The 2013 Princess Half Marathon Weekend officially kicked off on Friday, February 22. One of the very first events to kick off the party was the Official runDisney #PrincessHalfMeetUp – a special event designed around social media aficionados (for more on meetups, check here).
I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say getting in to the Princess Half Meet Up was almost as much work as running 13.1 miles.
Before I get to the meet up, I thought I’d give some background on why getting in was such a huge deal. It was tweeted by runDisney that the announcement on the Disney Parks Blog for the Princess Half Meet Up would be posted on Friday the 15th. Alright, that seemed straightforward. I was one of many people who spent their Friday morning compulsively refreshing the Disney Parks Blog, eager to get in.
After waiting several hours, it was announced later that afternoon on Twitter that some villains had heard about the meet up, so the post would be delayed until Monday. Good thing I don’t have anything to do Monday morning, I thought to myself.
As it turned out, I could have had Monday morning plans, because at 1:30AM PST, I received a message from a friend letting me know the blog post had gone up! Wait, what?! I quickly sent off my email, crossed my fingers, and tried to fall back asleep, which was a little difficult considering the excitement. I woke up at 7:30AM to some very happy news, I was in!
Fast forward to Friday, February 22nd. The meet up started at 7AM, but we had to be at Epcot by 6:30. My mom kindly dropped me off, and I practically skipped toward Epcot, I was so excited.
After a bag check, I signed a waiver, and got my runDisney tech shirt. Can I take a moment to say how much I love these shirts? They’re cute, super comfy, and fit well.
While waiting for the meet up to start, I had a great time talking with the other participants, as well as taking pictures of the empty entrance and Spaceship Earth.
A group photo was taken, and then it was time to start the running portion of the meet up. Or in my case, the running/walking portion. We had the option of either running with Rachel Booth or doing a run/walk with 30-second intervals with Jeff Galloway.
We ran around the World Showcase, out through the International Gateway, past the Boardwalk, the Yacht Club, and the Beach Club, before returning through the International Gateway and back around to Germany.
Along the way, we saw a few princesses! We also waved to the Fairy Godmother as we ran by.
I wish I could run through an empty Epcot everyday! I think I would be even more motivated to train, if I could take in the sights and sounds of early morning Epcot as part of my daily routine. There’s something so special about getting to see the parks when they’re not packed with people.
Once we returned to the Germany pavilion, we were given breakfast at Biergarten. Breakfast consisted of bagels, pastries, fruit, water, coffee, and tea.
The speakers for the morning included Faron Kelley, Tara Gidus, Jeff Galloway, Rachel Booth, Ali Vincent, April Holmes, Josh Rowe, as well as cast members from Senses Spa at the Grand Floridan Resort. There were also several giveaways, including multiple pairs of runDisney New Balance shoes, and a massage at Senses!
For me, the most inspiring person who spoke that morning was April Holmes. She had lost part of her leg in an accident, but continued on to compete and win in the Paralympic Games. One of things she said was, “remember what brought you here.” That struck a chord with me. As someone who has had some rough times recently, as someone who was the slowest kid in PE, as someone who thought they’d never be a runner, that simple reminder of taking a moment to remember everything I had achieved and overcome to be there was powerful.
After a wonderful morning with a great run and some inspiring speakers, the Princess Half Meet Up was over. Of course, I couldn’t leave just yet, not without getting a few pictures!
I can’t speak highly enough of the runDisney meet-ups. I had a wonderful time that morning, and I hope I will be lucky enough to participate in others in the future.
Sounds like a truly magical way to start the weekend – complete with literal MEETUPS with the Princesses, themselves! I loved the way I really felt like I was at this meetup, so kudos, Rachel for the great photos and account of your experience.
Searching for some more Meetup recaps to read? Check out the directory of official Meetup recaps that I’ve archived HERE, or add your own!