Princess Half Marathon
The things you would do for your friends.
This all started out Marathon weekend when Danielle told me that she was going to run as Moana and that I was going to be Hei Hei.
Here is Hei Hei.
Do you know how many pictures and tutorials there are for making a Hei Hei running costume? 0. So while my friends are having fun on the weekend, this is what I am doing.
It’s going to be a warm costume, but that’s OK since it’s Feb. and it was freezing cold at the race last month. The top feathers consist of three t-shirts and multiple layers of felt. I had to brush up on my sewing skills.
It was a perfectly good hat.
It was very challenging for me to make. I wanted it to be a good effort, but it was stretching me in my imagination and problem-solving skills. (And I consider myself pretty good at those things!)
My Moana and Tafiti!
I decided that if I was going to be Hei Hei that I was going to fully embrace it. That meant in character for people that cheered for me or in any pictures.
Well, the idea for a warm costume turned out to be killer. It was blazing hot. I ran in a running singlet the day before and now my top half if carrying 5 layers of cotton and felt, but I had a plan just in case…
I was so excited to run into friends Jeff and Barb on the course. Since we are all from Atlanta, they thought I was a KFC known as the Big Chicken. We’ll hopefully be running together at the next series. I ran with Jeff last month but missed Barb. She’s fun to run with.
We had fun stopping at all the character stops! Also notice I’ve got my yellow chicken legs on here.
Once we get to Magic Kingdom, I now for the second time in row, drop my pants on Main Street. This time fully embracing the moment and shaking my tail feathers to the people cheering. It was just too hot for running pants. I was glad that Sharon brought me some shorts to change into.
It’s like Hei Hei has never seen the other side of the castle before.
This may be the best group pic ever. It even looks like its just missing the Runners World logo.
Louis the Alligator didnt really know what to do with Hei Hei.
I thought about trying to eat Woodys hat but they wouldnt let me sit on the rails.
At the end of Frontierland was Goofy in a costume that I haven’t gotten before. I was super excited to meet him!
We also found our Maui soon after. He was nice enough to stop for a picture with us and with a scenic background to boot!
After leaving the park we ran across this sign. How could I not stop??
The Genie and Adventurers Club gang were fun. The lady taking pictures was trying to help me out.
Her: “Sir, you can stand up, there’s room in the picture.”
Me: “I’m good. I’m a chicken.”
Me: *Chew on Mickey Mouse nose.
Her: *Takes picture.
We make it back to the pirates in the daylight. The pictures are always better and there is no line on the way back. I was beside Jack until he saw Moana. He then brushed me aside and made sure he was cozy for the picture.
After making it through the two cloverleafs to Epcot. We see our cheer team. They had some nice cold water for us. It was so nice! Around the bend was Mrs Incredible. She loved us.
Once in Epcot proper, it’s just a short out and back and then you are done.
One of my few “normal” pics. Love the composition in this one.
I feel that Hei Hei would eat the Powerade after the race.
We had such a blast! I didn’t want to be Hei Hei, but I’ll do some crazy things for my friends and it turned out great in the end.
Run your race. Run with friends. Make memories.
The Boston Marathon Weekend!
Princess Weekend: My favorite race Disney race weekend.
- It’s less crowded.
- The weather is more consistent and nice.
- The courses are great and match the Marathon Weekend.
- It’s got a very good vibe to it.
- Great unique characters come out just for this race.
The expo has changed yet again, but I feel like this will be the last major change for awhile. I believe their goal all along has been to create an experience similar to Disneyland. With the addition of another stadium, they now have the room to make that happen. The Expo was in the newly built building. Gone are the lines out in the weather! They have enough space to hold all of the line, plus an expanded area for the RunDisney Merch. They also took the opportunity to update their fixtures and displays as well.
The 5K !
I actually cheered instead of running the 5k. Beth and Sharon went as Dwiddle Dee and Dwiddle Dum. We had some great costumes on the team for the 5k. Everyone had a great time!
