This post was written shortly following the Disney Princess Half Marathon, but I delayed posting for a variety of reasons. If you’re really curious, I can tell you why in real life.
Sunday morning’s alarm went off at 3 a.m. No that isn’t a typo. We left the hotel at 3:30 in the morning to walk over to Saratoga Springs. Disney only provides transportation to and from the race from select “host resorts”. Old Key West wasn’t a host resort, but we didn’t mind the walk to Saratoga. In fact, we laughed a ton.
We caught the bus to the race, which dropped us off at the finish line. We checked our bag (flip flops, extra long sleeve shirts to change into) and started the trek to the start line. I totally understand why Disney said to be on the bus by no later than 4 a.m. We caught the 4 a.m. bus and we made it to our corral at 5:40. It look a long time to travel to the start.
Jane, Christen and I were all in corral C so we lined up in the back so we could start the race at a nice slow pace (Belle, who was walking the race was in corral A and started before us). Props to Disney for having fireworks at not only the start of the race, but the start of each corral. Seriously. I loved the fireworks.
We ran down the highway that connects EPCOT and Magic Kingdom and ran past people of stilts, a Pirates of the Caribbean float and a hot air balloon. Then we ran through the opening gates to Magic Kingdom. We curved around the parking lot a bunch of times and stopped to take pictures with the villains, who were grouped together. We passed the Contemporary resort.
Next was the most amazing part of the race. We curved through a back-employees only section of the park near Space Mountain and entered onto Main Street USA and ran up to the castle.
We turned off to Tomorrow Land, curved around Fantasy Land, came up through the castle (and ran through the castle!!) and curved to Frontier Land. Then we exited through a back employee-only area and onto a back road. We traveled down the back road onto the road that runs between the golf course and the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts. Disney was great at having a ton of characters on this stretch, which is approximately miles 7-9, which is the point that a lot of people hit the wall.
Then, we dumped back onto the highway and ran past Pirates and the hot air balloon. On the way back, Disney added a few characters such as a bug from It’s a Bug’s Life. We than entered into the EPCOT parking lot and into the park, running all over including around the front of the big silver ball and back near the countries (but not through the countries). We then looped out to the parking lot and made our way to the finish line.
Crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling. Absolutely amazing. And I loved being able to cross the finish line with two of my friends. Jane, Christen and I made a pact to stay together throughout the race, and that we did. Shortly after crossing the finish line, race volunteers placed the metal over our head and we were able to pick up a bottle of water and a food snack pack. We were especially impressed that the snack pack was entirely gluten free.
After the race, we caught the bus back to the resort where the boys made us breakfast. My sister and her family stopped by briefly to say hello; it was great to see them.
Overall, I thought the race was really great.
- The race was really well organized and Run Disney did a great job at providing information leading up to the race.
- The packet pickup was very smooth and getting our corral changed was super easy.
- The expo was great – tons of vendors and lots of stuff (both free and for sale).
- Buses that morning ran regularly, and we didn’t need to wait long to board.
- Along the race route there were a ton of water stations and first aid stations. Each station had tons of water and PowerAde. There was enough people handing out water that it was easy to grab. I was never thirsty during the race.
Areas for Improvement
- This race had a LOT of walkers. Which is great that it’s friendly to people of all exercise levels. But it made it really hard to run, as many walkers didn’t duck off to the side or slow down before coming to a halt. It was really hard to weave in and out of walkers, and I almost ran over a few people to came to abrupt walking breaks. In the future, I’d love to see a walking and running “lanes”. Or perhaps Disney can include in the race info that walkers should stay to the outside and let runners take the inside lane.
- Some sections of the course were really narrow (of course, this made the walkers that much more difficult to weave around). While that can’t always be avoided, there were so sections where the road was divided in half – one side for runners and one for those cheering. However the fans rarely took up their whole half. Perhaps making it 2/3 runners, 1/3 fans would help on narrow roads.
- I would have expected Disney cast members to know a bit more about the race. Whenever we asked our front desk questions related to the race, they were unable to answer our questions. I know we weren’t staying at a “host resort”, but I would have liked them to have a bit more information.
All in all, I thought it was a great race, and I’d do it again in the future.