Registration for the 6th Annual Disney Princess Half Marathon opens up to Annual Passholders on June 6 and to the general public on June 11. It is an exciting, women-focused (but not women-only) race held at Disney World. This race is held towards the end of February and sold out last year in November. This year, I’m guessing it will sell out even quicker.
As a one-year veteran (and internet research expert!) of this race, I put together some facts and tips if you’re considering registering for this race:
|Photo Credit: RunDisney|
- This is a great race to use as a motivator to get in shape. If you register (at RunDisney.com) in June, you have eight months to train. Unless you have serious medical issues, eight months is enough time to go from sedentary to finishing a half marathon. You probably won’t win, but you can finish!
- The registration fee is nonrefundable and the race will be expensive. Last year it cost $140 (plus Active.com’s processing fees) and these races seem to get more expensive each year. I plunked down that money on the first day registration opened and considered it a bet on myself that I could succeed. If the only thing you are unsure of is your ability to get fit enough to finish, I recommend registering as soon as possible.
- If you do get pregnant, injured, or can’t run for whatever reason, RunDisney does offer a deferral option. There is a deadline of several months prior to the race, you have to e-mail RunDisney (or Trackshack, the company who helps with the race logistics) and get the deferral approved. Then, they keep your money until the next time your same race rolls around (you used to be able to pick any RunDisney race to defer to, but that is changing) you get an early registration into the race which you pay for again, and then you get your first registration fee refunded to you less a processing charge (this was $35 in the past, but rumor has it is going up again).
- You cannot transfer your bib to anyone else. There is a “black market” for bib sales on various social media sites, but it is unofficial and against RunDisney’s rules. The results will stay in your name and if you get caught (unlikely but possible if the person running under your name gets injured or ill or misbehaves), you can be banned from future RunDisney events.
- If the race sells out before you can register, you still may have the option to run under some travel agencies or charities. If you run for a charity, you will have to do fundraising well above the registration price for that charity.
- The first thing to do is assess your current fitness level. If that’s easy because you’re pretty much just fit enough to get from your bed to your car to your office and back then you’ll need to build a base. Thin, athletically gifted twenty year olds might be able jump right into half marathon training without any fitness base, but the rest of us mortals need to get our bodies used to the idea of physical activity gradually.
- Build a fitness base. This lets your lungs, heart, muscles, tendons and bones get strong enough to withstand the rigor of half marathon training. What I did was to do a three mile walk three times a week for three months. I’m very injury prone and I think this helped me avoid some of those pesky overuse injuries from doing too much too soon.
- Pick a training plan. They all work, but picking one early will help you map out your training calendar. Jeff Galloway is the official RunDusney trainer and his training plans are excellent at getting you to the start line uninjured and to the finish line in the upright position. He also advocates the run/walk interval method. This is where you alternate set periods of running and walking for the entire run.
- STICK TO YOUR PLAN. I’ve been all nice up to now. This is the one step that determines whether you finish or not. You will be sore. Things will hurt. You will go on vacation. You will be stressed, tired, have allergies, have sick kids, have too much work, just not feel like it… If you stick to your plan and do most of the scheduled workouts, you have a great chance of succeeding. If you are a mom, this means you will have to put yourself first sometimes. That’s not selfish, it’s critical.
- Race weekend previously included the Kids Runs (from 100 meter dashes up to a mile), the Family 5k fun run and the half marathon. For 2014, RunDisney has added a 10k to the mix and has added a Glass Slipper Challenge where you can run the half plus the 10k in the same weekend and you get three medals instead of just two. You do have to sign up for the challenge separately and it will very likely sell out within the first day or so.
- You have to keep a 16 minute per mile pace or you will be swept from the race. Here’s how that works. After the very last person in the very last corral crosses the start line, the infamous balloon ladies start. These are two (I think) ladies with small balloons who keep a 16 minute per mile pace. If they get in front of you (and I’ve heard they are very encouraging to those they pass and who are trying to keep up with them) then you are in danger of being swept. Being swept means being picked up by a bus or van and being transported to the post-finish line area. Rumor has it that you usually still get your medal, but that is not a guarantee. Generally you just need to keep an eye on your pace, train for a 15 minute mile pace if possible to allow for bathroom breaks and skip the photo ops if you’re in danger of being picked up.
- You don’t have to be skinny to be a runner. All different shapes, sizes and ages run this race successfully. Here’s an early shot of Corral B, the second fastest corral. As a size 12, I did not feel out of place at all.
- This race starts EARLY. 5:35am. And if that wasn’t bad enough, you really need to get up by 2am because the buses run from 3am to 4am. My body did not like it and I’m an early riser due to a non-sleeping toddler and a job that starts at 6:30am normally.
- Staying on site at a Disney resort is a huge plus. The last thing I wanted to do at 3am was figure out how to get to the start line, especially since there were several roads closed already for the race. Disney has nice special buses that run to all the events, including the expo from all the Disney resorts for this race. It was great to just hop on a bus at 3am and zone out until we got to the staging area.
- You get to run through the castle. It is awesome.
- There are lots of photo opportunities to take pictures with characters.
- There are “real” bathrooms available for the portion of the run through the Magic Kingdom.
- Your friends and family can cheer you on all along the way, including being allowed onto Main Street in the Magic Kingdom before it opens (and they don’t need a park ticket!).
- The medal is awesome!
- The race retreat is worth the high price if it is your first half marathon. It is especially worth the price if the weather is cold or rainy. That wasn’t the case this year, but since you get to the staging area several hours before the race starts, it’s nice to have an enclosed space with “private” port-a-potties and a separate bag-check area.
- When you register, they ask for an estimated finish time and if it’s less than 3:15, you have to support that time with a previous race of a 10k distance (6.2 miles) or more within the last couple of years. This time estimate is how they place you in a corral (yes, I dislike the cattle imagery too). Each corral has a separate start, staggered by a few minutes and it is important to be in the right corral. If you’re in a corral that is faster than you, you will be in other runners way and they will be zooming past you. If you’re in a corral that is slower than you, you will spend a lot of time and energy weaving around slower runners/walker. You don’t have to have a race on the day of registration, you have a few months to find one to run and to submit an updated finish time to Trackshack. You used to be able to do this at the expo a few days before the race but they have discontinue this practice. If you’re going faster than a walk, you’ll want to find a 10k to run this summer or early fall (check for the cutoff date and mark it on your calendar). I ended up in Corral B (the second corral) with a 10k time of 1:07, so you don’t have to be super speedy to move up in the corrals.
|Photo Credit: RunDisney|
Is all of the training, planning, logistics and cost worth it? YES! And while the actual race was outstanding (see my recap here), like most things in life it was the journey to get there that was really life changing. I’m not the same person I was when I started this journey.
Here is a post on the Logistics of Registration.