I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon this weekend and have so many pics and videos I didn’t know where to start with this recap! If you prefer quick video clips checkout @RunEatRepeat on Instagram for some fun reels and stories from the weekend.
In an effort to keep this a fairly fast race recap – I’m just talking about the actual run on this post. I’ll share info on the expo, running gear and travel details in a separate post.
The race starts at 5:00 AM Eastern Time, which means we had to leave for the race by 3:20 AM.
So… I set my alarm for 2:15 AM because I needed plenty of time to wrangle my hair into 2 big buns that would stay for 13.1 miles. I was dressing up as Princess Leia for the PRINCESS Half Marathon. (Run Disney races are the best place for running costumes. Most runners dress up.)
Unfortunately, my hotel neighbors were big fans of slamming doors and yodeling (which they practiced right outside my door). So, I didn’t get to sleep until really late and kept waking up practically every hour. I never expect to sleep well the night before a race, but this was extra rough. I woke up before my alarm and decided to just get up and start getting ready.
[Check out my Get Ready with Me for the Princess Half Marathon on Instagram @RunEatRepeat]
I didn’t stay at a Disney hotel this weekend, so I had to plan my own transportation to the race. Luckily, Kelly and Elise had room in the Sparkle Shuttle for me!
Note: If you’re staying at a Disney Property there are shuttles to and from the race. I stayed at a Disney hotel for the Dopey Challenge and their shuttles made it super easy. (I had a good experience using the shuttles to and from the race, but have heard stories from other runners with a different experience.)
The race starts and finishes at Epcot so it’s easy to find and get parking. But it’s a long walk to the actual start line so you have to get there early and factor in walking time. I think most of the Run Disney information suggests you arrive at least 1 hour before the race if not more.
There are plenty of porta potties on the walk from the parking lot to the starting corrals. Bag check is also along the way.
Since the race starts at 5:00 AM it’s before sunrise and completely dark for the first half of the race (or the entire race if you’re very fast). This is a bummer because it’s hard to get good video and photos when it’s so dark. (A friend looking at my race photos said – it looks like the race is in the middle of the night.)
The sun started to rise around 6:30 AM. I run Disney races to have fun and try to take a lot of photos, which includes stopping for photos with characters. Those character photos have lines, so it takes a lot longer to run 13.1 miles than a usual race. But that works out to get better lighting. Runners towards the back of the pack were running through the castle after sunrise and had much better photos.
There are character stops throughout the course and Run Disney doesn’t share where exactly they’ll be or what characters will be out (the characters do swap out for breaks periodically so this is understandable as they can’t guarantee anything). Every race is different so the stops and characters this time doesn’t mean anything for next year’s race, but I’ll share all the ones I noted to give you an idea of the course.
Again, I took a lot of video, but it was so dark most of it is unusable to post. Luckily, I can make out most of it to tell you – so I’m listing all the character stops and potential race photo ops on the course below.
Before mile 1 there was a stop for a Star Wars character I didn’t recognize.
Around Mile 1: Princess Jasmin (from Aladdin) was the next character. We didn’t stop because we didn’t realize until we were running past. I was surprised to see such a popular princess so early in the race!
Before Mile 2: Princess Merida (from Brave)
Before Mile 3: Mulan
Before Mile 3: Enter Magic Kingdom area. It looks like you’re running into the Magic Kingdom, but you run through the backstage and in front of the theme park for a bit first.
After Mile 3: Sophia the first
Mile 4: See the Contemporary Resort in the distance (I was hoping we’d run through it, but nope. That would be kinda loud and ridiculous, but I’m loud and ridiculous.)
Then, you go under a bridge and back up towards the Magic Kingdom entrance.
And finally you run through the entrance into the Magic Kingdom. Minnie Mouse was waving from the bridge as you enter the park (not a character stop, but a fun surprise).
Course Highlight: Run down Main Street towards the castle. And there are spectators cheering here!! You run into the Magic Kingdom, around the bend and then down Main Street with the castle in the distance and spectators cheering – it’s the BEST part of the course.
Mile 5 is on Main Street. From there you run towards the castle, but turn right into Tomorrowland. You run through Tomorrowland and back towards the castle to run through it from the back. This is the BEST photo op of the entire race.
There are race photographers snapping pics of runners as they run out of the castle.
And there is a photo stop in front of the castle (no characters). There are a few photographers lined up in a row here so the lines are super short if at all. Cast members direct you where to go if you want to keep running (turn to the right) or stop for a castle photo (to the left).
After the castle: Jessie and Woodie (from Toy Story) character photo stop.
Run through some more of Magic Kingdom and exit to backstage where there is a photo stop with Cruella De Ville and some other villains.
Mile 6: You’re back outside the park
After Mile 6: Tinkerbell and another fairy
The princess (or queen?) from A Bug’s Life.
