Health Female Adda
1 year ago
8 Things No One Tells You About Running a Disney Race

The DL on Disney Races
1/9

In a Disney race, fun and entertainment come first, which is why hundreds of thousands of people flock to the nine annual events in Florida, California, and Paris.

I got to experience the runDisney enterprise for myself on Sunday at the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, and I’m still feeling my runner’s high.

Want yours? Here’s everything to know before you go.

Princess Half Marathon starting line
2/9 Marissa Gainsburg
You'll spend a lot (lot, lot, lot) of money

I list this first because, for most of us, it’s pretty important. Disney races are not cheap—the Princess Half-Marathon ranges from $175 to $205, depending on when you sign up—and that’s just to run the race. Sadly, you don’t get complimentary entry to any of the parks, or anything complimentary, really, besides a t-shirt, banana, sport sack, and some snacks from the sponsors.

Most runners buy tickets to one of the major parks (Magic Kingdom or Epcot), which cost around $100 per day, each. Factor in your flight or gas, hotel, food, and shopping, and you’re looking at a pretty expensive race trip. I was extremely fortunate that New Balance and runDisney covered my registration fees and hotel, because otherwise I would have had to sit this one out.

runDisney New Balance collection shoes
3/9 Marissa Gainsburg
The Expo is amazing (but far away)

Disney World is huge. It’s literally larger than the island of Manhattan and about the same size as the city of San Francisco. So getting anywhere, even via free buses, is a trek. The Expo, located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, took about 40 minutes to get to from our hotel, which my sister and I didn’t plan for.

But once inside, it was amazing. There are dozens of booths boasting various brands, ranging from tutus (yes, you can buy your costume at the Expo) to energy goos to commemorative clothes, jewelry, and shoes (including the special runDisney New Balance collection). You’ll want to spend a decent amount of time looking through everything, as you won’t find the same stuff after the race. I dedicated a few hours of my weekend to getting to, exploring, and leaving the Expo.

BTW, Thank you, New Balance Women, for my very own "glass slippers!"

fireworks
4/9 Shutterstock
You probably won’t get enough sleep

Waking up at 3 a.m. is no easy task. To get a full eight hours of sleep, you literally need to go to bed at 8 p.m., which I found nearly impossible despite my best efforts. If you stay close to Magic Kingdom, like I did, you’ll probably hear fireworks and music between 8 and 10 p.m., maybe even 11. If you’re a light sleeper like me, you’ll hate fireworks for the first time in your life. I slept with earplugs, which helped (somewhat).

Cinderella castle
5/9 Marissa Gainsburg
The walk to the starting line isn’t quick

There’s about 1.5 miles between where the monorail and buses drop you off and the starting line. Not realizing how little time I had when I arrived at Epcot, I made a bathroom trip and took some photos with my sister before starting the walk. Then, once I found out it would take so much time, I panicked. I power-walked as fast as I could (I didn’t want to run quite yet) but still missed my corral by a few minutes. I slipped into the next one, and all was fine, but had I known, I wouldn’t have dawdled so much.

Fun fact: You get to run through Cinderella's Castle during the race!
beauty and the beast
6/9 Marissa Gainsburg
Most of the characters appear within the first half of the race

I knew I only wanted to stop for Ariel, Belle, and the Beast (unless Simba and Nala magically appeared), so I skipped the lines to take photos with Jasmine, Jack Skellington, and others. I never saw Ariel, but I found Belle, the Beast, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Prince Phillip around mile six. I waited 10 to 15 minutes to snap pics with them, and I’m so glad I did because I didn’t see any other princesses after that point (just Hercules and some other male characters). I didn’t stop again.

Princess Half Marathon mile 6
7/9 Marissa Gainsburg
You’ll be running on a lot of highway

Did I mention that Disney World is huge? A majority of the race takes place on highways. Running through Magic Kingdom was an incredible experience—the crowds and the scenery made the mile fly by. But the five or so miles before and after that weren’t very entertaining. Basically there was nothing to look at except a pretty golf course and some signs from spectators. Though, I did get lucky enough to spot my sister at mile 6! It was super helpful to have a cheerleader halfway through.

By the time I hit Epcot at mile 12, I was so ready to be finished that the scenery didn't matter. 

Princess Half Marathon media tent
8/9 Marissa Gainsburg
You’ll meet a lot of cool runners

While standing in line for Space Mountain, I met a woman who has run 24 half-marathons, two marathons, and one ultra marathon (after having hip surgery, no less)—all for a charity called Team Muscle Makers.

I also chatted with two college-aged girls who had never run a half before but trained for months for this one, plus a group of 20-something guys in full-on princess outfits, and a mom-grandma-granddaughter trio who run-walk the race together every year. Everyone was so eager to talk to me, and each one of them inspired me in some unique way. Oh, and I met these gorgeous Miss USA 2015 contestants in the VIP tent!

Princess Half Marathon finish line
9/9 Marissa Gainsburg
You'll feel famous

The best part about Disney races is the camaraderie afterward. Fellow runners, characters, and hotel staff congratulated me on my race all day long, which made me smile every single time.

At my last half-marathon in Brooklyn, I received the occasional “congrats!” at brunch, but for the most part, the city didn’t care. At Disney, running a race means joining a very special community, and they go out of their way to welcome you into it.

At first, I felt embarrassed walking into a store and being greeted with a loud “you did it!”…but after a while, I felt proud. And that’s a magical thing, because that’s how you should feel after running 13.1 miles.

A huge congrats to all who ran this past weekend. We did it! 

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