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    Mar 1, 2018

    Here's Everything You Should Know Before Running A Disney Race

    Spoiler alert: Running through Magic Kingdom is literally MAGICAL.

    Hi everyone! I'm Arielle, and this past weekend I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon (for the second time — I'm dead). Here's everything you should know before running a Disney race!

    Arielle Calderon

    1. Every February, Disney World in Orlando, Florida has a Princess Half Marathon race — and it sells out QUICK.

    Run Disney

    I'm not sure of the exact timing, but I would guess within a couple days. It's the most popular Run Disney event and the 2018 race had over 25,000 runners. I bought my tickets in May of 2017 — a whole 9 months in advance. For other themed Disney races, click here.

    2. For training, make sure you find the right plan for you — and if you're new to this, you might want to consider a run-walk-run pacing group.

    Arielle Calderon

    Jeff Galloway, Olympian and creator of the Run Disney training programs, told BuzzFeed that the run-walk-run method can virtually take away injuries. For the Princess Half training, click here. For all other Disney races, click here.

    3. Establish an eating regimen that works for you while training, and don't go overboard with carbo-loading before the race.

    4. If you don't think you're ready for 13.1 miles, you can also sign up for the 5K or 10K races.

    Lauren Greenfield / Disney / Via Instagram: @vet.lauren

    The 5K costs $80 and the 10K costs $120. But just know, you do NOT run through Magic Kingdom for these races, only Epcot. And trust me, you want to run through Cinderella's Castle.

    5. Or if you're REALLY ready, you can sign up for the Challenge and run 19.3 miles.

    Run Disney / Via Facebook: RunDisney

    Which means you sign up for the 10K and the Half, which take place two consecutive days in a row. It costs $340 and you get three kickass medals!

    6. If you are a spectator, you can purchase a ChEAR squad package (GOLD or PLATINUM) and support your runners!

    Arielle Calderon

    As a runner, it is really an amazing thing to see people cheering you on. But if you can't make it, you can track your runners online too or text PHM to 38909 (this number will probably change next year, FYI).

    GOLD ($65) includes: swag, reserved viewing location near Cinderella's Castle, reserved finish line seating, hot and cold beverages.

    PLATINUM ($120) includes: same amenities as GOLD plus entry into the Race Retreat (more on that later).

    7. Be prepared to plan for an entire vacation, because you'll likely have a lot to do and spend a hefty amount of money.

    Arielle Calderon

    The race itself costs $195, and that does not include park admission. Then calculate hotel, flights, food, transportation, souvenirs, etc. I will say that the costs of the entire trip didn't feel that bad because I paid for things in increments (flight first, hotel later, food at the park, etc.).

    8. You will pick up your bib at the Run Disney Health and Fitness Expo, which has a ton of cool vendors that sell everything from shoes, to costumes, to foam rollers.

    Arielle Calderon

    You'll also pick up your official race shirt there — and you can switch sizes if need be.

    9. Weather at the start of the race is usually in the 50s, and by the time you finish, it's typically somewhere in the 70s. However, this year it was roughly 10-15 degrees warmer, and it was ROUGH.

    Arielle Calderon

    I was dripping sweat by mile three.

    10. The race starts dark and early at 5:30 a.m. because the parks still open to the public at normal hours.

    Arielle Calderon

    You'll likely see some tourists and families when you hit Epcot on the course.

    11. And because there are SO many runners, your corral might not start for 30-45 minutes.

    Arielle Calderon

    You are placed into your corral by projected finish time (you can input this with proof of time in order to be placed correctly). I started at 5:35 a.m., but some of my friends didn't start till 6:15 a.m.

    12. And if you stay on Disney property, the buses pick you up between 3:00-3:30 a.m.

    Arielle Calderon

    The struggle was so real.

    13. Do not drink more than a glass of water before the race or you will be faced with very long porta potty lines!

    Arielle Calderon

    From Jeff Galloway: "The day before, when most people aren't doing any exercise, drink a glass of water every hour to hour and a half, all the way through the day before. The morning of, drink a glass of water or coffee, and that's your fluid before the race. More than that, and you'll be stopping for the bathroom a lot."

