“Guys.. we’re gonna do the Princess Half.. and we’re gonna dress up.. as princesses”
That was pretty much how things started. And three years later here we are.
To say that the idea of #PrincessMen grew into something we would have never foreseen is obvious. To find ourselves welcomed so warmly by so many two years after that first run in 2015 is still a shock, but way more fun now!
After the first race two years ago we watched posts online over social media quickly questioning “WHO were those guys!?”. During the second race in 2016 we were greeted by “I was hoping to see you guys!” followed by topping Buzzfeed’s Best-Dressed list from the race. Haha!
Now in our third year, and back to our original large group (plus a couple new faces) we were met with “I joined the Half Marathon just to meet you guys..”
Consider that for a moment. Several woman out there not only considered, but signed up for, paid, trained, AND COMPLETED a half marathon and credited us with getting them there.
Shelly was just one of several ladies who posted comments like these online, or told us in-person during the race.
And while I’m proud that our antics and humor is encouraging anyone to get out and run/walk and improve their health and lifestyle – THEY are the ones that put in the work and finished the event.
And they should be incredibly proud.
So those who don’t know me, or are still wondering what the hell PrincessMen is. Well, I’m a guy with a long background in aquatics and running. I never had much interest in “paying to run” until watching my mother race Ironman several years ago. Now I race Ironman (triathlon). I’m one of three in our family.
PrincessMen? Well, the short version is that it started a silly and fun thing to do. Now there are so many people that find encouragement in it that we plan to continue doing this until it’s either no longer fun, or other people no longer find it entertaining. The longer version from our first year can be read HERE.
It’s hard to keep things simple
I’d love to say that it’s as easy as “show up and run” for a group like this, but it never is, right? I’m from California. This race is in Florida. We have runners in our group from California, Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, and Florida. Logistics can be tricky.
And to say I make it easy on my friends would be a lie.
After the attention we received last year I made it clear that we have rules now among ourselves to be followed.
Disney has VERY clear rules on what is and isn’t allowed at their races – and those rules continually change and recently have become more strict. We have been fortunate to be welcomed by both the runners and indirectly acknowledged by runDisney as well.
Last year I was told, “Oh, everyone (at runDisney) knows who you are. We follow everything (on social media)” by one of the reps.
There are a few points I’ll share because I think there are people that might be curious who are reading this.
- We don’t stop on the course. This is because the first year any time we stopped for any reason a line immediately formed by us. This is a direct violation of Disney rules. This is why we hang around afterward to say our hellos and take photos after the race instead.
- I expect everyone to train. This year was a big push by myself and a couple others that everyone stay on top of their training. This also helps keep us moving at a reasonable pace.
- I made everyone run a qualifier race last year. Hahaha! I know the group wasn’t thrilled to spend more money. But this allowed us to choose our corral to start in. For example, I run a 1:40ish half, which is fast enough for B corral (where the fast males are placed). But I can choose to move back to any corral I wish. Our group was scattered B through H. So we started in H, mid-pack. It worked out great since our agreed-target-corral was K.
- And most simply, everyone needs to be positive. This race isn’t about us. I think showing up as a man to a princess-themed woman-power type event, and sprinting to the finish (as a male) is incredibly tacky, right? Go pick an event that isn’t 92% female if your ego needs to show off? Maybe Disney needs to start banishing us male runners back to D corral to make sure the pro female runners are who wins.
There are going to be rude people at any event. This past Sunday at PHM a woman loudly scoffed at us, and was very rude when our Mulan said we couldn’t stop while running to take a photo but could take one while moving.
I ducked out of the image as did a few others when she turned up the attitude on us for not stopping our race to accommodate her. The entitlement at Disney is real. I say that as an ex-cast-member. Most of the PrincessMen group are ex-CM’s also.
So we try to bring some humor and fun, despite the occasional hiccup like these.
And this year we heard several great stories in person and online.
There were several people that made it a point to tell us they joined the race to see us.
There were cancer survivors that found humor an encouragement in us laughing and singing and cheering along the course who thanked us for the support while they were out accomplishing their own goals after their personal battles.
Many stories and comments from ladies working on weight loss and fitness goals who said they found that bit of energy toward the end when we came jogging by happy and cheering the last several miles as that little boost they needed to not slow down.
That’s why we’re still here three years on.
Because, people just find it encouraging.
We don’t run to support a cause of any kind. We’re not running for any kind of “awareness” movement. As sweet as it would sound to say “we run for the women in our families” or our wives or something… half of us aren’t even married. lol!
We run Princess for the other runners.
It’s that simple.
So when PHM 2018 rolls around you’ll see us back in Orlando, and back at Princess.
