Race Review–Disney Princess Half Marathon

By race standards the Disney Princess Half Marathon is in its infancy.  This was only the second year the race has been held, but already the field doubled in size to almost 11,000 finishers!  But let’s face it, if any organization can handle that, Disney can.  And handle it they did!  This was a great race!

The weekend began with packet pick up at the expo on Friday.  My son and my neice were running the Family 5K at 7am on Saturday morning so we wanted to pick up their packets on Friday.  There was a decent size expo with many vendors.  If you forgot anything at home, they had you covered.  Sneakers, gels, fuel belts, bras, shorts, tops and sleeves, they had everything.

The 5K went off Saturday morning great.  Well, except the cold.  It was about 40 degrees and we were fairly cold standing around waiting for the race to begin.  The kids said the course was great.  Running in EPCOT around the world showcase and finishing just about where they started in the parking lot just outside EPCOT.  They said there were plenty of photo ops with the characters if you were willing to stop.  My only gripe with the 5K would be that it wasn’t timed.  Luckily we had started our watches when the kids crossed the start and we spotted them when they crossed the finish line so we had an accurate time.  There was a clock running, but their were about 3500 runners and it took all of them about 3 minutes to cross the start line.  Times were not recorded, there were no chips or any other method for recording times.  That being said, this would be a great race to do for fun, but if your looking to top your age group or get a recorded PR this is not the race for you.

On to the half marathon.  Due to the fact that this is a Disney race and the parks generally open somewhere between 8-9am, the start is a pretty early one.  Plan to get up way before the sun!  We woke up around 3am to leave for the race by 4am.  The roads were not marked as clear as I would’ve liked them to be as far as where to go to park, but we figured it out.  We arrived at the race right around 4:30am and bee lined for the lovely port-a-potties.  For those of you who have participated in larger races, you know that bathrooms are always at a shortage and toilet paper even more so.  My cousin, April, was planning ahead…..she brought her own stash of toilet paper, just in case.  Luckily we didn’t need it at our first stop before the race started so we passed it on to a lucky soul at the back of the line, who quited possibly ended up needing it.  From there we headed to bag check.  This was my first race with not a single “funner” (those who get stuck standing around pretending to be excited when they see you coming).  We had to strip down to just our race clothes and start walking to the start, which was a good 10-15minute walk from the parking lot.  Again, the temperatures where not exactly warm (a lovely 41 degrees again), and I sure was missing my gloves.  Once we got to the start area we decided another bathroom stop would be a good idea, and there were more than enough port-a-potties at the start of this race.  We had about 30min until the start and had drank a decent amount of water.  This is where we met an angel.  As the 3 of us (myself, my sister and my cousin) stood in line for the bathroom huddled together to try to generate some heat, a man approached us with an extra marathon warming cape (not sure of the correct term for those, if you’ve done a marathon you know what I mean).  He offered it to us.  This was great!!  The 3 of us stayed huddled with our new warmer and what a difference it made.

All 3 of us had been assigned to coral A which meant we got to start in the first of about 7 waves.  We were very happy to get our run going and warm up.  The race started precisely at 6am.  The first mile or so was fairly packed.  My cousin took off ahead of my sister and I as her goal time was faster than ours.  My sister and I ran most of the first mile either on the shoulder of the road or up on the grass so we could get around other runners.  That first mile was a slow one, but this forces me to warm up so I don’t mind as much.  And since I wasn’t “racing” this run, I was okay with that.  From there on out the race was great.  The sun came up about 30min into the race and the weather was perfect for running.  The course started on one of the roads just outside EPCOT and ran through the transportation and ticket center and then on to the Magic Kingdom.  Once inside the Magic Kindom we ran up Main St USA and through Tomorrowland.  We then looped back toward Fantasyland and ran through Cinderella’s Castle.  From there we continued through Frontierland and out some of the side roads.  We then headed back toward EPCOT where we entered the park and ran in front of Spaceship Earth and finished in the parking lot where the 5K finished.  The course was well supported with aid stations every 1-2 miles and some spectators.  There were also many characters along the way and again, if you were willing to stop you could get your pictures taken with them.  We recieved our tiara medals at the end, which you could have engraved right there for $20 if you thought ahead to bring cash with you.

As a big Disney fan, I loved this race.  I will most likely return to do the race again when I am completely healthy and can actually race it.  The only hills in this race are the overpasses in the roads.  It would be a great race to PR at.  In comparison with other half marathons, it’s a little pricey, but it is Disney and the atmosphere is great!  March is a great time to be in Disney as the weather is usually pretty nice.  If you’re looking for a race where the whole family can have fun this should be an option.