Category: Health & Fitness Expo

2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo

All runDisney race weekends start with a trip to the Health & Fitness Expo.  Kristin Cooke is here to take us on a tour of this year’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend Expo and fills us in on all the ins and outs…including some stories from the craziness at opening!

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I heard lots of stories from opening morning of the Expo. One girl had a wine glass taken out of her hand and the person ran away right after. A man stood in the checkout line with 3 different boxes of merchandise. Some girls were throwing wine glasses at each other and they broke. Apparently, there was a crush at the jacket table.

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Luckily, I didn’t get in town until later Thursday night. So, I headed over to the Expo first thing Friday morning. My sister drove from the resort and we had no problem getting in and parked. We ended up in a gravel lot to the right of the main area.

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We walked to the HP Field House to get our packets. The set up was slightly different this year. All packet pickups were on the ground floor. Since I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge, I picked up my bib and immediately got my picture taken.

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I also got my pre-ordered necklace and GSC pin at the same place. In a separate area, I picked up my race retreat bracelet. My sister got her 10k packet in a second area. The shirts for the Glass Slipper were also in this area.  After picking up everything, we followed the directions to the Dooney & Bourke pre-purchase area. I had ordered the shopper purse (the largest one) before they even showed the pattern. They dressed up the hallways with princess silhouettes and topiaries. There was no line for the pre-purchased items at all.

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The Dooneys were in their own location. I walked right up and got my bag. I think it looks great. I love this pattern. It’s close enough to the original but not too childish to take to work. I had not pre-purchased any other items. There was a tape queue line on the floor. However, no one was in line.

Next to the pre-order area was an official merchandise area. It had a nice selection of items. The only thing that was completely sold out that I noticed was the Princess wine glasses. They had runDisney ones, but no Princess ones. Next to the Official Merchandise was the Dooney & Bourke area. I was surprised to see there were still Dooneys for sale. Either they had a lot more stock this year, or a lot of people disagreed with me about the pattern.

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After we finished browsing the official merchandise, we went over to the Jostens Center to the main Expo area. I love browsing Raw Threads and Sparkle Skirts for their latest offerings. They always have a large selection at the Expo. We kept going to the back so my sister could pick up her 10k shirt. The non-challenge shirts are all picked up here. They also had a shirt exchange. There was another section of official merchandise in this area. The offerings we almost identical to what was in the HP Field House.

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Right outside the official merchandise was Jeff Galloway. He was promoting his half marathon in Atlanta and the virtual option which could be used while running the Princess half. I had to stop and get my picture with him. He really is a nice guy.

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We also tried the samples of different Luna bars. Most of them were really tasty. We saw some other booths doing wheel spins and other giveaways, but didn’t stop. While my roommate picked up some socks from Fit2Run, I wandered back to the New Balance area.

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I knew there was a virtual queue for shoes. I was hoping to pick up a pair for my daughter. I bought my son a pair a year ago at the inaugural Star Wars race. After talking to a man at the entrance, he went to the back to look for my daughter’s size. If I had wanted them for myself, I would have needed to register for the queue. Luckily, he found the Ariel shoes for my daughter. I also got the flounder clip-ons at the register. The New Balance area wasn’t too crowded. I think the virtual queue has really helped with that.

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I went back to find my roommate and sister. The one other thing I wanted was the discount from MarathonFoto.  After consulting the map in the event guide, we realized we would have to go back to the HP Field House. Last year, they had booths in both places. I guess they consolidated this year. As we made our way back, we noticed the crowd was starting to build. Luckily, I was able to go right up to a tablet and purchase the certificate. It was not as good of a deal as last year, but $75 for a $100 certificate is still good. They did have a wait when I was finished as they only had 3 working tablets.

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We decided to grab a bite to eat at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grille. I ended up with chicken nuggets, fries, and a Coke Zero in a bottle as the fountain wasn’t working. They did have a pasta special for the runners which my sister ordered. They were not crowded this year. We were slightly earlier than normal lunch crowd at 11, but there were only 4 other tables in use. Last year it was packed and overflowing. The food was pretty good. The staff were wonderful and cleared our empty plates for us. When we were finished, we went back to our car.

