Category: Features

Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side 10K

I’m excited to welcome Krissy to RAD today to give us a recap of the Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side 10K! Krissy and I are kindred spirits…we are both new moms, we are HUGE Disney fans and we both have an obsession with cupcakes.  She’s a runDisney veteran and still loves every magical mile.  Let’s take a trip to the Dark Side with her!

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When runDisney announced a new race weekend to their Walt Disney World line-up, with the Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend, I knew I had to get involved! As a longtime Star Wars fan, runDisney junkie, and Florida resident, it really was a no-brainer…however, there was just one problem – I was six-months pregnant at the time, and was not sure how my post-partum recovery would go.

Still, I knew I wanted to be involved, so I did the sensible thing and registered for the inaugural 10K – a bit more challenging than the 5K, but not as intimidating as a half marathon – and here, seven months later, I am so glad that I took that chance!

For this race weekend, we were guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (DAKL). As a larger race weekend, all Walt Disney World Resort hotels were hosts, and as usual, my experience was smooth and efficient. Although I planned to wake up around 3 AM to catch a 4 AM shuttle, my dear infant daughter had other plans, so I ended up out the door, and on the first bus around 3:15 AM.  Special bonus? I ran into Connie, a friend of mine, and so we sat together on the way over to the race start.

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Like many other WDW races, this starting area was staged in the Epcot parking lot, and once we arrived, we started the walk to the action! There was the standard stage/DJ/music, concession booth, portapotties, and several long lines (would it be Disney without some lines?), which turned out to be character greeting lines of various Star Wars characters, including: a Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, Captain Phasma, Darth Vader, and even a backdrop of Han Solo in carbonite.

The weather was pretty much perfect – cool, although a little humid – and, true to the race’s name – still very dark (in fact, the sun didn’t rise until I boarded my bus back to the resort post-race). This darkness made the slow slog of the masses to corrals feel a bit more ominous at 4:45 AM!

For this race, I was seeded in Corral A, and I noticed that the corrals felt a bit more crowded than I had anticipated. Since I had been able to get back to training sooner than I had planned, but was certainly not as speedy as I may have been in the past, I set up camp around 2/3 of the way from the front of the corral, and waited out the start.

Before I knew it (really: I think the Star Wars clips really helped the wait!), the wheelchairs were off, and then, Corral A! We were off for 6.2 miles of intergalactic awesomeness!

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Now, going into this race, I had not yet decided if I was going to straight run, or stop for characters that morning. However, that call was quickly made right before Mile 1 approached, as R2D2 appeared as the first stop of the run, right outside of the cast entrance to Epcot! The line was about 15 runners long, but it moved quickly – probably took 3-4 minutes, tops.

From there, the race moved through the front of Epcot’s World Showcase – through the Mexico gate, past the Showcase Plaza area, Canada, the United Kingdom, then out through the International Gateway, where I definitely had to stop again to meet Chewie!

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The next part of the race took the Boardwalk Path past the resort, then onto the path leading to Hollywood Studios. The path was a bit narrow, and unfortunately, I encountered a few runners who were not heeding to the “no more than two runners abreast” bit of runners etiquette.

Once we reached the gates of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS), I was excited to “run into” Darth Vader! It was somewhat of an unofficial run stop (no Photopass photographer) but it was cool, nevertheless!

Running through DHS was pretty fun! I always enjoy running past iconic landmarks, and truth be told, I had not stepped foot in that park in years, so it was especially cool…there’s just something magical about running through an (almost) empty park! Another favorite moment in DHS? I got to take a “screaming” photo in front of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, right before hitting the 5K mark!

In no time, we were back onto the streets, and we were on our way to the Wide World of Sports. Although this may have typically been a less interesting part of the course, I actually liked the winding uphill overpass, and the straightaway – it kept my mind occupied!

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Turning into the last portion of the “road” portion at Mile 5, there was a big screen that showed forest scenes, a cool transition into the “cross country” portion of the race that I had last run during the late Happy Haunted 5K and Tower of Terror 10-Mile races. The softer terrain was comfy under my feet, and I enjoyed that stretch before making my way into the concrete jungle of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports (ESPN WWoS).

Running past the soccer fields (which were brightly lit – a sight for sore eyes after the previous dark miles!) and I was happy to see my friend Rick. I picked it up a little and caught up with him, which was a great treat after 5+ solo miles!

As we rounded the last turn out toward the parking area, we could see the finish line straight away, and I felt like we were floating! I looked up at the official clock, and was delighted to see we’d be crossing the finish right around 1:20 – not too shabby for character stops, and walking through each water station!

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Making our way through the finisher’s chute, it began to sprinkle – talk about great timing! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face from the fun race – and I was thoroughly impressed with the finisher’s medal.

