• Melissa Malani

Memories from runDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Enchanted 10k partnership with Enterprise

Updated: Jun 10


Backstory


Go back in time with me, to April 18, 2012. On that date, I set a goal to start running – and that said, by February 2013, I would complete the runDisney Disney Princess Half Marathon. It took me ten months of training and a LOT of learning, but when that day in 2013 came, I finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon and cemented my love for runDisney events. Since then, I’ve run several runDisney races, each filled with magic and memories! So, when I had the opportunity to partner with Enterprise Rent-A-Car on the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I jumped at the chance! There is no better way to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the event that inspired me to start running than being back at Walt Disney World running the Disney Enchanted 10K with thousands of other runners who love runDisney as much as I do!



Enterprise


Enterprise is now the official rental car for runDisney, and I was THRILLED to partner with them to celebrate! Enterprise spoiled this princess with a horse-powered carriage, and I picked up my Ford Mustang Convertible on Friday afternoon. The branch was busy, but the staff was so courteous and helpful – answering all my questions about logistics with pleasure and patience. The car had a full gas tank and was sanitized, even including an extra disinfecting wipe for my personal use. The rep who helped me outside the car answered all my questions, most importantly how to operate the drop-top, and I was off! It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I dropped that convertible top before I was even off the lot! I headed home to grab a few items, and then it was off to the expo!



runDisney Expo


I love the runDisney expos – truly they are some of the best you’ll find. Thanks to all the signs and staff at Disney who had to assist, I parked quickly and walked to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to first collect my bib. runDisney did a superb job keeping everyone spaced apart, and picking up my bib took only 2 minutes. After I had my bib, I walked across the sidewalk to the expo hall where all the exhibitors were set up. I love a good expo, and I was excited to see the vendors. I did a few laps around the hall, made a few purchases, and picked up my race shirt. I stopped to chat with the runDisney staff about race morning transportation and use the digital event guide. I wanted to have all my details committed to memory, so I didn’t mess anything up the next morning (I don’t trust my brain at 3:30 am, haha!). The runDisney staff was so helpful and explained the process in detail, so I knew I was ready! Now it was time to check in to the hotel, eat dinner, and get to sleep!



Grand Floridian Resort and Spa


I’ve never stayed at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and let me tell you, this resort is spectacular! My room was overlooking the water; I could see the monorail in front and Cinderella Castle in the distance. It was PERFECT for the evening fireworks! The room was quiet and clean… I was almost instantly relaxed and ready to unwind. I walked down to the café and ordered an Impossible Burger, some chips, and a cupcake to go. I had dinner in my room while prepping my race outfit and gear, then finished the evening with a decaf coffee on the balcony watching the fireworks. Lights out by 9 pm for that 2:45 am alarm!



Race Morning


I had a quiet night's sleep and headed to the bus location by the resort Convention Center. It was about a 5-minute walk, and the bus was already there, so I jumped on, and we took off about 10 minutes later. We stopped at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and several more runners got on board. I sat next to a woman visiting with her husband from Virginia, who had both run the 5k the day before. She was running the 10K like me, and he was there to spectate and support. We chatted about how much fun they had during the 5k, and while it was their first runDisney race event, it definitely wouldn't be their last. The bus ride was short, but it was nice to talk to both and wish them a great time before heading to the start area. runDisney is SO organized and seamless when it comes to race logistics. They had people directing us as we walked to the start area. There were amazing vendors for coffee and pre-race carbs. I had a bag of animal crackers with me, so I snacked on those as I headed to the staging area.

There were five staging areas, and I was in the second one. Each corral was individually organized and then led to the start area, where we watched groups of runners take off every 2-3 minutes. They started the race with the national anthem, and then there were fireworks for each starting group. There were many amazing costumes and race outfits, people running for various charities and causes, and these corrals were great places to see them all. I chatted with a few runners around me, most running for fun and just so happy to be back at a runDisney race. Some were doing their first 10K ever, and I wished them all the best and told them that no matter what, HAVE FUN!

When it was our turn to cross the starting line, we all took off at once and slowly spread out across the road. The first mile flew by, and two runners close to me commented aloud, "it's a mile ALREADY?!?!" I had the same thought! We had just passed the first character stop, too; I had a feeling the next 5.2 miles would go just as quickly! I couldn't help but think back to my first runDisney event all those years ago – how I'm so grateful to be back and running with everyone around me. The course winds through Walt Disney World Resort, and we were outside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios before we knew it. I pulled over and took a quick picture with the entrance all lit up – it looked so pretty in the dark. We continued, and the spectators grew as the miles increased. I see my friend Allison at mile 5, and it's such a nice boost! We enter EPCOT and see Spaceship Earth, all lit up and changing colors, just gorgeous in the early morning! I stop again for another picture because it's just so pretty. I see many others doing the same, even though we are only about half a mile from the finish.



As we get closer to the end, I hear the noise from the stands picking up, the announcer saying the names of the runners crossing the finish line, and we all pick up our pace. We fly through the finish line, arms raised, celebrating our race. The volunteers are so wonderful, congratulating us and handing our medals out. I gratefully take one, round the corner to the finish chute where I see another friend handing out water! I stop to chat and then head out to find food (priorities, haha!). Then I have some fun with other finishers in the picture area and wander over to the buses. While I was hot when running, my sweat was quickly cooling me off, and I'm so glad the buses are right there – ready to whisk us all back to our hotels.

When I got back, I paused to watch the sunrise over the water outside my hotel room. The whole weekend has been amazing, and it hasn't even been 24 hours yet!



Post-race Fun


You’d think the race would be fun enough, but the best part of a runDisney race is going to the park afterward! My youngest, Matthew, and I headed out to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park for a day of rides and yummy food – but first, we took a spin in the convertible! Then we jumped in the shuttle from the hotel to the park and went off to explore. We didn’t have any plans, so we wandered around leisurely, looking at the animals, watching the shows, and finding all kinds of snacks along the way. We ended the day with a lazy riverboat ride around Pandora – The World of Avatar, which we felt was the perfect ending before dinner. We shuttled back to the hotel and got reservations at the Grand Floridian Café. The food was so delicious, and even though I wasn’t running the Half the following day, I opted for their runner pasta special (and I’m glad I did!) Matthew got his regular steak and potatoes, and of course, we grabbed some dessert for the room. On Sunday, we woke up, enjoyed some famous Mickey Waffles, and headed home. The car return was so smooth (except for the fact I didn’t want to return it, haha!). I dropped the keys in Enterprise’s dropbox after we filled the tank up, and that was it! The office was also located right next to where my son’s football game was – talk about perfect!



Final Thoughts


I’m so grateful for this opportunity to partner with Enterprise for the Disney Enchanted 10K. It was a weekend to ‘fill my cup’ with the running community as well as with my son. We had the opportunity for some rare 1:1 time – something I will always cherish! The magic of Disney permeates in everything they do: the resorts, the service, the meals, the parks, the runDisney events – literally everything. Now Enterprise gets to bring that magic to everyone who goes to runDisney races, and I can only hope everyone reading this gets to experience the same type of event!

*Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of Enterprise

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