Last weekend I was one of over 20,000 tutu clad princesses who crossed the finish line at Disney’s Princess Half Marathon.
In all, 36,000 royal runners competed in the festivities during the Princess Half Weekend which included Disney’s Royal Family 5K on Saturday in addition to last Sunday’s main event, a 13.1 mile race that coursed from Epcot through the Magic Kingdom and back.
On the Friday prior to the race, I had the pleasure of attending the exclusive runDisney VIP Reception where I enjoyed munching on the most delicious Mickey shaped bites and mingling with very important runners like Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin (and my favorite celebrity, Snow White).
The fun continued Saturday with Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo which took place in the convention center at one of my favorite resorts, the Southwestern themed Coronado Springs Resort. Fitness vendors of all kinds displayed their wares on site, selling everything from energy gels to Sparkle skirts.
The Expo also hosted a speaker series featuring celebrity runner appearances and seminars on training, racing, nutrition and the Princess Half Marathon course.
Because I’m a complete and total dork, I just had to visit the Magic Kingdom to see Wishes, a fireworks show I’ve seen literally hundreds of times, before I could go to sleep on the eve of the race. To my surprise I also got to witness the new ten minute castle show, Let the Memories Begin, a shimmering spectacle of beautiful Disney art projected onto Cinderella Castle.
My Mickey wake-up call came quickly after that, waking me up at 3:30 a.m. so I could be up in time for the last bus to the half marathon at 4 a.m.
My corral (the last one – ha!) finally reached the start line around 6:20 a.m. In true Disney style, a fireworks display kicked off the race for each pack of runners. The masters of magic created a truly uplifting atmosphere, with Disney characters and entertainment speckled throughout the course, and strategically placed DJs blasting inspiring music right when it was needed the most. At the half way mark they blared Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire.” Good call, Disney.
Disney also peppered the course with volunteers handing out water and holding inspirational signs. Words of encouragement were also shouted from the sidelines via the chEAR squad (my Mom included!), a group of family, friends, and spectators who followed the runners to different viewpoints throughout the course. One of my favorite signs read “Hello, complete stranger, I’m proud of you too.”
Here are a few of my favorite shots from race day:
Among the sea of tiaras in the half marathon were all types of runners from Olympic champion Summer Sanders to a 94 year old princess who went the distance that day. Was I the fastest of them all? No, but I finished. And as a wise woman once said, even miracles take a little time.