Last weekend marked the biggest turn out for Disney's annual Princess Half Marathon weekend event. On the 5th anniversary of this particular race, over 26,000 runners participated in running, or walking, 13.1 miles from Ecpot to the Magic Kingdom and back at Walt Disney World.
The weekend started on February 22 with Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo which served as the location for runners to pick up their race packets and purchase limited edition runDisney gear. Held at the Coronado Springs resort this year, different vendors filled the venue and offered clothing, shoes, special Princess Half Marathon merchandise, and free snack samples.
Later that night, Epcot hosted the Pasta in the Park Party (located between the U.K. and Canada pavilions) for those who purchased tickets ahead of time along with their registration. This sold out event featured an all-you-can-eat buffet with dessert, an energetic DJ who kept runners and their families on the dance floor for most of the evening, and character meet-and-greets with Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, and Tiana. Ticket holders were also given special priority viewing space for the Illuminations fireworks display after the event.
Races began on February 23 with the kids' races and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse's Royal Family 5K run through Epcot. None of these races were timed, but everyone who finished got a medal to commemorate their efforts.
The big event began for runners around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, February 24. Buses from select host resorts brought runners decked out in princess costumes and their cheer squads to Epcot where character photo ops, more free samples, and a DJ kept everyone busy until race time. At around 5:30 a.m. the first of eight groups began the race to the countdown given by the Fairy Godmother and a small fireworks display. Participating were over 1,000 men with the rest being women, and runners between the ages of 14 and 87. Even with a high humidity factor that day, most participants were able to finish the race with only about 1,000 registered runners not crossing the finish line.
Along the 13.1 mile route, runners encountered Captain Jack Sparrow with Captain Barbossa in front of the Black Pearl, a group of Disney villains, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Belle and Gaston, Mary Poppins, Mulan, a group of Disney princes, and much more. Crew members were on hand to take pictures which can be purchased later, but most brought their own cameras with them and took the time to stand in line to get a snap shot, including one with Mickey and Minnie right before running through Cinderella Castle during mile six.
Even with the heat, humidity, and about 6,000 more runners participating than last year's race, Disney hosted a fun-filled and very organized event promoting health, fitness, and happiness. Check out runDisney.com for a list of future races and details on how to participate.
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