Monday, March 18, 2013

Tony's Princess Half Marathon Race Report

Tony Conticello's Princess Half Marathon 
RUN3rd Race Report

Submitted by Tony Conticello @RunDisney56

Throughout the year runDisney puts on endurance races with different themes and spotlighting various Disney characters.  For many lady racers the Princess Half Marathon in February is the Ball of all runDisney events.  The creativity and expense that goes into some of these racing costumes is second to none.  After all, how often does one get a chance to transform into their favorite Disney Princess all weekend long, run 13.1 miles through Disney World and get special royal treatment the entire time.

2013 happened to be a special year for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, which celebrated its Fifth Anniversary.  This makes the race special because Disney creates a special commemorative medal every 5th year of a Disney endurance race, and also pays special honor to all legacy racers.  A legacy racer is someone that has participated in all of a particular race. There were 365 Perfectly Princesses or Princes running the race. Each of them got a special Sash and Tiara – here is a picture of a Perfect Princess and Perfect Prince.

BY THE NUMBERS: The 2013 Princess Half attracted approximately 24,000 racers, which was a significant increase from 2012.  Almost 95% of this year’s registered racers were Princesses (22,525), leaving only a little over 1,300 registered Princes running the race.   The oldest racer was 96 years young, and the youngest racer was 14 years old.  While most of the participants come from the United States, there were racers representing 34 different countries.

Earlier in the week, an announcement was made that RUN3rd founder, Sean Astin, was coming in to race the Princess Half Marathon.  We connected with Sean during the weekend a couple of times including at the runDisney Official Pre-Race Meet Up.  I am also a Galloway Program Director in Tallahassee, and Stacey and I were was able to spend some time with Jeff Galloway and other friends there too. Here are a few of the pictures taken during the Official Pre-Race Meet Up.

Running through Epcot during the Official Meet Up with Jeff Galloway
Talking RUN3rd with Sean at the Official Meet Up -
We gave Sean a PbRC Logo T-Shirt as a Birthday Present

Sean asked Stacey to pin the laminated RUN3rd Princess sign on his back.

Posing with Princess Minnie!

Later that evening, Stacey and I met up with Sean at his hotel and chatted a bit about a lot of things including nutrition (which is a new area of focus for him).  All I can say is that there are good things on the horizons and we plan on being there to help, assist and drive RUN3rd’s future. For this race, Sean mentioned that he was going to physically write down his dedications onto paper and then carry those dedications with him during the race.  I decided to follow suit and the night before the race while we were gathering up our racing items and laying our racing clothes, I took a few minutes to write down the dedications I had taken in.

Stacey and I met back up with Sean Friday night
at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Sean had told me that if his schedule would permit, he would come out to the Pre-Race Meet Up and picture Sunday morning at 4:00 AM.  The 2:00 AM alarm went off, we got ready and headed over to Epcot for the Meet Up.  The ride over was clear sailing.  As we got out of our car, I could see Princesses everywhere.  Some were walking from their Chariots (buses), and others were emerging from there Carriages (cars and mini vans).  It seemed roughly half or more of all the racers were wearing some type of costume and most of them were Disney Princesses or Disney Characters – Snow Whites, Belles, Cinderellas, Tianas, Mulans, Pocohantis, Rapunzels, Minnie Mouses (including me), etc.

By 4:00 AM there were a good 30 PbRC and RUN3rd members exchanging hello’s and getting pictures. Then, I bumped into fellow Team RUN3rd Captain Brandie Garcia!  We had been texting each other off and on up to the race and I was excited to see her.

RUN3rd Team Captains - Brandie and Tony!

By 4:10 AM, as we were gathering people for the group picture, I got the call from Sean – he was lost but he was coming to the Meet Up!  I went into the crowd, found him and brought him back to the Meet Up location.  After giving Stacey a hug, Sean addressed the group which had grown to well over 60 people! He told us about RUN3rd, thanked me for my dedication to the cause and then gave us a pre-race pep talk (check out the YouTube below)!  We took group pictures, a joint RUN3rd picture and then Sean said goodbye and faded into the sea of racers.  

Pre-Race Meet Up Picture!

Pre-Race picture compilation!

We finished our PbRC group Meet Up with some Chicken Dance training for the PbRC #Mile10ChickenDance.  Then some of our members split off into Pacing groups and others with their friends. 

The PbRC practicing the #Mile10ChickenDance

We headed over to our corrals.  Princess Half Marathon keeps the first two racing corrals (A and B) just for the Princesses.  I was in corral C, which was the earliest corral start for a Prince, and Stacey was in corral B.  So when we reached the corral area, I gave Stacey a kiss and a hug, wished her and her friends good luck, and then headed into corral C.

Picture of the Starting Line - just before the Corral C start!

