Friday, September 7, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon!

Their race motto is “The happiest race on earth” and of course, I was skeptical, although that was more the out of shape, grumpy me thinking negative thoughts. This race has been on the top of my wish list since I first saw an ad for it in Running Times. Who wouldn’t want to run through Disneyland?!?

I signed up for this event back in January. I was still riding on the high of the Santa to the Sea half marathon and couldn’t imagine another injury knocking me out. Two injuries later and I was seriously contemplating selling my number, honestly I even asked around. Selling numbers is a no, no, but my goodness, have you seen the price tag on this race? So two negatives right off: you have to sign up unbelievably early since they sell out fast and two, the price tag is steep.

At the last minute, I booked the Eden Roc hotel because it was cheap and close. I highly recommend it if you are running this race in the future. The hotel is old and tired, but without booking one of the Disney resorts, you can’t get much closer to the start and finish line of the race. Check out isn’t till late, so I even had time to go back to the room and shower before hitting the road home.

The expo was good, not great, but good. Well, I’m critical. I haven’t been wowed by any race expo yet. I came from the geeky world of comic con and gift shows. Running expos haven’t held a candle to the many other large expos I have experienced. It almost makes me want to become a race expo vendor. Fill the niche that just seems to be missing. Maybe one day I’ll give up my flashy life as a code monkey and do just that!

They ask you to be at your starting coral by 4:30am. Since I work such early hours during the week, this wasn’t too big of a deal for me. The race didn’t actually start till 5:45, so I didn’t leave the hotel till around 4:50 and with the walk, wasn’t in my coral till after 5. It really wasn’t a problem. I could have headed there later.

The weather was perfect for the race. It wasn’t too cold in the morning, I didn’t ever feel the need for a jacket and it didn’t get too warm during the race. I felt comfortable the whole time, although Daddio did feel overheated near the end.

I was sporting my R2D2 skirt I made for comic con and I got a lot of compliments and call outs. Many times during the race, I had to weave through people to give kids high fives on the sideline who were excitedly calling out to me.

The race starts out on the street, but within a short time you enter California Adventure. It was still too dark for my phone to take any good pictures, so I unfortunately didn’t get many in the parks. They had a lot of characters for photo ops. Plan ahead if you want any. There are lines for pictures, so calculate your pace with that in mind.
Almost there... not
I didn’t recognize much in California Adventure. I’ve only been there once and it was when it first opened and the park only had a handful of rides. It looks like a really fun place to go. The water show in front of the farris wheel just about took my breath away in the predawn lighting. It was really something. Cars land was super cool to run through. I can see why people were excited about that new area in the park.

Shortly after our Cali adventure, we were in good old Disneyland. There is just something magical about that place. I kept telling Daddio “This is just so cool”. I probably sounded like a broken record. I got excited around every twist and turn. Every character we saw was a thrill. Running through the castle was definitely a highlight!

I was tempted to stop for a picture with Darth Vader, because of my skirt, but the line was already super long. Two Disney employees in Jedi robes called out to me, saying “There’s our droid”. I really wish that I had stopped to take a picture with them.

The inside of the park section of the run really went by way too fast. The whole race actually did. After the parks, we hit the streets of Anaheim. I was surprised by how many spectators were out in the early hours. So much support and funny signs! At this point, it took on the usual race feel. There were cheerleaders, school bands, dancers, etc. all the things that make races like these wonderful.

I had no race strategy this time around. I wanted to go slow enough that I wouldn’t set my physical therapy back, but I wanted to go fast enough to avoid the pickup car. We intervaled running and walking, averaging in the mid 12’s for each mile. It was a comfortable pace and I never felt out of breath.

Around mile 8 we came across a car show, all setup just for the runners. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The cars went on and on, one beautiful old car after another. After that, we were running down by the canal with Angel stadium quickly approaching. My favorite part of the race had to be Angel stadium. We got to run down into the stadium and jog along the dirt around the outside of the grass. The lower part of the stadium was filled with spectators and the roar and cheers washed over me as we ran along. To say the least, it was epic.

From there, it’s roughly three miles back to Disneyland. The distance just flew by for me. I couldn’t have been happier.

Once we were within sight of the park, the cheer squads were intense. Everyone was cheering and yelling. People were reading names off bibs and calling out encouragement to complete strangers. I gave more high fives in the last leg of the run than I think I ever have in a race. I almost wanted to slow down and experience that last leg just a little longer, but the finish line was calling to me. As soon as the finish line was in sight, I picked up the speed and threw my hands in the air. Victory!

Almost there!
Overall a great race! The atmosphere is amazing and the course was spectacular. The finisher medal was beautiful and everything seemed to run like a well oiled machine.

There were water stops just about every mile. I was glad I didn’t wear a hydration pack, because I really didn’t need it and it would have clashed terribly with my skirt. Food on the other hand was scarce. There was one GU stop around mile 9, but that was literally it. There were a handful of spectators along the course that were holding out bowls of pretzels or candy, but I was never within reach. Outside of Angel’s stadium, they were handing out samples of extreme sports beans and I did grab one of those (which were really tasty. I might need to buy some of those!). Overall, I was very happy that I had decided to carry my own GU.

There wasn’t much after the race either. They did give us nice cold hand towels, that Daddio threw on top of his head and I used to wipe down my face. Instead of having food, other than bananas, they gave us a box that had a few snack items in it. I picked through it, but didn’t find anything too appetizing. So overall, one more negative: don’t expect too many freebees. There was nothing in my bag at the expo other than my event shirt and there wasn’t anything really worth mentioning at the end of the race either. You’d think being Disney and with the price of the race there would have been a little more, but now I’m just whining.

Overall, it was a great race! Two thumbs up. I am so glad that I did it. Would I do a Disney race again? Probably, but not in the near future. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely! It is, after all the happiest race on earth!


  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun! That's so creative to make your skirt - you could probably write a whole post about that and DIY'ers would love it. Congrats on finishing the half marathon!

  2. That's a good idea! I'm about to make one for a friend, so I'll take the opportunity to take pics of the steps.

  3. Great article. Uh, report. Wait! Blog. Yeah: blog.