Alabama Woman Triumphs at Disney Princess Half Marathon During “Girls Trip’’ at Walt Disney World Resort

Birmingham runner Shea Zablan came to Walt Disney World Resort with her high school girlfriends and left with the half marathon women’s title; Top male finisher Michael Fussner bounced back from a second-place finish a year ago to win the men’s crown; Reality TV star Matt James among the top finishers; Race capped off a four-day event weekend filled with Disney characters, on-course entertainment and a health & fitness expo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2024) – For their annual girls trip, Shea Zablan and her high school girlfriends decided on Walt Disney World Resort and the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by CORKCICLE on Sunday. It turned out to be a good choice as Zablan finished as the first female runner to cross the finish line amid a sea of cheers, confetti and Disney characters.

It was all very unexpected for Zablan, a Birmingham, Alabama runner who had never participated in a runDisney race before Sunday. Zablan came to Walt Disney World with her three girlfriends just to have fun and experience the magic of the Disney theme parks. She got to do both Sunday, easily finishing in 1:21:18, which was well ahead of Leah Foley of Goodrich, Michigan (1:23:38) and Sarah Humble of Salt Lake City, Utah (1:24:43). Along the way, she soaked in all the colorful Disney entertainment throughout the 13.1-mile course through Magic Kingdom Park and EPCOT.

“Running through the parks was definitely a joy,’’ said Zablan, who spent Sunday afternoon enjoying EPCOT with her girlfriends. “I think also there was music everywhere. I’m not used to that at other races. There were people cheering like every 100 meters apart. There was always someone all around. It was nice.’’

On the men’s side, the race for Michael Fussner of St. Louis, Missouri was a wonderful journey of redemption. After nearly winning the race a year ago, he hoped that a little Disney magic this year would create the fairytale ending that narrowly eluded him last year. Bolting to the lead early, he cruised the rest of the way to become the first male finisher (1:15:11).

After coming in second place last year, Fussner said of this year’s race: “You want to win. I mean, you get the confetti and everything. It’s awesome.’’

Reality TV star Matt James of Miami, Florida made his runDisney debut, running the entertainment-filled course in 1:27:32, which was 10th among male runners. James enjoyed the race so much that he said he will likely return next year for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January where he plans to do the Dopey Challenge – running the 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days for a total of 48.6 miles and six medals.

Heather Sealover of Bossier City, Louisiana, who won the wheelchair division last year, was the top wheelchair finisher (1:02:53) again this year followed by Linden Williamson of Seguin, Texas (1:05:37) and Nicholas McCoy of Boerne, Texas (1:18:31).

Sunday’s half marathon was the final race of the three-race weekend that included a 5K and a 10K, plus a Disney Fairytale Challenge (10K and the half marathon). The event ends Monday with a yoga event in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. Next up is the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend (April 18-21), the fourth and final race weekend of the runDisney race season at Walt Disney World.

This release has a media kit: