When most people think of Disney World,  they see images of Minnie and Mickey Mouse in their head and of magical experiences filled with pixie dust and fun. But runDisney has over the last few years, has inspired runners and fitness enthusiasts to go beyond all of the traditional Disney magic. runDisney has added a dimension to the Disney experience that motivates, inspires, and empowers runners to get healthy along side the magic and fantasy of the “most magical place on earth.”

Princess Half Meetup | LiveDoGrow

Photo credit runDisney, Disney Parks

How is runDisney empowering runners?

I had the {amazing} opportunity to attend the runDisney Princess Half Meet up last week, to kick off the Princess Half Marathon weekend.  This small meet up of about 50 runners assembled early in the morning, to run 2.9 miles through the an empty Epcot wonderland.    It was not just a regular run though. One group that wanted to run the entire 2.9 miles took off with actor and Run3rd founder Sean Astin, Run Like a Mother authors Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, and Princess Half Marathon record setting champion Rachel Booth.  I chose to go with the second group to run/walk with training legend Jeff Galloway and Biggest Loser winner Ali Vincent.  Our group traversed Epcot alternating running and walking every 30 seconds, which was a great way to settle in to the Florida humidity and take in everything around us as we made our way through the park.

Empowering Runners at the Princess Half Meetup | LivedoGrow

Photo credits runDisney, Disney Parks

The most empowering part about the meet up though, came after the run.

Whether the runners were beginners or elite level champions, everything about the line up of speakers was inspiring, motivating, and empowering.

Ali Vincent, shared her journey to running, something that she pushes herself to do, one minute at time.  She reminded us that fast or slow, running or walking, “we all sweat the same.” Listening to Ali, I was reminder of the journey to feeling strong.  She spoke of being in control and feeling strong because of running and her fitness, no longer feeling ashamed or comparing herself to others.

Paralympic Gold Medal runner April Holmes recounted her journey from being in an accident and losing her leg to setting goals. Overcoming the challenge of learning to run again, she set out on three goals: 1)to be the fastest person in the world,  2) to represent the United States in the paralympic games, and 3) to win a few gold medals along the way. Her determination and commitment to herself are steeped in a very simple reminder…..that we must celebrate ourselves. Our past, our goals, our journey.

runDisney Empowering Runners | LiveDoGrow

Photo credit: runDisney, Disney Parks

Listening to the stories of the many runners that assembled that morning in Epcot to kick off the Princess Half weekend was a reminder.  A reminder that each of us laces our shoes for each run with our own motivation, our own stories, our own journey.  April Holmes said it best, “Your gold medal comes in being better than you were yesterday.”

Empowering Runners at runDisney | LiveDoGrow

The important thing though is that we continue to lace up our shoes, and that regardless of the ups and downs of training or life, that we stay committed and inspired to reach our goals- whatever they may be. Because each new day and new run is a chance to do better.




Written by Elena Sonnino

Elena Sonnino

Chaser of Dreams. Life coach, wellness and travel writer, yogini, former teacher, adventure seeker, hiker, foodie …and oh right, cancer survivor. Elena writes about finding everyday wellness in far-flung lands and in her own backyard in the Washington D.C. suburbs.


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