Posts Tagged by Princess Half Marathon Weekend

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!

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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.

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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)!

2016 Disney Princess 5K – A Family Affair!

A 5K is a great way to experience runDisney if you are just starting out running or if you want to just have a new, fun Disney experience.  Krista Wenzel is here today to share her experience at this year’s Princess 5K with her mom and sister…it was a family affair to remember!

***

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The shortness of breath I was experiencing from the Disney Princess 5K on February 19th was not from running. The running had not even started. I was standing at the start line, very front in line, with my mom and sister waiting for the countdown. For so many months we had planned outfits, timing, and dreamed, and here was the moment. We were about to begin.

Rewinding a little, in July 2015, I decided to tackle my second Glass Slipper Challenge. Working with a travel agent, after having a near stress attack of not getting a slot online, I was asked which races I wanted. The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend coincided with my mom’s 60th birthday week and my sister had been running for a couple years. Therefore, I made an executive and spontaneous decision to sign all three of us up for the 5K, as well as the Glass Slipper Challenge for just myself. It would be a first race for both my mom and sister, and what a fun birthday party I thought!

So after breaking the fun news, which both were a little shocked and hesitant, the Disney magic began to take shape. Because what would a runDisney event be without dressing up? It actually was pretty quick decision on who we wanted to dress up as: Minnie Mouse! For many years, we have all shared a love for Mickey and Minnie Mouse! So for a triplet idea, we all wanted to match as Minnie Mouse! A little homemade and a little bibbidity-bobbitidy-boo from the internet, we had our ensembles ready!

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Race morning wake-up alarms came early, but our excitement got us up even before our alarms, SO excited were we!  So we all got into our ensembles and realized the magic that was going to be headed our way for the next few hours! Since we stayed at a Disney resort, we were very blessed that we didn’t have to worry about traffic or anything beyond just getting to our bus stop at a timely manner.

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Once we took our short bus drive over, we realized being with other people who were as excited and nervous as us only got us more into the moment of it all! Once we finally arrived we took the short walk over, stopped for a photo, and were soon in the excitement of thousands of people getting ready for the 5K! There was music and so many fun costumes to admire all around! But we were ready to get over to our corral.

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Apparently so ready we were first in line in our corral C! This year’s theme for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend was Little Mermaid, so it was so fun to watch the corrals all around us fill with Sebastians, Flounders, Ariels, and yes, even, the evil sea witch herself, Ursala. So many fun interpretations made the 45-minute wait fly by! We even had some random racers tell us they had “liked” our photo we had posted on social media with the #Princess5k!

Suddenly, we were told to start walking to line up! This was it! The moment we had been training for! We lined up next to the start line and waited those painful moments of anticipation! And then, just like that! It was go time!

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Running along side my mom and sister I couldn’t ask for a more fun experience. We do everything together, but this was a whole new level!

The first mile or so was pretty low key, not many characters or photo stops, mostly runners finding their stride. So we talked a lot, mostly pointed out different outfits and how creative people are in their interpretations of Disney characters like Donald and Daisy Duck or favorite Princesses.

At mile marker 1, it was time for the real fun to begin as we came into Epcot casting area and then World Showcase! Our favorite place to explore at Disney as a family has always been Epcot. We travel internationally, so a big pull of the Disney Princess 5K was running through our favorite area.  As we curved our way around World Showcase, we enjoyed favorites like Germany lit in a purple hue or Italy with its skyline in a romantic lighting. Of course, this picturesque run was set to the tunes of the Little Mermaid echoing across the park.

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Mile marker 2 brought more fun as we came into the back-lot area of Epcot and into the Future World of Epcot. As we ran past “Turtle Talk with Crush,” we hit a milestone for my mom: she had now ran further than she had ever ran in her life at one time! It was pretty amazing to share that moment! The final half-mile was pretty much just a blur of excitement and fun running under Spaceship Earth and to the final push to the finish line!

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Once we saw the finish line, I’ll never forget my mom saying, “I actually did it.” She was never a runner, and never one to join me for a run, but she just pushed herself and did an amazing job! My sister finished her first race and 5K, as well!! We decided to finish together at the same time, all with huge smiles! We did it!

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My older sister was waiting for us three for a photo finish, and we gathered our medals, had some fun time at the after-math, and then headed to Magic Kingdom for coffee and rides! It was truly a magically fun time!

This was my second runDisney experience after my first Glass Slipper Challenge from last year, and it was truly more fun and exciting to share it with my family. Even as I did the 10k and the Half Marathon the following days, it was a bit of a downer to now have memories not to share. What an amazing birthday party for my mom and memories we will share for the rest of our lives!

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 ***** 

Krista is a Disney enthusiast, loves to run, and has a passion for travel. Her multi-faceted career includes a professional tour guide in Washington DC and New York City, has worked in Congress, and works in agriculture business for her dad. In her free time, Krista loves to read, do anything active, and has been to over 30 countries and counting.

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.

*****
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.

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