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Leaving the ESPN Wide World of Sports, although slightly confusing, was not hard. They had officers directing traffic at the exit. It was frustrating watching them talk to people in vehicles while we waited, but overall it was not bad.

Having not been to the Expo on Thursday morning, I did not see the worst part. In my experience, the Expo was better than last year and the merchandise (aside from the Princess wine glasses) seemed to be well stocked. There were even Dooneys left! I hope they learn from the Thursday fiasco and make changes for next year. Although it will never happen, having the first day for runners only might help. (RAD note: This is a really good idea!) Also, allowing runners to pre-order more items could take some of the pain away. I truly believe most of the bad behavior comes from resellers. Thursday’s issues aside, I think it was a well-run Expo with lots of good vendors.

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Kristin Cooke Bio PicKristin Cooke is a running mother of 2 who loves Disney. She is a Database Administrator by profession and started running in 2012 to get in shape after her second baby. Running has become her social activity and stress relief.
You can read about Kristin’s races on her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sneak Peak at the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Merchandise

Yesterday runDisney released a first look at some of the merchandise you will find at the Health & Fitness Expo during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. (Side note: Shouldn’t they just be calling it WDW Marathon WEEK by now??)  There are the usual shirts and hats, but there are also some fun new additions this year.  Let’s check it all out!

runDisney WDW Marathon Weekend 2016

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Right off the bat, I’m loving the use of the original Walt Disney World logo.  It gives everything a bit of a retro feel which this WDW enthusiast loves!  My favorite item at any runDisney race weekend is the glassware, pint glasses in particular.  I collect them from all the races I’ve done and use them as my daily water glasses.  It’s a fun daily reminder of those events!

WDW 5K, WDW 10K & Kids Races

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As usual, the merch for the Kids Races is the coolest!  Steamboat Willie is super cute and I just love the “Future Runner” shirt.  I might have to pick one of those up in the future for a certain little someone 😉

WDW Half Marathon

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Look…pants!  From the photo, they look like women’s capris, but it sounds like there will be both pants and shorts available for certain races.  Their a bit busy for my taste, but I like that they are adding new items.

WDW Marathon

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Goofy’s Race & a Half Challenge

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Dopey Challenge

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Come to think of it, all these designs are a bit busy this year.  What are your thoughts?  I’m sure this is only a fraction of what you will find at the Expo.  I can’t wait to see what the 2016 Vinylmation looks like!

If you are headed to the WDW Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo, make sure to arrive early if you have your heart set on a particular item.  Also, stay tuned for information in the next few days on the new runDisney New Balance shoe design that will be released at the Expo.

What do you have your sights set on?

RAD Signature 100x75

The Health & Fitness Expo – A Runners Dream!

The Health & Fitness Expo at any runDisney event can be an endurance event in itself.  There is SO MUCH to buy see and do!  It’s a great place for all runners and fitness enthusiasts, even those not participating in the weekend’s events, to come and see the latest gear.  Jackie isn’t running until Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but that didn’t stop her from checking out all the rad things at the WDW Marathon Weekend Expo.  Let’s take a look!

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While I have yet to run a race during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I have attended this race’s Expo many times, including this past one. The runDisney Health and Fitness Expo is the best way to kickoff the 2015 racing calendar and a run filled year. The excitement is contagious and you can’t help not wanting to be apart of it!

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The second you walk inside the Jostens Center at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, you immediately feel the energy of thousands of runners anticipating their races and the vendors who are just as excited. As you are directed downstairs into the expo, you are immediately greeted with Raw Threads and the facade of the New Balance booth.

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Not being able to resist the Raw Threads booth, with their cute designs and soft fabrics, I walked through their space to see what was available. They were fully stocked with favorite character designs and also had some newer Frozen and Star Wars designs, which are perfect for the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend next month!

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My next stop was the New Balance booth. They had apparel and accessories available, but the main attraction are the official runDisney New Balance shoes! The latest shoes to join the collection are the limited edition 990v3 featuring Retro Mickey and Minnie, which were inspired by Steamboat Willie. You can checkout the new shoes and the older designs here.

