For half marathon morning on Sunday I scheduled the wake up call for 2:15, and I was on my way to Epcot around 3:10. There was more traffic this morning but I was still early enough that I didn't get slowed down until I was in the parking lot. I'd rather get up and get there early and not stress about transportation!
I didn't mention this in the 10k blog, but they again had a big security perimeter set up and all bags had to be checked. I had no bag for the 10k, but had my running belt for the half. There was a queue, but they had lots of security folks and the line moved quickly - I think the people in the "no bags" line had a longer wait!
I was in the pre-race area by 3:40, and I was very surprised at how many people were already there! One new thing this year: they had put out a number of chaise lounges, and those were very popular. They took up a lot of room, though...I'll be interested in seeing whether they return in the future, since they also became obstacles in trying to move around. At various times during the weekend I heard both 24,000 and 25,000 given as the number of runners in the half marathon, which is about as large as the January races, and it was pretty crowded. Though there were fewer people in the half marathon than last year. (This year there were 20,750 finishers, last year there were 22,739.)
I thought they started sending people to the corrals a little late (about 4:45 for a 5:30 start!). I was running with my friend Holly, and we were on our way to the corrals even before they made the first announcement - we heard them call for those in A and B to start heading out. The walk to the corrals was not bad at all - I've commented (complained) about it in the past, but I have to say that in my last three WDW races (half and full marathons in January and now Princess) the walk to the corrals has been no problem at all. I'm not quite sure how they did that, because it's still just as many people moving on the same narrow roads, but it hasn't been the slow cattle car shuffle that it has been in the past.
In the January races they started a new corral system to help ease the race course congestion: more corrals with fewer people in them. I think this really has helped, though it means that the people in the later corrals start even later and have even longer to wait around before the race. Holly and I were in corral E, but we were closer to the start line than I have ever been in a big WDW race, and we started just 10 minutes after the gun.
At the start line were our race announcers, and the Fairy Godmother, who said the magic words and counted down to the start of the race.
I haven't mentioned the weather...it was cooler than the day before, about 65, but the humidity was 100% and it was foggy and misty. There was a little more breeze than the previous day when it was almost dead calm. I found it slightly more comfortable than Saturday, but it was still far from optimal conditions. You can see the fog really obscured the fireworks they shot off when each corral started.
The Princess half marathon course is the same as the WDW half marathon course - I won't bore you again with all the reasons I don't care for it. :-) Though as I said before, the new corral system did help with the congestion in the narrow places. I think we only found it really unpleasantly crowded in one spot. But, although we were by no means going fast, we still finished in the top 40%, and there were a lot of people behind us who experienced more crowding than we did.
The on course entertainment was pretty good, though it didn't seem to me as though there were as many high school bands and cheerleaders as we see during marathon weekend. The pirates and the princes (~miles 2-3) had huge lines so we didn't stop - we knew we would pass them again on the way back when the lines would be shorter. :-) The longest line we waited in was for the villains. That took a little over 8 minutes, but we were glad we did it. They had this villains chair, and runners were having fun with that. (Unfortunately the mist and fog in the air reflected in the flash, so the photo didn't turn out well at all.)
Near the Contemporary they had some really nice lighting on the water bridge.
It's always great running down Main Street towards the castle, with all of the people cheering. Holly's husband Dave was waiting for us at the hub, along with Stan and Mike, who had also come out to cheer on their wives who were running.
There were quite a few character stops in the Magic Kingdom but we didn't stop for any of them. The line for Mickey and Minnie was huge, but otherwise the lines weren't too bad. Snow White and Prince Charming also had a good-sized line.
The photo we did stop for...our friends Eddie and Dave had started several corrals in front of us and were running with a few other women. They'd obviously been enjoying themselves and taking their time because we caught up with them when they were posing for a picture in front of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Holly said, "Let's photo bomb them!", so we ran in front of them and got in their photo. :-) They got into the line for Mickey and Minnie (which Eddie later told us took 20 minutes), so we didn't see them again in the race.
"Cone Alley", the one lane section from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, wasn't too bad - we could still make our way past slower runners and walkers without too much trouble. I still don't like that part of the course, though.
At about the mile 7 mark they always play a selected song to inspire us, and they usually let us choose it by voting on Facebook. This year the winner was "Let it Go" from Frozen - I think it won by an avalanche. :-)
I was happy to see Mary Poppins and Bert outside the Grand Floridian - they weren't out at all in January.
In front of the Wedding Pavilion there was a wedding singer! (I recognized him as one of the lead singers from the old Tarzan Rocks show.) On the side of the road, also in tuxes, were several other men gathered around a glass slipper. That was a popular photo op, but we didn't stop for it.
About mile 9 we got to the princes again and the line was much shorter than it had been earlier, though we still waited 4-5 minutes. But it was worth it. :-)
My legs were starting to get tired, so I was glad that we were almost done. Still, the last couple of miles went pretty fast, and we headed back into Epcot. Princess Sophia was backstage - I'd never seen her before, and there was no line.
As we started our short loop around Future World I saw this vision in pink - I'd seen her near the end of the 2013 marathon but had no idea who she was, so this time I asked. :-) She is Ivana Dream, and she's a wannabe Fairy Godmother. She had a microphone, and was talking to runners as they went by. Sort of a stream of consciousness thing - did you know the trees with the yellow flowers in Epcot are yellow tabebuia trees? Fun, and I'm glad to finally know who she is!
We finished strong, and I got a high 5 from Jester Goofy as I crossed the finish line. (Sir Donald was on the other side.)
Just after we crossed some of the wonderful volunteers were handing out packets containing moist, COOL towels. Those felt SO good! After we passed the water and PowerAde tables there were volunteers handing out the nice mesh stringbags. We usually get these in our goodie bags, but I thought it was MUCH better to get them after the race, since that's when we can really use them to carry the bottles and food boxes, etc.
We got our half marathon medals (new design this year) and went to the Glass Slipper Challenge area where they checked to make sure we had our 10K wristbands and then gave us our medals. Yay! Another race challenge successfully completed!
Holly and I celebrated with our adult beverages of choice: beer for her and champagne for me. (In the concession area there were six different registers where you could buy champagne so the lines weren't long at all - in this case Disney definitely understood their target audience!)
The finish area was pretty crowded - I heard that there were princesses available for photos but I didn't to see them - and I'm sure the lines were long. I needed to leave since I had to get back to my room, shower, pack, and check out by 11:00. I made it - but not by much!
It was a short trip, but still a very successful weekend. But I'm a little concerned that running races two days in a row is starting to seem normal to me! :-)
I thought that the Glass Slipper Challenge went very smoothly and the Enchanted 10K didn't have any typical "first year" issues. The 10K was an improvement over the one in January, though I think it could still use another couple of characters on the course. I think my main suggestion for improvement is the merchandise - as usual, there wasn't enough of it. Hard to believe that Disney is missing out on a money-making opportunity like that.
I really enjoyed the theming of the races and the weekend - "Enchanted", "Glass Slipper" and "Princess" all go so well together!
The medals, as usual, are just beautiful - Disney knows how to do bling. :-)
I had a wonderful time, and am already considering doing this race challenge again next year. With the bevy of princesses Disney has available I am hoping they will change up the challenge every year - perhaps an enchanted rose challenge next year, a magic mirror the next?