runDisney Kids races: Star Wars

When I realized our family Disney World trip lined up with the runDisney Star Wars half marathon weekend, I couldn’t believe all the stars were aligning for not only Bobby and I to run the half marathon, but for Emma Kate (2 years old) to participate in her very first kids races. I was pleasantly surprised that the registration price was very reasonable ($20!) and that each child got a medal (rubber) and a t-shirt. As a lover of the “I Did it” shirts, I couldn’t wait for my little mini me to have her very own.

The kids races were held on Friday and Saturday, but since Bobby wasn’t arriving until Friday night, we opted for the Saturday morning race. It actually all worked out nicely, as we were able to get to the expo right when it opened at 10:00, get all three of our bibs, and then walk over to the track at the Wide World of Sports and attend the kids races. Keep in mind strollers are NOT allowed in the expo, but are allowed on the grounds of WWOS, so we simply parked ours in a stroller parking area to get our bibs, then brought it down to the track with us for the races.

Of course Emma Kate had to get her picture with the kids race sign, and I wore her “future runDisney runner” shirt.

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After getting our bibs (you have to sign a race waiver for the kiddos, too) and getting our t-shirts, we headed out to the track around 10:45. I will be honest and say it seemed REALLY chaotic. Having never been to one before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured out that I was supposed to match the color of Emma Kate’s race bib with the flags at the starting line area, so we all walked over that way, to be told only one adult could actually “run” the race with the child. So Bobby and my parents headed to the side of the track behind a fence so they could see her run and hopefully squeeze in to the fence once it was time for her wave.

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It was hot outside and I wanted to get done quickly, but in hindsight I should have just chilled and waited for the last wave. We were basically put in a holding area all close together which made it even more hot. I can see how it could be overwhelming for some kids that don’t like a lot of people. There were plenty of volunteers and they all did a great job don’t get me wrong, but it was still chaotic, but I guess organized chaos would be a better word?

They would line up a handful of kids on the start line then put another group behind them, then after the first group went, the one behind would step forward, and the volunteers filled in the back with another line of kids. This part seemed very organized, but there wasn’t really a line so it was more of a free for all as to which parent pushed through the area first to get their kid to the start. We ended up somewhere towards the middle. Usually EK doesn’t let me hold her but I think all the people made her nervous so she was happy to be on my hip while we waited. She made some funny faces for me, and soon we were in the holding area for the next wave.

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I texted my family to let them know we were coming, and thankfully I was wearing pink and Emma Kate had on a huge pink bow so we were hard to miss. When we were standing behind the wave about to go, I told her to watch the boys and girls run and that was what we were going to do when the man said to go. She didn’t look too sure about it and I had NO idea how she would react.

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It was our turn, and our wave began. Emma Kate started running (sort of) and looking around all at the same time. 100 meters seems a long way when you are running with a two year old! Midway through we got a shout out from announcer Carisa who spotted EK’s big bow.

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About 75 meters in, Emma Kate realized she was tired and wanted me to hold her. About that time I saw Mickey, so I grabbed her and went over to him for a quick hug. Then because I just can’t help it, I put her down and made her walk across the finish line herself. #RunnerMom.

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We all cheered, and she got her medal, but was way more concerned about her banana oddly enough. We found my family and took some photos before grabbing the stroller and heading out. Did I mention it was really warm? (heh.)

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I had a lot of fun and loved sharing something that I do with my little girl. I feel like now that I know what to expect, the next time will be way less overwhelming for all of us.

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I love how runDisney kept everyone moving and then moved on to the next race. We got some free gogo squeeze pouches too which was nice since EK loves those things (they are a sponsor). Emma Kate wore her medal to the park, and looked adorable in her I did it shirt.

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When do we sign up again?

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Here are a couple of videos from the race:


Then of course the video I shot while she was running. Please excuse my shrieking voice in the background. I was a little excited.

 

QOTD: Has your child ever done a kids race?

Disney Sports Made Easy

When I visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World back in February, I got to sit down with some folks who work for Disney sports and talk about the complex, and also more specifically about springs training, youth sports, and how they help you from the beginning of your fundraising all the way through your stay so your trip is as easy as possible. I never had the opportunity to play sports there as a kid, but I hope one day my future kids have the opportunity to participate because well, per usual, Disney does it right!

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A lot of youth sports teams come from all over the place to participate in tournaments and spring training programs. Teams have a lot of opportunities to travel to many different states and events, but the logistics can be difficult. It may seem a bit overwhelming as a coach or a parents trying to figure out where to start, but at Disney they take care of all the details for you and makes everything so simple. First let’s start with who can participate. As far as spring training goes, high school college teams may participate. (Generally in March and April). However, there are plenty of other tournaments and events geared toward club teams ages 8-18. When it comes to spring training, teams can get a leg up on the competition and take advantage of the warm Florida climate to get the team ready for their season.

For some teams travel costs can be an issue. However, there are plenty of great fundraising ideas to help you get to Florida. Disney will even give your team a Walt Disney World vacation to raffle off in order to help you earn money. There is also an ESPN magazine sales program you can take advantage of. Not to mention your team will receive a checklist about 90 and 60 days out from your arrival, making sure you are ready to go. Upon arrival, you can get information and help for your group on site at the Wide World of Sports Complex Welcome Center. They can even booking dining reservations for you. What a great way to congratulate the team on a job well done…breakfast with Mickey and the gang!

Not only are these events exciting for the athlete participating, but the whole family can get involved. In addition to all inclusive packages with discounted hotel stays and park tickets, there are also activities for siblings to take advantage of during games. (Think bean bag toss, hula hoops, etc.) Games are scheduled in such a way that teams are generally off the field by 4:00 in the afternoon so there is plenty of time to hang out with your family and explore all the other experiences Disney has to offer.

There is so much attention to detail with these events. For instance, there are professional photographers that take photos during games forpurchase. Boxed lunches or pizza can be pre ordered for the team and are brought straight to the field. There is even a convenient equipment drop off at the front of the complex, and gear will then be transported to the field. Just a few ways that Disney makes teams feel comfortable, and makes the trip an easy one.

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Teams love working with the ESPN brand. Some games are even featured on ESPN3.com (where they are shown live so family members and friends around the world can watch), YouTube channels, and even Disney hotel room TV’s. Some highlights from games have even made it onto Sportscenter!

Disney is a great first traveling tournament for teams with it’s fun but competitive nature, as well as learning experiences on and off the field. Good communication is offered, and awards are given for the top teams in each division. There is typically a consolation bracket, so players have the opportunity to participate in multiple games against teams from all over (30% of teams come from outside of the United States!)

Not to mention, with summer coming up more and more youth will be participating in sports and tournaments, so teams can use this summer as an opportunity to play in central Florida. Planning for a tournament or camp doesn’t have to be stressful and an impossible task. In today’s world where everyone has a full plate efficiency and ease of planning are important. Sitting down with these wonderful Disney folks I learned that there are so many options available to cater to your teams needs and to make magical memories for athletes of all ages. I can’t wait to experience it for myself.

If you would like more information on attending a tournament or event with your child or team, please visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Contact Page.

QOTD: What is your favorite part about the way Disney runs these tournaments and trainings that you learned in my post? Or, what sport would you most like to watch at the complex?