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Running Universal at Universal Orlando Resort – Complete Insider’s Guide

After getting its start in May 2019 over at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal has exported its still-new Running Universal program over to the East Coast! The inaugural race featured both Universal Orlando theme parks and included several of the different characters that call them home.

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Running Universal at Universal Orlando Resort
Running Universal at Universal Orlando Resort

 

What is Running Universal?

Running Universal is a series of fun runs that take place all throughout Universal Orlando Resort and that are designed for runners of every skill level and background. Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are included in the various courses – or, as Universal itself puts it, runners have “the chance to race surrounded by their favorite characters within some of the most immersive theme-park environments ever created.”

All throughout the various races, participants have the opportunity to engage in a series of photo-ops and character meet-‘n-greets and, once completed, to nab some “Instagram-worthy” medals. So far, only one run has been scheduled, but we fully expect several others to follow on the docket soon, just as we already see over at Universal Studios Hollywood (both Minions– and Jurassic World-themed races have already been established on the West Coast).

 

What’s the next Running Universal race?

Epic Character Race 5K map
The Epic Character Race 5K course map
Epic Character Race 10K map
The Epic Character Race 10K course map

We don’t know just yet, but, until we do, we’d be happy to tell you all about the last race.

On Saturday, February 1 and Sunday, February 2, 2020, the Epic Character Race 5K and 10K was held – the very first Running Universal event in Orlando! Those titular characters consisted at least partially of the Minions, Shrek, a number of Transformers (both Autobots and Decepticons alike), and Blue and her “raptor expert” from Jurassic World.

The 5K race wound its 3.1 miles through Toon Lagoon, Marvel Super Hero Island, and Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure and San Francisco, the London waterfront, World Expo, Springfield, Hollywood, Production Central, and New York in Universal Studios Florida. The 10K’s 6.2 miles, meanwhile, additionally snaked through Port of Entry, The Lost Continent, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – HogsmeadeJurassic Park, and Skull Island in Islands and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios (not to mention a goodly chunk of CityWalk, to boot!).

The 5K race was held at 6:15 am on February 1, while the 10K iteration was the same time on February 2. The race corrals opened at 4:30 am. (Participants were eligible for free parking from 4:30 am to 6:15 am on those dates.)

Was there a minimum required pace?

Yes, there was – 17 minutes per mile. According to Universal, the pace clock starts when the last runner crosses the start mat.

If you fall behind this pace, you may be escorted off the course and transported to the finish line.

What if I want to train at Universal Orlando?

No problem! Universal itself has provided this handy, dandy map of all the jogging trails that run throughout its resort:

Universal Orlando jogging trail map
Universal Orlando jogging trail map

 

How do I register for a Running Universal race?

Running Universal’s Epic Character Race

NOTE: registration is now closed for the Epic Character Race.

You need to sign up here. When you do, you’ll receive a bushel of rewards:

  • “Brag-worthy” themed medal
  • Themed dri-fit shirt
  • Race bib with timing tag
  • Drawstring bag
  • On-course and post-race refreshments
  • Downloadable finisher certificate
  • Complimentary parking

Participants are also eligible to sign up for something called Epic Fan Registration, which will nab friends or family a reserved spot at the finish line from which to cheer you on. (This also includes “themed gear,” refreshments, and complimentary parking for your guests.)

How much does it cost to register?

For just the Running Universal registration by itself, the cost is $82.00 for the 5K race and $121.00 for the 10K. There’s also a VIP option available, which throws in such exclusives as a post-race breakfast, a character meet-‘n-greet photo-op, and a commemorative reusable water bottle into the mix – this is priced at $142.00 for the 5K version and $184.00 for the 10K.

If you’d prefer to bundle your race registration with theme-park tickets, Universal has special packages lined up just for you. For the standard 5K entry and a two-day, two-park, park-to-park ticket (that is, you can hop back and forth between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), you’re looking at $301.99, while VIP entry comes in at $361.99; the 10K versions, meanwhile, are set at $340.99 and $403.99, respectively.

Finally, there is both standalone and bundled Epic Fan Registration, as well – signing up for it by itself costs $49.00, while the two-day, two-park, park-to-park ticket combo costs $268.99.

(Please note that almost all of these prices were cheaper by $10 prior to November 2, which was during the early registration period.)

Are there any restrictions on registration?

There is only one restriction in order to participate in a Running Universal event: you must be at least five-years-old on race day.

We should probably note, however, that all disabled athletes must use either a push-rim or hand-crank wheelchair, and that buckled helmets and wheelchair lights are required. (Guide runners are also available to help out, and trained service animals are permitted, if needed.)

Finally, we have one final note to share: strollers won’t be permitted on the race course, so all little ones will need to stay on the spectator side.

How do I pick up my registration packet?

Head to the Universal Orlando parking garage, at the first level’s Volcano Bay section, to pick up your registration packet. The times, which include complimentary self-parking, are as follows: 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Thursday, January 30; from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Friday, January 31; and – just for 10K runners only – from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, February 1.

When does registration close?

Monday, January 20, at noon.

 

What are the Running Universal awards?

Epic Character Race 5K and 10K finisher medals
Epic Character Race 5K and 10K finisher medals

First and foremost, every racer who finishes – no matter his placement – receives a medal, with a different version for both the 5K and 10K runs, and also a “finisher’s certificate,” which can be downloaded here. (Also located on that page is a collection of your photos, which are, of course, purchasable, as well.)

In addition, there are placement awards for the following categories: top three male and female overall finishers, top male and female wheelchair finisher, top male and female masters finisher, and then the top three male and female finishers by age group (across 16 different groups). There will be an awards ceremony immediately following the race over at the CityWalk lagoon stage.

(To see where you placed, click here for the 5K race and here for the 10K.)

Do you have a question about Running Universal? Please let us know by posting in our OI Community Facebook group.