By Princess Jodi
At this very moment, princesses everywhere are playing in the parks at Disney World, with medals around their necks and official race merchandise on their tired bodies, as they celebrate their accomplishments this past weekend at the Princess Half-Marathon.
Last year, I was one of the them. The year before that too. This year I am celebrating that I got out of fetal position long enough to write this post. Not being there is hard, even if it was a measured decision. When you are a princess, it’s hard to “let it go”…
Since I missed the royal ball, I figured I might as well take this opportunity to run down memory lane and tell you all about Race Retreat. If you are a runDisney east coast runner, this may be something you have splurged on yourself – or contemplated when registering for a race. Race Retreat is an add-on you can purchase during Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half-Marathon Weekends. Is it worth it, you might ask? Well, I have done it both ways – with and without. And you kind of end up feeling like a “have” or a “have not.” A princess or an ugly stepsister.
Princess Alana and I splurged on Race Retreat for the 2013 Princess Half-Marathon. It was our first half-marathon ever AND our first runDisney event, so we decided to go all out. Because we were both travelling with our families, we decided to purchase the Platinum ChEAR Squad for our loved ones so they could enjoy it too. Otherwise, they’d have been sitting outside the tent while we enjoyed a post-race breakfast and massage! So, if you will have your personal support crew on hand, this is something to consider: they need entry too, or you will probably rush through it and not get your money’s worth.
Last year, I did not purchase it for the Half-Marathon, but was lucky to have it gifted to me for the Enchanted 10K, courtesy of runDisney and Another Mother Runner. Having done Disney races both ways, I would unequivocally say: DO IT. Is it ridiculously expensive? Yep. But it’s rather worth it to be treated like a princess. You have a climate-controlled place to gather and warm-up for the race, private portapotties (NO lines!), private bag-check, continental breakfast, stretching area, character appearances and a great party atmosphere. After the race, a hot breakfast is waiting for you, along with live race results, massage area and commemorative items (we got adorable Princess Half-Marathon flip flops and a sweat towel that now joins me on every treadmill run). I’m all about the royal treatment and this experience is it!
If you have your family with you, and choose to purchase the Platinum ChEAR Squad for them, they will be able to hang out in Race Retreat while you are running. There is a kiddie area with coloring and TVs, and they can enjoy the character meet and greets too. They can watch the finish line through the live feed right from the Race Retreat, or head outside to try and see you cross the mat. They also get special t-shirts, Mickey clappers and blankets. As well, they have dedicated places to cheer along the route (although my family didn’t take advantage of that perk). Most importantly, Race Reatreat becomes your reunion and celebration area after the race! It’s fun to have brunch with your family, grab some character photos, and relax after your big race before getting on with your Disney vacation.
When we didn’t splurge on the Race Retreat last year, I found the finish of the race a little anti-climactic. My family was on hand to meet me in the Reunion Area of the parking lot, but had to stand around waiting while I got a massage and then, with nothing else to do in the finishing area, we made our way to the buses which took FOREVER because 26,000 other princesses were also trying to leave the race and get back to their resorts. I much preferred being able to stay and play in Race Retreat. It’s the perfect place to celebrate right after the race and keep that party going! (And when you are done, the masses have cleared and buses are not such an issue.)
runDisney just keeps raising the price on Race Retreat which is why I opted out last year, as it is definitely expensive when you are buying for your whole family. If you are travelling on your own or with friends, I would recommend it without hesitation! If you have your own ChEAR Squad with you, it becomes a bigger decision and investment. But if you want the VIP treatment and will run better knowing that your family has a nice place to wait for you, it is probably worth it. It was a great experience for me and Alana with our families, making our fairytale finish even more fabulous!
Tell Us: Have you done Race Retreat? Would you recommend it?