After bidding Rick goodbye (and “see you later!” since we were going to meet at the Magic Kingdom later) I was able to board my bus back to my resort without any fuss, and due to the vicinity of ESPN WWoS to DAKL being quite close!

I was very satisfied with my overall race experience with the Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side 10K, and have to say – I was extremely grateful that it was the only race I was registered for that weekend – there is something to be said about taking each race for what its worth and not going overboard with a race challenge once in a while 😉

So, will I be back for another Star Wars race? I have to say – I’ll likely give in to the Dark Side once again – after all – they have bling!

*****        

Krissy is a 14-time marathoner, RRCA-certified Running Coach, Disney Vacation Club Member, and mommy to one sweet girl and two rambunctious pups. She has been participating in runDisney events since 2008.
Visit Krissy at Shiawase Life and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

2016 Princess Half Marathon Race Retreat

This year I was lucky enough to have not one but TWO contributors attending the Race Retreat over Princess Half Marathon Weekend!  Today Deborah is sharing why she loves Race Retreat and all of the benefits you receive.

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2016 Princess Half Marathon Race-Retreat

Why I Love Disney’s Race Retreat

My name is Deborah and I love running Disney races.  My most recent races were the 5k and Glass Slipper Challenge during the Princess Race Weekend 2016.  While I had many great experiences during this trip to Walt Disney World, this blog will focus on the race retreat at the half marathon.  This is the second time that I have used the race retreat and it cemented for me my love of race retreat.

First, the facts:

  • What: Race Retreat is an additional purchase option during some runDisney events where you have access to a large, heated tent along with a number of amenities before and after the race
  • Purchase: Through the runDisney website
  • Cost: $120US plus processing fee
  • Includes:
    • Bagels, fruit, beverages before the race and a breakfast buffet (eggs, sausage, etc.) after the race
    • Tent with chairs and tables, private port-a-potties and bag check
    • First aid station after the race
    • A character meet and greet
    • Internet and computer stations to check results
    • Massage for purchase
    • Big screen with live video of the finish line
  • Controlled access: You pick up a wrist band at the Expo

Expo Floorplan

 

The morning of the 2016 Princess half marathon was chilly, not cold like in 2015, but certainly fresh.  After getting off the bus before 4:00 am on the morning of the race, I could see other runners heading to the corrals or waiting in the staging area; many were huddled together or clutching their runDisney Mylar blankets from the 10k the previous morning.  I, however, walked with purpose, following the signs to the race retreat.

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After showing the race retreat guards (really, just a couple of nice Disney cast members) my wrist band, I was allowed to enter the race retreat.  The warm tent was a delight after the long, cold, dark trek from the buses.

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There were round tables with chairs sprinkled around with tables of food in the centre, and stations for gear check, the character meet, and other services were lined around the outside of the tent.   My first task was finding a table to serve as base camp for all of the different tasks and activities that went on for the next hour.

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These included eating (a bagel, cream cheese, jelly) drinking (hot chocolate and water), visiting the port-a-potties, and getting a character photo.  Had I brought a bag, I could have left it at the gear check in the tent.

 

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Shortly after 5:00 am, announcements were made asking all runners to head to the corrals.  It was tough leaving the warm tent, but sitting in a proper chair for the hour before the race was so much better than sitting on the cold ground.

After the race, I headed back to the tent.  This is where my first of two criticisms of the race retreat comes into play:  you have to find the tent!  Looking at the map, it seems very clear.  However, the signage after the race was seriously lacking and it took some time to find the tent amongst all of the people.

 

Map

The race retreat wrist band was required to re-enter the tent.  Once inside, there were again a number of things to do.  My first priority was to find something to drink and there were lots of choices, both hot and cold: Powerade, Coke products, water coffee, and hot chocolate.   I made two trips to the buffet for eggs, surprisingly delicious potatoes, yogurt, fruit and sausage patties.

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The First Aid station was handing out Tylenol, ice, bandages and staff were there to help anyone who needed assistance.  The characters were back and were meeting with the runners, and the gear check staff were handing out Princess towels.  There was also an area where runners could pay for a short massage.

 

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If you are going to the race with a group of family and friends but not running together, the race retreat is an excellent place to meet after.  Those who finish earlier have a warm, comfortable place with chairs and tables, and they don’t have to wait to enjoy a good, hot meal.

Family and friends can purchase access to the Race Retreat tent for after the race, to meet up with their runners.  An area with bean bag chairs and a television playing Disney movies was set up for the children.

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I mentioned above that I have two criticisms of race retreat, the first being the difficulty finding the tent after the finish.  The second is the expense.  At $120US, it is undoubtedly expensive.  I, however, find that it is money well spent and I will continue to purchase Race Retreat whenever it is available.

 

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A Peak Inside runDisney’s Race Retreat!

