Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Disney Princess Half Marathon Experience

I have mixed feelings about my recently completed Disney's Princess Half Marathon. The vacation destination part was incredible. I mean how can you top Disneyworld for a family-friendly location?! But I don't feel the race lived up to the hype. So let's begin with the pre-race experience. I paid $120 for the race. When I picked up my "goody bag" at the expo I received a short sleeve technical t-shirt, a sample of Luna moons, a pink Sharpie marker and some race brochures. The expo was also pretty small. There a no race maps available for spectators...except the small 5x7 one in the race program. The map they did have was a bit deceiving. There was no mention that the majority of the race would be run on the highway and/or access roads. The map didn't even detail in writing the course or give elevation information.

The race day: I understand Disney can be difficult logistically. However, we had to arrive before 6am (5am was recommended). We then had to walk nearly a mile before actually beginning the race. Then the first 5 miles or so was all concrete highway - on ramps, off ramps, overhead passes, etc. Very few characters or entertainment could be found during this initial third of the course. We didn't have any real excitement until entering Magic Kingdom. Going through Tomorrowland and Cinderella's Castle was pretty sweet but then we quickly exited MK and found ourselves on back roads again. From miles 7-12 we ran on highway and more access roads. It wasn't until mile 12 that we came upon the parking lot of Epcot. We were ushered through the entrance of Epcot, ran around the big ball, then finished in the parking lot of Epcot. I was stunned that Disney charged families and spectators the full price to park of $12 even though the park didn't open till 11am (the race started at 7am). This also wasn't the original course which I signed up for. The course was changed a couple months prior to the race date. The water stops were plenty, but the cliff gels were handed out about a half mile or more from the water stop which was bad. I was happy with the abundance of biofreeze available. Another complaint was the lack of spectator opportunities. I'm sure that the race being mostly on a highway complicates the allowance for spectators.

Post-race: standard fare of oranges, bananas, bagels, and water/powerade. Nothing special or exciting. Disney could definitely learn from the amazing post race setup of Ann Arbor 10k or the Des Moines Marathon. Both were top notch race experiences.

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