Over labor day weekend, I flew to Anaheim with the rest of my family for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend! I had a complete blast going to the parks, cheering at the 5K, heading to the expo and running an amazing half-marathon course.
This was my 3rd different runDisney event, my 5th runDisney half marathon and my 10th ever half marathon, making this a landmark event for me!
I’ve ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon twice (2014 & 2016) and the Star Wars Rebel Challenge twice (2015 & 2016). However, I was really looking forward to the Disneyland Half Marathon because of it’s more general Disney theme and position as the flagship running event for Disneyland.
At the expo, I wasn’t too excited by the merchandise available, but did pick up some race pins. I think I was hoping to find some great jacket or other thing but none of the designs really spoke to me. I did really enjoy the t-shirts, which were a great blue color with lime green accents.
It looks like runDisney has dropped the speaker series for their runDisney expos, but in the past year those were declining in quality. Instead, sponsor Cigna had a whole bunch of activities available, such as free caricatures. The lines were rather long, so I did skip that. The biggest thing we actually stood in line for was the KT taping. Since increasing my mileage in prep for the Portland Marathon in October, I’ve found KT Tape to be an amazing help.
I was excited to see that the runDisney booth was offering discounted and advanced registration opportunities at the expo for some of their running events, but none that I signed up for, although it was extremely tempting. I hope to see more of that at the expos going forward.
At some point during the expo, Taylor told me I was in charge of social media for the trip, which was the start of my prolific instagramming over the weekend. Instagram is a social media platform I’ve only recently started experimenting with.
With race bibs picked up, we were ready for race day!
In a throwback to my very first half marathon, I once again donned my mouse ears and ran as a mousketeer. This is such a simple and fun costume to run in. Once my mouse ears are pinned in, I can barely even feel them. I added a few changes to the outfit, including an updated shirt with better font for our names across the back, and small red bows on my ears and pigtails. Very classic!
For this race, runDisney added a whole bunch more corrals. With each corral smaller, I fell from B corral to E corral. Taylor, Mom and I all wanted to start together, so we started in H corral…. which although far back, was STILL not the last corrals, with more corrals behind us.
This really did change my corral experience, for worse. I couldn’t see a single video screen, like I had in the past, and could barely hear the announcers from the stage. I was in the corral for well over an hour. Jason, starting in A corral, passed the 5K mark a good 20 minutes before we even crossed the starting line.
The good part? All of us runDisney racers were in the same boat, and people in the corrals were all in good spirits with little complaining.
I also loved that the Dapper Dans (my favorite Disneyland musical group) sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning.Because of the respectful hush of the crowd for the anthem, it was one of the few things I heard quite clearly. It was beautiful.
Throwing all running wisdom to the wind, I TOOK OFF as soon as our corral was released. I mean, I was practically sprinting out of the gate, Mom and Taylor protesting as they followed.
Honestly, this is not be a smart race strategy, but I wanted to get ahead of some of the corrals and get to the front. I knew we were essentially faster than most of the Corral H runners, just based on our pace for other races. In addition, I knew we wouldn’t really push ourself the rest of the race, so weren’t in any real danger of spending too much energy in the beginning.
Incredibly soon, we were already backstage!
At this point, I have to commend runDisney on their decision to split up the field into additional corrals. The corral experience was terrible; the run experience was amazing. In pervious races (especially Star Wars 2015), bottlenecking really hampered the race once we ran onto the narrower course within the parks. Although it was crowded and a little slow, I didn’t really experience that extreme bottleneck this time.
The course turned into California Adventure first, and we took advantage of a restroom stop in Cars Land (another side effect of being in the corrals forever), just after we spotted McQueen and Mater. We ran over the bridge past the World of Color fountains and around Paradise Pier, where the Three Caballeros partied and waved to runners.
Already, I was struck by how many characters were out. In addition to ones you could line up to take pictures with, many characters were positioned up high so runners disinclined to wait in line could enjoy them or snap a quick selfie.
Very soon, we were heading to Disneyland!
There is nothing like running through Disneyland and we were having a blast.
