*On Sunday (02-24-19), approximately 25,000 runners traded their tiaras and glass slippers for running shoes and sweatbands to participate in the 11th annual Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
This particular race is one of the largest women-focused running events in the United States. The runDisney event has grown considerably from 10,000 registered runners in 2009 to more than 56,000 expected participants in 2019 which also includes 214 “perfect” Princess runners, who are runners who have participated in every Disney Princess Half Marathon.
For the final day of the runDisney racing weekend, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin who is also a classically trained opera singer, gave an inspiring performance of the National Anthem to commence the race.
Excitement permeated throughout the air despite the humidity, as well as, the onslaught attacks of mosquitoes, through it all runners were bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 a.m. and braved the 13.1 miles trek starting and ending at Epcot. Emerging from the glitter the coterie of princes, princesses, and fairies, was winner Jackie Pirtle-Hall of St. Charles, Missouri who clocked in at 1 hour, 18 minutes and 30 seconds, two minutes faster than last year’s winner Dani Cook of Fort Collins, Colorado. Pirtle-Hall approached the race with no expectations nor did she place any pressure on herself considering she was recovering from a hip injury from last September and the Princess run was her first race in over eight months, she usually runs half marathons every three months. “I’ve qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta, and I am just getting back into training so I just wanted to see what I could do. I was by myself out there so I didn’t get pushed as much as I probably could have, but I still tried to push myself so I could give my coach some good numbers so we can [do] some workouts for 2020.” Winning the Princess Half Marathon gave Pirtle-Hall a greater sense of appreciation for the talent and motivation that she has in order with to make such a notable accomplishment, “I feel like a princess, a strong princess,” she says.
Newly crowned Miss America Nia Franklin can easily relate to feeling like a princess, she was there at the finish line to present Pirtle-Hall with her winner’s medal, and she also ran the Princess 5K on Friday. Franklin described that she was caught up in the magical ambiance of the race and felt the event was exciting and unique, “It was my very first time at Walt Disney World, so being there as Miss America made it even more dynamic, I felt a little like a kid on the inside!” Franklin is no stranger to running; she ran track and cross country in high school and continues to maintain a consistent gym routine. The event was so impactful to Franklin she replied when asked if she would run another Disney race in the future, “I would participate again. It is an honor to run in a race that inspires and supports Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and all kids!”
The race weekend includes runDisney Kids Races, 5K, 10K, Half marathon, a challenge race (running the 10K and half marathon in successive days) and a health & fitness expo. Disney Princess Half marathon is the third of four race weekends during the 2018-19 runDisney season, with the next race weekend being the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend presented by Otterbox, April 4 –7. runDisney events offer themed races and virtual races with entertainment, unique commemorative medals and more. For more information or to register for upcoming races, visit runDisney.com.