ORLANDO, Fla. - Disney officials say Sunday’s Disney Princess Half Marathon was a "women-focused" race, filled with powerful stories of courage, kindness and strength – qualities embodied by Disney princesses. Because of this, the first-place female runner is considered the overall winner. This year, that was Georganne Watson from Lititz, Pennsylvania, who crossed the finish line in under one hour and 20 minutes.
"Women come together for this and support each other, and the environment is just the best. I'm an early '90s kid, grew up on Disney movies, so it's nostalgic and just awesome," she said.
This race closed-out a weekend of racing at Disney. That started on Thursday with the inaugural Disney Princess Sunrise Yoga event at the Magic Kingdom and was followed by a 5k,10k and half-marathon races. All of these events were sold-out. This year's race has added significance. Not only is it Disney's 50th anniversary, it's also the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the law that makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender.
"So it's a regulation that's aiming to continue to further the presence of equality, especially when it comes to gender and sex," said Kati Fernandez, who heads-up ESPN’s Fifty/50 initiative.
Runners came from across the country to pound the pavement at Epcot, like Betsi Morrison, a runner from Whitefish, Montana. "I feel incredible," she said. "It's my first half-marathon ever, my first Disney run, and I'm so pumped and ready to do it again!"
Of course, there weren't only women taking part, and the men were getting behind the "girl power" message. "I think it's extremely important," said Alex Righetti, a runner from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "We went through the Me Too thing a few years back. We're in a world where everybody needs to treat each other with equality. It doesn't matter your gender, your race, your sexuality. Everybody needs to be much kinder to each other."