written by Jennifer Hart, specialist in Disney vacations
When I was in high school I ran track. Shortly after graduation, I hung up my running shoes and really never expected to pull them back out. However…I think I have found a new obsession! Last July, a friend told me that she was going to be participating in the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge during the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. Within minutes I knew that I wanted to join her and see what a runDisney event was like.
The Princess Half Marathon weekend was February 20-23, 2014 at Walt Disney World. The weekend had events that would appeal to everyone in the family. The events for the weekend included: Kids races, Cinderella’s Royal Family 5K; Enchanted 10K, Princess Half Marathon, & the Glass Slipper Challenge.
The weekend kicked off with the Fit for a Princess Expo at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
Every runner had to visit the Expo to pick up our race bibs and shirts.
All the resorts were offering transportation to the Expo and to the races. These buses were different than the normal Disney transportation buses and were only for the purpose of the races.
The expo had so many different booths. You could buy just about any type of running gear that you needed: Shoes, sparkle skirts, running belts, tape, runDisney merchandise, jewelry, nutrition and so much more. We could have spent hours just looking through the expo. Next time, I will certainly allow myself more time to check everything out.
We didn’t do the Cinderella Royal Family 5K since we were doing the 10K and the Half…but this was the Finishers Medal that they gave for the 5K. It is actually a rubberized medal, so that it would be appropriate for small kids as well.
Now to the races…..
The Enchanted 10K took place on Saturday morning. The buses began running at 3:00am (YES that says 3 A.M.) After arriving at the starting area, those with bags had to go through bag check and then we could proceed in. They wouldn’t let us go to the corrals that early, but we were able to start lining up. They had fun music playing and some MC’s getting everyone excited. Around 4:15 we were allowed to go to our corral.
Our corral placement was marked on our bibs. The placement was based upon the times that we submitted during registration. If someone didn’t have an official time (I did not have one) then they were placed in the later corrals. I was placed in corral E in the 10K and corral L in the Princess Half Marathon.
Being a runDisney race, there were a lot of people dressed up…which adds to the fun. Not everyone dresses up, but I spotted a lot of princesses, villains, queens, snowmen, princes, and several other characters.I chose to dress up like Elsa and a couple of fellow Wish Upon a Star with Us agents dressed up as Olaf and Aurora.
At 5:30 they started the 10K with corral A and every 10 minutes another corral would start…meaning corral E didn’t start racing until 6:10…which was after the winner had already crossed the finish line. I had trained to run the whole race, so I wanted to make sure that I was at the front of our corral so that I could run out ahead of anyone who was wanting to walk. By arriving early, I was able to walk right into the corral and straight to the front line. When it was time for our corral to start we actually got to walk with the race ribbon to the starting line.
The race started outside Epcot and then we went along the highway for a few miles, before we entered the World Showcase, then around the Epcot area resorts, back into Epcot to the finish line.
The race was a lot of run with characters stationed along the way. The lines for the characters were long and I chose not to stop for them, but it was still fun to see them. Upon crossing the finish line, we received our finishers medal. Those of us who had registered for the glass slipper challenge also received a wrist band showing we had completed part one of the challenge.
The Princess Half Marathon took place on Sunday morning. Again, the buses began running at 3:00am and took us to the starting area outside Epcot. The pre-race ritual was pretty much the same. We waited to be sent to our corrals and then when it was time we went to our designated spots. For the half marathon there were corrals A-P with 24,000 participants registered! That is a lot of people in one race. Again, I wanted to be at the front of my corral, so I made sure to arrive early and was able to hold the race ribbon as we walked to the starting line.
Since this was the “Princess” half, you saw a lot more costumes…even men dressed as princesses to have a little fun. For the half, I decided to dress as my favorite princess…Belle.
The half was so much longer, so there were a lot miles spent on the highway. We did run into Magic Kingdom and through the castle, then into Epcot at the end of the race, but the rest was on the highway.
As I mentioned early I was registered for the Glass Slipper challenge. The glass slipper challenge participants ran both the 10K and the Half. Upon completing the half marathon, we were given our finishers medal and the Glass Slipper Challenge Medal. It was a challenge for sure, but one that I would happily do again!
°o° The finisher medals °o°
On Sunday afternoon there was an “after party” at Downtown Disney. There were some games, music and even some stores offered discounts if you showed your finisher medal at checkout. They had the backgrounds for each race that you could get your photo taken in front of as well.
These were my very first runDisney events…but it is safe to say that they will not be my last. I think I am officially addicted to runDisney races!