A bunch of scary, tall, princesses with bad hair… until you realize it’s actually dudes in bad wigs.
We’ll be running to support you. Hopefully bring some laughs and some smiles to you on your race day.
You might have your own reasons to be out there running whether it’s fitness, lifestyle change, supporting woman in your life, or perhaps completing a Half is simply a target you’re trying to reach.
We’re just there to support you.
And maybe to wear a wig or a dress, cuz we do look fab in them.
Photos of us throughout the weekend
(photos from other people on social media are way down below)
Starting my trip out to Florida
Night flight means I got to see the sunset
Joe (Belle) has a new puppy, who likes to watch the front yard through the window
Heading to check in and get our bibs
Someone recognized us! We were walking around and heard “Oh my god! The PrincessMen!”. I was dying. I thought it was hilarious we were recognized in normal clothes dressed…. well… as dudes.
I got a super sweet low-number this race because of my fast qualifying time
Beau making new friends
The best part of of these trips is sitting around catching up and talking
This is how we prepped for the weekend. Ice cream.
Really I shouldn’t be eating it since I’m the Princess who wears a mid riff. lol
Saturday with Joe and Erin making adjustments to his costume
You know your wife is cool when she puts up with your outfit changes while pregnant. Erin also ran as a Beast the first year, and cheered as Beast the second year we did this
Remember this photo from 2016?
Heading to Wide World to meet everyone for Check In that afternoon
None of us ever remember to pre-print our form… haha
Scott realizing he’s in the wrong line
Joe and Erin, waiting for everyone. Chris’ parents are up in the bleachers and were waiting for us to arrive
Mulan, John Smith, Flynn Rider… checkin’ in
Now wandering over to the expo
Scott and Theresa’s first attempt at this distance!
We tried to get a group shot, but were already missing a few people. And Beau forgot to bring his bib for the photo. haha!
Ana came to say hi to us before race day also!
Later that afternoon several of us went back to Beau’s hotel to hang out. This is the stark contrast of snack food between Naidymar and myself. She went super healthy, I went super not-healthy. The funny part is we’re both training for a Half Ironman race in Puerto Rico three weeks after the Princess race
Beau making sure his outfit still fits – and has the bib from last year still on it. hahaha!
Beau and Biggs were both laughing at how tangled their wigs were
Heading out for errands
Biggs was laughing and trying to comb out his wig with this little plastic comb
Right before dark I told everyone we should do a short shake out run. Everyone was down, so the four us went jogging
Two miles later, barely broke a sweat. haha!
We were going to order dinner (well, second dinner) and then realized we could just run to the grocery store and get food for 6-7 of us for like $30 instead
Getting our wigs figured out. This is actually my old wig, and looks better now than before
Ric took over cooking for everyone
Naidymar arrived and was going to stay in the hotel with us that night
Besides, we all had a bunch of prep stuff that still needed to be done. haha!
Since Biggs’ wife couldn’t make the trip due to work Naidy took over helping Chris with his wig
This was the point that I realized I should use my actual camera and not my cell phone to take all pics
Ric, still cooking away
It’s the fun times like these with everyone that make me miss this group of friends so much
This wig is clearly a ton of work
Then Naidymar had to figure out her helmet for her John Smith character
Joe met up with us later that night. He was crashing with us, too, so we could all travel together in the morning
Found Chris in the bathroom making more minor adjustments
Dinner time for everyone!
Pasta because it’s cheap. Not because there is some ridiculous idea that you “need” to carb-load for the race.
Ahh, yassss, girllllll. We gon’ look good!
Getting ready for the night. It was already like 10p. We were getting up around 245a.
Bright and early… still half asleep
Naidymar, thrilled to be awake
Do I go mid-riff-Jasman… or not. Maybe I’ll try and get superrr lean for 2018
Ric, already packing up
Joe is totally thrilled to be awake. Out of all of us, he’s prob the least happy to be on 3-4 hours of sleep
Beards and scruffy princesses were def gonna be hilarious
Just a few weeks from this moment we’re gonna be racing triathlon in Puerto Rico! But today is about lookin’ fab
Joe’s costume is actually in multiple parts
Ric, getting his pieced together.
Yassss Belle, you sexy mofo
Chris is almost constantly laughing. If there is one dude that is always just plain happy to be there hanging out, it’s Chris.
Beau showered and getting dressed. He’s a personal trainer, so always buffed out Pocahontas
Joe couldn’t bend to easily to get his shoes. His skirt didn’t have a lot of flex
This photo sums up the weekend so well in so many ways.
