I. HAD. A. BLAST! I've posted tons of photos on Facebook and some on Flickr, q.v. Lots of fun spending time with my good friends Holly, Linae, and Shawn!
I've done several of the races in years past at Walt Disney World (half plus triathlon plus
Dopey) and this is the FIRST time the race management really got it right. Finally I felt like a valued participant instead of a money dispenser shoehorned in around their visitor schedule! They always have VERY early shuttle pickups and a lot of dead time at the staging area, so sleep deprivation becomes part of the experience, but I've gotten accustomed to that.
Expo: Best race expo I've been to in dozens of big races. Lots of vendors with attractive products, princess makeovers on site, elaborate princess costumes on display, character greetings and photo-ops, t-shirt size exchange. I would have stayed and shopped longer if I hadn't been in a hurry to visit the parks. For the first time in my experience they had prompt shuttle transportation from the hotel directly to the expo and back.
Royal Family 5k: Belle and Beast at the start, and Snow White, Aurora, Minnie and Mickey, and Cinderella on the course. Probably 1/3 or more of the runners were wearing some type of costume, some quite elaborate (I just ran in my daughter's Ariel tiara). They had semi-effective pace seeding and after the first few hundred yards it was relatively uncrowded running. I stopped and sometimes stood in line at all the characters, then sprinted to regain my former place with the flow of runners. Nice rubber medals which included WEAPONS in the design, I assume as a token gesture to make the boys feel included!
Afterwards we watched the kids' races, which are very fun and well-managed, and attended the Princess Breakfast where we had some more character encounters and plenty of photo ops. It was a nice add-on and very fun way to start the day of park-going.
Princess half marathon: Took the familiar course that they use for the half marathon in January - 5.5 miles to the Magic Kingdom on highways, less than a mile of really fun stuff through the Magic Kingdom, then highways back for a quick loop through Epcot to finish. I dressed as Snow White, and lots of people were in costume too but a much smaller percentage than in the 5k the previous day. About 3% of the ~6000 runners were men, many in great costumes such as Fiona, Belle, and Minnie. The time change had taken effect the previous night, so the first half-hour of the race was in darkness. The mile markers were elaborate princess designs, but no characters on the course until entering the Magic Kingdom. The characters were in abundance at the castle and beyond, however, with fast and furious opportunities for photos and not terribly long lines at any of the characters. I stopped at least 10 times on course to take photos, and since I'm not acclimatized to Florida temperatures I got overheated in my Snow White costume, but I expected that and adjusted my pace accordingly.
One really fun part of the race for me was the Snow White photo-op, where I cracked up the Prince by asking him, "How about a Snow sandwich!?"
The medals were gorgeous! Unfortunately the hotel checkout time is still 11:00 AM so I had a sprint back to the hotel and quick shower before I had to dash for the plane.
Yes, I'm already working on a plan to perhaps return with one of my daughters next year for the 5k. I'm sure she will enjoy it even more than I did!