Have you ever dreamed of running down Main Street during the early morning light? Do you start to tear up imagining yourself running through the beloved Cinderella Castle? Your dreams can come true by participating in the Princess Half Marathon Weekend runDisney event. Continue reading for a full review of 13.1 magical miles.
Fueling Up For Race Day
I was staying at Disney’s Pop Century for the race weekend. I found that they had half marathon breakfast bags available for purchase in the “Everything Pop Dining” location. Reports from fellow runners confirmed that these were located at many of the other resort properties as well.
Included in this “Marathon Power Pack” was a banana, plain bagel, peanut butter, raisins, blueberries, and a breakfast bar. The price for this “Marathon Power Pack” was $9.99. These were available for purchase the night before the race and they began to be sold at 3:00 am on race mornings.
Arriving at the Half Marathon
The busses began to run a bit earlier for the half marathon starting at 3:00 am as opposed to 3:30 am during the 5K and 10K the previous mornings. This was to accommodate additional racers for this event. I arrived at the resort bus stop at 3:30 am and I made it to the race with ample time.
There was a short walk from the bus drop-off location to the main hub for the pre-race location. There just seems to be something magical about seeing the parks before they are open for the day. I loved strolling past Spaceship Earth from the bus drop-off location.
I had learned at the 10K to gauge the times for the lines for characters before entering the queue lines. The same characters that were available for the 10K were also present the morning of the half marathon (Minnie Mouse, Ariel, Mulan, and Anna/Elsa).
I chose to soak up the fun and party atmosphere at the race hub before they opened the corrals, but I did not wait in line for characters this morning.
There was roughly a mile walk from the Race Hub location to the starting line for the Half Marathon. This is definitely something that future runners need to be mindful of. I was in the first group when the corrals opened and it was a slow walk to the corrals due to so many fellow runners.
I would recommend allowing yourself at least 30 minutes to walk to your corral before the Princess Half-Marathon in order to not feel rushed.
Many runners were running to their starting corrals when the race was just about to begin due to the long walk to the starting line. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to soak up the pre-race festivities.
My Plan for the Half-Marathon
I had completed the 10K the previous day as part of the Princess Fairy Tale Challenge. It was an absolute blast and I met so many great characters. I loved the opportunity to take in all of the magic of this race.
My plan for the half-marathon was a bit different. I wanted to run a good, clean race with two priorities: stopping for a picture in front of Cinderella Castle and stopping for Mickey Mouse if he happened to be on the course.
On the day of the half marathon, I later planned to visit Magic Kingdom with my two princesses. I wanted to be able to have a great race and finish in enough time to have a magical day with them as well.
Importance of Proof of Time
When registering for any runDisney event, you are given an opportunity to enter a “Proof of Time” from a previous race of a similar distance. Proof of time is beneficial if you anticipate finishing the half marathon in less than 2 hours 45 minutes. It is very easy and I highly recommend it. If you do not provide a “Proof of Time,” you will be placed in one of the last corrals.
This link on runDisney shares additional information in submitting “Proof of Time”:
I was able to submit a “Proof of Time” from a previous half marathon and I was placed in corral D with a starting time of 5:45 am with the official race start time being 5:30 am. A fellow princess shared that she was in the first wave of the last corral and began the race at 6:28 am.
Waiting in the Corrals
Prior to the race, we were held in our assigned corrals. Race volunteers checked racing bibs prior to entering each corral and checks were conducted in the corral prior to the race as well to ensure that the only racers that were present were those assigned to that corral.
While waiting in the corral Disney movie previews were shown on the large flat-screen televisions.
Also present were race hosts who would interview fellow runners and this programming was shown around the corrals on the televisions. This pre-race entertainment made the time pass fairly quickly and help to cut down on pre-race jitters.
The opening of the race began with the Fairy Godmother, in honor of the Cinderella-themed half marathon, counting down the beginning of the race. After the official race start, waves of the next group of runners entered into the start line. Each corral would have multiple waves of runners entering the start line.
I spoke with a fellow runner and she said that her six year old daughter ran her first 5K at Disney. She joked that her daughter may be disappointed with all future races that they don’t all include fireworks at the starting line (ha, ha). Disney really makes sure “Every Mile is Magic.”
Heading Into Magic Kingdom
Around mile 5, we began our entrance into the Magic Kingdom. I had dreamt of this moment since I first registered for the Princess Half Marathon weekend back in June 2019.
The course did narrow quite a bit as we began to enter into Magic Kingdom, but there is something magical about the Magic Kingdom before the park officially opens.
As I was about to pass through the tunnels to enter onto Main Street I saw Princess Daisy Duck at top of the Train Station.
There were roped off areas on Main Street for friends and family to cheer on runners. Main Street was filled with so much magic and energy. This was truly the highlight of the race for me.
Running Through the Magic
PhotoPass photographers were present along the race course to capture all of the magic.
It was a fun sprint through Tomorrowland, and as we began to run into Fantasyland we saw the Mad Hatter Tea Cups all lit up and spinning. We made our way through Fantasyland and took a slight left turn and there was Cinderella Castle. It was simply stunning just before sunrise.
Prior to the race, I knew that one of my stops would be to have a picture taken in front of the castle.