I’m very excited to welcome Heather back to RAD today for a peak inside runDisney’s Race Retreat! There isn’t much information available about this additional event during some race weekends and I’m thrilled to finally have an inside look at all the details.  From food, characters and accommodations, Heather’s got us covered…let’s go inside!

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Race Retreat!

Along with the races, runDisney also has some fun and useful events during a race weekend. During WDW marathon weekend and Princess weekend, they have Race Retreat before and after the half (and the full during marathon weekend.) The first time I was trying to decide if I wanted to do Race Retreat, I tried finding reviews online, but there’s really not much out there. So I knew I wanted to write one this time, since it’s still a mystery to most runners, and help you decide if it’s worth it to you!  (RAD Note: Thank You Heather!!)

I’ll say right off the bat that Race Retreat is expensive. This year it was $120. During marathon weekend, you can get it for both the half and full, and that was $230 this year. This year’s Princess Half was the fourth time I’ve done Race Retreat, so even with the price, I have decided that it’s worth it for me for the half marathon. (In 2014, they had Race Retreat with the 10k, too. It wasn’t worth it, which is probably why it’s no longer used for the 10ks!)

So, what IS Race Retreat? It is a tent just off the start/finish area that you can enter before and after the race. It is temperature controlled & out of the weather conditions, has seats where you can relax, has food, has characters you can meet with a short line, has medical and massage (extra charge), has private bag check, has a private set of port-a-poties (so they usually aren’t as disgusting as the ones used by more runners), and has a live video feed of the finish line.

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Only runners who have paid for Race Retreat can enter before the race. You pick up a wristband at the expo that you can put on yourself the morning of the race (so no having to wear it for days, like the coast to coast wristbands!) They will check for your wristband both before and after the race when you want to enter the tent. Non-racers who pay for a certain Cheer Squad can enter once the race starts.

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Race Retreat is about a 10 minute walk from the regular start/finish area. I always think, wow, I forgot how far this is, when I’m walking over. Especially after running a half! When you are walking from the buses before the race, you have to take a right just before entering the main starting area. Otherwise, you’ll miss it, and have to walk all the way back. Remember this extra time when you are deciding when to leave Race Retreat and head for the corrals! There’s a clock inside that counts down to the starting time for the race that you can keep an eye on. I leave around 4:30, since I’m paranoid and just like to get to the corrals early, but I’m usually one of the first ones to leave the tent.

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A big reason I decided to get Race Retreat was that my first half was 2014 Wine & Dine, the Splash and Dash where it rained the entire time. And as I followed along watching the next 2 race weekends, there was a race that was really windy, and one that was freezing. I decided that having an area where I could relax inside, away from mother nature, before heading to the corrals would be a smart idea. The tent IS inside, but I want to say that it’s not really a comfortable temperature. It still feels a bit cold inside. And if you are standing around where the characters are, there’s a big fan and it’s FREEZING in that area. It is still better than standing around outside in the cold, but it’s not exactly as comfortable as I expected the first time I went.

There are tons of tables and chairs inside, and I’ve never  had trouble finding a seat. The very first Race Retreat I went to had a few very comfortable sofas, but I haven’t seen those since. But the chairs they have are fine.

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On the tables, both before and after the race, they have Cliff bars or Luna bars.

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Usually there’s different color lighting, depending on the theme of the characters. But this year, they had some nice themed decorations in the tent, including on the tables. (I apologize for anything in the background of the pictures. Tables are always being taken and then I guess some runners don’t throw out their trash, because I had a hard time finding any empty table I could take a nice picture of!)

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On each table, they also have a schedule of events, so you can see when the tent opens and closes before and after the race, as well as a menu of the food.

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Speaking of food, this is probably the main reason I love getting Race Retreat! Before the race, they have the perfect pre-race fuel, bagels! During other Disney races, I always have to remember (and of course I sometimes forget) to get a bagel at the resort the morning before the race, so I can save it and have it the next day before the race. But with Race Retreat, I don’t have to worry about this at all. I eat my bagel pre-race plain, but they have anything you want to put on the bagel, including peanut butter, jelly, or butter . There’s also whole fruits, such as oranges, apples, and bananas. And in cold buckets, they have small water bottles and poweraide. They also have coffee and sometimes hot chocolate, though I didn’t see it this time, but I think I just missed it.

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After the race, I’m always starving! And with a typical Disney half, by the time I hang around the finish area, then travel back to the room, shower, change, and head to the park, it can be a while before I eat. One race weekend, I kept putting off eating because I was hanging out with friends in the park, and I didn’t eat anything until around 2. Not good, at all!! With Race Retreat, I know that I’m going to eat something that I need right after a race, and I honestly think this is the main reason Race Retreat is absolutely worth it for me (I guess these are the most expensive eggs ever!!)

