This weekend I went to Orlando to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I have much to report.
First of all, maybe I have high expectations, but I expect Disney to be flawless. Nobody at Disney breaks character. The bathrooms never run out of toilet paper. Nobody is ever grumpy. It’s FLAWLESS. Right?
We stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort, where we were supposed to be picked up by charter busses and delivered to the race by 4am. We went to the bus stop at 3:30am and waited for our shuttle. And waited. And waited. And waited. Apparently there were 4 bus stops at Coronado Springs and every bus stopped at the first stop, filled the bus completely with passengers, then went to the race. So, by 4am, I was still standing at the bus stop with about 150 other very cranky Princesses who were all afraid they weren’t going to make the race. There was a Disney cast member who was assigned to our bus stop, who repeatedly phoned in a request for an empty bus, but who at no point communicated that information to the restless crowd.
Finally an empty chariot arrived and escorted the Princesses to the race. The race officially started at 5:35am, but my corral was not released until sometime after 6am. At this point it was still dark, but unseasonably hot (temps in the 70s before dawn) with 90% humidity. So basically I felt like I was running inside a giant gym sock for 13.1 miles.
The course stretched from Epcot Center to the Magic Kingdom, ran through Cinderellas castle, and then returned to Epcot via a city street alongside the Disney Golf Course. The course was narrow and congested and at times I had to jog in place or run through the grass. There were opportunities to stop and take pictures with various Disney characters, but the lines for those pictures were at least 20 minutes long. I decided that 20 minutes was long enough for my knees to stiffen, so I decided I would just run the entire race without stopping. That was the plan anyways.
This particular race lends itself to rookies and I probably saw more first timers than at any other race I’ve ever done. Apparently to some people “first time runner” is synonymous with “I didn’t train for this and for some reason thought I could come here and run 13 miles”. This was evidenced by the girls puking on the side of the road as early as mile TWO. Mile two, y’all.
Disney also allowed their Princesses to run with headphones. On the overly congested course. So, there were some out of shape princesses who for some reason decided to run right smack in the middle of the lane and then STOP suddenly, while wearing headphones that prevented them from hearing me scream LOOK OUT. I’m not going to lie, some idiot came to a full stop right in front of me and I completely bowled her over. Am I sorry? Nope. Not the slightest bit. That was her fault. I hope she learned a lesson.
Running through the Magic Kingdom was awesome and I found a friendly volunteer to take my picture in front of Cinderella’s castle. Also, the crowd was great. As we all know, the best part of the race is the signs. Here were some of my favorites:
1.) “I took the monorail. It was faster.”
2.) “I see a pedicure in your future”
3.) “yes, total stranger, I’m proud of you too”
4.) “Go Megan” (ok, that was some random guy and I’m pretty sure he meant it for another Megan, but whatevs.)
All in all, the race was fun and it was a success. The congestion stopped me from getting any kind of respectable time (Official race time 2:23), but I still have the Nike Half in April, so hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to PR there.
Here are some suggestions for Disney, in case you’re reading this and of course you are because you’re Disney:
1.) Send empty busses to ALL bus stops. No more looping around the complex and stopping at stop 1 every time. It’s not a city bus, it’s a shuttle.
2.) NO HEADPHONES ALLOWED
3.) Gu/food sometime BEFORE mile 8
4.) Open the expo at 7am, not 9am or at least allow guests at Coronado Springs to access the expo an hour earlier.