What if Disney’s Cinderella was a runner?

If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be? Cinderella is a hard-working back-of-the-pack runner. Photo: Cinderella and Prince Charming with runners-runDisney

NEW YORK, July 9, 2013—Registration for runDisney’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend from January 16-19 opens July 9 at noon EDT at runDisney.com, including registration for the new Tinker Bell 10K. Other newly announced 10Ks from runDisney affiliated with the Disneyland Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon and Disney Princess Half Marathon sold out within one day.

In honor of the occasion, it’s time for another “Run, Karla, Run!” Disney running profile. If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?  Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs to take a few weeks off even if she doesn’t want to, and Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole.

This time, we’re working hard with Cinderella

Cinderella: The Hard Working Back-of-the-Pack Runner

Disney Princesses are hard-working gals. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty know how to keep a cottage tidy. Mulan and Merida are disciplined when it comes to training. And Tiana holds down two jobs to chase her dream of becoming a restaurateur.

But no Disney Princess works quite as hard as Cinderella. Yes, Tiana gives her a run for her money. But therein lies the difference between them. Tiana gets something from her hard work—a paycheck that promises her toil could pay off someday and make all her dreams come true. She’s like a promising young athlete who could become a champion with years of tough training. She’s investing in her future.

Not so with Cinderella. All she has is her dream that someday her hope of happiness will come true. Per the movie, she’s “abused, humiliated and finally forced to become a servant in her own house.” Heck, she doesn’t even get paid. Cinderella works hard not because she’s investing in her future. As far as she knows, her future involves more of the same. She works hard because it’s just the kind of person she is.

Cinderella wakes before the castle clock strikes 6 a.m. and spends all her hours cooking, cleaning, sewing and serving the cruel members of her stepfamily. Through it all she just keeps her head down and keeps on plugging.

She’s not unlike the runner who rises before dawn to squeeze in that workout before a jammed day of work. She’s not an Olympian. She’s not a professional runner. She’s not even a local competitor vying for small prize money or gift certificates. She’s not part of the elite in any way. She’s not even part of the bourgeoisie. Far from it. She’s one of the huddled masses.

Cinderella is your classic back-of-the-pack runner. She’s not out to win any races or even any age group awards. But she is quietly dreaming of something bigger as she looks at the castle out of her tower window.

So what’s that Cinderella runner training for? Why, the ball of course.

As runners, the ball is the big race we’re targeting. It’s the unthinkable distance we’re tackling for the first time—maybe even our first race or our first marathon. It’s the goal time we’re gunning for when we have a few races under our belt. It’s the hard-to-get-into race we’ve always dreamed of—New York or London or that marathon on far away Easter Island. Maybe for faster runners it’s the Boston Marathon—an invitation to the most exclusive running ball of them all.

Whatever the ball, one day Cinderella finds herself transformed. She stops referring to herself as “slow.” And she starts chasing her dreams.

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother rewards her for working hard—even if she does have snarky sense of humor.

“Maybe I should interrupt the—a—music lesson?” she says with a knowing look to the mice as her stepsister crows “Sing Sweet Nightingale” in the background. Who can blame her for her sarcasm?

So many times Cinderella runners are made to feel they’re less important or less dedicated or less deserving that faster runners. But nothing could be further from the truth. Every Cinderella has a Princess inside, just waiting to come out.

It like Cinderella sings: “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother cheers on runners at the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World in Florida. (Photo: runDisney)

And like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother made her transformation possible, our Fairy Godmother is whoever or whatever helps us make those running dreams come true. Whether it’s a spouse who watches the kids an hour every day while we squeeze in our workouts, or a coach who teaches us to believe in ourselves, or our devotion to a power beyond ourselves.

Our friends and family are like Jacques and Gus and Bruno and the birds who help us along the way. And Cinderella’s stepmother Lady Tremaine, stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella Tremaine, and Lucifer the evil cat are the roadblocks that stand in our way.

And Prince Charming? If the ball is a big race, Prince Charming is like that personal record we’re dreaming about. He’s the big “get”—the time we’re gunning for or the goal we want to achieve. Cinderella’s PC is the runner’s PR.

But, of course, Cinderella couldn’t go to the ball without her glass slippers. After all, they are her calling card. For runners, they’re the shoes that carry us through the training season and across the finish line. They’re magical kicks that fit just right, that help us make it through the ball, and ultimately nab our PR prince. Our running shoes are our pumpkin carriage and glass slippers all in one.

But sadly, like Cinderella’s ball, all races come to an end—thanks to a clock, no less. Not unlike all of us runners out there, Cinderella makes a mad dash to beat the clock.

At the stroke of midnight when the magic fades away, Cinderella is satisfied just to have had the experience. Her one remaining glass slipper is like her finisher’s medal. It reminds her of the magical moments at the ball. The next day, she goes back to her life and the ball is just another memory in the past.

But when she discovers that the young man she nearly kissed is really the Prince, she harbors a new hope. Maybe she can rise above the ashes and become something more. Maybe her new PR bodes well for her future as a runner. Maybe she can work her way from the back of the pack, into the middle, and toward the front.

With the help of her friends she escapes her imprisonment and steps forward to reveal who she really is: she’s a runner, a first-class runner.

She’s no longer Cinderella in rags. No longer in the back-of-the-pack. She’s a running Princess. She nabbed her Prince Charming at the ball. She nabbed her PR at the big race. She worked hard and, amazingly, it paid off.

And she runs happily ever after…

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. She has finished six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com, The Washington Times Communities, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Karla Bruning

Karla Bruning is the host of On The Run, a TV and web show from New York Road Runners. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, American Athlete Magazine, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, and two dozen other outlets including ESPN2, Universal Sports and ABC in New York. She and her work have also received mentions from The New York Times, Runner's World, Fox Sports, Canadian Running, The Baltimore Sun, and PBS among others. She also covered the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver for The Washington Times.


A former Newsweek reporter, Karla has won a Fulbright scholarship for American journalists and reporting grants from the Scripps Howard, Carnegie and Knight Foundations. Karla holds degrees from Amherst College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


When not pounding the pavement as a reporter, Karla is pounding the pavement as a runner. She has completed seven marathons, four triathlons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. She is a writer, editor, and on-camera reporter dedicated to covering the sport of running from a runner’s perspective. Find Karla on RunKarlaRun.com, Twitter@KBruning, Facebook and Google+.

Contact Karla Bruning


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