I decided to do the dead last start challenge again for this 10k. The running club in rundisneyrun was planning for a big group for the half, so I thought that I would be a good opening act for them. I won’t get into to much detail on what it is, since I’ll do a separate post on what it is and what it isn’t later. The short of it; you start dead last and see how many you can pass by the end.
I did it at The STAR WARS 10K last year to show that you can have a great race no matter your starting position. The fun is where you make it, not what coral you start in. I did it this year for a few reasons.
- It’s my favorite 10K on the East Coast.
- The likelihood of there being any new characters that I needed was small.
- It’s been a while since I pushed myself and this would force me to.
- I wanted to be an encouragement for one of our teammates that was looking to complete their first 10k.
I love the balloon ladies! It was fun to catch up with them and take pictures for them.
When I do dead last start, I’m truly last…..like medical bikes and cleanup crew last.
I’ll get into the etiquette and expectations on the DLS post, but here is the big one: If you ever do a dead last start, you never have the right of way. They are running their race and you are running yours. They should never have to yield space or move for you. You should encourage those along the course, not hinder their experience.
I was looking for a couple of people that day. I wanted to find my teammate who was looking for her first finish and I was looking to catch one Mr. David Thompson. I was so happy to find my teammate closing in on the 3-mile mark. I let her know how far she was ahead of the balloon ladies to give her a boost. It meant the world to me to be able to give her some encouragement. I also knew at that point that she was going to make it the farthest that she ever had. I wouldn’t have been able to give her that insight or encouragement if I didn’t start last.
Now that I knew that she was set to have a great race I moved on to my one target for the day. David is not slow and started all the way up in C, but I also knew he was out having a good time before and during the race. How hard is it to track down one person in a race of over 10,000? Not too hard when they are over 6ft tall and dressed as nerd Merida.
Got him at mile 4!
I also had to stop at my favorite pavilion.
This is probably my favorite picture, even when I look like a do-fuss. Our cheer team was on the boardwalk with our awesome group of matching 10k ladies. I saw them and ran as hard as I could to make the picture. This is the reaction just as I jump in as she takes the shot.
I love this gal. Jennalyn is one of the friendliest and kindest people Ive ever met.
I wasn’t trying to kill myself since I had a half marathon the next day and a ton of miles to go in the parks that day.
Oddly my only finish line pic. Its also a reminder that unless you are first, someone always finishes before you.
By the end, I ended up catching 62% of all the runners and passed 7597 people. I ran about 2 miles on grass so I wouldn’t get in other runners way.
Dead Last Start is a fun variation for a race if you are looking for a different way to challenge yourself. Just remember to be kind and courteous to your fellow runners!
The Princess Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon Recap 2017
Does it still stand up as the best?
Here we are again! I was still learning the lay of the land this time last year. (The half was my 9th Disney race at the time). It was my favorite race then, so I was excited to see if it held up this time. (This year it marked my 31st Disney race)
Well last year it was Hunger Games style. I got there a day later this year and it was actually very calm and orderly. They even still had everything that we were looking for. I heard positive things from people who attended on the first day. Hooray for progress! Of course, we stopped to see our friends the Galloways. We had just run together a few weeks ago out on the West Coast, but it seemed like a long time had passed.
I actually cheered for the first time as Sharon completed her first 10k. I was so proud of her and I enjoyed cheering more than I thought. I didn’t even miss not racing, knowing that she was out there doing her thing.
I don’t want to say there is a wrong way to run a Disney race, but there are better ways to run them. I typically run the big races either with the Galloways or my race team, the WDW Radio Running Team. Running these races with friends is always a great way to experience them.
This time I went out with our running team. Donnie and I got a head start on our group so that we could get some character stops and let them catch up to us. Last year had a killer group of characters so I was pumped to see what was out there.
We got the Pirates, Princes crew and made it to the Magic Kingdom gate before the group caught up to us.