Mile 7: A little past mile 7 was Snow White and Prince Charming (or whoever her man is, I don’t know him). Also… I know the photo below is Sleeping Beauty. I don’t have one with Snow White.
After Mile 7: The Genie from Aladdin
Character stop past Mile 7: Goofy
This is a photo op (below) with Anna and Elsa from Frozen. I don’t remember what mile it was, but we did stop for this one. Unfortunately, it’s NOT in my race photos. Maybe it didn’t come out at all, but given that I have other blurry photos in the mix – it’s weird.
Mile 8 is on the overpass. It’s one of the few hills of the course. Overall I’d say the course is pretty flat except for the bridges (overpasses) you run over and the one you run under first and then over. Noting because I know runners want a good course description beyond the map or elevation profile because it’s hard to tell how it’ll feel while running.
After Mile 8: Pluto (from being Mickey’s dog… is that their relationship or are they friends??)
Mile 9: There’s a big screen playing Mulan songs at mile 9. There are screens like this throughout the course. I’m noting it here because there’s not much else going on at this point in the course. But it is still FLAT, which I love.
After the 15K mark: Mulan (again – you pass the same area again coming back). So, if you skipped it the first time you can get a photo now when the sun is more likely to be up. The line looked the same length the second time around.
Band playing before Mile 10.
Mile 10: Near the mile marker was a DJ on the mic telling jokes and encouraging runners.
Overpass after mile 10, which means a hill kinda late in the race. But, it’s not too steep and you get to run down it after. Gotta earn the downhill!
Another DJ that we passed earlier in the race too.
Mile 11: Water stop right before mile 11.
Character photo op – Clara the Cow shortly after mile 11.
Overpass here – aka hill. After the downhill you can see Epcot in the distance and that’s where this race finishes.
You run into Epcot through an employee (aka cast member) entrance.
Character photo op – Fancy Nancy (luckily there are cast members with signs telling you who some of the more random characters are).
One last water stop backstage at Epcot.
Mile 12: The mile marker is backstage at Epcot.
Then, you run into Epcot and towards the front of the park (not around the water like for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon). There are a few race photographers at different spots inside Epcot, but no character stops. And you don’t really run through any fun areas of the park. This may be due to construction (there are a lot of walls/barriers up covering construction areas right now).
Character photo op – Mira Royal Detective (I didn’t know who this was, but there was a cast member holding a sign).
Gospel choir just before mile 13.
Mile 13: Turn the corner and you can see the FINISH LINE!!!!
And the grand finale… Jeff Galloway was at the finish giving high fives as runners crossed the finish line.
- Loved all the Princess character stops. I saw – Belle & the Beast, Snow White & her partner (idk his name), Mulan, Jasmin and there might’ve been more. (They swap out characters to take breaks periodically so you many not see the same characters as another runner.)
- Loved that so many runners dress up for Disney races and I think for the Princess races in particular. I’d say a majority of runners were in some sort of costume or themed running ‘fit. [Sparkle Athletic is the best place to start for running costumes. I’m wearing a Sparkle Skirt for my Princess Leia costume.]
- LOVE running through the Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Running down Main Street towards the castle and then running through it might be my favorite part of the race.
- Loved running with Kelly and Elise. It’s 1000x more fun to run with friends – especially for fun runs like this.
- Loved that my Princess Leia buns stayed for 13.1 miles (because I used 131 bobby pins).
- Love the Princess Half Marathon Medal and the race t-shirt.
- Loved that there are so many women that run this race! Who run the world? GIRLS!!
We’re all wearing Sparkle Skirts – check ’em out at Sparkle Athletic or at the Run Disney expo (they’re at all of them).
- The super early start time isn’t ideal – only because it’s so dark at the Start Line and for the first miles this time of year. I’m an early bird and I know that running early is great for beating the heat – so I don’t mind starting early for other races. But I run Disney races to see the theme parks and characters and for the fun photos / video. A lot of my pics and videos were too dark to share on the blog or on social media.
- Some of the photos in the front of the castle were blurry and others were out of focus. Luckily, I took a few different ones (because Elise and I were waiting for Kelly at this point in the race and I decided to jump back in the Castle photo line). I think one of the photographers had a smudged lens, so those pics are blurry / foggy. And our group photos are a little out of focus and grainy. I don’t want to blame it on the dark because the RUNNING photos coming from the castle are crisp and in focus (these pics were taking within minutes of each other in the same lighting).
My first thought is I love this race! I had so much fun over the course of the entire weekend. I highly recommend running the Princess 5K, 10K or Half with your running buddies, sisters, mom or non running friends who want to give it a whirl. This truly is a FUN RUN and the vibe is lighter than other big half marathons. It’s a great opportunity to make running fun again and reignite your love of running if you lost it over the last few years.
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