It is no secret that runDisney events have grown exponentially in popularity over the last several years. Back in the “day”, you could register for a Disney themed half marathon a month or two before the actual event and you were pretty much guaranteed at spot. This was great for last minute race planners or for those folks who wanted to “wait and see” how their training would go. Adding a 5K to your schedule was never a problem either, as spots were often available up to a week before race day. These days, registration spots are snatched up faster than you can say “bibbidi bobbidi boo”. The increase in the popularity of running in general combined with the growing number of folks who have used runDisney events as motivation to get in shape has caused the popularity of these endurance events to explode. runDisney has attempted to meet the needs of their growing running community by adding a few 10K races and multi-race challenges to a couple of existing half marathon weekends as well as the introducing two new Disneyland based endurance events this past year. Despite the expanding number of races, runDisney events were still selling out within hours of registration opening. When registration for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend opened on August 12, 2014, it was expected that spots would fill just as quickly, especially since the advanced registration for the Pixie Dust Challenge (a new challenge that combines the half marathon with the 10k event) for Disney Vacation Club® members sold out in less than 2 hours. However, hours after registration opened, it was the runDisney kids races that filled first, followed by the 5k and 10K. Hours turned to days and days into weeks, and still the half marathon and the Pixie Dust Challenge remained open. The Pixie Dust Challenge finally sold out about a week and a half ago but there are still spots available for the half marathon. So what’s the deal with Tink?
When it was announced that the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend would be moved from January to May, there were mixed feelings amongst runDisney fans about the change in dates. Many thought this to be a positive change that would allow more time between Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend and Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, giving runners time to save up money and vacation days. Others proclaimed that this was a poor decision and that it would be too hot in May to run this event. With registrations trickling, rather than flowing, in for this race, many naysayers think that runDisney has saturated the market so much that the lack of Tinker Bell Half Marathon enthusiasm is the result of too many races and the “outlandish” prices they change for registration. I disagree. I think there is a still a great love for Tink, but I think the date change has had a negative impact on registration. Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend was, like Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, a great girls’ weekend getaway. With Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend moved to Mother’s Day weekend, I think many ladies who planned on running the event changed their mind, as they did not want to be away from their families over the holiday. My sister and I were planning on running Tinker Bell Half Marathon next year, but I just did not want to be away from my kids on Mother’s Day. It’s a day that they enjoy planning and no matter how I tried to arrange it, there was just no way to be home in time to celebrate. I know there are many who would disagree, but as cool as the medals would be, it is just not worth being away from my kids on Mother’s Day. And while some have turned the weekend into a mother/daughter trip, my girls are simply too young to run the race, which makes it a no-go for me.
While I think that the change in dates overall was a good thing for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, I think that this year’s registration is suffering simply because of the weekend on which it falls. I strongly disagree with those who think the decrease in the popularity of the races is due to registration prices, because let’s be honest, there will always be people who will pay—no matter the amount. Whether or not the lack of registration is due to the introduction of more events is yet to be proven. It will be interesting to see how the next runDisney event fares when its registration opens. As for me, I am hoping that next year, perhaps, the race will be moved to another May weekend so that I can FINALLY get my wings.