The advantage to running all the races is that you learn where they drop the same characters over and over and where they like to drop in the rare ones. Right when we were about to link up with the rest of our group we hit the rare spot this year. Malificient! 31 races, and over 600 characters and I had yet to meet her. You can pay a good bit of money and get her at a dessert party, but I couldn’t justify almost $100 for one character I need. I was freaking out and Donnie was just having to put up with me. She alone would have made this race.
We finally linked back up to our group right before entering the park and then it was straight up party time! We caught up to the WDW cheer group and my family right in the entrance to the park.
Can you tell we were having a good time? Those pictures were pretty typical for us; having a great time with each other and those around us and Donnie running around everywhere with his hands up in the air.
There were lots of characters, but we chose to keep on going since we had all of them. In the park was Buzz Lightyear, The Queen of Hearts, Belle and Beast, Cinderella and her prince, Woody and Jessie.
I also really enjoy the backside of the park too. It goes by the Magic Kingdom resorts before heading back to Epcot. We stopped for the penguins and one of my favorite stops; the wedding party. The Bride was not there when we came through, so we just celebrated without her.
From there it was just a little over a 5K left in the race. One of the good things about this race is if you are quick enough, you can actually catch the first couple sets of characters twice. Once in the dark and once after the sun comes up. Both groups remembered me and “Donna” which was fun.
The background was great. It really looks like you are on an island instead of a median of a road.
From there is was up the dreaded curved ramp at mile 10.5. It actually wasn’t too bad this year and we even stopped and did push ups for the sarge army man from Toy Story. (He’s the only one that you’ll find that talks)
We met the second WDW cheer group right before Epcot and several of them beat us from the Magic Kingdom to this point. I think they were using some magic to get there. Once in Epcot things got a bit….rowdy. First up was the dance moves pose with Mushu….
I’ll pause here and say I’m happy that my Post on how to get great Run Disney Pics has helped people get the pictures that they want to get. So what happens when your running buddy “Donna” decides to try to ruin your pictures in Epcot and enlists the help of your other running buddy? A new category emerges: Shielding.
Then it was 38 attempts at a jump photo. I’d like to point out that my head is slightly higher in the air than Donna’s.
I peeled off for a quick Daisy photo and then caught back up to the group.
It was at this point that Donna and I got in a wrestling match/dance off as payback for his shielding earlier. This was the only one that came out because both of our numbers were covered for all the others. We had the photographer cracking up!
After pulling it together it was time to hit the finish line!
Is it funny that Donnie and Nicki almost perfectly match? Yes. Yes it is.
So here we are at the end. Does it live up as the best Disney race in the US? Yes it does. The vibe is so cool, you don’t have a marathon to run the next day, the weather is great and more predictable, you run through the castle and some of your best friends show up to run a race together.
I love you Princess half marathon, but I’ve got to say that I love my friends and running team even more.
See you at the Castle.
Planning for Princess Half Marathon Weekend
The Disney World Princess Half Marathon Weekend is just around the corner so it’s time to start breaking out the checklist to make sure that you are ready for the series. I’ve run every Disney race in the U.S. and this series is unique in several different ways.
Prepare yourself for……
I’ve got to say the expos are so weird. Disneyland is very consistent with their expos and will usually add a small tweak every series to make the overall experience better. Disney World on the other hand, is very inconsistent. Marathon weekend? Organized all though it can be stressful because of how many people are going through. Star Wars? Organized. Wine and Dine? Nuts. Part Hunger Games and part Game of Thrones.
The ultimate…..Princess Expo. The expo itself is fine, it’s the merch where you feel like maybe it’s a good idea to brush up on your hand to hand combat. Think about what you are getting in to. 95% women, so there are more shoppers. Re-sellers trying to make their bank, stress and a feeling of a Black Friday sale at Walmart. I have seen punching , shoving, taking items from other people and packed shoulder to shoulder. Here are my tips to survive:
1. Go early and get in line. Sometimes they open earlier than posted.
2. Know what you want before you go. They will usually throw a preview out a few days before and even more the day before.
