Latest reviews by Laura Bowers
I don't even know where to begin! The Princess Half Marathon was my very first runDisney weekend back in 2013 and the 2018 PHM was simply amazing. It just keeps getting better and better!
One thing I truly love about Disney races is how the excitement starts to build even before registering. With my group of gals, we start planning costumes at least eight months in advance and there's many race specific Facebook groups where you can ask questions, share knowledge and just chat.
Like with all Disney World races, the expo is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center from Thursday to Saturday. In previous years, crowds could get crazy but the completion of the large Arena building has alleviated the pressure and made things quite lovely! The area is well-marked with many staff members and volunteers on hand to guide you to the right direction. There's also characters out for pictures and several other photo opportunities in front of banners!
As for the races, transportation is provided from Disney World resorts but my best tip is to get to the bus stop EARLY ... like at least 15 minutes before transportation starts, or take an Uber. Instructions and more can be found in the Digital Event Guide that usually released around a month prior to the race. The reason why you want to arrive early is all the wonderful characters that are out for photos! There's also a DJ pumping up the excitement as well as a fun pre-show by the announcers and a firework start for each corral and wave!
As for the course, you'll spend some time on the highway until reaching Magic Kingdom at around mile five. But there are often great character stops like Captain Jack Sparrow, the Princes and more! (Tip: the course will loop around so if lines for Jack and the Princes are long, you can get them on the return.) Once you reach Magic Kingdom ... oh my gosh. Running down Main Street toward the castle with hundreds of chEarleaders urging you on is beyond amazing! I get chills just thinking about it!
The course will veer toward Tomorrowland and the first of many character photo opportunities. Lines for the bathroom at Tomorrowland Terrace will be quite long since it's the first one so try the bathrooms that are to the left of the teacups instead. If there's a character there, have a friend wait in line while you go and then switch! A good way to save time.
You'll then swing the Mine Train ride and head to one of the race highlights ... running through Cinderella's castle! The course often hooks to the right, so run on the left side for the best Photopass opportunity. It's also well-worth it to stop for a Photopass photo in front of the castle! The course then weaves through Frontierland and through backstage areas before reaching the dreaded Cone Alley near Grand Floridian. Things can get quite congested, so make sure you pack your patience and just breathe. Things will lighten up soon! (On a personal note, I had trouble coping this past year with the crowds. It was my own fault, however, since I stopped for many characters including an insanely long Gaston line. Next year, I plan on skipping some in Magic Kingdom in order to better keep with my own pace.)
You'll be on the highway until Epcot where more characters will be available for photos. Be sure to stop at the Photopass area in front of Spaceship Earth! Then rejoice to a gospel choir as you head toward the finish line. And what a finish! Blaring music, cheering crowds and several volunteers on hand to put that gorgeous bling around your neck! Enjoy it and take EVERYTHING in!
Afterward, you'll go through a chute where more volunteers hand out water and Powerade. If you earned a challenge medal by doing the 10k, you'll be directed to a tent where your bib will be verified. Then it's time for a snack box and I Did It Photo! And be sure to not hustle off. Stick around, grab a beer, dance to the DJ, chat with friends, and get another character photo! I'm also sure to soak these races for all they're worth, arriving early and leaving late.
All in all, I absolutely love this runDisney event and can't wait for 2019! I've written a TON of blog recaps and tips posts that you can find here on the Joyful Miles blog:
Or check out the many video recaps on our YouTube channel!
Hope this review is helpful and happy running!
This lovely 5k in the heart of Charm City is great for gals of all ages and fitness levels!
As the Mid-Atlantic's largest all-women's 5k, (and second oldest in the country,) the fee is quite reasonable, ($35.00 early bird,) plus proceeds benefit Cancerve, a women's support services for families battling cancer. There's also a great optional 8-week training program in several different locations for an additional $25.00, which includes a shirt, guest speakers, and for some areas, packet pick-up. (I picked mine up at pre-race, easy peezy!)
But let's get to the good stuff, Sunday morning!
The race begins at Rash Field by the Inner Harbor, a gorgeous area to visit. You do have to secure your own parking but there are many different garages to choice from. (I highly recommend using Parking Panda to secure a lower rate, but look for a promo code first. Also, consider avoiding the 400 Pratt Street garage unless you plan on getting there very early. Although very convenient, it had quite the line!)
This year, they had large tents set up on Rash Field with some vendors already open before the race. There's also plenty of port-o-pots available, (Tip: the ones farther down have smaller lines,) with hand-washing stations and tables set up for baskets full of sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, band aids, tampons, hair elastics, etc. Such a great touch! They also have bag check available near the bathrooms that is quick and painless, just make sure you bring your own bag.
After a taped recording of the National Anthem, trainers from Brick Bodies Gym led us in a lively warm-up before sending everyone to the starting line where volunteers hold pace signs. The race kicks off with an air horn blow and the first chunk of the course is pleasant ... until you hit the hill at Jackson Street! (Approximately .60.) Not the biggest one you'll ever see, but still a doozy. If you're trying to PR, I recommend taking the first half mile at an easy pace so that hill doesn't kick you in the rear!
