2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Report
On the home stretch, I saw Jeff Galloway, and stalked him for nearly a mile waiting for the right time to pounce for a photo with him. And thus, another photo for my ongoing “Tom Creeps on Jeff Galloway” series.
After crossing the finish line and receiving my Disneyland Half Marathon medal, I headed to the Coast-to-Coast line where they handed me something that was…IDENTICAL TO LAST YEAR’S MEDAL?! I did a double take, wondering if they accidentally-intentionally handed me overstock from last year, hoping I wouldn’t notice a difference, but the lanyard said “2016.”
I messaged a friend to ask him about this, and he said that the same Coast-to-Coast medal had been in use since at least 2011. I was flabbergasted…what’s the point of making a concerted effort to do races in Florida and California if the medal is always the same? I was on the fence to begin with about this event, and honestly would not have signed up had I known this.
In fairness, I probably could’ve figured it out pretty easily with even a little due diligence. These medals are always on display at the Expo, are posted on the Disney Parks Blog regularly, and there are blogs dedicated to runDisney. I’m sure this info is in large, bold font somewhere. Still, color me disappointed.
Then there was the issue of the race itself, which did not give me that same “runDisney high” as last year’s Disneyland Half. I suspect this was due to less on-course entertainment and also experiencing a bit less of the party atmosphere by being in the front.
The “less entertainment” thing really worries me, and it’s something about which friends who have been doing the runDisney thing for years have warned me. After I extoled the virtues of runDisney providing the fabled “Disney Difference” after my first Walt Disney World Marathon, those friends basically said, “you should’ve seen it 5 years ago if you’re impressed by this!”
As runDisney seems to be having a more difficult time selling out events (there were discounts available for those who booked the Walt Disney World Marathon Challenges or Avengers Weekend events at the Expo), it worries me that the entertainment situation will only worsen.
If runDisney is having an issue selling out events it could be (read: probably is) because people are voting with their wallets because they don’t believe they are getting good value for their money. In the past, runDisney has been a license to print money for Disney.
With demand far exceeding supply, Disney could do no wrong with these events because even a misstep here or there wasn’t detrimental to business. As it seems to have reached a tipping point, it will be interesting to see how runDisney reacts to supply finally exceeding demand.
The obvious solution is to provide better value. Make more of an effort with the courses, entertainment, etc. This is a good long term solution, but an easy short term one is to offer discounts while further cutting entertainment to keep profit margins where they currently sit. In the long term, this only exacerbates the problem, but I’m betting it’s the “solution” they choose.
What distinguishes runDisney events from other races around the country is the setting and entertainment. With over half of each ‘tent-pole’ race taking place outside of the parks, quality on-course entertainment is absolutely a necessary part of that equation, especially for repeat customers.
Sure, I love running through the castles and the medals are fun to collect, but they can’t rest on those two things and phone in the bulk of the course. If that’s going to be the case, I’d rather just run a cheaper race (which is virtually all of them) that goes through an environment I find compelling from start to finish, such as the National Park half marathons.
I’ve already decided not to run the Walt Disney World Marathon next year (that’s more an issue of timing since we are going at Christmas and I can’t justify a return visit so soon). I’ll more than likely be taking at least a year off from the Disneyland Half Marathon, too.
I really want to see how runDisney reacts to races not selling out as easily (or at all). I’d rather watch that play out from afar, than gamble my money on another experience that I didn’t feel was worth it. I enjoy the Disneyland Half Marathon course, and running in Southern California is a much more pleasant experience than Florida, but the event just didn’t have the same impact for me.
After the race, I headed to In-N-Out Burger for my second annual “Disneyland Half Marathon Double Double Meat-Up.” Per tradition, none of you showed up to the event (thanks a lot, everyone). Granted, I didn’t tell any of you about it, but I expect the wise readers of this blog to always be stationed at In-N-Out Burger, ready to protect our nation’s greatest treasures. (Didn’t you know? This blog is actually subliminal propaganda aimed at protecting fast food burger joints from alien aggression. Don’t tell anyone.)
Burger talk and complaints about the Disneyland Half aside, I’m still really looking forward to the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I’ve already shared this in my Disneyland Half Marathon Preview, but I think that if any event will pull out all the stops in terms of entertainment, I think it’s this one. I suspect Disneyland Paris will want to make a big splash with its first races, and generate positive word of mouth for future races. Even if entertainment isn’t exemplary for whatever reason, it will be a novel experience, and I think the medals are really cool.
My only concern there is organization. runDisney excels at organizing these races, and I really hope the same crew is put in charge of the Paris race. (I have nightmares they’ll put the D23 DIS-organization Task Force on this one.)
All in all, my expectations are high for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to pack my Body Glide. 😉 Hope to see some of you there!
If you’re planning on getting into runDisney, read my comprehensive planning & prep post, “The Idiot’s Guide to runDisney” for everything to know: training, what to pack, recommended races, the registration process, and more. If you want my first-hand accounts from past events, check out my runDisney Race Reports. Also be sure to check out my runDisney Packing Tips post for what you should use to train, and what to carry on race day.
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Do those of you who ran the event have anything to add? Do you agree or disagree with my perception of a quality-decline in the entertainment of this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon? Are you considering this or a different runDisney event? Anyone else heading to Paris for the Half? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
This was my first Disneyland race and coast to coast. This actually went down as one of my favorite runDisney weekends so far. Though I hope we don’t have more “selfie” characters-I wasn’t a huge fan of all of them. I get maybe a couple but it really stinks. I didn’t have high expectations after doing Dark Side in April, so maybe this made it better! Bummed I didn’t see you on the course to, I started in Corral D. Seems like you had a great time in Paris!
I was totally up for the Meat n Greet (espressoadventures), but no worries, I had a great double double animal style, fries and vanilla milkshake in honour of the virtual meet. :P.
Everything you wrote about the race was how I felt, and This being my second runDisney race. It was fine…. But felt like a park run + regular urban 1/2 marathon….
I expect a nice pain Au Chocolat meet up after collecting the Castle to Chateau…..or possibly a wine and frommage pit stop.
Good luck training – I’m aiming for a sub 2, but with the thought of characters…. I’ll need to throw out the time goal and enjoy the race.