Another Princess Race Weekend is in the books and while, from the weather to the aches and pains, it was a challenging few days – we all know how much this particular race weekend means to me and it was just as satisfying and wonderful as ever.
ESPN Wide World of Sports – Thursday, February 21st-Sunday, February 24th
As always, the weekend started with a visit to Expo for bib pickup, merch, and other fun. runDisney continued its habit of opening the lines early for bib pickup, so it's still a good idea to get there well before the official opening time if possible. Bib pickup itself was smooth as ever – just remember to bring your signed waiver and identification – but the lines for official merchandise got long very early, so if you're interested in scoring any, it pays to show up as early as you can.
This very cute jersey, for example, apparently sold out in the first few hours.
While I know this can be aggravating, all I can say is to try to keep in mind that it's about the races and not the stuff. The merch is fun but if you aren't able to score that one item that you had your heart set on you can still get out there and enjoy the heck out of the races themselves.
There were also lots of fun photo ops at Expo, from the picture with a princess shadow at the Pandora booth to meet and greets with Moana, Anna, and Elsa, to this meet and greet with Cinderella's footmen and carriage.
For those that got there early enough, Lilly Pulitzer was also giving out these amazing planners and hair bands for free!
Just a little something fun and proof that it never hurts to nose around in the VISA Center to see what the various tables are handing out.
Epcot, Friday, February 22nd beginning at 5:30 a.m.
We all know that I love runDisney 5Ks. They're the perfect way to kick off a race weekend in a relaxed way, get lots of character pictures, and get your body on schedule if you're running the other races.
This race was sold out and very crowded for a Disney 5K. I arrived in the parking lot at around 3:20 a.m. and lines for the princess meet & greets were already growing, but I managed to get Princess Minnie, Merida, Tiana, and Elena (who was on the medal) before we went to the corrals.
The course wound its way around Epcot, from the parking lots, through World Showcase and Future World, and out again. Like marathon weekend, we wound toward Mission Space and back again instead of the old usual route toward the Land pavilion.
Runners were divided into 3 corrals, A-C, and released in mini waves.
The course was wonderful as always and filled with PhotoPass photographers and characters.I made sure to do every single stop:
Though it is worth mentioning that it (and the rest of a weekend) were a testament to just how unpredictable the weather is this time of year, as we were running in some extremely warm and humid conditions. And there is no Powerade on the course for the 5K or 10K, so be sure to bring your own fuel as needed accordingly.
The medal for this race was Elena of Avalor and I will say that it was much cuter in person than it looked in the preview sneak peaks.
Princess 10K – Fairytale Challenge
Saturday, February 23rd beginning at 5:30 a.m.
This race was also sold out and you could definitely tell the second that you hit the Epcot parking lot. Meet & Greet lines were long but we made sure to grab a picture with Ariel since it was leg day after all. 😉
While the race was sold out, the corrals ran from A-F and were again released in mini waves, so the course didn't feel overly crowded. While we waited to get started my BFF and I even grabbed a moment with Riley on the Jumbotron and shared our Princess 2016 Friend-iversary story.
I had a blast running this race with her and we braved the heat together to get it done.
This was the usual runDisney 10K course, with some road time before entering Epcot in World Showcase, circling out to the boardwalk around Crescent Lake at the Epcot Resorts, and then returning to Epcot to finish.
We only stopped to grab one PhotoPass character along the way – Marie in France – before finishing off in the early morning heat.
That finish line was a sight for sore and sweaty eyes and I absolutely loved the Mulan medal.
Princess Half Marathon – Fairytale Challenge
Sunday, February 24th beginning at 5:30 a.m.
With the heat of the prior to races, we were all braced for how bad the Princess Half would be on Sunday morning since we'd be out long past sunrise. Mercifully, though, we had a good amount of cloud cover and breeze throughout most of the run, so while it was still hot it was much, much better than it could have been. They also added at least one water stop on the course and, like during the full marathon in January, were handing out water soaked sponges at one point to let us wipe down and cool off.
The course was similar to the usual Princess Half course, including that magical run into and through Magic Kingdom.
It's worth noting though that we spent much less time than usual in Epcot – entering through backstage at Soarin' at the Land pavilion and exiting at Spaceship Earth onto the parking lot at the finish line. I can understand how much easier this makes directing non-runner guest traffic after the park opens, but do hope that they reconsider this and give the runners a bit more park time in Epcot after the long haul from Magic Kingdom.
For me the half marathon was a bit of a humbling experience and a lesson in listening to my body. I threw my left knee out during another race a few weeks ago and aggravated the injury in a car accident soon after. I'd wanted to take this race fast but the heat and my screaming knee weren't having it, so I took my pace slow and steady, made sure to stay super hydrated, and even stopped for a character or two along the way.
The medals for the Princess Half Marathon and Fairytale Challenge were lovely as always. I especially love how bada$$ Jasmine looks on the Challenge medal.
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All in all, I am walking away from Princess Race Weekend this year so full of gratitude and great memories. We are so blessed to be able to participate in these wonderful events that challenge us while supported by friends and family. And to that end, as always, I want to give a shout out to my amazing WDW Radio running team for all that they do on and off the course to make these events so much more special. Running for their Dream Team Project to support Make A Wish is such a wonderful thing. If you are considering joining the runDisney family and want to do some extra good along the way with the support of an incredible group of people, I cannot urge you strongly enough to join our team at http://www.wdwradio.com/running/.
Until next time…..I'll see you Star Wars Weekend!!