The food Race Retreat has after the race is generally scrambled eggs, potatoes, some kind of meat (I’ve seen bacon in the past, but lately, it’s turkey sausage patties), whole fruit such as oranges and bananas, oatmeal, and muffins. There’s also the same drinks as before the race.  I felt like the food during Princess was the best I’ve had at Race Retreat. The eggs can sometimes be typical Disney scrambled eggs runny, but this time, they were really good. The eggs usually have cheese on them, but I can usually find parts that don’t have any cheese on it (if you’re like me and don’t want eggs with cheese, especially after running a half.)

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There’s usually breakfast potatoes, but this time, they also had a potato and onion soufflé, which was also tasty.

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I always get the turkey sausage patty, and while it’s good, I always remember after taking a bite that it’s pretty sharp. I don’t like spicy things, but if you do, you’ll probably like it. Eggs, potatoes, and meat are exactly what I want after a race, so they do a good job here.

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There was a nice selection of muffins. I ended up with a REALLY yummy strawberry muffin. You can see they aren’t labeled, so I tried to guess and take another before leaving, but it was some other type of muffin. Still good though!

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This is the first time I saw cut up fruit after the race, along with Greek yogurt, next to the whole fruit, including oranges.

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I was happy, until I saw melon in the fruit salad. I decided to take a chance, and ask one of the Cast Members who was bringing out the food if the fruit was already mixed, and she said no. I explained I was allergic to melon, and she said she could bring me out berries. I was really excited, she came right back with lots of strawberries, grapes and blueberries! I thought that was really nice.

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I didn’t have oatmeal, but you can see there’s a nice collection of food they had that you could add to it as well.

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They say that breakfast service ends at 10am, but they still had food out well after that. Here’s what the food service tables looked like around 10:30am. They emptied a few tables, but there’s you can see there’s still lots of food out on the further away tables.

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I’m a big character person, so another thing I love at Race Retreat are the characters! Usually, you can even find rare characters out! The same characters are out before and after the race, so if you run out of time before the race, you can meet them later. Or you can meet them both before AND after the race, because who doesn’t love meeting characters wearing your medal!? There’s always a Cast Member there to take pictures on your camera or phone. There isn’t a professional photographer with the characters, either from MarathonFoto or Photopass, so make sure you have a camera or phone with you!

The characters at Race Retreat at Princess were from Princess and the Frog, which you probably could guess from the Mardi Gras themed decorations and lighting you’ve seen in earlier pics! Tiana, Naveen, and Louis switched out with Dr Facilier and Louis. Usually there are 2 sets of characters that switch out every half hour. During marathon weekend, though, they had both sets of characters out at the same time! The characters are in the back left hand corner of the tent, and most of the time, there’s no line. Before the race this time, though, the line was longer than usual, and the characters switched out before I made it up there. So I met Tiana, Naveen, and Louis before the race

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It’s nice that you can have some interaction with the characters, too. It’s not like on the race where you quickly snap a picture with the character and run off.

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After the race, there was NO ONE waiting for the characters. I’ve found that to be the case every time at Race Retreat, there are more people meeting the characters before the race than after. This time, I met Dr Facilier with Louis.

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Dr Facilier tried to steal my medals because they looked like they were worth a lot, but Louis jumped in and wouldn’t let him. Phew!

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Since the characters change each time, here’s the other characters I’ve met at previous Race Retreats, to give you an idea of the type of characters they can have out. They range from super rare (last year’s Race Retreat was the jackpot for a character hunter like me!), to characters you can meet regularly (most of the Alice characters)

Foulfellow, Stromboli & Gideon and Pinocchio, Gepetto & Jiminy Cricket at 2016 Marathon Weekend

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Belle, Beast & Chip and Lumiere & Cogsworth at 2015 Princess Half Weekend

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Alice, Tweedledum & Tweedledee and Mad Hatter & Queen of Hearts at 2014 Princess Half Weekend

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If you are checking a bag, you don’t have to go to bag check with everyone else. There is bag check inside the tent. This is great after the race, since there’s no wait! At Princess, there’s an extra treat for anyone at Race Retreat after the race. The last two years, they have given out a small, square towel, with the logo of the race. Even if you aren’t checking a bag, you can go to bag check in the tent and get the towel!

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I didn’t take a picture of this (though you can see the layout in an earlier picture of this post), but after entering the tent, you go to the left, and there’s 2 doors to go outside for the women and men port-a-potties. They can only be accessed by those who were in Race Retreat, and they can be used before and after the race. There’s also several stands to wash your hands.

