Confessions of a runDisney Convert

Princess Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon (via runDisney)


Congratulations to all of the amazing folks who ran the Princess Half this past weekend! In honor of how awesome you are, guest author Kathryn from Castles and Dreams Travel tells us about her runDisney experience. 

I never would have called myself a runner in the past. I ran cross-country in high school, and I ran occasionally for exercise, but that’s about it. After I had my son in the spring of 2011, I decided to get back into running and commit to keeping it up. I started off pretty good and even signed up for the occasional 5k or 10k.

At the beginning of 2012, I decided I wanted a bigger goal. I wanted to run a half marathon. And not just any half marathon… I wanted to run a Disney half marathon. After doing some research and getting two friends on board, I chose the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon planned for November. 

Based on runDisney.com’s suggestion, I downloaded Jeff Galloway’s training plan and got to work. Training went great, and before I knew it was Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. The runDisney Expo kicked off the weekend, and I found tons of sports vendors and also packet pick-up for the race. Despite the fact that there were thousands of runners, Disney did an excellent job of keeping things smooth and organized.

After the Expo, I hit the Parks but decided to take it slow. After all, this half marathon is run at 10 o’clock at night (my usual bedtime!) so I knew I needed to pace myself during the day.

I headed back to the resort around 2pm to rest for a while and gear up for the race. After an early dinner, my friends and I finished suiting up – we dressed as characters from The Incredibles – and then we headed to the bus that would take us over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. runDisney provided entertainment and refreshments for all participants before the race and then shuffled us into our starting corrals around 9:30pm.

The Incredibles runDisney
The Incredibles runDisney

I was surprised at how easy and enjoyable the race was. With all the excitement and entertainment along the course, you don’t even think about it being so late at night. There were ample water stops and a few food stops along the way, and the best part was all of the characters alongside the course to greet you and cheer you on. Getting to run through the Disney Parks also helps take your mind off of things.

The first Park we ran through was Animal Kingdom, where the course was lit with giant dinosaur teeth. Next we wound our way around and into Hollywood Studios, where I stopped for a quick picture with Woody. Then we reached my favorite part of the whole course: running through the Streets of America and The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. It was amazing and such a welcome distraction around mile 10.

After exiting Hollywood Studios, I knew we didn’t have far to go. Luckily the next part of the course was a scenic run alongside the water to the Boardwalk. We rounded our way around the Boardwalk and the last stop on our journey, Epcot, was in sight. At this point the crowds had really picked up, despite it being after midnight, and the cheering gave us the extra motivation to make it to the finish line.

We entered Epcot and ran underneath Spaceship Earth toward the turnstiles and on to the parking lot. Then all of a sudden, there it was…the finish line. We did it!! 13.1 miles done! I was overwhelmed by excitement and pride. To top it off, Mickey and Minnie were standing at the finish line to high five and congratulate us before receiving our well-earned medals.

After the race, Epcot hosted a Finish Line Party where we got to visit the Food & Wine Festival kiosks and experience select Epcot attractions. Although it was a lot of fun, a short visit was all I could handle. I headed to the bus stop and back to my resort, where after a quick shower, I collapsed into bed. All in all it was an amazing experience and I knew right then that I was hooked. No other race had been as memorable as my Disney race experience, and I couldn’t wait to sign up for another.

Kathryn finished big!
Kathryn finished big

Visit runDisney.com for a description of all Disney races, but here is a quick guide:

  • Walt Disney World Marathon: January – Walt Disney World – Half Marathon, Full Marathon, 5k and Kids Races
  • Tinker Bell Half Marathon: January – Disneyland Resort – Half marathon, 5k and Kids Races
  • Disney’s Princess Half Marathon: February – Walt Disney World – Half Marathon, 5k and Kids Races
  • Expedition Everest Challenge: May – Walt Disney World – 5k trek with obstacles and Kids Races
  • Disneyland Half Marathon: August/September – Disneyland Resort – Half Marathon, 10k, and Kids Races
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler: October – Walt Disney World – 10 miler, 5k and Kids Races
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon: November – Walt Disney World – Half Marathon, 5k and Kids Races

Have you ever runDisney? Let us know about your experience!!