It’s 4:15 a.m. and we pull into the parking lot of Epcot. It’s pitch dark but the purple-orange glow from the ball lights up our morning. Car doors slam as men and women dressed in tutus, tiaras and other accessories step out of their vehicles. There’s Ariel! Oh look, the Seven Dwarves! Is that Maleficent? You’d think it was Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but nope… it’s race day .
As we head across the parking lot, the faint beat of music blaring from speakers can be heard. We head straight for our corral – it’s better to be toward the front. Let’s squeeze up there by Cinderella and Prince Charming. Time to relax for a little bit.
At 5:30 a.m., the race starts, each corral broken into mini corrals. We’re not the fastest, so we’re toward the end. Around 6:30, the countdown begins. 3-2-1… go! Fireworks shoot into the sky and we are off! We have no time to waste and a pace to keep. We paid too much to get picked up by the balloon ladies and placed on the shuttle to the finish.
Mile one isn’t too bad. Pocahontas shared some encouraging words from up on top the bridge. Mile 2 – there’s Stitch in his Elvis attire! But there’s no way we’re stopping already. Mile 3 – oh my goodness, I thought we’d be in the park by now! Last year we were almost finished running the 5K! Mile 4 – We’re running around the world. It’s so magical to be in the parks so early. The cast members are here cheering us on, the countries are all lit up and music is playing throughout the park. It’s encouraging and exhilarating.
There’s a photographer – smile, run and wave! Mile 5 – I love the Boardwalk but I don’t remember it being this long. So many people out cheering, motivating, pushing us along – signs in hand and all. It’s gives you a rush. Mile 6 – back into the park and thought we were finished. There’s still 0.2 miles to go! Don’t stop now!
The ball is in sight. Just run a little past it, back into the parking lot, and the race will be over! The last bit of adrenaline kicks in. The finish line is so close. Go go go! We did it! We ran a 10K! In what seems like another half a mile, a medal is placed around my neck. Finally, the proof that I did it!
I’m handed a cooling towel, a water, a Powerade and a snack box. My legs are jello, the humidity is killer and I’m still trying to catch my breath, but this race is the only reason I’m here this weekend. I look at my phone. It’s only 8 a.m. – what a morning. And I’d do it all over again.
Am I much of a runner? No. Do I enjoy running? Not really. Could I have walked the entire race? Sure, as long as I kept the minimum pace. Do I recommend doing a runDisney event no matter your answer to those questions? Absolutely.
The past two years I’ve taken part in Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. In 2018 I ran the 5K with my mother, and this year I ran the 10K with both my parents (well, my mama – dad was a little ahead of us to say the least). It’s honestly such a great time.
Almost everyone gets into character of some sort, whether it’s a full costume or just a themed T-shirt. Everyone is tired and anxious and excited. But the best part? Everyone is there to have fun.
I wouldn’t say I necessarily feel part of the “runners community” but I don’t feel out of place here at all. People of all shapes, sizes and abilities come to Disney this weekend to race, feel accomplished and have a magical time.
From the time you arrive to Disney and check in at the Expo to the time you earn your medal and eventually make your way back to the airport on the Magical Express, you will have a blast. The Expo, pre-race, the race, post-race and the time spent in the parks and around Disney wearing your medal with the thousands of other runners is an indescribable feeling.
Consider being a part of runDisney – where every mile is magic. I’d be happy to join you (the next time my husband let’s me go back 😏). I promise we’ll get Mickey waffles!