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After exiting the New Balance booth, I made my way to the back of the Jostens Center where all the runDisney official merchandise was. There surprisingly was not a long line waiting to checkout, like there normally is during the expo; it’s better to get there early or in the middle of the day!

They had all different styles of shirts for each race, along with accessories, bottles, mugs, and much more! I love the ‘I Did It!’ shirts-there was one available for each distance, plus Dopey and Goofy Challenges. I saw a lot of these walking around at the end of the weekend at Downtown Disney at the Cool Down Party.

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Right in front of the runDisney booth, you can check out the medals for the weekend and chat with Jeff Galloway, who makes appearances throughout the day. I missed him this time around, but I did see him last year at Princess!

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As I made my way to the front of the Jostens Center, I stopped by the Transitions photo booth and Sweaty Bands. Transitions had tons of fun props to put on for a photo that they send to your email. They also had this booth setup at the Cool Down Party! Sweaty Bands always has super cute headbands in many different prints and patterns. You can even find ones to match your running costume!

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I had to stop by the Fit2Run booth, which is fully stocked with all your last minute weekend race needs from nutrition to apparel and shoes. You can pickup anything you may need for the weekend and training, which makes stopping by the Expo super convenient! I love how you can chat with the brand reps who will help with advice and their knowledge about the different products the booth carries. I had my eye on many things here, but my plan is to stock up Princess weekend! I have been eyeing some Dona Jo printed tights and I wish I just got them this weekend!

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After you leave the Jostens Center and enter the Champion Stadium, you could spin the Fit2Run wheel and win all different prizes including Fun Runs to spend at their location in Downtown Disney!

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Kicking off the year with the WDW Marathon Expo and Races are the perfect start to 2015! The camaraderie felt and excitement you experience at these expos just makes you more excited for your next runDisney event. Though I did not make any purchases this time around, I scouted out the goods for Fit for a Princess Expo next month and made a long list of items I have to get! Later this year I will register for the Walt Disney World Marathon (my first!!) and already cannot wait to come back and visit the expo and celebrate with all our fellow runDisney and RAD runners!

The Secret to WDW Marathon Weekend Expo

The first stop of any runDisney race weekend is the Health & Fitness Expo!  This is a HUGE event in itself and can get a bit overwhelming.  Suzanne is here today and fresh from Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  She’s got some great tips (and secrets) on how to navigate the Expo and get the most out of your visit!

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You are registered. You are super excited to go get some goodies. Where do you start? First of all, WDW does a great job of marking and directing your stop!  First stop is at Packet Pick Up. Be sure to have your ID ready for them to check you in. If you forget your waiver (which is a must) you can print them outside the entrance to the packet pickup area.

The VoluntEARS are so wonderful about getting the participants in and out. We didn’t have to wait very long at all to get your bib, shirt and gear check bag.  One of the very nice things that WDW makes sure to do is to have everything you need in one bag. When you leave the packet pick up area, you aren’t juggling 52 things in your hands along with your bib. It is all nicely wrapped in the gear bag for you, which is awesome as well because it means one less stop!

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The next best thing is that just a few steps away there was a spot for people to try on their shirts. I, of course, had to try mine on right away. I can’t have a shirt that doesn’t fit. I need to be able to show it off! If yours didn’t fit, you could go and exchange your shirt in just a few more steps. It was really nice to have everything for your packet in one area without having to make 15 stops along the way to get all your Disney goodies. Well played Disney!

Our next stop was to the Health and Fitness Expo. Almost everything that you might need for your race was available. One thing I will be sure to mention is that it is VERY busy and VERY crowded during the expo. If you are interested in getting the PRIME Disney merchandise/souvenir selection, then be sure to get to the expo early on the first day that it opens to get your Disney souvenirs. Literally, I witnessed one man have his shopping basket FULL of pins and magnets. There is no limit to buy on Disney racing souvenirs, so if collecting pins is a hobby for you, try to hook up with some other runners that are going on the first day if you can’t make it. I don’t know if they hold back souvenirs for each day, but based on the feeding frenzy that I witnessed, you better have what you want in your hands and don’t set it down!

