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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 is exporting its still-new Running Universal program over to the East Coast! The inaugural race will feature both Universal Orlando theme parks and include 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. Very little in the way of specifics has been announced thus far, but we do know that both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure will be included in the various courses – or, as Universal itself puts it, runners will 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 will have the chance 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 marathons have already been established on the West Coast).


What’s the next Running Universal race?

On Saturday, February 1 and Sunday, February 2, 2020, the Epic Character Race 5K and 10K will be held – the very first Running Universal event in Orlando! Who, exactly, those titular characters are will be revealed over the coming months, as Universal continues to roll out more information about this kickoff marathon.

We also have our very first clue as to the times of these races: 3:00 to 5:30 am (which is when participants’ free parking is good for).

Is there a minimum required pace?

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


How do I register for a Running Universal marathon?

You’ll need to sign up here. Please note, however, that from now up until Wednesday, October 30, registration is only available to annual passholders and Universal team members; it’ll open to the general public “soon.”

When you do manage to register, 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?

If you are an annual passholder, it costs $72.00 for the 5K race and $111.00 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 $132.00 for the 5K version and $174.00 for the 10K.

If you’d like to sign up for the Epic Fan Registration, meanwhile, that’ll cost $49.00.

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. (Although we should probably add here that 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?

We don’t know just yet, but we do know that the complimentary self-parking on race day is extended to the two days preceding the Epic Character Race, in order to allow everyone the opportunity to pick up those packets. Enjoy free parking from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Thursday, January 30 and from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Friday, January 31.


What are the Running Universal awards?

Beyond “Instagram-worthy” medals and the chance to earn “exclusive swag,” we yet again don’t have much in the way of concrete info; however, we can perhaps look to Universal Studios Hollywood for some general guidance here.

In California’s version of Running Universal, awards are handed out to the top racers in four different categories:

  • Top three overall male finishers
  • Top three overall female finishers
  • Top overall male wheelchair finisher (push rim only)
  • Top overall female wheelchair finisher (push rim only)

Typically, the awards take four to six weeks to be mailed out to participants.

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