Sole Sisters on the run
Alpharetta friends lace up for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon
By KATIE VANBRACKLE
Early on a brisk morning in March, a rather large group of princesses gathered inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. Excitement filled the air as the colorfully dressed, tiara-topped ladies greeted each other.
But these Cinderellas weren’t heading to the ball. They were lacing up their athletic shoes in preparation for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.
Among the thousands of costumed runners were a group of friends from Alpharetta, most of whom had never before attempted such a long run.
Calling themselves the “Sole Sisters,” they wore matching black and red Minnie Mouse tutus and big red bows in their hair.
Though it was early, the gals were primed and ready for the task that lay ahead, said Holly Palmer, who helped organize the Alpharetta crew.
“We all went to Epcot the day before the race and carb-loaded at the Italian pavilion,” she said.
At 5:45 a.m., the Fairy Godmother appeared to wave her magic wand and with a burst of fireworks and a “Bibbity Bobbity Boo!” the princesses were off in a blur of glitter, tulle and spandex.
The race path extended 13.1 miles through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Disney characters greeted the runners along the way, with opportunities for quick photo-ops. Even a few male runners got into the spirit, wearing costumes representing Disney princes or Mickey himself.
Each one of the Sole Sisters successfully completed the exciting but exhausting run thanks to careful training by the staff running coaches at the Alpharetta YMCA.
The women, most of whom met when their children were in preschool, gather several times a week to run together at “the Y.”
“13.1 miles is a long way,” said Kristin Hicks. “When you run with a group, it’s a good motivator. You know you have to do it. Otherwise, there would probably be a point when you’d want to quit.”
Hicks, a longtime exerciser but new to running, says training with friends makes it more fun. She and fellow mom Traci Pearson get in plenty of girl talk during their long runs.
“We talk about our day and do plenty of venting and whining,” she said. “We get it all out of our system and then go home as much better moms and wives.”
YMCA staff member Jennifer Hasson teaches the Intro to Running class every Monday and Wednesday at 9:15 a.m., but once her students have completed a half-marathon, she shoos them out to train with Carolyn Teeter, who leads the more experienced runners.
The runs begin along the Alpharetta Greenway, then wind their way through Windward neighborhoods to add some hilly terrain to the course.
A Sole Sisters page on Facebook helps organize spontaneous runs for those needing extra training in preparation for the Peachtree Road Race or other challenges.
For Palmer, Hicks and the other Sole Sisters, having a new “13.1” magnet on their minivans is not enough. The running bug has bitten. The group is already planning a second half-marathon adventure this fall in Savannah.
Part of the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, the Savannah run will feature live music at the finish line in the city’s lovely Forsyth Park.
From tiaras to electric guitars, Alpharetta’s Sole Sisters plan to stay on the run.