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How do virtual runs work? 2020 runDisney Virtual Series


After much anticipation, we finally got registrations dates today for both runDisney’s 2021 Marathon Weekend and runDisney’s 2020 Virtual Run Series. I shared out the details here earlier today and since that time have gotten countless questions about how the virtual runs work…especially since we’ve just found out that registration for them opens TOMORROW at 10 a.m. Eastern!! 

For 5 years, runDisney has offered a virtual run series each spring/summer.

Here are some of the most common questions I get about them:

1. What the heck are these races, anyway? They are generally a set of 3 virtual races. Each year has a theme. This year, it’s favorite park attractions.

    • runDisney Virtual 5K – Mad Tea Party ($40)
    • runDisney Virtual 5K – Space Mountain© ($40)
    • runDisney Virtual 5K – The Haunted Mansion© ($40)
    • runDisney Virtual Challenge ($145)

You can complete any single one or all three. If you register for all three, you’ll get a medal for each of them AND a challenge medal, for a total of 4 pieces of bling. That’s why it costs a little more to register for the challenge than it would to register for all three individually.


2. When do I run? In past years, the races are generally spaced out so you’d do one each month over the course of three months. This year, probably in part due to the global situation, each of the 5Ks can be completed any time between April 16th and August 31st.

3. How do they know I completed the races? They just trust ya. With some virtual races, you need to submit “proof” of running – something like a screen shot from a running app or something similar. With runDisney and many others, it’s all just done on the honor system. Which kind of makes sense because if you want to register and not run – then that’s kinda silly but to each their own. The races benefit a charity so whether you actually run or not, your registration goes to a good cause.


4. Why would I pay to run a “virtual” race when I can run at home for free? Well, that’s kind of a good question but it’s not without good answers. Especially in times like these, there’s solidarity in getting out there with other runners to complete a race – even if it is just in spirit. You can print your race bib at home and even wear a race costume if you want, but no matter how you choose to dress for the “event” you can share your experience with other runners on social media – use the tag #runDisneyVirtual – and see theirs. You can even hit up Spotify or another music source for a great Disney playlist to move you forward! It’s a great way to make a run a little more special if you’re new to running and want to celebrate your at home race as a bit more of an event. And whether you’re new to running or not you can get out there with friends – in person or (these days especially) virtually and complete the run at the same time. Plus – you get some bling!! And with the themes of this year’s races, it’s going to be cool. (Guessing they’ll look something like the images from runDisney that I’m sharing throughout this post….) 


UPDATE: runDisney shared the medals this morning. Check them out right HERE!! The dying for the Haunted Mansion and ticket book.

5. What do I get for running? Besides your medals and the aforementioned pride and camaraderie, you get a downloadable race bib and downloadable finisher certificate for each race and the challenge. There’s also an added keepsake for the challenge. Note that in order to get the challenge medal and keepsake, you MUST register for the Virtual Challenge. You will not get them if you register for the three races individually.

6. Do the races sell out? Yes, they do. Even with virtual races, the organizers only have so many medals to send out. So if you know that you want to participate, be sure to register early.

7. When should I be online to register? Honestly, be online and refreshing a good 15-20 minutes before registration officially opens (the queue has a tendency to open early and we never know if that will be the case again) if you are absolutely set on doing these races. Will they sell out right away? Your guess is as good as mine. But with the current global situation and the cancellation of Rival Run Weekend, runDisney fans are chomping at the bit to get out there under the runDisney banner – and for that reason this virtual series is going to mean that much more than others in the past. For all I know tomorrow will come and go and there will still be plenty of registrations spots open – but it’s so unpredictable and I never want anyone to miss out if they really want to participate. UPDATE: As of noon on registration day, all three of the individual races are sold out and only the challenge is left. This just goes to show how unpredictable this is and how important it is to register right away if you’re set on running. Hopefully everyone that planned to run got in!! 

8. Do these races benefit any charity? Yes!! This year, runDisney’s virtual series benefits the Orlando Fisher House, which has provided free lodging for families of active duty military and Veterans receiving inpatient medical care at the Orlando VA Medical Center since 2018. The Friends of Fisher House Orlando nonprofit has supported over 2,400 guests to date by keeping the pantry filled, providing personal hygiene items, and meeting other guest and house needs not covered by the VA. Nationally, Fisher House Foundation has built 86 houses since 1990, serving 400,000 families, saving over $500 million in 9.5 million days of lodging. And if that’s not reason enough to get out there, I don’t know what is.


9. Are these races available to international runners? This varies from one virtual to the next, but unfortunately medals will not ship internationally for this series. I suspect this has something to do with international shipping in the current global environment.

And that’s pretty much it!! Hop online, register, run on your own schedule, and then look for your medals in the mail at whatever address you entered when you registered. I’d guess the medals won’t go out until the race period has ended at the end of August, but that’s just a guess. They could come at any time and it’s always a great surprise when they show up. 🙂 UPDATE: The site now says that medals will ship at the end of the race period – so around August 31st.



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