After having run my first and tenth half marathons at Disney World (my first being the 2014 Disney World Half Marathon and my tenth being the 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon), I never made it a conscious mission to plan to run subsequent milestone races at Disney World. So when I realized that the 2018 Princess Half Marathon would be my 15th half marathon, it made me that much more excited about running this race.
Just like the day prior, Kathleen and I had a very early wake up call. My alarm went off at 2:30 a.m., and less than an hour later we were on a bus headed to Epcot.
Unlike the day prior, before the start of the 10k, when we made it a priority to take a pre-race character picture, we didn’t have the same mission the morning of the half marathon. Instead, we relaxed in the post race reunion area in the Epcot parking lot, and once the corrals opened slowly but eventually made our way to our corral, Corral C.
The race started at 5:30 a.m. sharp, and only ten short minutes later we crossed the start line. For the first 1.5 miles we ran on Epcot Center Drive, and then took the ramp onto World Drive, where we stopped for our first picture: with four of the Disney princes.
We continued down World Drive, and when we ran through the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza, we were less than three miles into the race yet already drenched in sweat from the humidity.
After stopping for a quick picture at the toll plaza, we continued down World Drive, and made a stop at the entrance to the Transportation and Ticket Center parking lot to have our picture taken with the Wicked Queen from Snow White.
Afterwards, we continued running on World Drive, passed the Contemporary Resort, and then ran through the bus pick up area in front of Magic Kingdom. This slightly altered course from what I had previously run in 2014 allowed runners to enter Magic Kingdom through the front entrance instead of through a backstage area. Personally, I much preferred entering the park through the front entrance. It made the race feel that much more magical.
After entering Magic Kingdom, the excitement built up even more as Kathleen and I ran down Main Street. The crowd was just as incredible as I remembered from when I ran my first half marathon four years ago. At the end of Main Street we made a quick stop for a picture before turning right into Tomorrowland.
After running past Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Speedway, we entered Fantasyland and made a stop for a picture with Belle and Gaston.
Then it was time for one of the highlights of running a Disney race: getting to run through Cinderella’s castle! Again, it was just as magical as I remembered it being four years prior. After running through the castle, we had to make a stop for a picture in front of Cinderella’s castle.
We left the castle and headed into Liberty Square, where we stopped to have our picture taken with Woody from Toy Story.
We then ran through Frontierland, and eventually exited Magic Kingdom onto Floridian Way. Altogether, it had taken us just under an hour to run just over a mile through the park. It didn’t matter to us though. We were having a blast, and since in our minds you run a Disney race for the experience, not for a fast finish time, we were more than okay with how long it took us to complete that short portion of the race.
Floridian Way was by far my least favorite part of the course. The road is extremely narrow, and because people tend to run and/or walk more than two across, it makes it incredibly difficult to run at the pace that you want to run. There were numerous times when Kathleen and I ran on the grass, but even still, we felt like we were constantly playing a game of hot potato as we weaved through the crowd.
The one highlight of running on Floridian Way was stopping to have our picture taken with four princes and a glass slipper. Of course the glass slipper fit, because why wouldn’t it?!?
The course finally widened back up after passing the mile 8 marker, and we were very relieved to not have to continue weaving. Miles nine and ten of the race were pretty uneventful, with the exception of seeing the mile 10 marker, which recognized that this was the tenth anniversary of the Princess Half Marathon.
Shortly after passing the mile 10 marker we took the ramp from World Drive back towards Epcot Center Drive. On the ramp, we found the Green Army Man in his usual spot, cheering runners on during one of the steepest inclines of the course. Naturally, I had to stop and do a couple of push ups for him.
We slowly but surely made our way back toward Epcot, and just past the mile 12 marker entered the park. We did a loop around Spaceship Earth, ran past the Fountain of Nations, and at the entrance to World Showcase turned around and ran back towards the front of the park. Just prior to the mile 13 marker we passed the Gospel Choir, and their music was just as beautiful as I remembered from my previous two runDisney half marathons.
Kathleen and I exited the park and ran towards the finish line. Our official finish time was 3:26:30 (15:45 pace). Not only was this finish time slower than my first half marathon, but it was my slowest half marathon ever. But it didn’t matter, because I had had a blast! (I also feel much better looking at my Garmin results since my watch paused each time that we stopped for pictures. According to my Garmin I ran 13.37 miles in 2:37:36, an 11:47 pace.)
After receiving both our half marathon and challenge medals, as well as water, Powerade, and our food boxes, we stopped briefly to take our official finisher photos.
We then headed straight for the bus since we needed to shower and check out of the hotel before heading to Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours to celebrate. We only had a couple of hours though, as we each had a 3:00 flight to head back home.
It had been a very short trip to Disney, but I’m incredibly grateful for the time that I did have for a girls’ weekend and a racecation. Hopefully I’ll be able to run another runDisney race sooner than later.
QOTD: Do you always run a race with a goal finish time in mind, or do you ever just run a race for fun?