runDisney is a huge part of my life. I make plans to run the Princess Half Marathon every year. This year I added the Tinker Bell Half Marathon as well as the Dumbo Dare Challenge. I’m even giving the side eye to the Wine and Dine in November- but my husband doesn’t know that just yet- shhhh don’t tell on me! I dream someday of doing a Coast to Coast Slam- every race in a single calendar year in both Disneyland and Disney World. I read race reports in blogs and follow Tweets every race weekend to see how my runner buddies are doing. I think it’s fair to say I am pretty obsessed. I simply love runDisney.
A year ago I discovered that an event is held before the half marathons and marathons. To reward runDisney fans, social media followers are treated to a morning of running, celebrity speakers, give-a-ways, and food! It sounded like runner heaven to me. The pictures and blogs looked AMAAAZING. I knew I had to do this at least once. My first chance to participate would be at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend in January.
So what does this meet up look like exactly? The chosen runners meet Jeff Galloway and various running celebrities. The group runs 2-3 miles together using the Galloway run/walk/run method at a 12 min mile, usually had photo ops with Disney characters, and were often treated to breakfast and speakers. The groups are limited to 30-100 people depending on the event. That may not sound like a small group, but when you consider the amount of people attending the races (10,000-30,000 per event) the odds are NOT in your favor to get into the meet up.
Who attends the events? As runDisney reminds us, the purpose of this event is to give appreciation to the faithful runDisney bloggers, tweeters, and social media followers. You do NOT have to be a blogger or a Twitter queen to have a chance to attend these events. They only hope that once you do attend, you spread the word in the social media world in whatever form you are comfortable doing. It’s not a requirement, but trust me, this morning was so cool there’s no reason why you WOULDN’T want to tell everyone you know and their grandmothers about this event. For real. It’s awesome.
That being said, there are media invited to attend as well as us normal people. Media receive invitations (and I really have NO idea how you swing an invite, so don’t ask!) but the rest of us have to earn our way in. Blog Stalking has become a competitive cut throat sport within a sport. Let me explain….
To make the events as fair as possible, runDisney creates a posting on the Disney Parks Blog announcing the event. First come first serve for sending in an RSVP. Usually teasers are put out through Twitter and the runDisney Facebook page, giving people a little warning that the blog would be posting soon. When I say you have to earn your spot in this event, I am talking about hours of blog stalking. Waiting, refreshing, waiting, refreshing… all in the hopes of being one of the first 30-100 people to see the invitation listed.
I’ll admit- I got a little obsessed with this process. I scoured the internet looking for patterns in how runDisney would announce each meet up. The best resource I found was by runDisney Moms Panel hopeful, Outrunning the Monorail. Krissy put together some amazing data to help blog stalkers get a heads up on the event.
Somehow I was in the right place at the right time and got into the Tinker Bell Meet Up! My heart skipped at least a beat when I read “Congratulations!” in my email header. SUCCESS! All the hours and refreshing of the blog paid off. I was going to meet Jeff Galloway, Sean Astin (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings), and Ali Vincent (Biggest Loser first female winner). Other special speakers included the Diet Diva for runDisney, Tara Gidus, and the folks at New Balance who released special Mickey running shoes!
Even more amazing is the fact that two of my best friends, Summer and Allison, also got on the list. We were going to have an epic morning, I just knew it!