Disneyland Half Marathon Report – Part 1

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Yesterday, I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. I thought I’d share some of my photos and thoughts from the runDisney race, since many of you want more trip reports, and this is as close as I’ll get to one anytime soon for Disneyland. If you read my Walt Disney World Marathon Report, you might be thinking, “didn’t he learn his lesson?!” No, of course not. I don’t learn anything that quickly. I’m like the poorly trained dog that keeps peeing in the house, despite being hit on the nose with a newspaper everytime.

Speaking of training, I actually did some this time! It was not nearly enough, but for two and a half weeks leading up to the race, I ran or used the elliptical nearly everyday. I also haven’t been drinking booze and didn’t eat at In-N-Out for 3 weeks before the race. Still not nearly enough, but far more than I did for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I wanted to train more for this, but I thought it was the first weekend of November, and didn’t realize that wasn’t the case until early August when I was going through my email to make sure I didn’t double book any fall travel. Oops.

This is not a good training regime and I do not endorse it. While I haven’t suffered any injuries due to my lackluster training for these races, they are entirely possible. Moreover, it’s not as if I’m out of shape absent training specifically directed at running a marathon. I hike, sometimes eat healthy foods, and generally move around a lot. As I said in the previous report, it’s not as if I rolled off the couch, licked the Krispy Kreme glaze off my fingers, and laced up my running shoes. I say this only because I wouldn’t want this to come across as a recommended training “strategy” for anyone else. I should not be considered a role model for…anything, ever.

One final note: please excuse the quality of the photos here. They were all taken with the highly capable Sony RX100, but most of the time they were shot while running or in less than ideal conditions. Only a handful of times did I fully stop to take photos, so these are really only for illustrative purposes. If you think these are bad, you should see all of the ones I deleted: blurry photos of my feet, up my nose, and lots of other unflattering stuff.

Alright, on with the report…

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As with all runDisney events, this started out with the Health & Fitness Expo. I enjoy wandering around these–not because I’d buy anything from the various vendors, but it’s just cool to see what’s out there. I love seeing gadgets and innovations in anything, and it fascinates me to see how the running world keeps utilizing technological advancements to create better products. Well, I should say presumably better products. I have no clue if it’s all actually snake oil, but it’s neat to see, nonetheless.

The registration process went off without a hitch, with one exception: they put a bracelet on my wrist for the Coast-to-Coast medal that I was expected to wear until Sunday. It was Thursday night. I thought the volunteers were joking at first, as we had been making humorous small talk before this, so I laughed when they told me. They were quick to point out that they were serious. No big deal…I guess if I got hurt in the interim, there would already be a bracelet on my wrist for the hospital to use.

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One of many mistakes I made leading up to the race was not booking a hotel room. We don’t exactly live close to Disneyland (before anyone asks in the comments for the thousandth time, yes, we moved to California), so this meant I would either have to pony up and pay $200+ for a crumby motel room or get up super early and drive. I watched the Hotel Tonight app in the few days leading up to the race, and at one point Stanford Inn & Suites was $99 on there, but I wanted a hotel that I hadn’t reviewed (the plight of a Disney blogger), and the cheapest one of those never got below $152. That exact same hotel was $79 a few days earlier, so I wasn’t paying that much solely on principle.

Fortunately(?), another mistake I had made was not submitting proof of time from the Walt Disney World Marathon (they’re both runDisney events, so why isn’t that automatic?), meaning that I got placed in corral F, the second to last one. The upside to this was that I wouldn’t start the race until around 6:15 am, around 35 minutes after the first corral started. This meant I didn’t have to get up quite as early…only 3:30 am instead of 2:45!

I don’t normally drive to Disneyland in the middle of the night (weird, right?!), and it turns out there’s not typical Southern California traffic on the roads at 4:30 am. This was a big plus, and I made my best time ever getting to the Mickey & Friends parking structure. Unfortunately, it seems that every single other car that was on the road at this hour was also heading to Mickey & Friends, resulting in the worst line I had ever seen to get into the structure. I’ll take it–I’d rather sit in line there than crawl along the 5 at a snail’s pace.

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After waiting a while, I was finally in. I had planned on checking a bag with my car keys, wallet, and other random things in it, but I figured I didn’t have time, so I left my wallet and keys in the car. The words “I think I’ll steal that Kia today!” have probably never been uttered by any carjacker, ever, so I figured I was safe. (You’ll have to read Part 2 to find out whether anyone stole my fly Sorento!)

I arrived at the starting point as the D corral was going, so although I had cut it close, I had timed things pretty well. I ate some Clif Shot Bloks (with caffeine!) and was good to go.

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Maybe it was the caffeine, or maybe it was the excitement of all the runners in the air, but as my corral started, I was getting pretty hyped.