Towards the front of the tent is a medical section on one side, and a massage section on the other side. The massage costs $10. I’ve never gotten one here, but there doesn’t seem to be a long line. Also in this area is the live feed from the finish line. I was in Race Retreat late, so I was able to watch the very last runner cross the finish line this way. She was SO happy, and Goofy and Donald walked her across the finish line. It was really emotional, and I never would have gotten to see it if I wasn’t in Race Retreat, so that was pretty cool.

As I said earlier, at this Race Retreat, they had a lot more theming than other Race Retreats I’ve done, and they even had a great Princess & the Frog backdrop. Before leaving, I asked another runner to take a picture of me in front of it!

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Hopefully that gives you a good sense about what Race Retreat is like! Any race where it’s available, I always debate if I really need it, but then on race day, I’m so glad I ended up getting it. The chance to relax a bit pre-race, the food, and the characters, is what makes it worth it for me. If you have any other questions about it, let me know!

*****

Heather-Winfield-Bio-PicHeather 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 240 characters she’s met at Disney World and Disneyland. Follow her adventures at Disney on twitter, instagram and facebook.

You can also find other articles by Heather on RAD where she Compared the Disneyland 10K to Walt Disney World Races and recapped the 2014 Fit for a Princess Health & Fitness Expo.

A Prince’s Perspective on Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was so excited when Brian reached out to do a review of his experience during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  With only 11% of the participants male, this race weekend definitely caters to the ladies and it is interesting to get the male perspective…the good, bad and the ugly.  I hope you enjoy his journey from the Expo and through all the races as much as I did!

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Glitter, tiaras fit for royalty, light blues, pinks in every shade and every kind of tutu imaginable, including my devilishly proper yellow tutu, I knew this was going to be a fun weekend.  I wasn’t off the plane an hour before some of my clothing had glitter on it, Princess Weekend at Walt Disney World was about to begin with style. My wife Jenny and I were running our first runDisney Princess Weekend. My wife had wanted to run these races for the longest time, and I was along for the ride.  But what I was in for, I had no idea. Through all the estrogen and pixie dust, this guy had a grand time.

We have learned to arrive at the runDisney expos extra early to avoid the massive crowds that tend to develop around 11am. Our mission was get to the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWoS) about two hours early.  Officially the expo was scheduled to open Thursday at 10am, however,  recent expos have unofficially opened the doors to the Jostens Center around 9:30am.  At 8:30am we were greeted by a royal red carpet and were about 100 or so back from the main doors. We have done this strategy three times now and haven’t been disappointed yet.  In fact, we saw some of the same people in line at this expo that we had at previous expos.  The one topic that kept coming up: ‘how busy this expo is compared to the others’.

By 9:20am the line was around zig zagged through the red carpet and around the corner.

The doors opened early at 9:30am letting the swarm of princesses into the Jostens Center where most of the official runDisney Race merchandise is showcased and sold. For the most part, people were calm walking at a brisk pace past most of the expo dealers on the way to the main merchandise area, although some actually ran past us.

We arrived in the madness of the merchandise area, full of people swarming around, grabbing, pulling things off of racks, and even taking entire shelves, I had never seen this kind of sheer madness outside of black Friday.  I met another prince running that weekend, and he was on a mission for his wife to find a certain wine glass.  We both noticed the same thing, we were in a sea of women who were on missions that dumbfounded us men. I saw Jeff Galloway standing all alone at his booth watching the madness, and I quickly escaped, to head over and meet him. Mr. Galloway has been an exceptional motivator for me on my quest to start longer runs. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and he truly cares about your successes in running and health.

Entering back into the madness of the merchandise area, it was even more chaotic and frantic, with a couple people just grabbing things to trade amongst the other princesses. I actually felt bad for Steven and Ray, both cast members at WWoS complex who were pinned in the corner getting yelled at for certain sizes of the pink ‘Princess Up’ jacket.

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It was something you would witness at the stock exchange. For the most part it was pretty civil except for a few shoving sessions. I was so fascinated with this chaos, I had to become apart of it, so I went straight into the hoard of people yelling for these jackets.  Ladies were yelling sizes out as the two cast members pulled them out of boxes as quickly as they could. “SMALL”, “TWO MEDIUMS” sizes were being yelled out, so I thought I’d insert a joke, I yelled “Xtra Xtra Large for ME”, which received quite a few laughs. Cast member Steven received a new box, it was a medium, a very popular size request, he knew I needed one for my wife, and I had been pushed to the side by some ladies, he quickly handed me one, and said “only dude crazy enough to battle this.” Thanks I think. 

Being a prince surrounded by princesses I was personally looking for something to commemorate my race weekend too.  I found a cast member, and asked him if they had anything for the gents. He quickly said “No, we tried that in years past, but it failed miserably.” (RAD Note: This is VERY disappointing on the part of runDisney. Even just one shirt for the guys would be nice.) I was a little disappointed since the race tech shirts were teal and fuchsia, not exactly manly colors.  It was then I decided to escape to the checkouts.

