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Disney Princess Half Marathon

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Travel and fitness are two terms that are not inherently intertwined with utter ease, and that’s precisely why I became aware of health travel. It is called multi-tasking, and the result is the control of Disney events.  A month ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and that’s how it went.

RunDisney

Disney Princess Half Marathon, which is commonly known as RunDisney, is the Disney Sports Enterprises road race division, the Disney Parks, Experiences and Services unit, the Walt Disney Company’s branch and subsidiary. The division aims at getting runners to organize a “runcation,” a holiday planned to coincide with the race they have signed. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend is targeted at this unforgettable event featuring several races in a celebration of inspiring women around the globe.

I was waiting for the Disney Princess Half Marathon for what seemed like forever because it was. Last March, I signed up.  Waking up was the same as the day before, but with a lot of excitement, 2:30 am came early. I was forced to eat a bagel with peanut butter and a banana after giving myself the most reasonable snow-white hair possible.

RunDisney

Epcot Parking lot

We arrived in the Epcot Parking lot again with time to relax, use the toilet and get ready for the race (shoes, compression pants, gliding, watching, music). I left my family at the entrance to the runners and walked to the start of the race, which was probably nearly 20 minutes away. D.J.’s are on the way, more bathrooms, and princesses are excited to keep up the vibe. There was space, people relaxed and the runners chatted with each other as they waited anxiously to start the race. There was no push, there was the only pleasantry.

The Children’s Miracle Network

This race supports the Children’s Miracle Network that provides accessibility for children in need to have disabilities to their homes. As a result of the charity, there is a corral for the children to run in fancy wheelchairs with their parent or guardian. It is an amazing accomplishment of seeing them in practice, very exciting and inspiring. We also get to see the start of the wheelchair, which is also cool… and finally, the Princess Half Marathon starts.

The Princess Half Marathon

The Magic Kingdom

When we continued to World Drive and the Magic Kingdom, we poured out of the blocks and settled into race pace. They had marching bands in the middle of the fields at 5:30 am to thrill us and cheer us on as we were running around. Typically, the first bit of the race flies by for me because it’s both fun and I’m working to find my half marathon race pace.

Turning to Epcot’s World Drive is always exciting, because well… the sign of the Magic Kingdom is similar to what you would imagine. It was pitch black as I made my way down the World Drive concentrating only on the sign ahead and making it possible to stop for every water break. Every morning it was HOT and extremely humid, so it became a necessity to stay hydrated.

Under The Magic Kingdom park, it’s always fun crossing because you know you’re close to the fun, the characters, the castle, and well … halfway. Weaving around the car park we walked to be precise in a band of champions, Prince Eric, Flynn Ryder, John Smith, and Phoebus. I stopped, I stopped going ahead for the evil queen of Snow White. I grabbed a blue cup from a water station and then hopped down the road to The Magic Kingdom. A couple of hills up and down, around the bus station, and there was the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, and I was stuck!

Main Street, USA

Characters were waving at us from the train station as we ran through the entrance to Main Street, the USA where a huge crowd of supportive fans was waiting to cheer us on. It’s so magical that unless you were there, you could never understand. With all its lights on and the mysterious Cinderella Castle in the background.

I’m trying to help you know what it’s like running down Main Street, USA. If I said I didn’t hold a single tear back every time I encountered something like this, I would be lying. I ran down the street smiling at the fans and turned into Tomorrowland, past the Laugh Wall, Buzz Lightyear, the Speedway and into Fantasyland, where I bumped into Alice and the March Hare, as well as Gaston and Belle themselves. Break the photo!

Main Street, USA

The Main Street, USA Castle

My favorite is the next part. I was able to see the entrance of the Castle just ahead of me round the corner in Fantasyland. It was time to run through the castle after stopping for a picture with Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella … and I was alone. Running through the castle and looking down on a packed and illuminated Main Street, USA, is always a beautiful sight.

I even pulled into the middle to take a photo in front of the castle. Then the course went through Liberty Square and Frontierland where I met Woody, Goofy, Tiana, Naveen and finally Elsa, Cinderella, and their Prince.  We then exited The Magic Kingdom and made our way on to Floridian Way.

The course crossed the Disney Golf Course and the Grand Floridian Resort where I stopped with Tinker Bell and the Genie to take a picture. I took a deep breath, had a snack, and settled back into my natural pace of competition at this moment in the race. I was excited to experience my second favorite portion of the Princess Half Marathon when we reached World Drive again.

World Drive

See, we miss the princess half marathon’s general camaraderie, the positivity, the encouragement, and the costumes as a Corral A runner. It’s another kind of fun, but it’s certainly lonelier. As we move on to World Drive, it brightens my day and has the chance to see the rest of the princesses racing down the opposite road. The laughter and fun are always a positive moment for me to see the costumes and support. The crowd distracts me to the Epcot turn off where the man from the Green Army spends his morning shouting at the runners with hilarious comments.

The course takes a final turn to Epcot after running up and down 3 hills and seeing the Balloon Ladies pass by on the opposite side. At this point, you’re looking forward to finishing the race for the sake of not running, but you’re also a little sad to see it end.

The street was filled with pictures of children from the Miracle Network along this final stretch of highway before Epcot, which I considered to be a nice touch. I also saw the hand-cycle winner cheering for the runners at this location and pointing to the medal ‘ soon to be ours. ‘

Running into Epcot, I passed Mrs. Incredible with whom I took a picture, before heading down to the world showcase on the right side of the bridge. Once there, the course returns to the opposite side through a full song of a Gospel Choir. You’d find me sprinting on the way to the finish line at this point…high fiving Goofy.

World Drive

The Last Step

The race was over and a volunteer placed my finisher medal around my neck with a little Pixie Dust. Pulling down a bottle of water and taking a couple of Powerade, a warming scarf and snack bag, I followed the doors to the finishing picture stop where I would collect my Challenger trophy on consecutive days to complete the races.

Elsa and Anna

Elsa and Anna

I was reunited with my family leaving the race zone. I saw Elsa and Anna in the distance, so I rushed my family to get a picture or two. At the picture location, they caught up with me. Before the crowds built up, we spent a few minutes taking pictures with the princesses and chatting with other athletes. We then escaped for a perfect post-race breakfast to the Garden Grille. You wouldn’t think you can get hungry after a 21.1 km run.

Overall

Things running Disney are like any other. There is a reason why thousands of people dedicate their holidays and weekends to one of these things each year. It’s amazing how it feels to stand with 25,000 other princesses all committed to getting fun and health support. Such races’ entertainment value was unprecedented. Organizing is such a major incredible work. RunDisney keeps me coming back for more, and I can promise that running a race in a tutu is more than an excuse. The courses are spectacular and it makes all the difference the spirit and vibes of the other runners who all have a blast. Once again, making runDisney weekends worthwhile is the fact that this race feels like an inclusive celebration event. One of my favorite experiences of the year is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Reference:

The Little Black Book of Walt Disney World, 2013 Edition, By Rona Gindin

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017, By Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa

 

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