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This is the first in a two part series reviewing the courses for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I’m reviewing the 5K and 10K courses together. Why? Well, they’re pretty much the same course. See for yourself.
Both races start and end at EPCOT. The biggest difference, other than the overall distance obviously, is that the 10K course involves a lot more running on the local access roads. The trees and swamps are very interesting to look at … for a while. This is the West Coast runner in me talking; the flat, unchanging lines of trees and swamp along the roads became boring quickly.
First of all, the starting line gear check and stage area is the same location for all three races. The bus pick-up area is identical, too. That was nice. After each race, I was tired and ready to sit down. Knowing where to go without thinking too hard about it was great.
Now, what makes the 5K course unique? The 5K starts in EPCOT’s Wonder Lot. From there, you run into the World Showcase between Mexico and Norway. You then proceed around the lake, cutting behind the UK pavilion, and ending by passing through Future World. This is a slightly different course than the 10K. Just as in every Disney race, cast members come out to cheer on runners and to make sure we stay on the correct course.
The only negative things I would say about these courses have to do with how boring the access road portions are and the extreme weather for this year. This particular year’s Frozen 5K was actually frozen. Disney issued a warning to all participants a few days in advance of the races. While talking to other racers in the corrals, I saw phone apps reporting temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees F. Yikes! That’s not what I had expected for Florida weather. I brought along a cheap, thrift store hoodie to wear and discard after I warmed up. (*A note to newbie runners. This is a trick you’ll love. You stay warm, and the race volunteers gather them up to donate to local homeless shelters.) You’ll notice from the photo album below that I never discarded it. I even ran in mittens!
In all fairness, I’ve been repeatedly assured that this particular weather pattern was an aberration, emphasis on the brrrrrrr. Here’s an album of my 5K pictures.
Now, on to the 10K! Both courses are exceptionally flat. You don’t even have the inclines for the on ramps that come with the half marathon course. The only thing holding you back from a PR would be bottlenecks in various places in the parks.
What makes the 10K unique? Brace for boredom. The first three and a half miles are a tour of the roads surrounding EPCOT. You enter EPCOT’s World Showcase just to the side of where the 5K enters. In addition to the familiar route around the lake at the center of the World Showcase, you run a lovely route that skirts the Polynesian and flows directly through the Boardwalk area. I loved this part! Spectators lined most of the road to cheer for runners. I had never been to the Boardwalk Resort before. It’s adorable! I would try to stay there on my next visit. The rest of the run is a slightly different course through Future World to the finish line. I really felt like I knew EPCOT better after these multiple passes.
Here are pictures from the 10K.
Overall: The weather had warmed up considerably for the 10K, but 2015 marked an unusually cold race. I felt sick the rest of the weekend, and I’m convinced the frigid temperatures are partially, if not primarily, to blame. I love the Princess atmosphere, but I would think twice about booking this race again after experiencing that weather.
Did I miss something about these courses? Leave me a comment below to let me know.
Do you want a different perspective? I ran each ran with my friend and sorority sister. Well, she’s much faster, but we ran to the same finish line. Here are her recaps of the 5K and 10K races.
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