By TMSM Racing Disney Guest Blogger Catie Neal
Hi all! Sorry for the delay in finishing up Princess Weekend – I was actually running a race last weekend! But here we go – back to Princess Weekend. It’s now Sunday, the day of the half marathon. We woke up, got our jam on while we got ready, grabbed our pre-race breakfast and headed to the bus stop. Thank goodness I turned around as we were getting ready to leave our hotel room and noticed my mom was missing something very important: her bib! After we got Mom’s bib on her, we made our way to our bus stop. We didn’t have long to wait at all and we were able to climb up on the first bus we came to and hopped on it! My sister was spectating this year, and thanks to her willingly agreeing to carry stuff for us, we didn’t have to check any gear on race day. We also decided to not do Race Retreat this year, so we made it through the security check point, grabbed a quick prerace picture then grabbed some asphalt and sat down to relax before heading to our starting corrals.
It was a little chilly on Sunday morning, so we were bundled up in heat shields and sitting pretty close together. I give major props to the DJ that was in the family reunion area, they were playing some great music and really doing a good job of setting the peppy mood! We went ahead and FaceTimed my dad at this point since we were all still together and it wasn’t overly crowded. We said our good mornings, good lucks, and blew some kisses then said goodbye. Around 5:00, we started to make our way to the starting corrals.
The walk to the corrals wasn’t too bad. They had a DJ about halfway still pumping out some great music trying to pep people up! Our corral placements let us actually walk a good deal of the way together. I was seeded in A, but I was dropping back down to C with my friend Catherine and Mom’s corral was right across from ours! So we made our way to the port-a-potties (serious must do before a race!) and then said our goodbyes and good lucks and then made our way to our corrals.
We got settled into our corral and started to get prepped to run 13.1 magical miles when this announcement came from the race announcers that they would be “holding the race due to heavy traffic.” I have been running races in Disney for quite a while, and to my knowledge this is the first time I have ever heard of runDisney holding a race for any reason other than weather. Catherine actually realized as we were in line for the bathrooms that one of the elites she follows on social media was desperately pushing through people stating how horrific the traffic had been. So we waited, they never announced how long they were planning on delaying us but we figured out that it couldn’t be much longer than 20 minutes. Luckily it only ended up being about a 10 minute delay. The announcers geared up the runners and then set the wheel chair athletes out. Quickly after they sent off corral A quickly followed by corral B and then it was our turn!
I do have to admit I was a little sad. The past 6 years I have run the Princess Half Marathon, the race has always been started by the Fairy Godmother, but this year there was no Fairy Godmother at the start, just the fabulous runDisney announcers. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the announcers, but I really like how runDisney tries hard to incorporate characters into the pre-race show and have them start off the race. It was pretty sad they didn’t have her there this year. I’m hoping it is something maybe they will bring back next year.
Catherine and I were pretty close to the front of the corral and when it was our turn to go, we took off! Next thing I knew we were already on mile 1 – we were feeling good and running great! Just like in the 10K, we had agreed that we were going to enjoy the day and stop for a ton of pictures! There really wasn’t even a character stop until you came upon the Pirates which were right before mile 2. We stopped for a quick picture with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa. Next up was the hero stop where we snapped a cute picture with Phoebus, Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, and John Smith after parting ways with the heroes we were approaching the Magic Kingdom entryway. This of course meant it was selfie time!
I give runDisney major props! I feel like they did a great job of having lots of picture options inside the Ticket and Transportation parking lot this year. We stopped for Mrs. Incredible (and showed off our muscles too!), Maleficent, and the Evil Queen! Next we blew through the monorail station and made our way around the Seven Seas Lagoon, in front of the Contemporary until we entered Main Street U.S.A. As we ran into Tomorrowland we spotted Buzz Lightyear off in front of his Space Ranger Spin Ride and had to stop for a picture. We ran past the Red Queen (and later regretted we didn’t stop!) and wound up in Fantasyland. Then we spotted a must do photo op – Gaston! We waited quite a while to see him, but our pictures were well worth the wait. Gaston even spent time with each Princess and had hysterical things to say. He informed me I needed to pick a better story next time!
After Gaston came the longest wait of the morning, a picture with Beast in his ballroom outfit! It was well worth the wait! After our cute picture with him, we ran through Cinderella’s Castle, grabbed the must-do photo in front of it and headed to Frontierland. We spotted Woody and stopped for another picture! We then curled through the rest of Frontierland and wound up backstage where both Cinderella and Snow White were posing in front of the Castle Float! OF COURSE WE HAD TO STOP HERE, WE WERE DRESSED LIKE THEM! So after these totally cute pictures, we were making our way back towards EPCOT. We passed by the Grand Floridian where we passed a photo op with the Penguins from Mary Poppins (I know, I know, shame on us!). We did stop for the guys who are dressed up in tuxedos holding a glass slipper – I promised them I had another one back home – they just aren’t good for running in!
Miles 8-10 are just not fun for anyone in a half, and it’s honestly even a little worse while running at Disney. You’ve been so entertained from miles 1-8 with picture ops and excitement, that you just hit the wall when there is a huge lack of excitement in these miles. I do give runDisney props, they still had the heroes out around mile 9ish, but we had already stopped for them and didn’t see the need to stop again. Mile 10 though is where things pick back up. The Sarge from Toy Story greets you as you make your way back up the ramp to head to EPCOT. Catherine and I were holding a good pace at this point and my sister texted us to say she was right around mile 12. At mile 11 I called her to let her know where we were and what to look for. As we passed the DJ runDisney had set up around mile 12 we started to keep an eye out for my sister. And then we found her, which of course meant selfie time!
We then turned the corner to enter into EPCOT and there was Mushu which meant time for yet another picture! We then entered Future World and started back towards the entryway to World Showcase. As we made the U-turn, we saw Daisy which meant yes, another picture. And Daisy was just so cute in her Princess garb! Catherine and I really started picking up speed as we turned the corner and saw mile 13 and the finish line just ahead of us! After we crossed and grabbed yet another – post race selfie, we heard screaming from the stands and saw that my sister had seen us cross the finish line!
We went through the entire finisher’s chute, grabbed our medals, snack boxes, and post-race pictures and met up with my amazing sister who greeted us with champagne flutes! (Winner of the best sister ever award right there!) We then started to figure out how to catch our Mom. We decided we should go back to the same spot we first saw my sister. We made our way over and claimed our spot at the railing. We then spent the next 20 minutes while waiting for our mom cheering on other runners. We had so much fun cheering on other runners! It’s so awesome to see all the emotions that cross a runner’s face, especially when they need that extra boost and you provide it to them! All the people around us were also cheering loudly and having a blast! We spotted Mom, cheered really loudly and then quickly made our way back across the parking lot to the other side so we could spot her at mile 13. By the time we ran across the lot, went through bag check, and got our spot, we didn’t have to wait too long to see Mom. However, we were totally disappointed that the cheers from those around us were way less than on the other side of the parking lot. So we decided to make up for it by being overly loud while cheering on runners at Mile 13.
We finally saw Mom, gave her a big scream and shout and then chased her down the finish line. We all met back up, gave Mom a celebratory champagne, and then got in line for a character picture.
Out of all the race weekends, this one is still my favorite. It may be crowded, but it is geared towards women and you really can see women empowering women all weekend long. It’s so much fun whether you run, spectate, or do both. This is one race weekend that will continue to be on my racing schedule for a very long time!
TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark and Catie Neal. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them athttps://www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/racing-disney/