As we stood in a Dallas airport waiting for our flight to Orlando, I noticed right away I had a lot in common with the other passengers also preparing to board. One young lady had a beautifully embroidered carryon bag that had a Mickey head silhouette surrounded by the words “Two Races, One Challenge”. Behind me stood three women of various ages, all wearing brightly colored tiaras. Touches of Disney, hints of royalty, an overall air of excitement and expectation – it seemed as if we were all, first-time participants and seasoned athletes alike, headed to Walt Disney World’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend.
And what a weekend it is! If you have ever considered becoming a runner or if you’ve been running (like me) for many years but have yet to experience a runDisney event, I can’t encourage you enough to take on the challenge of one or more of the incredible events offered during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Packed with runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities, this special weekend in February is worth every bit of sacrifice (both physical and financial) to get yourself to that starting line. As you would guess, there are no races quite like runDisney races. From the transportation to the security to the volunteers, cast members and photographers – the support is incredible. And I haven’t even mentioned to pixie-dusted Disney touches – which are nothing short of amazing!
Here are Darlin’ Diva’s runDisney Tips for First-Timers:
1. These races are designed specifically for every type of runner, including you. I saw incredibly toned, gazelle-like athletes ready to fly like the wind. I saw mothers and daughters, friends, sisters, and couples of every age and running style lining up in the starting corrals. The goal for most of the people entered into runDisney events is simply to have a great time, cross the finish line, and receive a gorgeous runDisney medal…then celebrate their success in Walt Disney World!
2. Embrace your DisneySide! The vast majority of participants in runDisney events rock some type of costume or tribute to their favorite Disney character. During the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, there’s an abundance of Disney princesses and quite a few princes running by their sides. You will not be out of place in a tutu, tiara, sparkly skirt, or mermaid tail even. I’m not much of a girly-girl, so I chose to dress in the color scheme of my favorite characters and don a decorated visor to match each outfit.
3. Post-race, show off your success! Wear those race shirts that come in the race packets and accessorize with your medal (or medals). You will see hundreds of other racers just like you. We were amazed by the number of park guests who wore several medals at one time – they’re substantial and rather heavy, but the point is, if you just crossed the finish line of one or more runDisney events, you can celebrate by showing off your medal!
4. Be a Princess for the Weekend. We saw dozens of ladies in groups of two, three, and more – all wearing sparkly, royal headwear. Yes, crowns and tiaras were commonplace in parks, resorts, and restaurants. The looks on those beaming faces was proof that being princess for a day (or several) was great fun indeed!
5. Make time for the Expo. At Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, runners retrieve their race packets. There are several excellent photo ops available with different backdrops for each race. There’s a huge vendor area where runners can shop for awesome Disney-related athletic wear and every kind of running accessory imaginable. If I have one regret about my trip to Disney for the Princess Half Marathon weekend, it’s that I didn’t allow for enough time to explore all the expo had to offer.
There is an race for everyone in the family! The events that made up the 2015 Princess Half Marathon weekend were: The Frozen 5K on Friday, The Enchanted 10K on Saturday, The Princess Half Marathon on Sunday – and for runners who completed both the 10K and Half Marathon, The Glass Slipper Challenge. There were also runDisney kids races. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a runDisney participant, there’s no time like the present. The runDisney website has loads of helpful information to get you started.