Who Wouldn’t Want To Run A Disney Marathon?

Uhhhh … why did no one tell me until now that Disney hosts themed running events? Racked posted a very informational article about Disney’s Princess Run and other Disney-themed running events today, and honestly, I feel deprived. You have all been remiss. What the hell.

So, the rundown: Disney hosts a marathon and several half-marathons at both Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim throughout the year. Each of the events also has 5k, 10k, and kid-distance runs. The Disney runs are pretty cool, because they attract first-time female runners more than practically any other competitive running event, and anything that gets women feeling comfortable and empowered about their bodies is A-OK with me.

I get why that would be the case, of course — Disney princesses, despite being a loaded topic, are a piece of the American culture that is distinctly in the female realm. Most cis-hetero males are not that interested in them. Until we grow up and learn that no one’s hair is that perfect and no one’s eyes are that big and practically no one’s waist-to-hip ratio is that dramatic without cosmetic procedures, Disney princesses are the examples we have of women who are inherently important. They make us feel like women are important. Like, yeah, I get the whole “we don’t need a prince to rescue us!” thing, but behind the whole storyline of a prince rescuing a princess is the underlying assumption that there’s something about that princess — be that her station, her personality, her beauty, her moral principles — that makes her worth rescuing.

Beyond that, there’s the fact that most of the princesses are portrayed as intellectually curious, and they live in worlds in which their curiosity is punished, but they ultimately prevail. That is the basic storyline of every Disney princess movie, regardless of the details of how it happens. My feeling is that it’s not little girls who grow up worrying over what the Disney princesses look like — little girls see Disney movies and think, “I want to be brave and strong like Mulan,” or “I want to take care of people like Snow White,” or “I want to stand up to people, like Jasmine,” or “I want to be adventurous like Ariel, and see new things,” not “I want to have lustrous hair and a tiny waist.” And in my memory, the princes were a handsome bonus for a princess whose character stood on its own. Maybe that’s just me.

But I think that’s why, as adults, the topic of Disney princesses still fascinates us, and why it has so many feelings attached to it. If you’re the kind of woman who still looks back at Disney movies and sees role models, why wouldn’t you want to run a marathon or a half themed around the Disney princesses? Marathon training is rough and it takes a lot of mental fortitude. Leaning back on the Disney hope-and-magic aura, and on our memories of Disney princesses as brave, tough, defiant, and adventurous makes a hell of a lot of sense.

As to the cost: The entry fees are pretty standard for any marathon or half, but it’s true, as the Racked piece points out, that going to Disney is hella expensive. I imagine it’s expensive to book hotel rooms in Chicago, Boston, or New York on marathon weekends, too, and you don’t get bonus access to theme park rides. Obviously, the Disney marathon or half experience is meant to be different than the standard marathon or half. Part of that, though, is that you get to experience some of the “magic of Disney,” which, if your heart isn’t grown over with stone, really does exist at the theme parks.

Long-distance running events are hard, they get disheartening, and if you’re a first-timer you can expect that about halfway through, your patience will peak and start to fizzle, you’ll start needing familiar faces and places to get you through to the end. That’s why I asked my mom to meet me at 13 miles when I ran the marathon in October, and put my boyfriend at mile 20; my mom met me again at mile 25, and my best friend and her husband met me at the 26-mile mark. But imagine if it’s not just the people you love who are supporting you throughout the race — it’s all the characters who made your childhood magical, and made you believe that the world is bigger than it seems at first. What long-distance runner wouldn’t love that?

To me, it’d be worth the expense. So who knows — maybe you’ll find me in Anaheim next January, running in a Slave Leia getup in the Star Wars half. Stranger things have happened.


[Image via RunDisney]

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