It Helps to Have a Bear in Pursuit

It helps to have a bear in pursuit

Laura and I crossing the finish line

Just 38 days after signing up to run the 5K at Disney World, I was ready to go. Once more, the weather threatened to ground me, as storms were announced for my departure day. I decided last-minute to leave one day earlier, and I am glad I did. On February 21st I arrived in Orlando, the weather a perfect 85 degrees. I checked into Disney’s Pop Century and went for a 3-mile run around the Hourglass Lake. I was surprised at how easy I adapted to the temperature change. Yes, it was hot, but I much preferred running in the heat to the bitter cold of New York.

The next day I went straight to the Fit for a Princess Expo to sign my waiver and pick up my running bib. The expo held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort was a lot of fun and offered great opportunities to indulge in retail therapy. In addition to great shopping, the Expo also features lectures by celebrities such as U.S. Olympian Jeff Galloway and Ali Vincent, the winner of the fifth season of the U.S. reality show The Biggest Loser. Tara Gidus, runDisney’s official nutritionist, and Race Director Jon Hughes were also on hand, providing helpful last-minute tips.

I had an early dinner at Splitsville, the sleek new Bowling Alley at Downtown Disney and went back to my resort to prepare for the big day. With my clothes laid out and two alarms set for 4:30 a.m., I called it a day.

I did not sleep too well, and I was happy when morning finally came and it was time to board the special bus that Disney provides from the resort hotel to the race. As I met up with my friend Laura, the parking lot at Epcot was buzzing with excitement. Before going to our starting corral, I had my picture taken with Mickey and Minnie, and we soon danced along to the tunes of a DJ. Disney really goes all out to give all participants a great time even before the race gets under way.

Ready! Set! Go!

The race started at 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Epcot, which was not too exciting, but once we entered the park from behind the Mexican Pavilion, it was a thrill ride all the way to the finish. We moved through the World Showcase and Innovations West, past the iconic Spaceship Earth, only to exit the park again for the final stretch. The race was a blast, with great photo opportunities along the way. Princesses and cast members cheered us on along the way, and I could not believe how soon it was all over. Holding hands, Laura and I crossed the finish line. We did it! It felt great, and all around us there was a celebratory mood as we proceeded to get our medals.

The 5K race is part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, which benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The race is a celebration of commitment, determination, fantasy, and friendship. I am so grateful that I could share this special time with a friend. Laura and I celebrated that day with a lunch at Les Chefs de France, where Remy joined in the fete.

So what is next? Repeat the experience in September with the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, or go for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler? Or how about taking this challenge to the West Coast for a Dumbo Double Dare? During a media event Disney announced that the company is looking into adding some more races. I would love to see a progression such as a 10K in Orlando, or why not go transatlantic and run in Disneyland Paris? In the meantime, I did go to the Magic Kingdom to ask Merida for some running tips of her own. She said that it helped her having a bear in pursuit.

Read the entire article as published February 28th in