I Got Swept at a Disney Race (My Princess Half Marathon Story)

Yep, I got swept at the half marathon in Walt Disney World. They put me on a bus at a Mile 8. Insert sad trumpet sound here.

First off, I feel like I need to start with an apology to everyone who congratulated me on finishing the race after I posted a photo of me wearing the race medal at Epcot post-run. So awkward! It didn’t even occur to me to not put on the medal (they gave us all one as we got off the bus) and then when people congratulated me I was totally unprepared to be like, “Psych! I only ran 8 miles, sucker!” and instead just didn’t say anything about finishing, thinking I would come home and write this post instead. So, I apologize if that feels dishonest! I have since learned that there’s a whole lot of controversy about people even accepting medals if they didn’t finish the race, let alone wearing them. More on that in a minute…

OK, whole story:

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So, I’m not sure how many of you have been following me since last summer but I started training for the Princess Half Marathon in July. It was a major comeback attempt since I haven’t run a half marathon since doing the Walt Disney World half in 2005 and I’ve gained a ton of weight (and two kids!) since then. It thought it would be poetic to run another half exactly a decade later and also great motivation to really make some progress on my fitness goals. It was hard to get started, but I had a lot of fun with it for the first couple of months and really enjoyed myself.

Unfortunately, I hit a serious roadblock in October that really set me back. I got a virus the week before Halloween and then wasn’t well again until the week after Christmas (respiratory infection, etc.), so I spent two and a half months either walking or not working out at all. I thought that I’d have enough time to recover for the race with the six weeks I had left to train, but ultimately I only did one long run before we left for Florida and I was barely under the pace requirement for that one. Not the strong start I was hoping for!

The other complication had nothing to do with training. When I decided to run the race, I thought I might go by myself and meet up with some of the past Disney brides who were running. Then, that trip expanded to Kyle and I taking a weekend away from the kids to pop out to FL. A lot of family discussions and tweaks later, the trip ended up being an epic two weeks that included three different hotel stays, a week with my parents in WDW, a week with Kyle’s parents in WDW, and a food blog conference somewhere in the middle. What started out as a victory tour for my triumphant return to racing turned into this random fitness event that I was doing in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of all of this other stuff.

Why was that an issue? (1) Before we even left, I was worried about shredding my legs during the race and then hobbling around for the rest of our vacation. (2) My stress level spiked as the trip became more complicated because I was preoccupied with taking care of the kids on their first WDW vacation. (3) Instead of staying on property, we ended up at an off-property resort on race day, which meant transportation to/from the race got more complicated. (4) Instead of taking it easy on the days leading up to the race, I did a red-eye flight, a rushed tour through the race expo, and a full day at the parks with my family. And finally (5) by race day, prepping myself for the run got lost in the chaos of vacationing.

As a result, a lot of things worked against me on the morning of the race. I didn’t sleep well because I was nervous. I only drank coffee before leaving, thinking I would grab something at the race, and then ended up proceeding straight to my corral on accident because I wasn’t paying attention. My legs and feet were sore from being in the parks all day. I saw people before the race, but ultimately ran alone since I didn’t know (or find) anyone in my immediate race area. Most importantly – my head and heart weren’t in it. As we waited to cross the start line, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I probably should have slept in.

So, I ran. And I had fun seeing the race sights and chatting a bit with the people around me, but there was no food on the course (at least the part that I saw) so by the time I hit mile 6 on a black-coffee-only stomach, I could feel my pace dropping. By the time I hit the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, I was non-stop thinking about food and the run had gone from pretty fun to a little fun to kind of sucking to OMG you all look like jogging Mickey waffles.

I pushed on for a bit, but I did give myself a few minutes to chat with Kyle and take a couple of photos inside the park. Before I knew it, I was officially behind pace and at mile 8 a Disney employee on a bicycle directed all of the runners in my area to a bus that was waiting to pick us up. It was official. I’d been swept at a Disney race.

