Why Do You Run Disney? I Run Disney Because…

run Disney

Kids and kids at heart at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. (Photo: runDisney)

112 years ago today, a man was born who would have a profound influence on my own life, my family, and millions of other people worldwide. On December 5, 1901 Walt Disney was born in a small house on the northwest side of Chicago. I grew up not too far from there, 30 minutes due west of the city and Walt’s first home.

Walt and Mickey watch over Magic Kingdom in the "Partners" statue. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Walt Disney World News)

Walt and Mickey watch over Magic Kingdom in the “Partners” statue. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Walt Disney World News)

So today, Walt’s Birthday, feels like the right time to reflect on why I run Disney.

Why I Run Disney

When I was about 8-years-old—just 30 minutes and 85 years from where the man behind the mouse was born—I promised myself I’d never forget what it felt like to be a kid. I was surrounded by grown-ups who had clearly forgotten.

I don’t remember the inciting incident, but I remember the day clearly.

I was sitting on the grass by the pond next to my house picking dandelions. A grown-up I didn’t know well yelled at me, essentially, for having fun—the kind of fun a kid has on warm spring days, doing cartwheels, singing, playing and like. Maybe I accidentally cartwheeled into her, or maybe I was giggling too loudly. Whatever I’d done, I thought it was innocent child’s play. The grown-up did not.

Her grumpy admonition stung. As I sat sulking, staring at the grass stains on my pants, I promised myself I would never, ever forget how it feels to be a kid.

It was a solemn promise that I’ve held close to my heart. I run Disney races because of that promise.

running love

At the 2012 Princess Half Marathon. (Photo: brightroom)

I ran my first Disney race in 2011, and have been to four Disney weekends since as a reporter. At Disney races, I feel like a kid at heart. The running nerd and Disney nerd in me collide perfectly. Where else do I get to dress up like my favorite Disney characters—Cinderella, Cinderella and more Cinderella (OK, I’ve dressed as Tinker Bell and Jasmine too)—and party on the run with thousands of other runners?

Only at Disney.

Whether I’m racing for a personal record or running just for fun, I always have a blast at Disney races. They make me feel full of life and full of fun. I feel the kind of unbridled joie de vivre I remember feeling as a kid. They remind me of my childhood, for better or worse. My husband even proposed at the end of a runDisney race. He’s got a serious case of the sillies too.

That’s my runDisney story. What’s yours?

Why do you run Disney?
run Disney

Runners at the Disneyland Half Marathon (Photo: runDisney)

If you’re running a Disney race in 2014, be sure to participate in the “Why I Run Disney” social media campaign. It’s your chance to tell the world your runDisney story. Tag a 15-second Instagram video with #WhyIRunDisney and the hashtag for the runDisney race you’re running in 2014.

Disney is selecting one runner for each of their races from 5Ks to race weekend challenges to be featured in a runDisney video. You could have a camera crew visit your hometown to capture your story on video and follow you during your race weekend.

For more information about how to enter, visit rundisney.com.

Here are all the hashtags for the 2014 runDisney races:

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

  • #DopeyChallenge
  • #GoofyChallenge
  • #WDWMarathon
  • #WDWHalf
  • #WDW10K
  • #WDW5K

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

  • #TinkHalf
  • #Tink10K
  • #Neverland5K

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

  • #PrincessHalf
  • #Enchanted10K
  • #RoyalFamily5K
  • #GlassSlipperChallenge

Expedition Everest Challenge

  • #EverestChallenge

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

  • #DumboDoubleDare
  • #DisneylandHalf
  • #Disneyland10K
  • #Disneyland5K

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend

  • #Tower10Miler
  • #HappyHaunted5K

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

  • #WineDineHalf
  • #JingleJungle5K

So happy birthday to Walt Disney! It’s amazing what an influence someone you never even met can have in your life.

As a member of the media, Disney sometimes provides me with complimentary race entry, hotel, and park tickets for runDisney events. But as always, all opinions are purely my own. I really do believe in being honest about my experiences and Disney is no exception. For more information read my Disclosure Policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


12 2013

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    I love this!! It is so true – running through Disney is such a great experience and really does bring out the kid in me. I light up everytime I run down Main Street. Being at a Disney park truly is my happy place. And running through the parks gives me a legit excuse to be at Disney! :)
    Emily recently posted..2013 Santa by the Sea HalfMy Profile

  2. 3

    So true! I always get a feeling just being on the Disney property, it’s like the “magic” just seeps in. Running Disney, it’s what got me to run in the first place and its what will make me keep running.

    Btw, I know this is years later, but if you want me to kick that grown-up’s butt, I will 😛