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One of the bonuses is that there are two Disney race merchandise areas in two separate halls, so if you are interested in getting a souvenir and it is out in one location, be sure to check the other location. When it was time to check out from the merchandise area, even though the line wrapped outside the booth and and down the row, the line moved very fast and the Disney staff was very organized to keep the lines moving.

After perusing the runDisney Merchandise area, it was onto the expo. Keep in mind that the expo is in two locations. If you are looking for running gear, massage systems, or just all around fun items (think tutus), there is all you can imagine. Be sure to head outside as well because there are vendors outside the exhibit halls, too. Located on the outside of the exhibit halls was the awesome, leather-smelling, Dooney & Bourke purses booth! You could smell the scent of the brand new, never been used leather as soon as you walked into the room. The great news was that you could purchase a purse even if you hadn’t pre-ordered one. I was worried that I might have missed the opportunity, but no worries! They had a location. I was able to go in and see the purses to see if I needed to purchase one. I like to see the purses first to be sure it is something I will actually USE. I am so glad that I walked around the outside vendors. I might have missed out on commemorating my vacation with an awesome purse!

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The last stop we made was at the Disney Artists booth. I didn’t even know this existed. Right next to runner tracking signups are these great Disney character artists. For FREE (which as you know, very few things are free with Disney), the artists will draw a picture of you in a funny, cartoon-like manner. They are such phenomenal artists and to see what they draw is so fun! In speaking to them, they said that they work for Disney and do different Disney events. They are incredibly talented, and I was super-excited to get my own personal piece of Disney memorabilia.

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So, what’s the secret? Get there early if at all possible and if you can, PLAN IT. If you are taking Disney Transportation (which is awesome by the way…no too small yellow school buses for runDisney people… charter baby, all the way), be on the first bus there! If you are an experienced expo-goer, try to plan out the booths that you want to go to first. It makes it much easier to navigate, and you don’t have to feel like a sardine in a feeding frenzy for long. If you are a first-timer, check out all the booths. It is pretty fun to see what is out there in the running world. If you forgot any items like me (who needs gus when you can pack your much needed Minnie ears!), it is easy to pick them up at the expo. However, if you desire a certain type/flavor of an item (nourishment/hydration), you may not be able to get your favorite one there. But at least you won’t be without an item that you need. Yay! Disney to my rescue!

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Disney does A LOT of things right (transportation, navigation, people moving, friendliness, course support, etc). They are awesome about moving A TON of people around expertly. Think 30,000+ people over the course of 3 days! They have a variety of vendors for the expo, and they are fantastic about getting wonderful, friendly voluntEARS to help them. Be sure to say thank you to all the voluntEars and the workers at expo and at packet pick up. They will love you for it! If you have the chance to runDisney, DO IT! You won’t be sorry!

Run strong,

Suzanne Berkey

 

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Suzanne Berkey is a Disney-loving, motivational speaking, running junkie. She is the chief writing officer aka “The Boss” of The Warrior Within Me blog. She uses her own personal 100lb. weight loss experience to guide others to find their own warrior within them. Why does she run? Because she is finally able to! Check her out at www.thewarriorwithinme.com.  

2014 Fit for a Princess Health & Fitness Expo

I’m very excited to welcome Heather to Running at Disney!  I’ve known Heather for quite some time in the Disney community and it has great to grow together as Disney runners over the years.  Today she has a great recap of the Fit for a Princess Expo with a lot of really fun photo ops!  Enjoy 🙂

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Princess Half Marathon Weekend was my fourth runDisney race weekend.  I ran the 5k and 10k, so this was my 4th and 5th race! The corresponding expo seems to run smoother each race weekend. Last year’s Disney Fit for a Princess Expo was held at the Coronado Springs resort, which was a nightmare. The lines were insane, even for the buses to get into the resort! This year, it was thankfully back at ESPN Wide World of Sports, and I didn’t encounter any long lines or other issues.  I attended the first day of the expo on Thursday.

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Staying at a host resort (which was every resort on property this weekend) makes getting to the expo easy. runDisney is really good with having signs up in the resorts and at the bus stops (even having signs directing you TO the correct bus stop), so you can’t miss it. The sign also has the times the expo takes place and the times when the first bus will run for both the expo and the races.

