When I started running 4 years ago, I never dreamed I would ever run a half marathon, let alone run TWO in one year. To have run two Disney half marathons, one on each coast, seems surreal. If you follow my articles, you probably already know my tales from the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend was just as exciting, a bit more crowded, and an experience I will never forget.
The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend kicked off at noon on Friday August 31 with the opening of the Health and Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel. Our plan was to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law once we arrived at our hotel in Anaheim and hop on over to the expo for packet pick up. While I usually enjoy pursuing the expo, our time in Anaheim was limited (we planned a 10 day trip around CA and Anaheim was only our first stop). To be honest, since I’ve never been to Disneyland, I didn’t want to waste a single moment of Disney Park time. So, a quick stop at the expo was the plan on Friday night but unfortunately by the time we collected our luggage at LAX, got our rental car, and drove from LA to Anaheim, we did not have time. Instead, we went to the expo on Saturday afternoon. My parents were gracious enough to take four of our kids back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon rest and swim so my husband (DH) and I (with Baby Girl in tow)could pick up our race packets.
Although this race was to be DH’s and my brother-in-law’s first half marathon (yay for them!), My sister and I had our eye on an even bigger prize-the Coast to Coast medal. The Coast to Coast medal is a medal given out to those (crazy) runners who have completed either a half or full marathon at both Disneyland and
Walt Disney World within the same calendar year. You still receive your finisher’s medal for each race, but at the finish line of the second race you move on to a special area where you receive this third medal. It was this medal for which we longed, giving up sleep, salty foods, and adult beverages all summer long. This was our reward.
At the expo, runners received their bib numbers, tshirts, special edition pins (if ordered in advance), and their Coast to Coast wristband, when indicated. The remainder of the expo was dedicated to a multitude of fitness and running related vendors as well as free mini-seminars. It would have been a great way to spend the day if you were a local resident or if you had planned for a longer stay in Anaheim.
The race was to begin promptly at 5:45 am on Sunday, starting from the Disneyland Resort area. We started our walk from our hotel at
4:30am. We were staying at the Park Vue Inn, which is really just across the street from Disneyland. Many runners staying at Good Neighbor hotels took advantage of the race transportation provided by Disney. Like most Dsiney races, the walk to the start line was quite congested and slow moving. Once we made it to the start area, volunteers were on hand to direct runners into their respective corrals. Runners in Disney races are divided based on estimated (and proven) finish time. Since the four of us had different anticipated finish times, we were in four different corrals.So it was here that we parted ways until our post-race reunion. My corral, corral C, crossed the start line just before 6am. The course took us through California Adventure and Disneyland first, stretching the first 4 miles. This part of the run was incredible. I really enjoy running through Disney Parks. Even though you are running with 17,000 of your closest friends, there is still something serene about being in the parks at that time of the day. I was able to catch my first glimpse of the new Cars Land and running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was pretty awesome. The course winded through Anaheim, past the famed Honda Center to Angel’s Stadium. I’m a Milwaukee Brewers fan through and through,but running through Angel’s stadium was still pretty amazing. Finally the course took runners back to the Disneyland resort area to the finish line. I couldn’t believe I made it despite my awful knee pain (You can read more about my personal run experience on my blog, Tiny Bits of Magic.). Runners were given their finisher’s medal and those who were receiving the Coast to Coast medal met race volunteers to exchange their wrist band for the Coast to Coast medal. In typical Disney fashion, the staff made you feel special by congratulating each Coast to Coast medalist by name while placing the medal around each runner’s neck.
After leaving the finsh line area, runners were able to meet family and friends in the reunion area, gather checked gear, and ice injuries. We took this opportunity to pose for numerous photos to commemorate our accomplishment. My sister even had my dad bring her Princess Half Marathon medal to the finish line so she could wear all three!
My overall opinion of my Disneyland race weekend is that there is little difference between a race in Disneyland and a race at Walt Disney World (WDW). I know several people have complained that there were spots on the course where bottle necking occurred. While I, too, noticed this along the course, it is not something unique to Disneyland, as this can occur in many races, not just Disney runs. The course was well stocked with hydration, first aid, and entertainment. It was a great experience and one that I would like to do again, perhaps when my kids are older and we can run it together. As for now, I am going to savor my accomplishments and enjoy holding that Coast to Coast medal in my hands. Rest assured, dear readers, I will leave “my precious” at home as I am guessing it might be a bit much to wear it every time I go to the grocery store.