It’s trip report time again! Read all the posts in this trip report here. Onward!
First thing first: I woke up on time for the Princess Half Marathon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: this is by far the scariest part of any race. Once you’re awake, you’re home free, baby!
Despite the adrenaline shot to the heart that is the shrill voice of the WDW wakeup call, I woke up feeling reasonably rested and alert considering it was 2am. I bopped through race prep, Erika did the same, and we headed out into the cold dark night.
Did I say cold? My bad; I meant warm. It was already in the mid-60s at that point. No throwaway layers here!
We were able to board a bus pretty much immediately, arriving at the Epcot parking lot start area around 3am.
There was no need to huddle for warmth, which was nice (for now), but we did have to scrounge at ways to pass the time. The photo lines weren’t too long, so we started with that, then headed for the corrals as soon as they opened up.
I was in s2 and initially found myself toward the front. Then naturally I had to pee at like 4:30am, so I sneakily hopped the fence, slid into a porta potty, and took a new position toward the middle. I figured I’d rather trade a prime corral position now for not needing a time-sucking bathroom stop later.
Up on the stage, announcers were jabbering away, but whoever rigged the sound fell down on the job, and I could barely hear anything over the chatter of the crowd. It’s entirely possible they mentioned delaying the race start; my first clue was when I looked down at my watch and saw it was 5:05am.
Uh oh, I thought, fearing a repeat of the WDW Marathon 2020 start. I had noticed on the bus schedule signs that people had until an astonishing 4am to board the buses for the race, and I feared a backup a la my first Princess Half. Thankfully Carissa et al. declared we’d be starting soon, and ultimately I think we ended up only about 15 minutes late.
Start waves didn’t move as quickly as they did during the 2022 WDW Marathon, and I don’t think I crossed the finish line until 10 or so minutes after the first group went off. Oh well, that’s what bib chips are for, right?
This race starts out as they all do: on the road. We ran away from Epcot and, if I remember correctly, under the parking entrance backward before hanging a right and onto a straight shot to the Magic Kingdom, the shining beacon we would not reach for 5 miles yet.
Fresh off my quasi-demi-victory at the Run Oak Island Half, I decided to experiment with, oh, NOT holding back on pace. To be clear, I wasn’t pushing, but I wasn’t tapping the breaks, either. I settled into a quick but comfortable stride, and whaddya know, it worked! I had my fastest runDisney half ever. ^_^ Where any runDisney race, if you’re doing it right, is gonna be slower than your PR by a couple million hairs, y’know?
Part of this is thanks to my speed – and part of this is thanks to not stopping for photos for the first few miles. Everyone knows that the first couple miles have the longest lines… except maybe the runDisney logistics team, because they doubled up on a bunch of princesses in one photo stop and stuck them in the first couple miles. Yes, the photographers are efficient, but these lines were huge. If I’m gonna wait 5+ minutes, I need to really want that character, and I didn’t see anybody that warranted the time drain for me personally.
The taiko drummers were back at the TTA, which was nice. We passed under the water bridge, ran toward the Contemporary and then – voila – we were running under the entrance and into the Magic Kingdom! And I was delighted to see I had made it while still in the cover of darkness. I’ve missed Nighttime Race Magic Kingdom.
Dashing up Main Street at the beck of Cinderella Castle is always magical, but I’m very fond of that first turn toward Tomorrowland. We curled through the future, out the back into Fantasyland, and straight down the middle under the castle itself.
As per usual, a bunch of photographers were set up to take photos in front of the castle for all. I did stop here for my castle shot… which took almost a week to show up in my PhotoPass and when it did, it sucked. Note to self: making a heart with your hands doesn’t work when you’re holding your phone. No matter; my next race costume will have pockets and I’ll try again. 🤪
Then they push us into Frontierland, right? Isn’t that what happens next? Why am I blanking?? I remember passing Splash Mountain with its flume drained for refurb. Yeah, that seems accurate.
One way or another, we were cruelly ejected from the Magic Kingdom and thrust back out onto the backroads. This threatened to be the boring part, but luckily some good characters were out, darling!
Admittedly I haven’t seen Frozen II – I mostly stopped due to my nieces’ infatuation – but I could’ve sworn Elsa got some pants?
Remember the looming threat of dullness? The boring kicked in right about here, on yet more regular roads. Somebody in the entertainment department was slacking, because there were very few distractions for miles. I remember seeing Princess Atta from A Bug’s Life at one point, and then NOTHING until Genie for like 20 minutes.
Ooh, I do recall one brief moment of intrigue – I found Becky of Disney In Your Day on the course! “It’s so hot,” she said. “How can you be wearing pants?” “Puerto Rico,” I replied, and she agreed that this was a logical point.
Indeed, with the sun now up it was hot, in addition to boring. And just when we thought all was lost, we finally, finally entered Epcot.
You know how they always like to stick a character spot just before a park entrance, probably to thin the herd before a chokepoint? Well, it was Aladdin-as-Ali and ABU! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Abu out! So yeah, it worked on me, anyway.
I’ll come right out and say it: I think the way the Princess course ends is stupid. You’re barely even in Epcot, and what you are in you can barely see thanks to all the construction walls. You actively avoid time in World Showcase. About the only notable landmark I remember getting up close to was the Imagination pavilion. Lame!
But yeah, some park time is better than no park time at all, so I plunged forward with a smile on my face. I’d never seen Mickey and Donald as musketeers out before, so I stopped for a photo. “You’re the first Sally I’ve seen!” the character wrangler CM said, and then I heard her say my pose was cute as I peeled away, so this was apparently the Make Jenn Feel Special stop. ;D
The Jammitors were just around the corner as we ran out of Epcot and backstage, but I could see up ahead a superior sight: the gospel choir was back!
Why, I was so excited by this development that I lifted my arms to the sky in adulation… which, thanks to the nature of my two-piece race costume, caused two of the safety pins to fly off my bib. Oops. Still, it stayed on, and thus was a survivable event. Praise Jesus!
The bittersweet thing about the gospel choir is that it of course heralds the end of the race. I had a mere .1 mile to go, and I found I had enough left in me to sprint for the finish. I crossed under the banner, and that was it!
I collected my medal, cooling towel, snacks, and drinks, then performed my usual pit stop at the merch tent for a bag to hold it all. The Princess Weekend jacket was still in there, but ultimately I decided it was simply too expensive for what it was, even with my AP discount. One of these days I’m going to show up to the expo on time to snag the good stuff, dang it!
And that about wraps it up. I picked up a mask from a table by the bus signs, then boarded a Pop bus back to my room. Another runDisney race behind me. Thank goodness there are more in front of me too!
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