runs, so I did a quick search and many of them seem to be in the $20-$30 range, such as this one where the 5K is $20, these runs for $28, or more runs which are $25.

I’ve read comments that since runDisney doesn’t have the costs of putting on this event like they would an on-site race at the theme parks, $39 is too expensive. While I agree that Disney charges high prices simply because they can, this time I don’t think it’s completely out of line. Considering the Disneyland 5K costs $80 when you can find local runs for less than $50 or even much less, it’s about right for this to be around $40, when some virtual runs are less than $15 below that.

SELLING MEDALS?

My biggest gripe with the Virtual Running Shorts is that, unlike many other virtual runs, you do not have to prove completion to get the medals. At most, you can use the hashtag #runDisneyShorts on social media to show your participation. Otherwise, there is no real accountability to finish and earn your medals.

By the way, if you wondered why I used a picture of other runDisney medals for the main image in this post, it’s because the medals are arguable the biggest draw for Disney races. And the opportunity to get a cute Disney medal is the only reason to participate in this particular event.

The Yellow Shoes medal has been released and I think it looks really nice. It is made of metal (not plastic like the on-site 5K medals have been) and appears well made like the runDisney medals for races 10K or longer. It’s definitely a cool prize for those who want it.

Some people have commented that Disney might as well just sell medals at the Disney Store. While I agree that accountability should be an important factor, I think this is the same thing as giving the Disneyland Half Marathon medal to those who get swept on the course and don’t finish. While there are those who put real effort into races like the Disneyland Half who unfortunately cannot finish, I have seen people during half-marathons who want the medal but obviously had no intention of finishing the course. This seems to be the same situation to me – those who want to earn the medal will do so, and those who’d rather cheat themselves out of any satisfaction they could have had for even trying and just get a new souvenir can do that.

MOTIVATION FOR NEW RUNNERS

I have also seen some great comments from people who are just starting on their journey to a healthier and more active lifestyle, and I think there are a lot of people to whom this would apply who would benefit from this series. For some, competing a 5K is as much of a challenge as complete a 10K or half marathon is for others. Not to mention perhaps spending the money to have to travel to California, Florida, and now Paris, may not be practical or possible. These virtual runs would be a great way for someone to take this goal his own pace, and getting to participate in a real Disney event with a real Disney medal could be great motivation for fans who need that something extra to get them out there.

Maybe runDisney created this event to tap into the growing market of virtual run participants. But just because Disney has found yet another way to fill their pockets doesn’t mean people can’t gain the benefits from getting outside, participating in an official Disney event, and getting a nice medal for their effort.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m taking a break from runDisney for a couple of years, but I have to thank them because without the Disneyland Half Marathon, I would not have ever started running. I think that’s true for a lot of people who do Disney races. The events are less intimidating, especially for new runners, that energy in the air while running through the parks is always kind of magical, the on-course entertainment is great, and sharing this experience with other Disney fans makes running actually kind of fun.

It’s actually because of having participated in runDisney, and hoping to do so again in the future, that I’m not doing this series. I remember just a couple of years ago when running an entire 5K was a huge stretch for me; if I was still at that point, I would have really appreciated these virtual runs to motivate me and give me that extra push. But thanks to runDisney, I’ve already been running and will keep doing so even without races, so I’d rather put that money towards parking at Disneyland. Or an extra Dole Whip.

Have you participated in runDisney races? Are you new to the world of running and/or runDisney? Do you plan on participating in these virtual 5K’s or do you think this is a terrible idea? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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