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A few weeks ago, Disney announced via the Disney Parks Blog that its was going to start a new runDisney program called On The Road To Disney Parks and that their first stop would be my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia! I immediately signed up my husband (he is the runner in our family…me…I tend to only run if someone’s chasing me.)
However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should sign up, too. I only had to run 2 miles, and I knew it would be an experience I would not forget. (I have actually previously done two other runDisney races: the Disney Halloween 5k in 2011 and the Castaway Cay 5k this past July.) So, I signed myself up and a few hours later, saw both mine and my husband’s name listed. Which meant I had to get out there and do a little bit of training.
In the couple of weeks leading up to the event, I went out most days to “practice” running and enhance my skills. By the time the event came around, I was more or less ready.
So, on Saturday, November 16, my husband and I woke up bright and early because check in was at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, and it started at 6:15 a.m. Once we arrived, we saw the video screen was lit up with the runDisney logo. The event was real, and I was here! We got all checked in, put on our snazzy runDisney On The Road To Disney Parks Atlanta running shirts, and waited for the official start.
The event started off with an introduction from Michael Cain, representing ESPN Wide World of Sports. After that, Brian from New Balance shared some tips on Good Form Running (posture, midfoot, cadence, and lean…look! I learned something!). All the sudden, here comes Mickey Mouse, who was there to help cheer us on. Ack! It was time to run!
We were split into two groups. Group One was full of the runners (which my husband chose), whereas Group Two would be going out with Mr. Jeff Galloway, himself, to try out the 20/20 running method. (Running for 20 seconds/walking for 20 seconds.) I obviously chose the second group! Also running with us was 2008/2012 British Olympian Barbara Parker!
We started out on the streets of Atlanta going past the Olympic Rings (with two Olympians! Come on…how cool is that?). We quickly made it to the Capitol building, running around it, then circling back to Turner Field.
Once we made it into Braves country, we started our journey inside the actual stadium, running through the back tunnels. This was incredible! We turned a corner and I saw the light, literally, as our path led us directly out to the field. When we got on the field, it was picture time! We started taking photos in the dugout and of the field (which I find hysterical because I’m a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan) and then we got to meet up and pose for pictures with Minnie!
After our photo shoot with Minnie, we ran around the warning track and made our way back to the main entryway for the park. Here, runDisney had a fantastic breakfast for us that featured yogurt, cereal, granola, a spinach and egg quiche, coffee, fruit, and water.
Once settled in, the guest speakers series started. First off, Tammy Jacobson, Marketing Area Manager for runDisney talked about a new hashtag that will be introduced soon called #WhyIRunDisney. Jeff Galloway discussed his run/walk method. Diet Diva Tara, runDisney’s nutritionist, shared why proper nutrition is so important in the fueling up of runners.
Then came the representatives from New Balance, who shared details about the new New Balance shoe that’s coming for 2014. While they didn’t show us what the much anticipated shoe looked like, they did give us a sneak peek at which Disney character would be featured on the heel. (Sorcerer Mickey will be on the men’s version, and pretty in pink Minnie will be on the women’s option.) They also announced was that there would be a kids’ shoe that would mimic the adult version.
Next, Barbara Parker got up and spoke about what it’s like to train for the Olympics and shared a few tips on how to properly run while expecting. (She announced she was pregnant.) Finally, Warren Greene from Runner’s World shared that the magazine is bringing back its runner’s challenge to the 2015 runDisney events.
The event closed out by getting to take photos with Mickey and Minnie together!
Honestly, it was a truly amazing event that I am so lucky I got to participate in! Disney did a phenomenal job setting this whole thing up, and I can only imagine what they will do in the future!
Something miraculous happened in the process of all of this…and I think it’s exactly what runDisney was created for. I…Rikki Niblett…now consider myself a runner. I am now excited to get out there and go for a run around my neighborhood. Disney has waved its magic wand, and it has officially worked on me.
Check out the official recap here. (My hubby and I totally made it into the first 3 seconds of the video!)
If one of these On The Road To Disney Parks meetup/tweetup events happens near you, I strongly suggest you sign up, and I hope you get picked! The event was a ton of fun! Thanks to runDisney for a fantastic event!