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I don’t exactly enjoy running, but I absolutely love these runDisney events. I can’t even begin to articulate why, but there’s a certain energy in the air, and I get this odd, blissful feeling when running. That probably sounds sappy, and I don’t expect anyone to understand it, but it’s what has me hooked on the runDisney events.

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The downside of starting in the F group was that I was with and behind a lot of casual runners. I have absolutely nothing against people taking it slow, but that’s not my approach, and it’s really difficult to pass people at the beginning due to a combination of runner density and the narrow-ness of the course.

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Due to this, my pace for the first third of the race was actually (by far) my slowest. Part of this is due to more frequent stops since I was inside Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for this section of the course, but it was moreso due to having to take things slower than I would have liked.

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After the first mile, the course entered Disney California Adventure around dawn. It was pretty cool seeing Cars Land all lit up in the morning.

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By far the coolest aspect of the Disney California Adventure leg of the race, though, was seeing the World of Color fountains and hearing the post-show music. I could literally sit for hours watching this.

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Fair warning: this report is going to include some selfies, many of which are unflattering. I’m not keen on selfies, but they seem appropriate for a race report so you feel like you were there. Or something like that. Maybe I’m just really vain. (Although if that’s the case, you’d think I might choose better photos…)

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The Disney California Adventure portion of the course was really short, which I assume was because there was no good way to wind it through more of the park. Oh well.

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From there, it was on to Disneyland, which would consume nearly two miles of the course or so, I think.

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My “Selfie While Running” game is not very strong and I totally missed the Train Station in this shot, but thought I’d post it anyway because it looks like the dude in the background is giving the camera a death stare.

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The placard above the entrance tunnel took on an oddly motivational tone during the race.

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Two miles down!

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Aside from the Disneyland Forever fireworks, this was probably the most crowded Main Street has been in a couple of weeks. The real brilliance of runDisney is its ability to draw people to the parks during the off-season.

Part of me wonders if what could eliminate Disneyland Paris’ financial woes is simply filling the calendar with 8 runDisney events…

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There were some really narrow parts of the course in Disneyland, but overall, I thought this section worked pretty well. We spent a lot of time in the park, which is always great.

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Running just over a 10-minute mile pace early on. A real marathoner would laugh at that number, but given my stops and the crowd, I was not disappointed.

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Obligatory “look at me, I’m about to run through the castle!” selfie.

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The idea of running through one of the Disney castles at sunrise is enough, by itself, to sell a lot of people on runDisney events, I think. This is for good reason–no matter how many times you’ve passed through Sleeping Beauty Castle, there’s something special about running through it during a race. I can’t articulate the why of it (despite being a writer, there sure is a lot I can’t articulate…I guess that makes me a lousy writer) and maybe I’m alone in that sentiment, but it is a moving (now that’s a “good” pun…maybe I am not such a lousy writer! 😉 ) experience for me.

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The sunrise was a total bust–as are most in SoCal–but the light on the Matterhorn was stunning.

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I’ll discuss this in greater depth in Part 2, but one of the big reasons I have so much energy/motivation during the runDisney races is all of the volunteers, Cast Members, and random people from the community out there providing support. I think this is probably the X factor of runDisney events for me.

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This is probably the worst selfie that anyone has ever purposefully shared in the history of the internet, but if you can’t laugh at yourself, what fun is there? I was starting to feel it (as you can plainly see!) as I exited the park, and was really nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to do 9 more miles of (what I expected to be) a boring course.

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(I don’t want to end this report with the bad taste of that last selfie in your mouth, so let’s finish with one of America’s greatest national treasure: Mack from Paint the Night.) 

One of the things that got me through the Walt Disney World Marathon was passing all of the cool “Disney stuff.” My big concern with the Disneyland Half Marathon was that this would not be the case running through the city of Anaheim. When we were contemplating a move to California, Anaheim was quickly ruled out as an option because…how to put this nicely…large parts of it aren’t the best areas.

Don’t get me wrong, Anaheim has come a long way in the last few years (developments around the stadiums and the Anaheim Packing District both come to mind), and it most definitely is not all bad. As for the race, I joked that if each liquor store passed were a mile marker, the Disneyland Half Marathon would easily be a full marathon.

It turns out my fears were entirely misguided, and the sections of the course in Anaheim were excellent–better than the “dead” areas of the Walt Disney World Marathon course.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2 OF THIS RACE REPORT.

If you’re heading to Disneyland for the Diamond Celebration, check out our Ultimate Guide to the Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. We also have tons of other posts to help you plan, including our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, a look at Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings, our Unique Packing List for Disney Trips, an index of our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews, and a number of other things in our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide!

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YOUR THOUGHTS…

Did you run the Disneyland Half Marathon? What did you think of it? If you have done other runDisney events, do you know what I mean with all of these “inarticulable” aspects of the races? Any other thoughts? Questions about any of the above? Hearing from you is part of the fun, so please leave some feedback in the comments! 🙂


27 Responses to “Disneyland Half Marathon Report – Part 1”
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