Naidymar was constantly eating all weekend since she’s actually in peak-week timeframe for our approaching Half Ironman. Biggs is giggling at most everything, and like I said, just happy to be hanging with everyone at another Princess race. And Beau, goofing off and practicing his leg pop for later that day. “What do you guys think, this leg…?”
“Or how about this side?”
Pocahontas and John Smith. Ready to run
My wig was already falling apart! It’s brand new!
Some help from Naidymar
Joe, ready to go
We’re all pretty much ready now, and my camera was set up for a group shot. It’s only like 330ish at this point. Maybe earlier
Damn. We look great. As always. hahahaha!
Ric didn’t want to wear his dress in the car! Cheater!
Approaching Epcot. Already a line of cars
Arrived at the race! The rest of the group got there shortly after us!
Oh my god, Scott’s Rapunzel is hilarious!
Started to line up for a group shot then realized we were missing a couple people.
And about two days before the race, Aaron (Ariel) dyed his beard bright red to match his character and wig. It was amazing
Now we got everyone! Ready to run!
Walking into the corrals
Arrived at Corral H, everyone started stretching
It was quickly filling up
Biggs was so happy to see other Mulan themed runners!
Someone walked by dressed at Beast… Joe grabbed him and started dancing
Beau, workin that camera
quite a few of these people were actually taking photos of us. So I took one of them ;)
I’m not sure if she was amused by Ryan’s outfit. Who wore it better guys?
Almost to the start line
Ready to go! You can even tell in this photo that me, Joe, Aaron, and Ric are all a head taller than everyone else
Came across several other gown versions of Belle right at the start!
Made it to Magic Kingdom! Sun still isn’t up all the way
More Mulan runners! Biggs probably would have given each one a high five and a hug or something if he could. He was so happy to see his princess represented out there
The first Jasmine to come get a photo with me on the course!
I ran ahead slightly and stopped to take photos at several points
Aaron ran ahead to catch this girl… she wasn’t amused either.
More Mulan fans!
Actually, Mulan and Mushu
I sorta “know” them from IG, they’re @runsintutus , so we’re all basically instagram BFFs as far as I’m concerned
So around this point on the course Aaron mentioned he brought sandwiches… SANDWICHES. IN HIS FANNY PACK. The dude brought lunch to eat during a race!! hahaha
Ric, an engineer, said there may be a chance that work calls him in the morning with issues that he might have to deal with over the phone. And that is exactly what happened during the race! lol
Stopped at the Prince photo op
Approaching the end of the race. We were told there was a group with a sign for us..
Turned out it was a sign OF US! HAHAHA!
Last character stop was Mushu! So we had to stop
Done! Another successful race as ladies. hahaha
Final group shot. Shortly after was when people started coming up to say hello and take photos
Had to get an updated photo this year! Always fun seeing the same friends from year’s past!
Bummer… done and leaving. Twelve more months til another day of ridiculous racing
Another medal… for the box.
Really though, mine are just in a box. Disney medals are hilariously large and I just don’t have the wall space at the moment
She was trying to be sneaky and get closer to the bags to snag them and run!
Every year after PHM I go through as much of social media as I can to collect the images that have been shared of us. We wear a printed name tag with #PrincessMen because it helps us locate any images.
The wonderful thing about seeing people’s personal posts on Instagram and Facebook are the stories they share and comments they make about sharing some laughs, feeling inspired, or that we were actually a “goal” to go to the race and find and meet us. It’s very touching and we continually check in the several weeks following the race for new posts.
One of my favorite posts are one we’re not even really in… we’re just crashing Katie’s finish photo! haha!
There are two different Facebook groups that I’ve been added into since we started #PrincessMen. I try to keep track of the posts in those because the feedback is immense.
I posted in one prior to the race letting people know we were returning. The response was immediate, and huge.
Every now and then I caught a post like this, and would respond ;)
At the expo we posted when me, Belle, and Pocahontas went to check in on our own…
And that morning at the race I posted our group shot immediately after we arrived while walking to the corrals. I wanted an easy to find post in the group that everyone else would post their photos to in the comments. This way there was less for me to track down.
And after the race I posted and thanked everyone
A second runDisney group I was added to..
First, I was notified by someone that a group they were in posted our article from Buzzfeed last year. So I was added to the group and responded.
The response there was huge, too
Race morning I posted our group shot, too, so we could track down photos of us in this group as well
And now finally a massive collection of all the photos I could download from Facebook that people posted….whew. SO.MUCH.WORK.
…but I think I’m done with this blog post after this collection…
As soon as we got out of the car we were stopped by Marian. First photo of the day!
…all the rest are going to be out of order..