With registration for the 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend opening today for DVC Members and Annual Passholders, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of the festivities from this past year. Kristina is a runDisney veteran…you may remember her from the great tips she provided on conquering the Dopey Challenge. However, this year was her first experience with Princess Half Marathon Weekend and she decided to take on the Glass Slipper Challenge. Hopefully you can keep up with her recap…she’s a speedy runner!! 🙂
Thank you so much to Sarah for letting me detail my experience as a first time participant in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend! But this wasn’t my first runDisney race. I ran in the Marathon Weekend in 2012, 2013 and 2014!
As the registration date for the 2015 Marathon weekend came and went without me signing up, I started to strongly consider the Princess Half weekend. Two of my best friends AND my parents and sister were also heavily interested in running one of the races, so we all registered. My one dear friend and I decided to kick some glass slipper in the Glass Slipper Challenge, while my parents, sister and other friend were enchanted by the Enchanted 10k.
Enough of the back story, let’s get to the recap!
There’s nothing quite like hearing an alarm sound at 3 a.m., especially when you’re in Florida with a less than seasonal outside temperature. But the pure excitement of doing a race in DISNEY where my parents, sister and friends are also participating lessened the pain of being awake so early.
Ok, the early wakeup call is one thing, but the 39 degree outside temperature was a completely different beast. I am kind of a wimp when it comes to the cold, even though I live in Ohio. I decided to wear two long sleeve shirts, capri running tights and gloves. I was very happy to have all those layers!
My sister and I left for the monorail at 4:00 a.m., a little before my parents, since we were both in Corral A. We made it to the EPCOT parking lot by 4:40, with just enough time for a bathroom break.
Pretty soon, we were waiting for the fireworks to signal the start of the race. For the 10K there are fewer corrals. I believe just A through E. My sister and I were a little late getting into Corral A, so we were toward the back. In order to save energy and not weave through people, I ran in the grass once I crossed the start line. There is no doubt in my mind that I looked silly, but in less than a quarter of a mile I was out of the largest crowd.
The first two miles of the race take you out of the EPCOT parking lot and onto the highway. We were greeted with Elsa and her snow, which added excitement to what could be a boring portion of the course. The course continues on roadways until a little after the 5K mark. This is where you enter the EPCOT countries by Norway! Oh what a beautiful sight to see! The countries are illuminated and there’s music playing! It gives a second life to my feet. You run past France, up the little hill, turn left down the hill toward the back exit, then make your way to the Boardwalk. Running on the Boardwalk makes me nervous since it could be slippery, but I didn’t experience any issues during this race. I also didn’t hear from my parents, sister or friends that they had trouble on the Boardwalk.
The course takes you up the hill by Swan and Dolphin and past the Yacht and Beach Club. A general observation: it’s so nice to see resort guests out there cheering for the runners!
By mile 5, you enter back into EPCOT, through the countries, making your way to the finish line. That last mile went by in a blur since I was tired and cold. However, I was overjoyed to see the clock read 43:xx! My true finish time was 42:36. I finished 21st overall, 8th out of women and 3rd in my age group! But, the most exciting part was getting to see my sister finish shortly after and then my parents crossing the finish line hand in hand!
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, spending time with my friends and eating a hearty dinner of pasta and chicken to prepare for the half.
Sunday morning I woke with a sore throat and runny nose. I went back and forth trying to decide whether I should run this race “hard” or take it easy. The answer came to me after hearing all the wonderful women discussing children with Rett’s Syndrome. They cannot walk let alone run, so no minor sore throat could keep me from giving this race my all. There was some exciting news that morning, too. Disney announced a half marathon weekend at Disneyland Paris for September 23-25, 2016!
Before I knew it, the countdown was on for Corral A. Those fireworks at the start line never cease to amaze me! They provide additional adrenaline for the 13.1 miles ahead! Off we were to Magic Kingdom; the miles to the entrance ticked by. We ran through the Transportation and Ticket Center and made our way past the Contemporary. Reaching that area always brings Disney Magic to my feet because I know that Main Street in Magic Kingdom is quickly approaching. No joke I did a princess wave the entire way down Main Street. I was overcome with happiness and couldn’t hold back those princess-y feelings!
Tomorrowland and Fanstasyland are fun, too, as they lead to running under Cinderella’s Castle. I treasure those moments in Magic Kingdom. Even though this was my sixth time experiencing Magic Kingdom in a race setting, I promise each time is just as, if not more, magical than the time before it.
After Magic Kingdom, it’s back to some roadway running. You pass by the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, as well as one of the golf courses on Disney property. Just past mile 8, you get back on the road to head to EPCOT. You’re able to see runners heading into Magic Kingdom at this point. It’s fun to offer each other mutual support.
The temperature the morning of the half was much nicer than the 10K, but I needed to put my gloves on running back toward EPCOT; a cool breeze gave me the chills.
Major focusing on putting one foot in front of the other occurred during miles 10 through 12. This is the “hilliest” part of the course. Luckily, they’re rolling hills and with determination they are manageable. For the final mile you make it back into EPCOT. During the half marathon, runners don’t visit the countries. Rather, cones are set up to create a path. Like the 10k, the last mile of this race was a blur for me. I focused entirely on breathing, pumping my arms and moving my feet one in front of the other.
Approaching the finish line I heard the announcers shout my name, “Kristina Drnjevich from O-H-“ and I responded “I-O”! I finished in 1:34:25, 33rd overall, 23rd out of women and 9th in my age group. I was greeted by my mom who was kind enough to wake up early to meet me at the finish line! The Princess Half Marathon Weekend was my favorite runDisney event so far. Every step was filled with Magic and Disney makes sure you feel like a Princess, or Prince ☺
Pictures courtesy of my mom, capturing the finish line.
Additional observations: There are fewer runners during the Princess half, so the expo and, in my opinion, the transportation are less crowed. The character stops for the 10K seemed to be slim, but for the half marathon there were a number of stops. Even the princes came out! I did not stop during either race for pictures with the characters, but I noticed the half had a significant number. Also, there were plenty of water stops during both races and plenty of port-a-potties. It was a blast of a race weekend that I will easily recommend to anyone looking to run a Disney race!
Hi there! I’m Kristina Drnjevich, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Northeast Ohio. A longtime Disney and running lover, it has been a joy experiencing races in Disney. The Glass Slipper Challenge was my fourth time participating in a runDisney race weekend. This April, I ran in my first Boston Marathon, and a mere six days later, I headed to California to complete the Big Sur Marathon for the Boston to Big Sur Challenge. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @KDrnjevich!