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.
Runners World Challenge and other extras from the WDW Marathon weekend 2016
Since I knew so far out what the plan was for this huge challenge of doing all the races, I wanted to go all out for the first one. I signed up for the Runners World Challenge, knowing it was a lot more expensive, but you also get basically everything they have to offer during the weekend. Here are some of the things you get before the race:
- A Runners World Challenge Tech shirt
- The Complete Book of Running
- A training plan based on your experience level
- Access to the subscription area of runnersworld.com. An exclusive forum and planning.
I liked the shirt and the training plan, but the forum was not really active during the whole training period.
Now this was really nice. I didn’t have to go wait in any lines. I got all my shirts, bibs and other info in one spot. The staff was super friendly as well. The expo itself was crazy. I arrived 30 minutes before it was supposed to open to go ahead and get in line for merch. By the time I made it the building, they had opened early and were already selling out of certain sizes of the Dopey Challenge jacket. I finished my shopping at the official opening time and they had indeed sold out of two sizes. I was also amazed by the sheer amount of stuff people were buying. It gets expensive quick!
5K & 10K
- Hot Breakfast with the Runners World Staff in the race treat area
For both the 5K and the 10K, we were able to go to the race retreat area and enjoy a hot breakfast with the Runners World crew. It was great during the WDW 5K because its was so cold. The tent was gigantic and was heated. It was nice to be in a dry, warm place after the rains at the WDW 10K.
There were several things that I really liked here. First they had exclusive character meet and greets everyday.
The Country Bears were the characters for the 5K breakfast
The Br’er characters were the 10K meet and greet characters.
Next, the food was really good. Probably the best eggs I’ve had in my life! They had a real good assortment of hot and cold items to choose from. Third, was getting to meet and talk to some of the Runners World people. I had breakfast at the 5K with Bart Yasso. He’s basically a running legend. He’s run races on every continent, biked the US with no support twice, ironman, mtn climber, invented a marathon training program (Yasso 800s)….you get the idea. He’s also just an all around nice guy.
I talked to several of the other runners that had signed up for the Runners World Challenge. I was expecting to hear stories about their journeys and their excitement, but instead heard many stories of not getting in to the regular race before it sold out. There was a reasonable segment there that were there just for the races and didn’t care about the extra stuff.
Pasta in the Park
We also got in to the first pasta in the park party the night after the 10K. It was really fun. We again got our own section to sit in and the food was pretty good here as well. It was a themed Toy Story event and they had exclusive character meet and greets here too. I was finally able to meet Bullseye!
We also got exclusive reserved seating for the Illuminations show, but with it starting at 9pm and us getting up at 2.30am, I skipped it.
Awkward, non-selfie at the selfie station? Check.
Half and Full Marathon
- Pre-race breakfast and warmup area
- Early walkout and access to the starting corals
- After race brunch
- 1 free massage
- Exclusive bag check
- Private changing area, restrooms
I used the pre-race breakfast for the half. It was light snacks, fruits, and drinks. They also had the characters out for the pre and post race activities. The Pinocchio cast was there for both races.
The early walkout is actually a huge advantage. The starting line is moved for the final two races and you will trek a half mile + just to get to your coral. The Runners World group gets escorted straight to the front of the line. I chose to stick with the WDW Radio Running Team and didn’t use the shortcut either day. It would have been less hassle, but I love my regular group too much.
I really appreciated the brunch after both races. It was also nice to be in the retreat area, not crowded by people. The massage both days was a life saver! It was a game changer to get my body ready for the marathon and a nice recovery after the marathon the next day.
Is it worth it?
That’s the $1000 question. I say it really depends. If you are planning to do everything and want to be treated like a king/queen, then yes its absolutely worth it. You do save money doing the challenge as opposed to buying it all separate, I believe. If you don’t have a running team, this is a good alternative.
It may not be worth it if:
- Not interested in the extra perks
- Not interested in characters
- Only interested in some perks
You need to really be interested in everything and participate in everything for it to be worth the total costs. If you are only interested in some of the perks, then I would consider the regular race package and adding on an event too.
I had a great time and was very happy that I participated in the Runners World Challenge.