3. Prioritize what you want. Don’t waste time looking at the shirts first, if you want the pins. Someone may be buying them by the handfuls (no lie!) straight out of the boxes.
4. Decide how important it is. If it’s a “like to have” go later in the day. If it’s a “gotta have” get there early. Typically the jackets, wine glasses and pins sell out the quickest.
5. If you want some cool RunDisney gear and don’t have to have the Princess branded items. Hit the little shop after the bib pickup. Most people don’t go in there and it’s a much better experience. They also usually have some exclusives there as well.
6. If you are interested in the RunDisney shoes, check to see if there is a virtual que. Sometimes New Balance does it and sometimes they will let you walk up.
7. I always hit the expo in this order: Main merch, check in with Jeff and Barb, get bibs, hit small merch area, return to expo.
8. If I weren’t going after merch I’d hit it in this order: Bib pickup, small merch, expo (Make sure to say hello to the Galloways!), check big merch area on wait time.
BONUS: Find the Expo picture stop. It’s typically in the Bib pickup area right before you go downstairs to the waiver printoff area. They always have a cool overlay. They’ve recently even changed it from photos (like the one below) to short videos.
Here is another reason why this series is unique. It holds both my favorite race and least favorite race in all the US Disney races.
Get there early and get the character stops that are at the stage area. They usually have some good rare ones there. They will also stick around for awhile after the race if you don’t get all of them ahead of time.
My least favorite Disney race by far. My experience was that it felt unusually crowded, the lines were much longer than normal at characters and there were about a billion more selfies taken at this race. I was in line at one stop last year and the girl in front of me sent out over a dozen selfie snap chats at 6am. Who is snap chatting at 6am?!? You can read about the whole race HERE.
If you want to run, get out front. If you don’t, just prepare for a longer time to get through.
Very much like any other 10k they have on the east coast. The course rarely changes. (Thats not a bad thing. The course is fun!) You can read the recap for it HERE
I get asked often about which is my favorite race. I have to laugh and set it up when I tell them it’s the Princess Half Marathon. Think about this: The weather is perfect. It’s typically cooler to a little warm. It seems to miss the crazy swings in weather that the marathon weekend gets. The vibe is great. This race actually seems a little less crowded than others on the East Coast. You get to go through the castle!
You should also get some character stops that are exclusive for this race. They typically have a Prince stop, and wedding party and other rare characters that are only out for this race.
You can checkout the recap for that race HERE
For the guys:
1) Thinking you’ll be unique and funny by wearing a tutu? So did 300 other guys. Wearing a tutu with shorty-shorts and no shirt? Now that’s unique.
2) The best placement you’ll get in the half is B corral. I call it the first dudes allowed coral.
3)If you are a fast running guy, you’ll have a better shot at awards. The typical ratio is about 45% guys, here it will be between 8-15%
Shoes: If you can bring extra pair, do so. When I East Coast, I wear a different pair to every race and a pair in the parks. I at minimum I would bring 2 pair.
Race outfits: Plan ahead of time and pack in gallon size ziplock bags (labeled) You won’t stress out about where your stuff is and you just lay it out the night before the race.
Other race items: I pack two other gallon bags: medical and food. My medical has the tape I use to tape my feet on long runs, band aids, chaffing sticks, cremes and nail clippers. My food bag is run food plus extras from snack boxes and races that are a good, quick pick me up.
Massage Tent: It’s typically after the half and worth every penny. Bring cash. It’s $1 per minute up to 20 minutes.
Read how to get those good race pictures HERE
Comment below and I will answer all the questions that I can!
Have fun out there!
Tips on how to get great pictures at Run Disney events
Have you ever been to a Disney race hoping to get at least a couple of good pictures only to find later that none of them turned out like you hoped? Here’s a chance to learn from my mistakes and failures in getting that perfect shot. Follow these steps and you should get just what you are hoping for.
