5 Tips for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (and other things I wish someone told me ahead of time)

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: Princess Half finish line! I’m middle right in the coral shirt

The 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals begins on Thursday! I am so excited to be participating in this runDisney race for a second year. This time as a Glass Slipper Challenge princess!

Last year I participated in the 2016 Princess Half and it was a celebration of many firsts: my first runDisney race, my first time training for and participating in a half marathon, my first “racecation” with friends and my boyfriend Tommy, and my first moment of pure bliss that can only come from running long distances.

The Little Mermaid was my “first movie”
so it was only fitting to start my first Princess Half with Ariel!
[Photo credit: runDisney]

I’ll admit: I was very green going into the Princess Half weekend last year. I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even realize runDisney was a longstanding Disney subculture! Rabid fans, social media accounts for runDisney and its loyal subjects, specialty merchandise, branding and marketing- it is quite the production! And now I am officially one of those rabid fans.

Despite my lack of experience last year, I had the time of my life! Although, I wish I had done some more research beforehand to make the most of the weekend celebration.

Without further ado, here is Will Run for Disney’s Five Tips for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend I Wish Everyone Told Me Before I Even Set Foot on the Walt Disney World Resort:

1. Enjoy the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo

Part of the fun is to take your time exploring the Expo at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I walked away without my race shirt! I had to go back the next day and discovered I had missed an ENTIRE BUILDING.

Takeaway for first-timers: the bibs are generally in one pavilion and the presentations, merchandise and race shirts are in another. Make sure you walk away with your bib, a clear gear bag, race shirt (or multiple if you are doing multiple races), safety pins and any other gear you pre-purchased.

Bonus tip: Remember seeing materials that suggest you print your race waiver ahead of time? Print your race waiver at home and have it signed and in-hand when you go through the lines. It will absolutely be the best decision you make at the Expo. Plus it gives you more time to shop!  

2. Dress up! No, really.

I come from Boston, a land where the Boston Marathon® reigns supreme and all runners are driven, stern and downright serious. So the idea of dressing up and running 13.1 miles really wasn’t something I considered. I brought a “Princess” baseball hat my dad bought for me at WDW many years earlier and thought that was sufficient. Throughout the training season I fielded the questions with “[Sigh] No, I am not wearing a tutu.”

Boy was I silly. I got to the Princess Half wearing my usual running clothes and stood wide-eyed as I watched runners wearing the most amazing blend of running/cosplay costumes. It was I who felt ridiculous not being in a costume.

I was positively enamored by this couple and
their homemade Bert and Mary outfits.
[Photo credit: runDisney]

I now know that the best part of the runDisney experience is to dress up as your favorite character and witness your fellow runDisney runners showcase their creativity. This takes some planning, forethought and ingenuity. Remember: you still have to run 2+ hours in what you put together! It still has to be a fairly functional running outfit. I can’t tell you how many “props” I see strewn about the course by fed-up runners.

3. Be prepared on race day – so prepared that you do it all the night before.

Since that alarm clock is going off at an ungodly hour, it’s best to lay out everything before bedtime and rest easy.

  • Have your outfit laid out for easy changing: clothes, socks, shoes, hat
  • Pin your bib to the front of your outfit
  • Prepare all of your race nutrition, runner pack, etc.
  • Optional: if you are bringing a gear back to the start line, make sure you pack everything you may need (change of clothes, shoes/sandals, post-race snack, sunglasses)

2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon outfit left to right: Asics, heat sheet, Clif bar, headphones, small water, sports bra, underwear, socks, running tights, apron (hah), runner pack, bow, shirt, pinned bib, Princess hat

Bonus Pro Tip: The difference in temperature from the beginning of the race to the end of the race can be drastic. Make sure you arrive at the start line with something to keep you warm, such as an old heat sheet or even a luxurious trash bag. These are easy to toss and you won’t feel bad about discarding it. To quote Sherry from the original Test Track: “You’ll be glad you did.”

“Seven?” “Yeah. Seven.”
[Photo credit: Jeff Lange DVD]

4. Calm the pre-race jitters and follow your pre-race rituals

When you arrive at the pre-race party, there is a nervous, excited energy in the air. The live (LOUD) DJ set, live announcers, characters spot and other photo opportunities help make the anticipation more fun and less stressful. With all your nervous energy, now is the time to try and relax. Your months of hard work leading up to this point will steer you in the right direction. Trust the training.

While you wait to move in to your designated corral (and the corrals are a HIKE away- you’ll log a good 2 miles even before the start of the race), I suggest you do the following:

  • Fuel: if you haven’t already, now is the time to eat something with a good amount of carbs and not too much fat/fiber. Don’t try anything new on race day!
  • Hydrate: but not too much!
  • Use the porta-potties: get in line. They’re long. Use the bathroom and then turn right back around and get in line again. You do not want to be anxious about finding a toilet while you wait for your corral to begin running. The early porta potties along the course tend to be crowded. (My fear of porta-potties subsided soon after this race.)

Make your way over to the corral in good time with your lovely trash bag around your shoulders and enjoy the fireworks going off for each corral that starts. It is a time to reflect on your training and mentally prepare for your race. It is nerve-wracking, fun, and it’s a great way to make small talk with your runDisney corral buddies!

5. Take photos throughout the weekend!

I was so caught up in the moment last year that I didn’t take nearly enough photos. As a regular Disney-goer, I have taken photography for granted. Though now I regret not taking photos throughout the weekend: at the expo with the Cinderella footmen, a pre-race photo of our corral, a photo running up Main Street with the sun rising behind the castle, a victorious finish line photo and medal photo at Ariel’s Grotto and Cinderella Castle.

I wish I had thought of doing this with my medal! [Photo credit: runDisney]

Don’t forget to wear your medal/s with pride for the duration of the weekend! It is a badge of honor and will get you lots of compliments from cast members and fellow Disney guests. You’ve earned it!


I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Participating in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend is one of the best things I have ever done for myself and I hope it is as rewarding an experience for you as it has been for me.

See you at the porta potty lines!

– Gina/Will Run for Disney

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