Alison and Penny TellierFox
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

EAST LONGMEADOW — Alison and Penny TellierFox, an East Longmeadow couple, love to run together. They also love Disney World. In April, the two were able to combine their passions by completing a perfect season of runDisney races.

“We fell in love with runDisney in February 2023,” Alison TellierFox said. As a blended family, Penny TellierFox said runDisney gave the couple something that was theirs together.
runDisney is a series of races that take runners throughout the Disney World parks and along the highways in between. “Where else can you run through Cinderella’s castle?” Alison TellierFox asked with a laugh. “We were at every race for every weekend.”

The runDisney race weekends take place roughly every seven weeks from November through April. The first is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, which features a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon of 13.1 miles. The January Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend offers the same three distance races as the Wine & Dine, but as the name suggests, also features a marathon. Competing in all four races that weekend means athletes run 48.6 miles over four days.

Similar to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, featuring a 5K, 10K and half marathon in February. Finally, in April is the Springtime Surprise Weekend, in which runners can participate in a 5K, 10K and 10-miler.

New this September will be a Halloween Half Marathon Weekend. Just as each weekend is themed, so are the medals runners receive when they complete the race weekend. There is also a runDisney virtual series over the summer and a virtual “12Ks of Christmas” series.

The TellierFoxs did not start out trying to run a perfect season. “It’s not easy to sign up. They sell out pretty quickly,” Alison TellierFox said. In fact, the next set of races, the November 2024 Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend and January 2025 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, are already sold out. Each race sees around 12,000 runners participate.

The original plan was to only run the Wine & Dine Weekend. But then, Alison TellierFox wanted to run the marathon, the course of which travels through all four parks. Both Penny and Alison like Disney princesses, so they went back in February for that themed weekend. When Penny TellierFox found out the medal for the Springtime Surprise Weekend was emblazoned with her favorite Disney Character, Stitch from the 2002 movie

“Lilo & Stitch,” the two knew they had to compete in the last weekend of the season.

Alison TellierFox has been running for about 10 years. Penny TellierFox began running when she met Alison seven years ago. “I have the muscle endurance, Penny has the muscle strength,” Alison TellierFox said.
Penny TellierFox has an Achilles tendon injury and was unable to run the marathon but completed all the other races. “The half is a really long distance for me,” Penny TellierFox said. As an educator, she said that she tells her students to at least try, so she decided to try to complete her first half marathon, and she succeeded.
Alison TellierFox has completed three marathons, including the runDisney marathon in January. These accomplishments have not come without cost. In addition to the registration fee for each race, which varies from $108 to $240, there is also a physical toll to the sport. Alison TellierFox broke her foot while running the marathon but managed to finish it.

“Your body wears down,” Penny TellierFox said. “You get up at 2 a.m. on race days.” Alison TellierFox said they trained by running about 450 miles. However, in a testament to their commitment, she said, “Seven weeks later, we were back for the princess weekend.”

While there are injuries and commitments of time and money, both Penny and Alison TellierFox said there are benefits. “I love it,” Alison TellierFox said. For me, it has a massive mental health benefit. Running is a form of therapy for me.”

Penny TellierFox agreed. “It helps in releasing stress for the day and it’s a way to spend quality time together,” she said.

The TellierFoxs could not say enough about the social aspect of runDisney. “The people just become family,” Penny TellierFox said. The couple have been sharing their training and race journey with others online. She shared that it began as a way to keep themselves accountable for training. However, people all over the world began responding, telling the couple how inspirational they were, which inspired Penny and Alison TellierFox to keep going.

“When I’m struggling in a race, those [people] help get me through,” Penny TellierFox said. “I let them know its OK to have a bad run. It’s OK to not be OK.”

Only one of the couple’s children have gone with them to Disney to watch them run. “You either really love Disney or you don’t,” Penny TellierFox said, adding that the other four of their children are in the latter category.
The couple is unlikely to attempt another perfect season any time soon. Penny TellierFox said she must rest and heal her Achilles tendon. As a teacher, it is also difficult to take the time off, except for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, which coincides with the school’s February break. That does not mean they will stop running, though. Alison TellierFox has already entered a local race that takes place in August.

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