    14. As for the race course, you start on the highway by Epcot, run through Magic Kingdom, run through more highway, and then finish at Epcot.

    Run Disney

    Now, I will be completely honest: running between Magic Kingdom and Epcot is boring. You are essentially on an empty highway, about to hit a wall, and everything becomes a lot harder. Pace yourself, be patient, and have some really good music prepared for miles 7-12.

    15. Running through Magic Kingdom is literally the most magical moment you'll experience.

    Arielle Calderon

    Everyone is cheering for you on the sidelines, the sun is coming up, the characters are out, and the adrenaline is high. This is the reason why you run this race. You feel inspired, motivated, and just HAPPY AS HELL.

    16. There are photographers in Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so keep to the sides and smile when you see the cameras!

    Run Disney

    Definitely look for the photographer on the left after you run through the castle, because that's the best shot. After the race, your photos will be available at, and you can also link your bib number to your My Disney Experience app. More info about photos and race results here.

    17. There are a total of nine water stations, which are available about every 1.5 miles.

    Arielle Calderon

    Galloway says, "The rule of thumb based on what can be absorbed, is 2-4 oz of water every two miles, and 30-40 calories of sugar every two miles (to make your brain happy)."

    18. And when your body starts to fatigue, they provide a power food around miles 8-9.

    Arielle Calderon

    Last year they had gel packets, this year they had beans.

    19. There are characters along the course (mostly in Magic Kingdom) and you can totally stop to take pictures.

    Arielle Calderon

    Pro tip: If you can't afford the Memory Maker photo pass, you can also take selfies on your phone. And if you hand your phone to staff, they'll also snap some pics for you.

    20. But beware — some of those lines are VERY, VERY LONG.

    Arielle Calderon

    I took a picture with some ~hot~ princes and I stood in line for about 15 minutes. BUT you will have some pretty amazing memories to share.

    21. And something to keep in mind is that you need to maintain a 16-minute-per-mile pace, or you might be picked up along the course and transported to the finish line area.

    Arielle Calderon

    Overall though, I suggest you have fun, take character pictures, and don't worry about setting a personal record. The entire race itself wrapped up around 11 a.m., so just try and finish by then.

    22. There is a very long stretch of highway between Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but Disney does their best to provide some entertainment.

    Arielle Calderon

    I actually laughed out loud when I saw this. They also had giant projectors once in a while which played Disney movies.

    23. And some spectators even have some very amazing signs.

    Arielle Calderon


    24. Right around miles 11 and 12, there are some ramps and hills that will make you want to quit — but don't!

    Arielle Calderon

    You'll hate it so much, but know that you are VERY CLOSE TO THE END.

    25. Right by mile 13, there's a gospel choir that ignites your soul and gives you chills.

    It gets you PUMPED to cross that finish line. It honestly feels so good.

    26. At the end of the race, you'll get a bottle of water, a banana, and a snack box with Oreos, tortilla chips and cheese dip, applesauce, and fruit leather.

    Arielle Calderon

    According to Jeff Galloway, you have a 30-minute window to replenish your muscle glycogen — and you should consume about 300 calories.

    27. If you want to splurge, you can also buy a Race Retreat ticket, which includes a post-race breakfast buffet, massages, and exclusive Disney Meet & Greets.

    Arielle Calderon

    Let me tell you, those post-race massages were SO CLUTCH. More about the Retreat here.

    28. Your feet will hurt like hell, especially if you go to the parks after the run.

    Arielle Calderon

    If you do go to the parks afterwards, please make sure to nap in between. I promise you need it.

    29. And of course, the best way to celebrate completing a 13.1-mile run is to DRINK AND EAT AROUND THE WORLD AT EPCOT!

    Disney, Arielle Calderon

    Had some poutine in Canada, a cannoli in Italy, and dinner in Mexico. Oh, and the drink pictured is a Violet Saki from Japan.

    If you ever want to cross a half marathon off your to-do list, I promise this is the most magical one to run. 💖


    Tickets for the 2019 race will probably be on sale in May. Click here for more information on the Disney Princess races!

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