On February 26, almost 20,000 princesses (and a few princes) gathered on Epcot Center Dr at Walt Disney World Resort. 5:00am was the beginning of a 13.1 mile trek across property, through Magic Kingdom, and finishing at Epcot. Colder temperatures and slight rain didn’t stop the runners from taking off at the sound of the Fairy Godmother counting them down. Along the way, runners met some of their favorite princesses, heroes, and Disney favorites, such as John Smith, Flynn Rider, Mushu, and Cinderella. Some other familiar faces appeared in the crowd, such as famous musician Natalie Grant, Mrs. United States 2011 Shannon Ford, and runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway. Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort, stated that she was “truly inspired by the powerful women that stood before her” to run that morning. The run iteself was truly inspiring. Some ran in knee braces, others taped along the calves and shins. Some ran for causes, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Freedom against human trafficking. Others ran because they can, and still others ran because they know so many who can’t. Rachel Booth, the female winner of the Disneyland Half Marathon in California for the past two years, earned a record time and became the only runner to win runDisney titles on both coasts. It truly was a display of women’s empowerment and health. The runners were cheering each other on every step of the way, encouraging complete strangers beside them to keep moving. There was a sense of accomplishment for those who finished, a feeling they wanted to share with those around them. The Fairy Godmother herself offered the runners descriptions of the princesses they had become: Determined, courageous, persevering, committed, and willing to celebrate with one another. Each runner recieved their own glittering crown in their finisher’s medal, along with a lifetime of truly motivating and magical memories when they trade their glass slippers for running shoes.
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