The line looked bad, but it progressed along nicely. Just an FYI, we were down in November for the runDisney Wine and Dine Half (half ;-)) and I had my sweatshirt given mistakenly to someone else in all the commotion.  Make sure you watch your items go inside your bag at the cash wrap area, things can get very hectic and items can be easily missed.  I was lucky the cast members at my resort were nice enough to rectify the situation for me.

One word for the fellas – Don’t look at the receipts, please.

So we decided that since we had to come back to the Jostens Center to pick up our race tech shirts anyway, we would just head over to main registration across the way (HP Field House). We walked out into a situation we have never seen at any runDisney expo.

The line for the HP Field House was way back in the parking lot, which we had to walk from the exit of the Jostens to the parking lot in order to enter the line back to HP. We were not happy about this, but oh well.

Usually at expos there are ample cast members there to guide you, I personally found there to be a lack of them at this one.  Within twenty minutes time we made our way back to the main courtyard ofWWoS where Jostens and HP are centrally located.

Finally we snaked around (Mine Train style) to the entrance of HP Field House were you pick up your race bibs.

We entered and found a nice treat, my wife Jenny and I both loved being greeted by the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ladies already to glitterize you for the upcoming weekend. These ladies were the same that made me a princess with glitter on Sunday, but more on that later. 

We noticed how quite and civil race bib pickup was, this past January at the Marathon Weekend had been much busier and chaotic compared to this one. We actually forgot our freshly printed out waivers at the resort, no problem, it took less than 90 seconds to print out all of ours.

Glass Slipper Challenge pick up was a breeze for Jenny, they even gave the tech shirts at this location.

The rest of us (5k, 10k, Half Bibs) had to go to the Jostens Center to pick up. It took 25 mins to grab (different lines) the 5k, 10k, and the Half bibs. We stopped to take a few personal photos, Jenny was disappointed the Glass Slipper Gentlemen from years past were not at the expo for pictures (they were found at mile marker 12 in Epcot during the half).

We started to make our way back outside to head over to Jostens. We entered into complete chaos in the central courtyard of WWoS. You had people trying to enter HP Field House, you had people trying to get to Jostens from 3 separate lines, those three lines were combined by one cast member, utter chaos. Once combined the line lead down stairs and out to the track and field area, a far distance away were thousands of people were lined up to enter Jostens.

My wife and I kept a positive outlook, since it was 73 degrees and gorgeous, while back in Boston it was 21 degrees.

The line actually moved quickly despite its its length.

Most people thought this would take 4 hours, it took all of 40 mins.

Heading back up to the main court yard.

Back in the Courtyard – Cast members wait to lead you to the red carpet line in front of the Jostens.

Zig Zagging the line. Very Civil.

The Expo was swarming with race goers.  My wife had to pick up shirts she ordered online at the Raw Threads booth, great idea and it was painless.

The New Balance area was insane as always, and felt even busier than it has for previous expos.

No flippers needed with these.

Finally exiting the expo. Jenny did exceptionally well with merchandise, while I did not.

Disney Princess 5k – Day One of Three 

We have found that Disney’s Pop Century Resort is an optimal location for the races.  It is located next to ESPN Wide World of Sports and very close to Epcot (where most races start and end). We woke up at 3:15am and made our way to the buses at 4:00am for the 5k start time of 6:00am. We got to the bus area in front of the resort to find a large line, 2 hours before the first corral would go off, pretty early for a runDisney race. The bus situation at Pop Century was exceptional, and even though the line was long, it moved amazingly fast.

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At the Start line, everyone was in high spirits, and before I knew it Rudy announced “30 seconds” and then we were off in typical runDisney style, with magical fireworks.

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My wife hand made three epic tutus that were amazing compared to the store bought ones, like the amazon special I got. I decided to wear it so I would match my wife, since it was her weekend, and I was just a sidekick along for the ride. I received tons of complements, followed by “I wish my husband or boyfriend would of done that for me!” Most of the ladies out there on the course would of loved their fellow prince to have joined them it seemed.

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Something other races that go through Epcot do not have is pink lighting to all the pavilions. Pretty cool.

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The Princess 5k was a fun run for us, so we decided to run from character to character. 

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Sunrise was just coming up as we made our way towards the finish line. It was a special race as I got to run next to my loving princess.

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We received our medals, and headed over to get our pictures taken with Ariel and Sebastian.  What a great way to wrap up the race.

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Disney Enchanted 10k – Day Two of Three

Saturday Morning we woke up at 2:45am to ensure we had ample time to arrive at the race with time to position our selves in our corrals with better placement. Again Pop Century Resort provide exceptional bus service with buses arriving ever couple mins, we were ushered off to the race with ease   A very cold morning, but at least there was no rain like we had during the Walt Disney World 10K in January.

