I’m glad we’ve already talked about last weekend's Princess 5K and Enchanted 10K. Because the second portion of the Fairy Tale Challenge – the Princess Half Marathon – was really the heart of the 2022 Princess Race Weekend for me. It was a race that proved why rules are sometimes made to be broken…and why you should always stay tuned in to what *you* need from the course on any given day.
The Princess Half Marathon took place on Sunday, February 27th. Like at the 10K, participants were divided into 5 sections and released in waves – but, while these waves were *supposed* to start at 5 a.m. (like the other mornings), things were a bit delayed due to traffic and transportation issues on the morning of the half.
Transportation and Delays
Unfortunately, those traffic issues set a tough tone for the start of the race for a lot of us. Between the course and ongoing construction on property, even though the race started and ended in the Epcot parking lot as normal, if you were driving to the race, you had to park at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and be bussed to Epcot.
It was clear that Disney was concerned about potential traffic issues going into the race. The evening before, we’d gotten an email warning us to leave on the early side of things. Our plan to date had been working perfectly – picking up at 3 a.m. and heading over to the race. Because there were no characters at the start, we hadn’t been stressing getting there any earlier than that.
And so on the morning of the half, my friend Marissa picked me up at the house at 3 a.m. and we headed to Studios. We were parked before 3:15 a.m. (I live about a mile north of Magic Kingdom) and started the long, long walk to the busses. Between the walk and the wait, it was 3:50 a.m. before we were even on a bus. And then the bus started making its way, ever so slowly, to Epcot.
It was about 4:30 a.m. by the time we ran off the bus at Epcot. The corral entrance was right there…but gear check was on the other end of the world, so we sprinted over, checked our stuff, hit the portapotties, and sprinted back to corral. By the time we entered section 2, it was already being moved into the chute for the starting line. We tried without success to make our way to a friend who we usually run with but couldn’t get to him. (Sorry Michael… and all of the people that we had to shimmy around on our quest to find him…)
While the race was set to start at 5 a.m., it was about 5:15 before runners actually started crossing the start line. Normally this wouldn’t be a thought at all, but because we were expecting high temperatures, every minute that we were delayed meant running in higher and higher temps later in the day. Back in 2020 when the Dopey Full Marathon course got cut, there had been a similar situation with heat and a delayed start, so a lot of us were starting with that in mind.
Needless to say by this point I was maybe a tiny bit irritable and I wasn’t alone. The vibe in the sections wasn’t the best and I wasn’t going into the run in a great mindset. I told Marissa that I was probably going to run it out for a bit when we started because I wasn’t really in a “character lines” state of mind.
Before we dig into what happened at the race itself, here is the course map. Running down Main Street, U.S.A. during this race will never, ever get old.
This isn’t going to be a normal race write up because I broke all of my own rules. I always half joke that if you PR a runDisney race, you did it wrong. I always say PR your local races and savor the Disney runs. Wear costumes. Wait for characters. Take candid pictures. Make new friends. Honor the race that you trained for but also enjoy every minute.
But rules are meant to be broken, right?
When the race started, I wasn’t running all that hard but I was happy to be moving. A PR was the last thing on my mind. I was running with Marissa and then we drifted for a bit. At the first character stop, I finally found our friend Michael and stopped to talk to him in the line.
And then he said, “I told myself that whomever the first couple of characters were, I was going to stop” – because he was so rattled from the crazy situation at the start and knew he needed that to regroup. And then I remember that I’d said the opposite to Marissa. That I knew going in that I just needed to run.
So that’s what I decided to do. I didn’t have any plans to sprint. I wasn’t trying to set a new record. It was a runDisney course after all. I just wanted to run.
I said my goodbyes to Michael before we reached the character (I don’t even remember who it was) and started moving again.
I ended up not stopping one single time the whole rest of the race.
I caught up with Marissa and ran with her for a bit. We sort of drifted again and I kept going. By the time we reached the Magic Kingdom, I was really moving. By the time we reached mile 5 or so, I looked down at my 8-9 minute miles and realized that I might be able to sub-2 (i.e., run the race in less than 2 hours) even though I’d probably killed 10 minutes early on.
So I just sort of leaned into it. I didn’t walk through water stops. I didn’t stop for characters. I didn’t even use the bathroom. I just ran and it felt totally amazing. I ended up far enough up in the crowd that there were no waits whatsoever at the characters but I still just kept going. I remember skipping the Castle shot and Gaston in Magic Kingdom and thinking, okay, now I'm clearly in this 110%. I flew past PhotoPass photographers without thinking about how I looked. I skipped every bathroom while hugely regretting wearing white. (Lol.) I just kept moving.
Slightly off from official chip time but I'd known I didn't quite make it.
My final time was 2:01:37. I don’t regret it at all. It was the race I needed. The sub-2 is obviously coming and I tell myself that even if I had gotten in under the 2 hour mark this time I’d still be registering for the next local race for a true PR – well rested and fueled on fresh legs and knowing my goal from the start.
Swag & Bling
This race was themed to Mulan and the Fairy Tale Challenge was themed to Moana. Here are the shirts for both:
As I wrote in my thoughts about the 5K and the 10K, the shirt material this time around feels decent. A far cry from the Champion shirts that we used to get back when we didn’t know how spoiled we were, but I think a bit better from the rough fabric of Wine & Dine 2021.
Again, the bibs are still that aggravating paper-like material that tears easily. If this continues to be the case, then be sure on race day (or before) to reinforce the safety pin holes with clear tape. Just fold the tape over the edge to cover both sides including the hole and then slide the safety pin right through the tape.
And here are the Princess Half Marathon and Fairy Tale Challenge Medals:
Mulan is a spinner but the back is just a simple 50th engraving. The raised flowers on the Moana Challenge medal spin but tend to get loose, so use a small screwdriver to tighten them if you have one handy.
So far these, along with the others from this weekend’s races, seem to be holding up better than the Marathon Weekend medals, which tended to have chipping issues. Hopefully these issues with the 2022 Marathon Weekend medals were a one time thing.
PRO TIP: Bring your other medals from the weekend with you to the last race. (I put each in a sock to protect it in my bag.) Then, at the finish, you can grab your gear bag and put them on for the finisher pictures!!
Like we talked about in the 5K and 10K recaps, these boards were all that was set up before and after the races. For that reason, rather than running to be the first people at the races to grab the pictures before the lines started (like we might normally do), we just went after we ran each day. This way we were able to take the pictures with our medals…even if we were just a little sweaty. 🙂
Lululemon actually makes this skirt in a color similar to the blue that Marissa is wearing and I so regret not getting it!! I'm definitely planning to wear it for another race soon.
I loved this race but for all the opposite reasons as usual. It just speaks to what a personal sport running is. How in tune with yourself you need to be. How the real goals aren’t tied to numbers or where you fall in the crowd at the finish line – but whether your head is right when you walk to your car afterwards.
Finish line…knowing I'd missed it by minutes and still feeling like a million bucks. 😉
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Did you run the runDisney Princess Half Marathon this year? What were your thoughts??
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If you want live information on the runDisney races as they are happening, be sure to follow me over on Instagram at @thecastlerunner and watch my stories. I do my best to keep you posted as they are unfolding.
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If you’re missing home (or love someone who is) and are looking for a way to bring the magic home, I’d love for you to check out my Core Memory Candle collection right HERE. And as always, stay safe and be kind, my friends.