Running down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle during Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World


The story of a mom, a daughter and a magical Disney surprise

Let's just say you're at Boston Marathon Expo, breezing through the exhibits, when you round the corner. The runDisney booth beams with color and energy. But wait a minute… who's that in the giant poster? The tutu-clad young lady running toward Cinderella Castle, her arms raised in unfettered elation…

It's your daughter. The same picture you carry everywhere on your phone!

Running down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle during Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

"My legs were actually shaking!" smiles Val Walforth. "When I showed my phone to the Disney people at the booth, they were amazed, too. We took a photo of the photo and sent it to everybody!"

And the winners are…

Emily asked to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon as her graduation present. Both Emily and Val had a blast running in costumes. "I have so much fun laying out my outfit the day before," Emily says. "I love the whole process of picking out costumes. It's a big part of the whole experience for me."

Val and Emily ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon for two years, winning first place in the mother/daughter category both years, which was a special team division at the time. The photo was taken in the second year.

"It totally captured the feeling of running down Main Street," Emily recalls. "It gives me goose bumps. You can't see it in the picture, I have tears in my eyes."

Running as a Celebration

Val is a serious runner—not in the brow-furrowed, driven sense, but as a firm believer in running as a celebration to be shared with family and friends. "I have done the Boston Marathon for five years and I love them," she says, "but when I do the runDisney races, they mean more to me."

Mother and daughter dressed as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck get ready for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

"There aren't words to describe the feeling. The characters on the course, the people cheering along the way, the pixie dust they sprinkle. I started with the Goofy Challenge – a Marathon and Half Marathon – in 2010. Since then, I've done the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon two years in row and the Dopey Challenge. After the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon in California, it was an honor to receive a Coast to Coast Challenge medal with Walt Disney on it. Only the runDisney race medals are on our walls."

"We get very excited and emotional about it," Val adds. "Maybe that's why we're such a Disney family. My husband is usually part of the ChEAR Squad, but this year, he's going to do the 5K and 10K races. Even if he walks them, he'll know, first hand, what a gift it is to be able to run these races."