In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I could have pushed harder. I would have been awkwardly running right in front of the bike lady but when I was swept I wouldn’t say that I was tapped out. Plus, I obviously would have had a better run if I had eaten breakfast. Or taken it easy. Or pushed a little harder in the 6 weeks leading up to the race. That being said, I didn’t (and don’t) feel sad about being swept because I still did all that work to train, I did my little 8 mile run, and it was a victory just to cross that freaking Start line after paying for three Disney races and then not showing up to them.

Which brings me to that medal thing…

The whole controversy about whether or not non-finishers should get a medal is very much drama caused by people worrying about what everyone around them is doing, so I don’t think there should be any shaming of people who receive/wear their medals if they didn’t finish. It doesn’t mean you finished any less if a non-finisher is wearing the same medal.

That being said, I so wish I hadn’t worn mine because it was super awkward to get congratulated and not know if you should blurt out that you didn’t actually run the whole thing. I only wore it for about an hour at Epcot while Kyle and I were procuring a hasty breakfast (which I promptly threw up, thank you very much 8 miles) but that was enough time to get congratulated by at least a dozen people. Plus, I did take and share pictures with it which (again)…enh, that’s misleading and it’s the only thing about the run that feels a little uncomfortable.

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Honestly, though, I was and am happy to have that medal and I’m going to hang it up with my 2005 one and the one I’ll get when I run the Tink half in two months. I trained, I showed up, and it’s this tangible thing that triggers warm fuzzies about making healthy decisions for myself. I’m also going to wear my cute pink Princess half performance top to the gym while I train for the next race. I know that some elite runners would probably be annoyed to hear that, especially since I didn’t get swept for any medical emergency outside of my control, but in the end the great thing about these events is that they’re so personal. My race story ended on a bus but it’s still a good chapter for me. I just hope I get a little more mileage (5.1+ miles to be exact) out of the next chapter!

Side note: not all of the Morgans got swept at their Disney races! Miss Eva ran in her first runDisney kids event and managed to earn her medal without having an asthma attack, which earned her much praise from her parental units. I think she was pretty proud of herself…

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28 thoughts on “I Got Swept at a Disney Race (My Princess Half Marathon Story)

  1. Ok, jogging Mickey waffles will now become a part of my lexicon!!!
    As for the medal….you earned that medal, even if you got swept at mile 8. You trained, showed up and ran. Job well done.

  2. Wear that medal with pride! It’s your race, your medal and your story; nothing else matters. And congratulations to Eva too!

  3. Be proud. 8 miles is a long run! Congratulations! Great post with great honesty! I don’t run but I follow many that do (including my daughter). I will be on the look at for you at Tink!

  4. BE PROUD!! There were a whole bunch of folks who were still sleeping while you were out running those 8 miles! I actually got swept in the 10k! I had finished the 5k the day before. I’ll be writing my experience soon! Congrats to you and Eva!

    • Thanks! While I was running, I was actually wishing that I had signed up to do the 10K instead of the half because I feel like that’s a lot closer to reasonable at 5 AM! Looking forward to reading about your run.

  5. First, lol @ the jogging Mickey waffles. XD

    Carly, you pretty much nailed it on why runDisney races are special. Every runner has their own story and victories, and your medal is a symbol of that, so wear that sucker all you want! Did not finish is way better than did not start! It’s a big deal just to commit and put yourself out there, so way to go! Ip also think you’re awesome for completing the 8 miles despite not ideal circumstances. That’s huge! Even though we have a few Disney races under our belt now, we still can’t do much more than JUST the races during a runDisney weekend, so you’re a trooper for having ran 8 miles after a full day at the parks! Congrats on your return to running, and I hope to run into you at Tink! 🙂

  6. Maybe you didn’t finish the race but you certainly paid for the medal. What is Disney going to do with all the medals of the people that didn’t finish, no repurposing them. I’m not a runner I do work at Disney and every year I think what a great thing to do and don’t do anything about it. You did something completed race or not you TRIED and that’s worth a medal in my book.