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There’s also a volunteer at the bus stop if you have other questions. The same volunteer at Pop was there EVERY time I passed by, no matter the day or time. When I got on the bus for the 10k, I joked with her, asking if they ever let her sleep…and she was there when I got off the bus after the race too. A reminder to always thank the great volunteers during race weekends!

The buses seem to run pretty smoothly, and there’s usually not much of a wait for the next bus. The buses are all labeled with a number and the resorts it stops at, so you can’t miss it!

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Soon enough, you’ll pull up to ESPN Wide World of Sports.

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I love all the signs that runDisney has up for the different races ESPN Wide World of Sports. Everyone likes to take a picture with the sign for the race they will be running! And if you’re at the expo alone, don’t be shy in asking someone to take that picture for you! Everyone is just as excited as you are. 🙂

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There’s also general signs up, with the schedule for the weekend.

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They split up where you pick up your bibs and race shirts, so first I headed to the HP Field House to pick up my bibs.

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I love the silhouettes on this screen when entering the building.

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The overview of the floor. Pretty empty, other than the long line (which thankfully moves quickly enough) for official runDisney merchandise.

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Picking up your packet is easy. Just have your signed waiver and ID, and find the correct line based on your bib number. In January, I left my printed waiver in the room (of course I remembered the second the bus started pulling away), but they have computers there to print your waiver. So no worries!

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Around the official merchandise area, they have large panels with the race courses. I should have taken a picture with this one!

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On one wall, they have a banner with all the runDisney WDW races throughout the year.

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And there’s lots of other fun backdrops to take pictures in front of.

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Two princesses were meeting in a corner of the floor, in front of cute backdrops. You meet both after standing in just one line. For a character hunter like me, the line wasn’t too bad. On the day I went, Jasmine and Belle switched out with Snow White and Mulan. On the other days, a really cute Princess Minnie was in the rotation (I almost went back to the expo on Saturday just to meet her!) I had a fun interaction with both princesses, and I was glad to see they weren’t rushing you!

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Then it was time to go to the Jostens Center to get the race shirts and check out the vendors.

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One of Cinderella’s Coachmen was by the entrance (other times during the weekend, you could meet 2!) In the past, the coachmen met in front of Cinderella’s Coach, and it was a great photo spot. Since last year’s expo was at Coronado, they met inside in front of a fake castle backdrop that was a little cheesy. I was hoping the coach would be back this year, but sadly no. I still never turn down a chance at meeting a fun character. 🙂

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After walking on a red carpet, you go downstairs to pick up your race shirt. Usually the 5k shirts aren’t that great, but I loved the one this year! It’s probably the best design of any of the runDisney shirts I own. The 10k shirt was a tech shirt, but it is white, so it’s kind of see through. This was also the first time I exchanged a shirt for size at the expo, and it was a really easy process. I just brought it over to a practically empty stand, and they exchanged it for me. And if that still wasn’t the right size, they said I could keep exchanging. So no more worries about entering the wrong size when registering for a race!

I then checked out the official runDisney merchandise. Both buildings have a runDisney official merchandise area, and the one at the HP Field House is usually less crowded than the one on the main floor at the Jostens Center. Some merchandise, including the “I did it!” shirts, is only at the Jostens Center, though. Of course I didn’t realize this included some pins I wanted, so after buying a few things at the HP Field House, I got to stand in a runDisney official merchandise checkout line twice. I think that deserves a medal itself! 😉

Here’s all my runDisney goodies, including the 5k and 10k shirts I mentioned. I ended up only getting a few pins and the cute medal for the runDisney vinyl I bought in January. I’m looking forward to adding several more medals to that vinyl by the end of the year!

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The shirt they sold for the WDW 10k in January was much cuter than the Enchanted 10k shirt. I bought the WDW 10k shirt without a second thought, but passed up on the Enchanted 10k one. And I’m not one to pass on something like that! The “I did it” shirts for the half and glass slipper were both cute.

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I really liked all the Glass Slipper Challenge merchandise. Good thing I wasn’t doing the challenge. I would have wanted too much of the merchandise, so I saved a lot of money! I’m in trouble if I do the challenge next year, though!