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The Enchanted 10k was started by the Fairy Godmother magically counting down and of course, fireworks.

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Anna and Elsa said hello from their overpass. Typical race pullover.

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One thing that I was pretty negative about – was the amount of people in this race that dumped their race heat wraps or old warm clothing on the ground and didn’t toss it off the course as a courtesy for fellow runners. Also, people just stopped for Anna and Elsa and mile marker photo ops, which caused several collisions.

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I love the 10k course and always have found it to be rewarding without being too challenging. The guys stuck together in little packs, mostly to pass clumps of people walking 5 across. With being less than 10% of the course, guys would pound fists and high five each other in support, and we were all part of a special fraternity of prince’s.  I did find this 10k to be a little light on the support side from crowds in both Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club Resorts compared to the other races I have participated in.

After completing the 10K, we did some park touring.  What better way to celebrate your race, than to go to your park of choice.

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Disney Princess Half Marathon – Day Three of Three

Sunday Morning we woke up at 2:40am and we headed out of the room at 3:30am to meet a larger line for the buses then we did the previous morning. Once again, Pop Century was prepared and executed perfectly, we were very impressed.

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We arrived at the race around 4:00am which was good, since my nerves were on edge. This was my first attempt at a half marathon since January 2014 Marathon Weekend were I was so sick, I disqualified myself at mile 8. So I was NERVOUS and had to force myself to eat, and I drank water like a fish.

We started to make our way to the corrals, that 3/4 mile walk down the same path the 5k goes, seemed cold to me.  Jenny was on cloud 9, she looked like nothing could hinder her path to completing her 5th Half Marathon in the last two years. Her first Half was in 2014, the same one I was too sick to finish.  She had her cousin Jamie there who is a seasoned runner, and she calmed her pre race nerves. That morning, Jenny was my soothing blanket, she was great. Every step down to the corral split, my heart raced faster and my grip on her hand got tighter. I knew eventually I would have to let go. The split came, and I started to tear up, my nerves on complete edge. I desperately held on for additional seconds, Jenny told me “you got this, you trained for it, enjoy it” She smiled and we hugged and gave a good bye kiss, and she and I headed to our separate corrals.

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I made it to my corral with about an 45 minutes before the start. I counted 5 men in my corral. In previous races, both Marathon Weekend and Wine and Dine, inside the corrals people usually start to chit chat, and make small talk. This corral was all business, no talking, no nothing, felt very cold compared to the others. Luckily I was texting my wife for last minute advice.

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Before the blink of an eye, Rudy and the Fairy Godmother were letting Corral A off. In true Disney fashion the fireworks were magical. Odd thing, the new digital start line was absent at these races. Wine and Dine along with Marathon Weekend both utilized it, hopefully it comes back.

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We were ushered up the start line, and let loose to 13.1 miles. I didn’t get too excited at the start, I stuck to my training pace and pressed on like a trooper.

This hot air balloon was fantastic and photo doesn’t do it justice.

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A very cliché picture, but a one I love.

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Captain Hook is my favorite and it was a refreshing sight.

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Entering the Magic Kingdom was so motivating and it can’t really be described. The support from the cheer squad and cast members was amazing, Thanks to all who supported us.

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Fast forward to mile 7, I started to choke up, my sunglasses started to fog, and tears started to form, I knew mile 8 was coming up, this mile had haunted my thoughts for two years. There it is, Mile 8 maker, along with three “parade buses” (these are the buses that sweep people up if they fall behind pace). I stopped for a picture, and away I went – Strong.

Just like in the 10K, the guys would fist bump each other in support for the 9% of us on the course. One thing I didn’t like on the course, that really made me mad, was a fellow guy ran far off the course to relieve himself in the woods.  Women passing started to boo, which surprised me as this is typical in other races and usually not an issue, guess that’s not the case for this race. I made it to a port-o-pottie for  quick stop, however, I was cut off twice, which made me feel like a second class citizen to fellow princess racers. Other than that, the race was extremely pleasant and up lifting.

Between water volunteers, volunteers in general, random cheerers and my texts from my wife, I was able to make it to Epcot with ease.

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Epcot was kind of a joke since you barely skip through it. Finish Line time, I thought I’d tear up, but I powered through like a pro.

Finally got a Half Marathon medal, and the funny thing is I want more of them. Addicted!

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After the race we went to 1900 Park Fare for breakfast. Lady Tremaine wanted my bling for herself and I smiled and handed them off with no dismay. I didn’t need a medal to show my worth, I had proven to myself that I could do it, and for that I am so grateful for this weekend. On to the Star Wars ‘Dark Side Challenge’!

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*****

Visit Brian Meljac’s personal blog, Dark Side Challenger, where a true star wars geek takes on 22.4 miles of Star Wars Races in April 2016.  You can also follow Brian on Periscope (@LiveatDisney).