The course took us right through the castle, and even this notorious bottleneck point yielded fairly smooth sailing.
We did stop for some character photos. While we spotted Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and the Sheriff of Nottingham waving from the top deck of the omnibus, our attention was drawn to characters from Tarzan.
Jane! Such an awesome character and one you rarely see in the parks!
Everywhere, characters were out and greeting. In his own race, Jason had an amusing run-in with Lilo. As one of the fast runners, he was the first to snap a photo with her.
Unlike in the last two Star Wars races and when I ran Tink in May, lines were reasonable and characters were plentiful. It was a wonderful change. The characters aren’t the biggest draw for me, but I love seeing them and the color they add to the races.
After leaving Disneyland, the course surprised me! We went back into California Adventure for the second time! It was brief, but because I hadn’t studied the course map, it was such a pleasant surprise that brought a smile to my face.
We left park property by way of backstage and we enjoyed running past the Disneyland Railyard, home to the steam trains and monorail. Since the railroad has been down for Star Wars land construction, we really enjoyed getting to know it better and talking to the engineers. They have such great stories. It is well worth the time to to chat with them. They are so passionate about their job and have the best stories about operating these historic steam engines.
Running backstage is completely different from running in the actual park, but I love this sneak peek behind the magic of disneyland. In addition, cast members cheer on the runners with boundless enthusiasm.
Of course, the entertainment and cheering didn’t stop once we left the parks! In fact, I think the Disneyland Half may have the most course entertainment.
The miles just flew by for me. I’m training for the Portland Marathon in October, so my last long run before the Disneyland Half was 20 miles, making me the most prepared I have EVER been for the half marathon race distance (even if it wasn’t that fast). I was just so excited to see everything that I was over halfway done before I knew it.
I love how even once leaving the park, every RunDisney race has a special touch to the on-course entertainment. Tinker Bell has blocks of amazing Red Hat ladies that imbue the runners with energy because of their extreme enthusiasm. Star Wars brings out the 501st and other cosplay groups.
And the Disneyland Half had a mile (over a mile?) of car collectors. Classic cars, hotrods, even disneyfied cars. It was such fun to see them all out here! I’ve been to various car shows and there were more cars here than I’ve ever seen at one of those events.
Every time I thought we’d reached the last of them, we’d turn a corner and here would be more cars! It was like every car club in the area was there— and this is the Los Angeles area, birthplace of America’s car culture.
The other part of the course that makes the Disneyland Half Marathon special is running through Angel Stadium. Just after seeing the last car we approached Angel Stadium.
This experience was every bit as amazing as previous runners have said it is. As we approached the stadium, we ran through the team entrance and onto the field. This is a large stadium, and from the field, the scale is awe-inspiring.
As we ran around the outside of the field, Boys and Girl scouts cheered from the stands, even leaning over to give runners high fives. Cameras picked up the runners to display on the big screen as we ran by.
Just outside of Angel Stadium, we reached mile 10! Back to Disneyland, here we go!
For a Labor Day race in Southern California, we were really lucky with the weather. I feared temperatures in the 90s or 100s, but for our trip, highs were in the mid-80s. Our race started early enough, it was warm, but bearable. However, by Mile 10, we started really feeling the sun and I was looking forward to the end of the race.
If possible, it seemed like even more people were out to cheer for us in these last three miles, some giving out snacks, others just giving out encouragement. The closer we got to the park, the happier I got. I was about to complete my 10th marathon and I felt great!
Right before the Disneyland Hotel, we knew our walking days were over. Time to run to the finish line!
We crossed together, and all the Disney characters were out at the finish line to cheer for us; Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy.
Jason was there as well, having finished his race much earlier.
Fantastic weather, great course and amazing entertainment. This was definitely a great runDisney race and a perfect race for my 10th Half Marathon.
As a reward, Jason went into the confectionary in Downtown Disney and found me the most ridiculous large and delicious looking treat in the place.
How’s that for a post-race celebration!
Ran With: Taylor and Mom
Best Part: I was really struck by how great this course and entertainment was in general. Lots of characters, the entertainment groups, the never-ending car collectors, Angel Stadium. It was a stand out race.