What would inspire you to get up two mornings in a row at 2:00 am to run in the Florida heat? For me, it can be answered in two words: Cinderella Castle. Every February, Disney World hosts the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but now it is even more exciting. Instead of just the 13.1 mile race, Run Disney has paired the half marathon with a 10K to create a new race duo known as the Glass Slipper Challenge for a total of 19.3 miles. Last February, I participated in the Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge, and here’s a summary of some of my royal adventures:

Both races began at Epcot in the wee hours of the morning, with fireworks heralding the first corral’s cross of the starting line before 6:00am. Over twenty-five thousand runners of all different ability levels donned tiaras, princess gowns and themed costumes to “show their Disney side.” Now, gentlemen, this event is not just for the ladies. The Princess Half Marathon weekend is for men, too, and some guys went all out and sported a tutu.

This was not my first half marathon, so I have several other races to which I can compare, but the Princess Half Marathon was by far the most FUN I have ever had while running. Imagine running through Magic Kingdom before park opening with thousands of spectators cheering you on, and getting to run through Cinderella Castle while royal trumpeters greet you with the Rocky theme song! Along the course that winds through Epcot, Magic Kingdom, the resort area and service roads of Disney World, live characters are available for meet and greets and photographs!

Other highlights of the race included a live performance by a company of drummers from Epcot’s China Pavilion, Frozen’s Elsa dusting the runners with “snow” from an overpass, a trio of Prince Charmings holding a glass slipper and searching for their princess, Jack Sparrow posing for portraits in front of a full-sized pirate ship that had been set up on the race course and a Jubliation gospel choir singing “Hallelujah!” while Minnie Mouse congratulated the runners on finishing the race.

One of the best parts of Run Disney races are the medals. They are bright, colorful, and themed for a princess. The Half Marathon and Enchanted 10K have their own distinct medal, and runners who completed both races were awarded a third Glass Slipper Challenge medal. These three pieces of bling are my favorite souvenirs from the weekend and they hang proudly in my office and await some medal companions.

If sweating it princess style doesn’t float your boat, there are countless other races from which to choose. The Disney Marathon weekend is held each January and includes a 5K family run, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Do you love the villains? Come out in October and run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in the dark at Hollywood Studios. Maybe you are a Super Hero fan or you love Star Wars. Disneyland in Anaheim hosts races to celebrate the Marvel hero or Jedi in you! Run Disney races have become so popular that some races sell out in a matter of hours. The Wine and Dine Half Marathon is held in Epcot each November to celebrate the Food and Wine Festival. If you want to participate in this race, sign up on the day that registration opens because it sells out within hours.

They say that once you do one Run Disney race, you catch the bug and want to run another. I can say that this is definitely true for me. What’s next on my list? I think I want to do the Avengers Half Marathon in conjunction with a conference at Disneyland to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary this year. And, I think, 2016 might be my big year to run my first marathon. What could inspire me to run 26.2 miles? You guessed it—my pal Mickey Mouse!