2016 Enchanted 10K Race Recap

Now in it’s 3rd year, the Enchanted 10K is a staple of Princess Half Marathon Weekend and the first part of the Glass Slipper Challenge.  This year my friend Pam ran this race for the 3rd time as part of her Glass Slipper legacy and I’m so happy to have her here today to share her experience and how the race has changed since its start.

***

2016 Enchanted10K

The Princess Half Marathon weekend included the Glass Slipper Challenge which is a 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.  I participated in my third Glass Slipper Challenge during the race weekend.  For me this meant an early wake up call to arrive to the 10K for the 5:30 a.m. start.  The weather for this year’s race was perfect.  It was 50 degrees in the morning with no chances for rain.  The race start for the 10K began in the Epcot parking lot.  If you had participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend races (5K and 10K), they began in the same location as those races.

I was in Corral C and they were releasing corrals every 8 minutes.  The plan with my friends for this race was to get as many pictures as we could during the 10K so that for the half marathon we would only stop for characters that were unique or that we hadn’t taken pictures of before at any of our previous runDisney races.  To be honest, this was one of my least favorite runDisney races.  The reason for that is because we have to run on a stretch of road for three miles with very little entertainment on the road.  Well, that changed this year.

The following characters were out on the 10K course.  Right after the start, we run under an overpass and Elsa and Ana are on the bridge with fake snow flying down onto the runners.  At the curve for the hairpin turn to head back towards Epcot is the Evil Queen as the witch from Snow White.  After we run up the hill there was a character stop with Tinkerbell, Silvermist, Rosetta, and Clarence.

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Then we had a surprise with Pocahontas and Meeko the raccoon.  As we entered Epcot there were the characters on stilts.  Then we entered Epcot where there was Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket outside of Germany.

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And the last character stop that we really wanted to get was with Lumiere and Cogsworth right in front of France!

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My friend and I stopped for all of these character stops which meant we were in line for quite some time for some of them (especially Tink and Pinocchio).  Once we got to Lumiere and Cogsworth people were yelling out that the balloon ladies were just about a minute behind them.  Then the balloon ladies passed us while we were in line.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew we could run and get past them; but the race sweepers on bikes were now showing up and warning us of being swept.  Since this was my third glass slipper and I am trying to maintain a perfect Glass Slipper legacy status, we decided that we had to abandon our spot in line and get running.  We were hoping that others were going to be afraid and do the same thing and then we could quick get our picture and run; but that wasn’t the case.

We ran over the International Gateway, through the exit of Epcot and over the bridge towards the Boardwalk.  The balloon ladies were just ahead of us at that point and the bikers were behind us.  We could not stop for any other characters though, especially if they had longer lines.  At ESPN we saw vacation Genie.  We continued to run through the Boardwalk and took pictures of the balloon ladies on the bridge heading towards the Yacht and Beach Club.

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We continued to keep a faster pace going through there and heading back towards Epcot in case we wanted to stop for any characters as we head back to the back stage of Epcot.  We saw the last character stop there and it was for Sofia the First.

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We ran through the back stage area of Epcot and came out near the Land and ran towards Finding Nemo.  There were people dressed as coral from the sea on stilts there but there was a line so we continued to run towards Spaceship Earth and then backstage again to the finish line.

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It was fun chasing the balloon ladies; but it wasn’t fun when the bikes were chasing us out of the park!  I will say that runDisney stepped up this race for us.  We finally had more characters along the course, especially during the three miles on the road leading to Epcot.  It seemed like there were a lot more runners during this race.  We spent a lot of time in lines for characters, longer than I am used to and we started from a closer corral.  According to the runDisney site, there were 11,341 finishers for the 10K this year, 11,003 runners in 2015 and 8,969 runners in 2014.

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This is still a fun race and a nice part of the Glass Slipper Challenge during the Princess Half Marathon weekend because you are finished with the race by 8:00 a.m. and then have the entire day to spend wherever you wish.

*****

Pam-Frost-Bio PicWhen Pam was about to turn 40 she set a goal to do a 5K run before the big day. Little did she know she would be bit by the running bug and have since run numerous 5Ks, half marathons, 7 full marathons and 2 runDisney Dopey challenges to date.

She is a wife and mother of two kids who are very supportive of her sport/habit/addiction. She is a proud member of Team Chocolate milk and Team Oiselle! In May of 2015, she was selected by the Walt Disney Company from a carefully vetted group of 1,300 social media moms to attend a special conference. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that she has been working hard for the past four years to become a part of. The event was life changing and she thinks about it just about every day!

Visit Pam on her blog Wife Mother Runner and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope (@pamjammer) & Snapchat (@pamjammer)!

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