Kimberly Scotter of Indianapolis, Indiana, was experiencing her first trip to Disney and her first runDisney half marathon. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Lake Buena Vista, FL.- Kimberly Scotter’s family couldn’t afford to go to Disney World when she was a kid. As she stood among the second group of participants waiting to get started on the 15th annual Disney Princess Half Marathon, Scotter thought about how far she and her mother have come from those days. This weekend was her mother’s first trip to Disney and Scotter’s first runDisney half marathon. On a cool Sunday morning around 3 a.m. she took it all in. “I just always wanted to run Disney and here I am,” Scotter, dressed in a purple running skirt that matched a pair of purple cat ears and her t-shirt, said.

And what about mom? “I told her to sleep in, she had a long day yesterday,” Scotter, an Indianapolis resident, said.

Why they run

Thousands of runners lined up in the dark of the morning for the third of the four runDisney race weekends that include a 5K, 10K and half marathon. The next race, Springtime Surprise, takes place on the weekend of April 13-16.

What is unique about Disney races is the fact that runners get to run through the Disney parks and see Disney characters throughout the experience.

Of those runners there were many Black participants, and their individual stories were similar to Scotter’s, but also much different. Some experienced extreme weight loss and wanted to prove something to themselves, others were running on behalf of family members that weren’t able to run long distances, while people like Dalisha Shingler from Columbia, South Carolina have simpler, less complicated reasons for running. “I wanted to do a half marathon and so I wanted to do something pretty like this,” Shingler said, who came to Disney with her husband and son who were back at the hotel sleeping.

Ashely Cooper of Houston, Texas thought the Princess Half Marathon would be the perfect place to start her 13.1 mile journey as well. Dressed in a red High School Musical basketball uniform, Cooper said, “I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”

She flew down to Disney with her little sister who was back at the hotel waiting for her to return triumphant. “No one wanted to run with me,” she said with a smile.

Joshua Plummer ran his first half marathon, runDisney Wine and Dine last November. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Joshua Plummer from Tallahassee, Florida, ran the half marathon for his grandmother who recently had recovered from complications brought on by gastric bypass surgery. His grandparents raised him and he wanted to make them proud by running for them.

“I know there are a lot of health issues that run in my family and I wanted to start running to combat some of those issues,” said Plummer, who ran track in high school and was dressed as a prince.

Charlotte, North Carolina resident Jeff Black is running his 15th runDisney race this weekend. He ran the 10K the day before. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Jeff Black’s daughters didn’t travel with him to Disney from their home in Charlotte, North Carolina this time, but he’s hoping they will another time. The Princess Half Marathon, his first, was his 15th runDisney race and the competing in races as much as he has is inspiring his daughters to run as well. Both have since run in 5Ks. “I just do whatever runDisney race I can because there’s a race culture here,” Black said. He ran the 10k the day before. “You see a lot of people overcoming things here.”

A whole person

Ashley Cooper (above) of Houston, Texas, wanted to run the runDisney Princess Half Marathon, “To prove to myself that I could do it.” Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

People like Latia Barrett have overcome health and physical issues. “I lost a whole person,” Barrett said in a sarcastic voice as she told the story of her 165-pound weight loss journey. Barrett, a Washington, D.C. resident, called the race a “bucket list item.”

“I’m a big Disney fan so I thought it was a perfect place to run my first half marathon,” she said.

Sister, Sister

The Young sisters, Gabby and Dominique, were running their first runDisney half marathons Sunday. Gabby turned 30 last year and wanted to do something different before she turned 31. “I wanted to run a half marathon,” Gabby said.

“And she talked me into it,” added Dominique.

The sisters were at Disney from Virginia Beach and they approached the race with having fun in mind. “We’re going to see how it goes,” said Dominque.

What’s next:

All of the runDisney race registrations fill fast. Francine Sutton, a Jackson, Mississippi native now lives in Kissimmee and wanted to run in other races but, “Everything else was sold out,” she said. She ran the Princess 5K in 2020, and the 10K in 2022 so this half marathon completes the set for her. “I just run these races for fun, and I love princesses.” Sutton’s shiny blue tiara made it easier to see her as she joined thousands of others near the starting line.

General registration for the 2023 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, which takes place November 2-5 at Walt Disney World Resort is March 21, 2023.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...