A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Race Retreat & Platinum ChEAR Squad: Was it worth it?

on February 27, 2014

For the Princess Half Marathon, we decided to splurge on both the Race Retreat and the Platinum ChEAR squad. We did this both for my comfort and for my guys who would be waiting at the finish.

– Given how early it starts, how nervous I know I’ll be and how long we have to wait around, the idea of a sheltered, structured place to wait rather than milling around outside is very attractive to me. Also, as I’ll be trying to quietly sneak out of our room at 3 am without waking up my 2 year old, breakfast at the site was an attractive option. I also like the idea of having something to “do” when I get there – breakfast, stretching area, etc, to help with my social anxiety as I’m waiting there alone for all of this to start (as alone as one could be among thousands of women anyway).

– The primary driver for us was actually the Platinum ChEAR squad side of the equation. Having a sheltered place for my husband and our two year old to wait for my finish seemed really wise. We thought the breakfast and entertainment offered for spectators in the tent, as well as the chance to watch on the TVs if the weather precluded actually getting outside with a two year old, was worth every penny and if they’re going to be in there after the run, I might as well join them.

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We read lots of reviews and reports about the Race Retreat and ChEAR squads (like this one) and the consensus seemed to be that it was nice but non-essential unless the weather was bad (which we unfortunately can’t predict ahead of time!).

We registered for both options online via Active.com. You don’t have to choose these options at the time that you register for the race. It was several weeks after I registered for the half marathon before we finally decided on adding the Race Retreat and ChEAR squad. These theoretically sell out, but I know PHM slots were still available for months after the race itself sold out.  Children under 3 are free for the Platinum ChEAR squad, so we had to pay for only one adult for the Platinum ChEAR Squad and one adult Race Retreat. I then picked up the arm bands at the Expo when I did packet pick up. I’d printed out my receipts for both, but didn’t have any problems with gathering everything.

The Race Retreat opens at 3:30 am and is runners only until 5:30 am. There is a dedicated bag check for Race Retreat participants  (which literally took seconds), a padded stretching area, private Port-a-Potties and breakfast. The breakfast options included bagels, oatmeal, fruit and coffee as well as water, soda and Powerade. I appreciated having a table and chairs to sit at while I sorted out my thoughts, my gear and my breakfast. With my nerves, I would have never been to balance things while standing or sitting on the ground outside! I also appreciated that they had oatmeal,which is my usual pre-race breakfast. I enjoyed chatting with the other runners at my table, but didn’t feel like I had to be too social which was nice.

There were private port-a-potties, but it was a mad house back there! No clear lines and not nearly enough stalls. They did start waving women over to the men’s side, which helped, and it was probably still faster  than the giant lines outside but it was surprisingly disorganized.

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There were also Alice in Wonderland characters for photos. I didn’t feel like waiting in line for pre-race photos, but O and I did get a post-race photo with the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.

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After the race, in the Race Retreat tent there are hot breakfast options, a self-administered first aid stations for ice, BioFreeeze, etc, and $10 mini-massages. There is also a TV to watch the live feed of other runners coming in and access to runner tracking if you want to see how other friends are faring. There is also a private changing tent if you want to get out of your sweaty clothes and characters for photo opportunities.

After I exited the finishing chute, I met Darrell and O in the tent. It was nice to be a little out of the way. The breakfast was nothing exciting (muffins, melon, pineapple, scrambled eggs with cheese, potatoes, bacon, more oatmeal) but it was warm and I was hungry. 🙂 I also took advantage of the changing tent. I really appreciated the chance to get completely out of the sweaty clothes so fast!

We received a commemorative towel and pair of flip flops, which were nice but nothing big considering the price of the whole package.

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The brunch buffet is available until 10 am on half marathon day, which left me with plenty of  time to eat up with my boys. The offerings were fairly generic breakfast foods (potatoes, eggs, bacon) but much appreciated after 13 miles.

By the way, via the Platinum ChEAR squad my hubby also got a stadium blanket, t-shirt (they ask for the size when you register via Active initially and it is picked up at the Expo) and “clappers”. There are also dedicated viewing areas along the course and spectating tips. Honestly, if O was older, we’d probably just go with the Bronze level ChEAR squad to get the spectating tips without worrying about any of the rest of it but for this year, the protected spaces were worth it for our little family.

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12 responses to “Race Retreat & Platinum ChEAR Squad: Was it worth it?

  1. Kristin says:

    Wow, amazing race and so much fun stuff to do!! My absolute favorite character is Alice!!! 😉 😉

  2. I’ve never done the race retreat, but it definitely looks awesome. Since my husband had the platinum package last year though, he was able to get some food from the tent and graciously share with me after I finished the race :0) haha. I always wonder how the weather will be… I know not getting the race retreat is kind of rolling the dice, especially considering how much it can rain in Florida. Maybe next time, though! Glad you had a wonderful experience!

  3. […] posts)! I’ve already talked about spectating the 10K and Kid’s Races, the Expo and the Race Retreat, so check out those posts from last week for more details on those parts of the […]

  4. Thanks for the great review! I’ve heard about both and wasn’t sure if they were worth it. I’m surprised the port a potty situation was so unorganized. You would think they would have that figured out! 🙂 Sounds like it was a good deal for you and the family!

  5. […] were several other Disney related posts near the top of the “most visited” list (Race Retreat, MyDisney Experience walkthrough and Be Our Guest among them), but I would say that the Princess […]

  6. tigger1968 says:

    As a spectator I would lIke to add that the chear squad is not worth the money. You are denied entry into the tent in the morning so you cannot go in with your runner. I was left standing in the rain for an hour before they would let me in. The runners were all gone to the start….tent empty and they still refused to let us in. Do NOT buy a chear squad if you are accompanying your runner to the start. Waste of money.

    • Wow! My husband and son found it worthwhile but a) they paid once for the two of them because O was so young and b) they didn’t come first thing in the morning. I would be mad too if I’d paid all that and was left out in the rain!

  7. […] talked about Race Retreat before (here) and will say that again, I felt like it was worth it for my needs at the time. Staying warm, […]

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