Do The Expo Pic
99% of the runners zip right past the photo booth at the expos. Each one gives you a fun interactive experience with a green screen. The one in Disney World is near the entrance to bib pickup. (It’s right by the stairs that you go down to sign the waivers.) It’s a regular exhibit at the Disneyland Expo. It’s usually near the edge that faces the DJ. Both coasts experimented with video on the last races of 2016. The video is from Wine and Dine.
Decide ahead of time what kind of pictures that you want and know your options.
- The Determined Runner
- Be focused, don’t look at camera
- Trust that they got you.
- You’ll look cooler than you actually are.
- The smile (and wave)
- It’s the classic.
- Higher success rate.
- Makes it look like you are having fun even if you are about to die.
- The jump
- Lower success rate, especially if a bunch of runners are around you.
- If you are in the pocket (see tip 2) you may be able to pull it off easier.
- Zero expectations
- If it turns out bad, it actually might be better.
- Great for character stops.
If I’m solo, I’ll usually do the front half determined and then switch it up the smile on the back half. If I’m running with friends, it’s either smile or funny.
Pocketing as I like to call it, is when you find pockets with little or no runners. Picture most often get ruined because there are a ton of people on top of each other with 25% of them jumping, 25% acting crazy/holding hands, 25% trying to get a normal picture and 25% that don’t care. Often times you’ll see the photographer up ahead before they snap your picture. Look ahead and behind to find that pocket if possible. Sometimes you need to speed up and sometimes you actually need to slow down to get that perfect spot.
Here is a good example of seeing the pocket and speeding up just a bit to get a better shot.
Here’s one where we actually slowed down. It looks like we are running the race by ourselves.
Not pocketing gets you this….
It doesn’t have to be a big pocket either. It just needs to be enough so that the photographer is taking a couple of individual shots and not just group shots of the packs of people coming through. Here is an example of how even a small pocket can work in your favor.
- Adjust and have great posture.
- Arched back, shoulders wide. Suck that gut in.
- Wear a costume if that is your thing.
- Much more likely to get attention from Run Disney
- Make sure you are comfortable running in it before hand.
- Stop for a character stop if it’s someone you’ve never seen before.
- There may be a line, but that’s OK. You’ll do some pocketing later and still get great pics.
- Very few people remember their race time, but all remember the experience.
- There are many rare characters that only come out for the races. You’ll never find some of these in the parks….ever.
- Do the post race pic.
- They always will give you two pictures. One plain and one with the race logo.
- If you are doing more than the 5k and get really sweaty, only wear black shorts. I’ve got too many pictures where it looks like I peed my pants.
- If you are in a group, call out the cameras but don’t point them out. I cant seem to learn this lesson.
- Don’t carry your phone.
The majority of my pics have me carrying my phone. It’s because I usually try to get every character stop and some do not have Disney photographers at them. Some come out weird too so it’s a good backup. If you are in a group, have one person take the course pics and share them with everyone.
Follow these tips (and learn from my mistakes) and you’ll get some great shots out there. If you’ve got any other tips of dos or don’ts for Disney race pics be sure to comment below. Now excuse me while I go and verify I have enough black shorts for my upcoming races.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap
It’s day three and I’m actually feeling better than I did during this time at marathon weekend. It could be the weather that was much nicer this time, the fact that I had now done this course before or that my immune system wasn’t in the process of destroying itself. Either way, the race went quicker this time around.
There were more people from the team at this race; it usually builds up more every day of the series. There were also more characters out that Sharon and Beth got to see after I took off. Beth gave them Valentines cards which they all enjoyed.
WDW Radio Running Team!
You already know how much the WDW Radio Running Team means to me and my love for them so I’ll move on….
I was in B corral (The first dudes allowed corral) so I knew I would likely not have too many long lines for the characters. It was a great start, nice and cool, and a solid two miles before the first characters… boy was it a good stop! A bunch of the rare guy characters all together!
Phoebus, Rare Eric costume, Flynn Rider, John Smith
Getting some new characters that I’ve never seen always gives me a boost in the race. This one was no different and I was zipping along on the way to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t stop at for Aladdin or Jack and Sally. It’s interesting because a year ago, I would have lost my mind seeing Jack….
