On Sunday, Feb 24 at 5:35 AM, more than 20 thousand participants were lined up in their corrals ready to participate in the fifth running of the runDisney Princess Half Marathon. Among the throngs of tutus and sparkle was Janet – ready to rock her first Princess Half! Here’s her account:
The truth is my husband goes to great lengths to make me happy, and running a women’s themed race because he knew it would make me happy is further proof. Oh what a King does to make his Queen happy, running the Disney Princess Half Marathon made this Queen VERY happy.
When we ran the Wine and Dine back in November, I knew we were hooked on Disney themed races. What seemed like yet another Disney race, turned into something I was not prepared for at all; or maybe rather I set my expectations too high.
I am a runner. I love to run. I am not the fastest, I am not the most graceful, but what I lack in agility I more than make up for in heart. I was set to run Princess and even PR. I was not prepared for the sheer number of people let alone the walkers who took part. I am not belittling walkers, as a runner, I follow a 5:1 ratio. For every 5 minutes of running I walk for 1 minute. I mainly do this for longer distances, anything over 5 miles.
Getting up at 3am was not a big challenge for hubby and I, we are the members of the 4am gym goers. When the alarm went off, I was out of bed, in the shower, and ready to go. I was so jazzed about this race. I wasn’t nervous, I was actually excited. I wanted to get in this and get going. I was ready to RUN!! Early on the bus, we headed off to the event.
The bag check was flawless, as expected. The DJ was there spinning some tunes, there were plenty of Princesses making their way through the crowds, and you could feel the heartbeats all around. We decided to head off to our Corral, having been forewarned the distanced from the pre-party to the corrals, we thought it best to get over there and settle in for some light stretches. Hubby and I were in Corral F, having a modest expected finishing time of 3 hours, secretly hoping for 2:45.
Our Corral moved about 6:13, about 3 minutes later than expected. And off we went. Hubby went ahead of me, as we planned, and we would meet up after the race (that was a whole ‘nother FIASCO). The first mile was about setting my pace, the problem was getting around the four to six across walkers who for the most part were not very kind to some of the runners. I so wished this could have been the exception, sadly for most of the race my “passing left” was met with either a snide remark, or inconsiderate individuals who could not be bothered to walk single file in order for me to have a clean pass. Somewhere around mile 4 or 5, I was met with someone who thought it was necessary to yell obscenities in my direction, to which I could only reply in my head as a true Princess should “Nice potty mouth Princess, I now understand why the Queen tried to off you.”
The characters were definitely a highlight to the event. They made the long stretches of road a pleasant visual experience. Once again the overwhelming number of people for this race, to stand in line for a photo would have been detrimental to my already diminishing pace. I was sad about this, especially when it came to the villains posted just outside the stretch to our entrance to the Magic Kingdom.
Running down Main Street was breath taking. It was the moment that brought me back to another moment in time, Christmas 2009. I was awe struck by the sight of the castle. The cheering crowds lining the streets gave me chills. Since we didn’t have family or friends there to cheer us on, the strangers simply yelling encouragement to all the runners as they passed by was heartwarming. Cast members leaning over for high 5’s, children reaching out to fist bump, these are the moments you look back on and remember. Running through the castle was a little bit of a letdown for me. It wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping for. I wanted to feel as if I was free flowing through it, charging like Cinderella when she flees the ball. Instead it felt more like an ordinary moment walking through it to get to the other side. Again the sheer number of runners/walkers and then getting bottle necked just made it less than perfect.
Leaving the Magic Kingdom and making our way back to Epcot, there was some on and off breathing room. Around mile 8 was the nutrition, Cliff GU (for the record the Mocha is INSANLY CRAZY GOOD). I kind of wish they had moved it about 100-200 yards further, the road opened up and there would have been more room to grab and go.
There were plenty of water and PowerAde stations and medical tents. I heard one woman was hit by a car; she had crossed the cones to get around some walkers. Not saying she was right or wrong, but again the sheer number of people in this event and there were times when the road was ONE LANE. You were either forced to slow your pace and walk, which can be frustrating if you are not accustomed to walking or you were forced to run in the grass, I guess she finally got impatient enough to cross the cones and was struck by a car. I did hear she was not hurt too badly, thank goodness. There were plenty of stories of people being swept at mile 8 for not keeping pace. Considering Disney has one of the most liberal pace times, they should consider rethinking this race.
I finished in 3:04:47. MUCH slower than my last race. I think that is where I need to rethink the Disney Princess Race. It really isn’t a race at all. Unless you are an elite runner and can be placed in the earlier corrals, it is far better to just enjoy the event for what it is. There was no PR for me at this event.
I will definitely consider doing this event again, but with a different mindset next time. I have no intention of missing out on the characters next time. And maybe hubby will join me.
Although Janet’s experience wasn’t quite what she expected, I definitely appreciated her honesty! Large events like these (that grew even larger this year) prove the popularity of runDisney endurance races and suggest that some changes might be suggested to enhance the experience for a larger majority of runners. Despite the challenges however, Janet persevered and earned her medal and is even considering another Princess weekend – with a different outlook. Thank you, Janet for your story!!
Have you ever run the Princess Half Marathon? What was your experience like?