The fairy godmother counted down the seconds for each corral start and with the blast of fireworks (in true Disney fashion) racers were off.   

The Fairy Godmother counting down the seconds
until the start of Corral C

Sean and I agreed to run together for part of the race as long as my sore hamstring would hold up.  The Princess Half is run on the same exact course as the Disney Half Marathon, which I had just run in January during the Goofy Challenge.  I found Sean shortly after the Corral C start and he, Kris Przeor and I ran together.  During the first couple of miles the three of us spoke mainly about our pace, but every now and again we spoke about something else run related.  We chatted a bit about a documentary Sean was watching on the Badwater Ultramarathon.  Mile after mile we kept a nice steady pace, but it was unusually warm and humid.  Just after the Ticket and Transportation Center our trio caught up to and passed a PbRC Pace Group leader (LeeAnn Meltzer) who was carrying a pacing sign with the RUN3rd Princess logo attached.  As we approached her Sean tapped her on her back and thanked her. I caught the exchange with my iPhone camera (see below). 

Princess Half Marathon racing compilation!

All the weaving through and around racers and the unusual heat was starting to affect my hamstring which was getting noticeably tight and twingy.  I didn’t want to injure it more as I had another Half Marathon the next weekend.  So after we made it all the way through the Magic Kingdom and past the Polynesian, and just short of 7 miles I told Sean I was going to back off the pace.  We took a self portrait and I wished him and Kris good luck as they cruised forward.  Sean thanked me for all that I did before we parted.  Sure I was disappointed that we didn’t finish together, but knew it was the right decision for me to avoid making the injury worse. 

Self portrait of Sean and me just before mile 7
After we parted I immediately settled into a run/walk/run pace.  As I did that a PbRC pace group went by.  I decided it would be good if I paced with them for a couple of miles before I sped off.  On the way, I ran into a few other friends (Jeff Chaney and Sherry Coffield) and we stayed together for a few miles, and even stopped to do the PbRC #Mile10ChickenDance with friends.  I promised photographic proof so here it is.

Self portrait
As Epcot came into sight, you could see the excitement building on the racers faces, even though they were starting to fatigue.  We came into Epcot for the last mile, up toward the World Showcase Lagoon and then back toward Spaceship Earth (the big Grey Ball), which would ultimately spit us out just .1 of a mile before the finish.  As I rounded past Spaceship Earth and then past the Choir signing gospel music, I hit the 13 mile sign.  All that was left was that .1 mile sprint to the finish, which I have done numerous times before.  As I came into the straight away, I motioned to the crowd to make noise and got them cheering on us racers.  I weaved in and out of the last few people on my way to the finish.  I got one last high five from Goofy and crossed the finish line! DONE! Unlike last year's medal, I thought this year the medals popped!  Disney really did well this year designing their 5th Anniversary Princess Medals.

I took my Princess Medal and then bee-lined it straight for the car to change out of my race gear. I hurried back to the finishing area just in time to see my wife and her group finish, which they did a short time afterward.  We said goodbye to friends and then hurried back to our resort to reconnect with our family.

Stacey and me.

After showering and changing at our room, I checked in on Sean and found he finished just over 10 minutes ahead of me.  We talked a bit more about the finish and I thanked him for all he did that weekend.  He was flying home later that day, so he could be home with his family for his birthday on Monday.  Stacey and I took our girls and met up with other family members at Epcot to stretch out the legs.  We enjoyed the remainder of the day walking around Epcot and capped it off by watching my favorite Disney firework show, Illuminations.  It was a magical ending to another Magical racing weekend at Disney World.

Epcot Illuminations Party
Post Princess Half Marathon

I will finish this blog post the same way I finished my blog for Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Endurance races, while being individual events, unite us in a common purpose and with common goals…to achieve, to finish, to overcome, and to succeed.  I feel privileged that I was selected to be a Team Captain for RUN3rd and that I was able to connect with many runners and listen to their stories of why they race, what compels them to reach that finish line and overcome extreme conditions in order to feel satisfied with their race accomplishments.  We all have become part of RUN3rd for our own reasons, but we come together to celebrate our achievements. 

Celebrating with family!

Tony Conticello
Team Captain



  1. Great Recap. Thanks for a making a magical weekend more special tony and Stacey! So happy I got to meet you guys! You are awesome!

    1. Thank you too Julie! We are happy to have met you as well and look forward to it in the near future!

  2. Seriously loved the special guest showing up pre-race! Thank you Sean for the great pep talk and for #run3rd. Tony & Stacey- thanks for making it all happen!

    1. Thank you very much! We are glad you enjoyed the Pre-Race Meet Up and the Princess Half Marathon.

  3. <3 'd reading this...and being a part of it. As my first Disney race....I felt as though I was in great hands. Thank you so much for all you do for this community!!

    1. That was very nice to say! I appreciate being able to have been a positive part of your experience.