There were multiple Photo Pass photographers located in front of the castle. I simply veered off of the race course and got in a line with only 2 runners ahead of me. The photographers were very quick, and I was back on course in less than a minute.
We then began our course through Frontierland. Truly the highlight of the entire race was Magic Kingdom.
Each mile again had the illuminated magical mile signs. Throughout the course, there were so many characters. There is no information prior to the race of what characters may be available to meet or at what mile. This is a partial list of characters that were available along the half marathon course:
- Drizella, Anastasia, and Lady Tremaine
- Cinderella and Prince Charming
- Suzy and Perla (Cinderella’s mice)
- Shan Yu from “Mulan”
- Lewis (in Tomorrowland) from “Meet the Robinsons”
- Princess Atta from “A Bug’s Life”
- Bolt (in Epcot)
- Panchito (the cartoon rooster from the “3 Caballeros”)
- Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather the three fairies from “Sleeping Beauty”
- Tinkerbell and Perwinkle
“Magic in Every Mile”
Along the course, I found so many volunteers from the Children’s Miracle Network offering water, Powerade, and gels. It was such an encouragement to have people cheering and holding signs and cheering all along the race course.
Disney also had two floats (Cinderella and Merida) randomly placed along the race course. These are floats from the “Festival of Fantasy” parade and they seemed a little out of place, but many were happy to take selfies by them.
Also along the race course were Disney jokes. This was a great way to pass the miles after the high of running through Magic Kingdom.
So Many Great Costumes
It was so much fun to see so many runners dressed as their favorite Princes, Princesses, and Disney and Pixar characters.
I was running behind a runner who had “Snow Buddy On Board” printed on the back of her racing top. As I ran beside her I noticed that she was wearing a white Olaf racing top and that she was indeed carrying a “Snow Buddy on Board.” I talked to her as we ran and she said that she was 30 weeks pregnant!
That momma was booking it and she had such a great pace for the race. It was great to be surrounded by so many encouraging runners.
All of the costumes were amazing, but I loved this couple. They approached the finish line with Toy Story Hamm heads perfectly in place.
Where is Mickey?
I had participated in previous races and “Mickey” has always been the nickname I have had printed on my race bib. It is oddly encouraging to hear strangers cheering me on and calling me “Mickey.” I know my children just shake their heads and act like they don’t know me, but I really do love Mickey Mouse.
Around mile 10, I asked a Cast Member if Mickey Mouse was on the course. She said that he typically is at the finish line, but that she couldn’t promise that. I held onto that hope that Mickey Mouse may be waiting at the end.
As I rounded the corner towards the finish line, I could see Donald and Daisy dressed in their Royal Friendship Faire clothing. Donald saw me in my Mickey Mouse running costume and points to the right-hand side of the finish line.
There stood Mickey in his Royal robe. I ran straight to him and asked to grab a selfie. I knew I was nuts because the race clock was still ticking and the finish line was literally two steps away. It was all worth it for this quick picture with my all time favorite, Mickey Mouse.
RunDisney has an absolute great finish. After receiving my medal for completing the half marathon, a marked corral was set up for those completing the Fairy Tale Challenge (running both the 10K and half marathon).
I was ushered into a tent where the Cast Member checked my bib number and a picture that was taken when I picked up my bib at the Race Expo. I then received my additional Fairy Tale Challenge medal. It is gorgeous, and it spins!!!!
Volunteers gave each runner water, Powerade, bananas and a runDisney snack box. We were given the opportunity to take a picture with our medals and then we rejoined the Race Hub where the DJ was playing songs and character meet and greets continued from earlier in the day.
I Just Finished A Half-Marathon: I’m Going to Disney World!
I met my young princesses at Magic Kingdom to enjoy a day to play in the parks. One of our first stops was with Gaston. I just knew he would be impressed with my medals, and maybe we could share five dozen eggs together.
I also couldn’t resist taking a picture of my medals in front of Cinderella Castle.
Also, I snuck in a quick picture of the medals in front of the Partner Statue.
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing- that it was all started by a mouse”- Walt Disney.
I was on the bus traveling to my resort after the 10K and a fellow runner asked me how long the half-marathon was. I looked at her bib and noticed that she was also signed up for the Fairy Tale Challenge and would be participating in the half-marathon the next day.
When I told her that a half-marathon is 13.1 miles, this princess started crying. My heart went out to this young princess, and I tried to offer encouragement in hopes that she would experience a magical race the next morning.
This advice is to encourage future runners to know and prepare for the distance that you are registering to compete in. These are wonderful events and if you prepare beforehand, there truly is magic in every mile.
I would love to participate in future runDisney events. This was truly a magical experience, and it is one I will never forget. RunDisney events offer opportunities to challenge you, inspire you, and offer you an opportunity to meet characters that you may never meet otherwise.
Be sure to read Heather’s post about her race experience and her 13.1 magical miles during the Marathon Weekend runDisney event.
Have you ever participated in a runDisney even or Princess Half-Marathon? Do you have any additional tips for the Pirate Crew, magical moments or photos? Share them on our facebook page. You can also continue the discussion in our KtP Crew Planning Group!