The second mile is a lot easier--some hills, but manageable. While this race doesn't bring out as much spectator support as larger races such as the Baltimore Marathon, there are volunteers holding arrow signs and cheering you on while keeping everyone on the right track.
At the 2.5 mile mark, the course loops near the starting area again ... which gives the impression that you're almost done, but nope, not yet! The second water station is a welcome sight, though, (with the first near the mile one mark.) Plus the absolute best part of the race is next, when we ran along the Inner Harbor, with its charming brick path, wrought-iron fences, and welcomed breeze!
There were plenty of spectators cheering us on at the finish line, and afterwards, finishers are rewarded with a wet towel, (SO NEEDED this year,) a bottle of water, a rose, (awwww,) and best of all ... a pretty medal! I really loved this year's Black Eyed Susan design and for a 5k, they really treat you well.
At the Finisher's Village, there are lots of merchants selling everything from jewelry and athletic clothing to storage containers and protein shakes. There's some freebies as well as chips, pretzels, granola bars, bananas, and watermelon for the finishers. A background banner was set up for finishing photographs, although the line was quite long. A DJ kept everything lively as well! The finisher prizes were also quite lovely ... maybe one of these years I'll place. (When I'm 70, perhaps?) All and all, this little gem of a 5k is a must-try for those in the area. This was my fifth time running the Baltimore Women's Classic and I'll certainly be back next year for the 42th event!
One last tip: If you have time, consider visiting the Inner Harbor afterwards! There are many places for breakfast plus a great Barnes & Noble for book lovers. A wonderful way to show off your bling!
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a future Baltimore Women's Classic!
Be sure to check out Joyful Miles blog, YouTube channel and podcast for more running fun!
The Broad Street 10-Miler has been on my to-run list for a long time, but it's usually on the same weekend as the Frederick Running Festival, one of my favorite local races! This year, us four Joyful Milers decided to make it a fun weekend trip and I'm so glad we did!
We first had a BLAST touring Philadelphia and running up those amazing steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art the day prior. I mean, come on, you just have to! The expo was a total breeze ... very organized with many vendors, freebies, and fun photo opportunities. Big thumbs up!
On race day, we didn’t get up too early the morning of the race, but we probably should have left a tad bit earlier since we were staying in Delaware. (A mistake ... next time I do this race, I'll want to stay closer.) The forecast was also not looking great ... rain, rain, and lots more rain, so we made sure to dress appropirately ... or as close as posible. We left our hotel about 6:00 am, thinking we had plenty of time to make the 30 minute drive to South Philly but heavy traffic made this decision another mistake. We navigated the lane closures but got stuck in a huge line waiting to exit the bridge (to get to the stadium parking). Yep. Staying closer is well-worth the money!
We finally made our way to the subway along with lots of other runners. At least we make the express subway train vs. the every station stop train. The subway train was packed and with the weather the way it was, it was actually a blessing not to be standing and waiting in the corrals. By the time we exited the subway, the race had already started. We made our way to ‘find’ our corral, but we were directed to the side. The green corral was filtering into start, and we just happened to land there. No stretching, no thinking – just start running. We still had our ponchos on, said our good-bye and good-luck to one another and started the race.
In hindsight, the ‘late to the start’ was one of the best things that could have happened. I didn't have much time to think about things and just ran, doing my best to take in the amazing crowd support and cheering. Even with the bad weather, there was still pretty decent crowd support. I can only imagine how it'd be under normal conditions! I kept moving at a pretty good pace, keeping my conversation with Rob to a minimum since we were clearly both in a zone.
At about the halfway point, I asked if he'd be okay if I went ahead. Fine by him! We were both freezing and just wanted to finish by that point. So I went into major PR mode while still trying to take in the gorgeous historic buildings and sites. Even with the chill and being soaked to the bone, I thoroughly enjoyed the race and kept smiling!
As I approached the home stretch, I was ready to finish. And I mean ready. Megan had already warned us of the ‘fake’ finish line – meaning you aren’t done when they take your picture and you still have about a 1/2 a mile to run. Good thing she did because I might have been irked otherwise! Soon the finish line came in sight as well as volunteers handing out much-needed mylar blankets. Many thanks to all the volunteers!
Afterward, my fingers were so numb I had to ask a volunteer for help putting on my medal. I then sloshed my way through the rows were snacks were arranged on tables, trying not to drop everything! I then got my bag from bag check and found a quite corner, layering on as many clothes and extra blankets as my frozen fingers could. I soon met up with Rob and we decided to head on back to the parking lot and sit in Megan's van with the heat blasting until the others returned!
All in all, the Broad Street 10-Miler is a fantastic race at an extremely good price. I also appreciate how they offer a legal bib transfer system because things happen! I definitely want to do this race again with (hopefully) better weather. So much to see and do, great crowd support, and very well-organized!
Here's my video recap if you'd like to see more!