    • Thank you! I never thought about what they do with the leftover medals…hopefully they find a good place to donate them! I know in past years we’ve been responsible for at least 6 homeless medals.

  7. As a rundisney 1/2 runner I can say that while your story is great I agree that the finishers medals be for finishers only. Paying money to race only earns you a medal IF you finish, no matter the circumstances. I understand the training process can be disrupted but that’s life.

    • Hopefully you can use this race as a learning experience for the Tink 1/2, we all make mistakes running at first so just use this race as a leaning tool. A few more long runs and you will be all set for the next 1/2 🙂 good luck at Tink, it should be a really fun race 🙂

  8. Elite runners can be absolute $#$#@s and you shouldn’t need to care a lick about them. I don’t! Did you register? Yes. Did you show up? Yes. Did you run in the race? Yes. Did you pay for it? Yes. Do you get to wear your medal? YES!!! Who cares about whether or not you finished? I’d say running 8 miles with all the obstacles you had is pretty fricking great. Enjoy that you made the commitment and got up and ran! <3

    • This has nothing to do with Elite runners. This has to do with finishing the race. By handing out medals, runDisney is saying someone who ran or walked 8 miles is equal to someone who completed the distance. That’s not to say 8 miles isn’t an accomplishment, but let’s save the medals for the finishers.

  9. Sweet!! I love that you ran it! No shame in wearing your medal even though you didn’t finish. I ran my first half at Disney in January. It was SO fun! But one of the girls in our group didn’t finish and honestly? I was so proud of her just for running her 5 miles. And I’m happy for you as well. I want our kids to do the Mickey Mile next we go, so I’m glad to see your little one did it as well.

    And you’re so right about prepping–we were careful to do ZERO parks before the half marathon. We trained thoroughly, though a sprained ankle set me back quite a bit. And we brought those Stinger runner waffle things which make a great race-day breakfast. I also brought my own fuel gels and sure enough, the Clif table was completely out of fuel gel by the time I got there. It was a good thing too–I needed the calories! Best of luck to you next time!

  10. The fact that you signed up and trained for a half marathon straight out of the gate after a decade of absence from running is something to earn a medal for. I’m sorry that there’s this “we’re better than you” attitude in the runner community who feel that your medal is “unearned” due to not completing your mission. You still did 8 miles of legit effort and you deserve the reward! I’m not saying that because I’m your friend. I’m saying that because it’s true and something I would tell myself if I were in the same circumstance. Congrats to you on rising to the challenge and to Miss Eva on her first race too. <3

  11. I’ll never understand people who insist that non-finishers shouldn’t get a medal. It’s like they feel personally insulted or something. And this is coming from someone who finished it.
    Honestly, given all the stuff you did the days prior, I’m surprised you even got out of bed, cause I probably wouldn’t have.
    Jogging Mickey waffles is pure gold!

  12. Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. I had to leave a comment to let you know that I literally LOL at jogging Mickey waffles. That really just made my day! Btw, 8 miles is a great accomplishment. Good job!

  13. Hi. I loved the post! I also ran that race and barely made it ahead of the pickup at Mile 10. It was definitely a struggle. I was crazy enough to sign up for The Glass Slipper challenge plus the 5K for this year, but have not been able to train much because of some medical issues. I’m terrified of being swept, but was really concerned if I get the medal or not. Were you able to take pictures at the Finish Line picture area or did they drop you off in the event area? Also, did you still get the mesh bag?
    Thanks! And 8 miles is still a huge accomplishment! Wear that medal with pride!
    Suzanne

    • We were dropped off in a backstage area behind the event tents and it was disorienting enough that I don’t even know where we were in relation to the finish line so those photos are probably a no. We got the medal and the mesh bag though! Good luck but have fun either way!!!

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