A look at my experience running the 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon:
I have to tell you, I was very happy to be at the 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend! In spite of the crowds, the 2:30am wake-up, and the frustrations of starting corrals it felt good to be back. This will always be a special weekend for me because I’ve been participating in a race since 2014 (when I did the Enchanted 10k) and it was my first half marathon ever in 2015. I’ve also participated in the Fairy Tale Challenge every year since 2015 (with the exception of 2021, when it was only virtual).
So this race weekend definitely holds a special place in my heart. Even better this year was the fact that I was joined by friends, and it was my friend Jamie’s first half marathon! We woke up early – my alarm was set for 2:30am and a very supportive friend also called me to make sure I was awake. I’m a bit paranoid about sleeping through the race when it’s that early!
I got ready and into my Princess Aurora costume and then met Jamie (dressed as Mulan). I’d chosen Aurora this time around because she’s one of the Princesses I haven’t dressed up as for a race, and I was running this race in support of my Mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I ran for charity with the American Cancer Society, so pink seemed an appropriate color for this year’s event.
We headed to the bus at Port Orleans Riverside at 3am, and were at Epcot about half an hour later. I headed straight for my “starting area” (what they’re calling them now instead of corrals), which was #2, so I could do my stretches and settle in. I like to be there early for my anxiety. We also didn’t have a long walk to the starting area for the first time ever since I’ve been doing this race, so that was new.
Of course, it didn’t help that the 5am start was delayed by a bit due to transportation issues! I am very thankful I was not on a bus that was delayed or headed to the wrong place, but it’s a bit crazy they still haven’t figured this out. The same thing happened during my marathon in 2020 when they delayed the start. This time it wasn’t by as much – I think the first wave went off around 5:15am. I started my race at 5:22am. But it was a warm morning already, and any extra time just means you’re going to be out there longer while it’s getting hotter.
I started off okay, knowing I was going to take this one easy as I was still recovering from plantar fasciitis and some quad pain. I figured I’d stop for some character photos if there were any that were particularly appealing. Generally the first 3ish miles get long lines for characters but then they clear out a lot, so I bided my time and just enjoyed the easy run.
Entering the Magic Kingdom is always one of the big highlights of this race, and I stopped for my usual castle selfie on Main Street (I’m not big on waiting for my photo in front of the castle with the photographers, and they get a decent shot of me running through it usually!). Unfortunately it was a little blurry this time around! I suppose I’m just too lightning fast… (kidding).
Once we hit Fantasyland I was ready for some character stops! First up I decided to stop for Ariel and Sebastian. I had been dressed as Ariel the previous day for the 10k, so it would have been better then, but it’s still fun to see these two together! I waited maybe a minute or two and grabbed a garbage can and did some quad stretches, which felt amazing when I started up again. I decided I would need a lot of character stops/quad stretches this race.
I stopped again when I saw Gaston, who was then switched out for Belle and the Beast before I got to him. No worries, they’re fun too – I’m just a sucker for a photo with Gaston!
Then it was through the castle and into Liberty Square! There were a few musicians playing – I went by pretty fast but I think it might have been an electric violin? Either way I thought it was pretty cool. In Frontierland I stopped for Woody and Bo Peep, who is rocking her pantsuit from Toy Story 4.
We looped around past Splash Mountain and then out a side exit and down towards the Grand Floridian. There were a few more character stops along the way, and I grabbed pictures with Cruella deVil, Elsa, and Cinderella with Prince Charming.
Then the dreaded “long stretch” back to Epcot. This part is always rough for a number of reasons. It’s the point in the race where you’re getting tired and want to be done anyway (around miles 8-10), and there isn’t as many characters or entertainment. Plus for me this is when the sun was starting to rise and it was getting hot.
I was keeping my eye out for a photo stop with something Sleeping Beauty, but I didn’t see any. However, the mile 10 mile marker sign had Aurora so I figured it would be a good time for another selfie.
I stopped for my photo and then started up again, and shortly after that I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Jenn from Fairest Run of All, who looked a lot better than how I was feeling! I waved and called to her “how are you running in PANTS?” because she had long pants on. She just shrugged and called back over her shoulder “Puerto Rico!” which is a very fair point. I’m sure it felt nice and cool in Florida compared to the heat and humidity of living in Puerto Rico, but we haven’t had that for awhile over here in Pennsylvania!
I will admit that I was really starting to hurt. The quad stretching seemed to have helped that issue a lot, and my plantar fasciitis was behaving better than I expected. I wouldn’t even have been surprised if my hip started bothering me, since that had been a long-ago problem. But no, I got to experience something new this time! I was feeling some decent pain in my calves and what I suspect may probably be shin splints? Though Googling various pictures of leg muscles my pain doesn’t seem to be in the right spot. Another mystery pain!
So I had to slow down a lot those last two miles. I was really hurting, and it was hot. I didn’t *need* a picture with the Genie but no one was there so why not? Then it was on to Epcot. Just before entering I saw Aladdin and Abu – I don’t see Abu often so it was time for another character photo!
Then I mustered my energy and did a slower than usual but decent run from entering Epcot to the finish line (with one more stop for a photo with Mickey and Donald). Hooray! Unfortunately my other friends who were planning to be at the finish line for Jamie wouldn’t make it in time for me thanks to the transportation hours – I knew this ahead of time so it wasn’t a big deal. I just grabbed myself a beer and sat for a bit.
This was actually the first time I had used gear check since the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014, and I was impressed with how easy and fast it was. I’d avoided checking a bag since then because it was so disastrous at the time. They’ve at least improved that whole process!
As much as I wanted to wait for Jamie I was really hurting and knew I needed to get some rest – and I was super proud of her for taking full advantage of all the character stops and enjoying the race rather than pushing herself for time! I thought I might hobble over to medical and grab a bag of ice, but before I got there a roving medical person pushing a wheelchair full of bags of ice found me instead. She thought I looked like I needed some and secured two ice bags to my legs. I’ve never needed ice after a race but dang did that feel good!
So all things said and done I still finished the 2022 Disney Princess half marathon with a time of 2:21:30 and a lot of character photos. While it’s one of my “worst” half marathon times recently you can’t really compare Disney races to anything else so I will take it!
And I guess it’s time to go back to the sports doctor and probably my physical therapist. Which is a little frustrating but also I absolutely love my PT so there’s one positive in all of this!
Characters at the Princess half marathon (as best as I can remember):
- Moana and Mulan
- Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde
- Ariel and Sebastian
- Gaston (switched with Belle and Beast)
- Woody and Bo Peep
- Cruella deVil
- Tink and a Fairy Friend
- Cinderella and Prince Charming
- Atta from A Bug’s Life
- Aladdin and Abu
- Mickey and Donald (in 3 Musketeers outfits?)
Did you run the 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon? Would you want to participate in the future?