The Happiest Run on Earth: Part II
It's part II of my Disneyland Half Marathon recap! This time I'll talk about the actual course itself and the experience running it.
I think it's safe to say you'll never run a race like a run Disney race. There's just really nothing like it. To be able to have seen the parks without people in it was a weird feeling but just as awesome as it was weird.
So before the race, Alice and I had to make sure we grabbed some breakfast. Luckily many of the Downtown Disney restaurants (like Starbucks and Jamba Juice) open early to accommodate the runners. If you're staying in the area, I suggest you look into the shuttle to take you from your hotel to the Downtown Disney area. Alice and I were planning to do a quick shake out jog/walk to get there but one of the shuttles passed us and told us to hop on. I guess 2 girls walking around at 3:30am isn't exactly the safest thing!
After grabbing breakfast, we headed over to the Lilo parking lot, which is where all the pre-race festivities happen. You can use the restroom (ahem, porta-potties), watch some of the skits and special guests they have on stage, have your pictures taken, fix your tutu. You know, pre-race stuff.
If you're worried about making sure you get to the corrals on time, don't worry. Everything that's happening on stage ends right around the time you should be heading over the corrals. They'll also make an announcement for you to start heading that way.
So... the corrals. I was definitely not used to how they set up the start but I figure with this many people and such a small amount of space plus the fact that you're running in the park, they need to control it somehow. So in all the races I've done, from 5Ks to half-marathons, you stay in your corral and once it starts, you can make your way forward. For the Disneyland Half Marathon however, you have to hang out in your corral until your corral is given the start. Each corral has a separate "ready, set, go" and you just have to wait until your turn. Not to say that this detracted from our experience in any way, but I'll admit I was a little confused.
Once you get going, it's a pretty straight forward race. There's not many hills (the highest incline I think was when we went over the overpass) and the course is well planned out. Some points of it within Disneyland do narrow quite a bit so you have to watch for the sharp turns.
Okay, now that I've gotten past the logistics of our experience, onto the fun parts!
The coolest thing about this race has to be the fact that you get to see everything on without fighting to get a picture. The first park you go through is California Adventure. World of Color was actually on while we were running!
The joy that you feel running through the park is indescribable. Spotting characters along the path, having the time to notice a certain decoration that you've never noticed before because it's too crowded, and having Disneyland staff cheering you on - trust me, it's nothing like you've ever experienced before.
Sadly, the whole route isn't on Disney property. Even though running through the streets of Anaheim was one of the more less enjoyable parts of this 13.1, Disney really tried to make it as fun as possible for everyone. There were Mariachi Bands with traditional dancers, Polynesian dancers, old school cars lined up along the streets... But the really cool part (a close second in the cool factor to running through the Disneyland resort), even if you're not a fan of baseball, you won't be able to contain your smile as you go through Angel Stadium. I honestly thought the stadium was going to be empty but there were Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the stands. And I can still hear the cheering from them in my head when I think about it.
There isn't enough space (nor do I want to bore you) to write about every emotion, every single thing Alice and I saw... besides, it wouldn't do you justice if you have a runDisney event on your bucket list!
But a quick list of things if you're planning to run one or will be running one:
- If you have the time to, do the park the day after instead of the day before. Around mile 11, Alice and I both had a cramp in the arches of our feet - you'll want to avoid that.
- Keep track of your pacing! You'll want to make sure you have enough time to stop for pictures with the characters. They won't be anywhere except in the parks so if you miss them, you miss them!
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! It's really chilly in the morning but as the sun comes up, you'll be sweating. Especially along the parts of the route that have no shade (i.e. on the streets, the overpass, getting to Anaheim Stadium and back.)
- Come up with creative costumes. And get your running buddy in on it! Alice and I were Alice & the Cheshire Cat. But we saw a pair of Dole Whips, a team of Incredibles, a pack of Dalmatians, and of course the Ticket! Be creative and think out of the box! You'll never know who might snap a photo of you along the way.
- Figure out in advance with your family and friends where you'll be meeting. Cell phone reception isn't the best when there's tens of thousands of people in the same area.
- Enjoy the shiny new bling! 2015 was Disneyland Marathon's 10 Year Anniversary and Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration so the metals we got were pretty awesome! The center piece spins! And it's diamond themed!
- Lastly and the most important: Have fun! Don't take this too seriously! You've definitely spent a good chunk of money between costumes, registration, hotels, park tickets... You deserve to enjoy the sights and sounds of Disneyland and Anaheim. Don't be afraid to cheer on others along the route or interact with them. Don't be afraid to jump for joy for a picture. Smile. Laugh. And enjoy the 13.1 with Disney fans from all over the world.
In case you're wanting to ask if I'd ever do it again, I'm already trying to figure out when I can do a Coast to Coast Challenge. :)