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Now that all the “official” stuff was out of the way, it was time to check out all the vendors!

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The first thing I did when I got to the expo was to try to sign up to buy the runDisney New Balance shoes. I had tried to sign up online at 6am, but it kept giving me an error and then said it was sold out after 3 minutes. So I went to their booth to ask if there were still spots available, and was told yes, and to go outside and sign up.

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Of course once I got there, they told me the line had just closed (this was around 10:30a.) I chatted with them a bit, trying to decide if it would be worth trying to go back to the expo immediately after the 5k or 10k over the next few days. Did I really need the shoes that badly? (Silly question, they are Disney AND they are pink!) It seemed like too close of a call so I figured I probably would be trying for them at a later runDisney race expo. But while roaming around the vendor booths, a friend asked if I still wanted the shoes. Uh, of course! She had a friend that wasn’t going to make it, so she was able to give me her confirmation number. I was so excited…until I saw on the board that they didn’t have my size in the Minnie shoes. I signed in anyway, just in case, and was taken to a super cute bench inside the New Balance area.

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The New Balance worker was very nice, and double checked in both the store and on the truck, but they didn’t have my size. But then he said a kids size 4.5 or 5 is comparable to a womens size 7, and asked if I wanted to try. I asked if there was any difference between the adult and kids shoes, and he said the kids version just had more pink on it (bonus!!) I figured I had nothing to lose…and they fit! He was very patient when I couldn’t decide between the two sizes, and let me walk around the expo floor for a bit trying them out. When I finally decided on which size to get, I got a second bonus…the kids shoes were $50 cheaper than the adult shoes! So YAY for them not having my size! I can’t wait until we finally are rid of snow and ice so I can wear them (I’m not about to wear them through the slush to mess them up!)

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The area by the registers has more fun photo spots, though I think Cindy should be wearing her running shoes here!

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Though these glass slipper sneakers probably aren’t as comfortable as my favorite pair of running shoes.

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After acquiring my beloved pink Minnie shoes (after everything, carrying around the New Balance bag felt like a badge of honor!), I headed over to the Sparkle Athletic booth to get a sparkle skirt for the 5k. Kelly was so helpful when I was trying to decide on my first sparkle skirt at the expo on January, I decided to ask for a picture this time. I have to laugh at the girl’s face behind me though!

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I always seem to miss the Chiquita Banana lady at the expo, but I caught her this time! They were also giving out free bananas or apple slices after getting your picture. Since I hadn’t eaten all day, the apple slices tasted delicious!

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I’ve never taken a picture with my bib before the race, so I finally did that in front of a nice photo spot of the castle.

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It’s always fun to check out the runDisney booth. In January, this is where I got a picture with Jeff Galloway and talked with him for a while. It was a huge boost to someone like me who has just started running. I also love how they have the medals for past races. I will be doing my first half marathon at Wine & Dine, and just seeing this medal made it all the more real!

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You can see in that picture the new buttons runDisney had this year. One said “my first 1/2 marathon” and another said “I’m celebrating.” Hopefully they’ll have these at every expo, because I didn’t even think to pick up the “first half marathon” one for the future!

I’m hoping to get all these medals next year (yes, I haven’t even done my first half, and I’m already looking towards my 2nd and 3rd! runDisney is some addiction.)

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I’m holding off buying a fun rack for my medals until after I finish my first half. I can’t wait!

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One more fun picture before leaving the expo. They provided the tiara and wand. 🙂

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And runDisney wishing all runners good luck on the way out.

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It was kind of funny to hear some people complaining about the long walk back to the buses after the expo. You’re going to be walking or running at least 3 miles during the weekend…this is nothing! 😉

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I always end up spending a lot longer at the expo than I expect. There’s so much to see, take pictures of, and buy! I’m already looking forward to my next race weekend and expo in August at Disneyland!

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Heather is an annual passholder that loves coming up with excuses to take a trip to the World. She started doing runDisney races for the characters, but then found out she actually loved running. Visit her website, I Love Characters, to see pictures of the over 200 characters she’s met at Disney World and Disneyland. Follow her adventures at Disney on twitter and instagram.

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