The run through the TTC was interesting because it was dead compared to marathon weekend. There was a Japanese percussion group that was amazing though! After that there is not much before you enter the Magic Kingdom.
I got a awesome surprise after entering the gates. The team cheer squad had talked about just meeting towards the end to cheer us on, but here they were in the MK as well. It was great to see Angel and the crew when I wasn’t expecting it! Sharon and the kids were also right around the corner. The turn on to main street is one of my favorite moments on this course. If you don’t get the feels from the huge crowd cheering and the castle all lit up, then you are at the wrong race.
Disney makes up for the distance between characters in this park. They are everywhere as soon as you get out of the viewing areas. I passed Buzz Lightyear, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Woody and Jessie. I did stop for the Tremaine’s. They were in their winter outfits and they were retiring the step-mother from the park the next day, so she was about to become a rare character. They are always super fun to see.
I interacted with the Frozen characters as the were on the backside of the castle. (You cant meet them during the race)
me: Kristofffff!!!!!!! (Pointing with both hands up at him)
Ana: Why yes, that is his name!
Kristoff: You sir! Keep going!
Elsa just stands there doing her awkward hand pose thing……
Ive heard of the big bottleneck through through the castle but there were no issues at this point.
This spot is at the bottom of a little curve in a hill, you cant see it until you get close and so far it’s always been a fun surprise. They had one of the floats out with Belle and Aurora out this time. Beast in formal wear is hard to get and the only way you have a shot at him now is when you get a reservation at Be Our Guest. The lighting is not the best, so we have yet to get a good picture with before this race. Mission accomplished this time!
I started to break down the course in my mind at this point, because I was right at the half way point and was getting a bit tired. You go for a good stretch in the back with nothing but a dj so it can be a tougher spot on the course. I made it to the resorts area right as the sun was coming up. I saw Bert and his penguins but didn’t stop.
There had been a lot of stories about the next stop. Originally it was a bunch of guys with the glass slipper. They would sing and people would even propose at this stop of the race. They were now a full wedding party and it was fun crashing the reception! They were hilarious and said that they had been waiting on me to broadcast the wedding on WDW radio. This was definitely one of the favorite stops in the race. Worth the 8 miles to see them.
I had gotten a picture with the vacation Genie during marathon weekend, but there were no lines at characters from here on out so I stopped in hopes of getting a better one. I also had a chance to get a better picture of the Mickey golf cart that they had out.
There wasn’t a whole bunch going on character-wise for a while after this. They had Mrs Incredible out with no wait at about mile 9.5.
It was amazing to see the crowd of people running in towards the Magic Kingdom. I was also able to see the infamous balloon people that carried up the end of the race. I thought that they picked up people, but there were several racers still trucking along behind them.
The Green Army Men were again out on the big curved hill and I was able to snag a picture with some of the regular ones. You can see the leader yelling at runners behind me! It was then off for the final push. It’s definitely the hilliest portion of the course. (You go over three overpasses)
Our running team cheer squad was after the last overpass in the perfect spot to encourage us for the final mile. I rolled an ankle at some point, but was pushing through it to make some decent time. Deanna and Lou didn’t even realize how much just a quick note of encouragement helped me get my mind right.
Around the bend was the coachmen from the Expo, except this time they had the actual coach with them. I didn’t get a picture with them the other day so I stopped to get a quick one with them.
There was not much going inside Epcot at this point. It had not opened yet, and there really weren’t any characters in there. The famous gold choir was there though. It’s a gospel choir that sings at the 13 mile mark. I forgot to get a picture of them at the last series but made sure to get one this time. It’s a good finale right before the turn in to the finish line.
Right as the sun was coming up nicely…
I was pretty happy on how I finished and went and got a massage right after the race. Overall, it was a great race and I was able to pick up several new characters over the weekend. It’s a definitely a race that has it’s own flavor!
Next up: Star Wars (The Dark Side) Series in April!