On February 27 I will be running in the the third annual Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. This race was first announced in 2008 as a special women’s focused event. The inaugural event was held on March 9, 2009 with a field of 7,000 women and 200 men. In 2010, the field doubled. Because this is a event specifically geared to women, only women are eligible for the prizes.
I have been fortunate enough to run in the first two races. In fact, the 2009 Princess Half was my first endurance race ever. For that reason, this race holds a special place in my heart, and I hope to participate in it every year that it is run. Just like the nervousness I felt during the marathon last month, I remember feeling petrified of what I had gotten myself into. I remember feeling severely undertrained for the race. I also remember how exciting it was to be part of the race and be surrounded by thousands of women, many of whom were running their first race just like me. The joy of crossing the finish line for the first time is something that cannot be put into words.
The course for this race is designed for all the princesses. Even though the route that you follow is the same as the half marathon course in January, the entertainment on this course is definitely Princess themed. My favorite part of last year’s course was a float that contained all of the Disney Princes and a few of the other attractive men from the Disney stories (Tarzan anyone?). I’ve also seen the drummers from Japan and, of course, lots of Princesses. I plan on taking lots of pictures this year. Last year I was trying to get my best time in a half marathon, but this year, I’m just in it for fun!
Of course, the half marathon isn’t the only thing to look forward to during the weekend. On Saturday morning, a 5K race is run through the World Showcase. The theme for the 5K this year is the Beauty and the Beast Royal Family 5K. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie, and I was going to sign up for the race, but I just missed out since it sold out this morning. There are also children’s races. My friend signed up her 17-month-old for the kids race, so I will be there cheering her on during the race Saturday morning.
The Fit for a Princess Expo is another highlight of the weekend. You pick up your race number, free shirt, and goodie bag at the expo. I love taking my time wandering around the expo checking out the new merchandise and trying the samples that the vendors have. Since it is a women’s event and in WDW, you will find a special booth for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The Fairy Godmothers in Training are there to get you princessed up before race day. I’ve never taken advantage of that before, but I might this time. Who wouldn’t want some glitter in her hair? I hope to find some shirts with fun sayings on them this year since I need to get some more tank tops for summer running. One of the other features at the expo is the speakers series. This year’s speakers include: John Hughes, the race director, and Jeff Galloway, the runDisney official training consultant.
Finally, I don’t want to forget the spectators. Disney provides runner tracking by email and by text. There is also an online planning tool if you want to take part in the “chase.” Many spectators choose to see the runners start the race then hop on the Monorail and cheer for their runners at the Ticket and Transportation Center or to head up to Main Street to see the runners there. I’ve been a spectator for other races, and I can tell you that the chase is almost as exhausting as running the race itself.
I really looking forward to the race this year. I will once again be running the course with my friend, Mel. I won’t be rushing to get to the finish line–at least not any faster than I need to in order to make sure I finish. I plan on taking time to stop and smell the roses this year. And maybe meet a Prince or two. If they can keep up!