We're here for the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!
Our first stop was the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our bibs and shirts - and do a little shopping, too. :-)
The bib pick-up is still down in the parking garage below the convention center but they switched the ramps used for entry and exit, which I think has helped the congestion and confusion of getting into the Expo itself, since they also changed that entrance to be a side door into the main convention center.
As usual the bib pickup process was very efficient - very few people down there, and plenty of volunteers. Just a short wait and we had our bibs and the sticker with our race number on it, which we would use if we were checking a bag. Those getting coast-to-coast medals were also getting their wristbands there, but we already got our medals this year.
One thing Lee noticed - they often have mile signs from previous years or other props set up for photo ops down there, but there wasn't anything this year. :-(
We went upstairs to the Expo. Because they have changed the entry point, they had to move the t-shirt pickup area 90 degrees. I thought this gave them a smaller area for exhibitors, and it seemed to me as though there were fewer exhibitors this year. St. Joseph Hospital, who in the past has been the main "health" sponsor, and has a very large booth, seemed to be missing. (Celebration Hospital in Florida seems to be the sponsor, at least on the shirts, but no Expo presence. A Florida hospital for a California race? Seems odd to me.)
Anyway...the Expo floor was not crowded - this was about 3:00 in the afternoon. We went and picked up our shirts. The race theme for the 10K is Lilo and Stitch, and the shirt is really cute. The Dumbo shirt is very cute, also. And I like the design on the half marathon shirts though I don't care for the color. (Though it's way better than last year's orange shirt!) And hurray for the women's cut shirts! They actually fit!
Our next stop was the Official Merchandise store. Last year they ran very short on merchandise, especially Dumbo Double Dare, and by the time we arrived there was only one Dumbo item left (a lime green hoodie - ugh), and a limited selection of other items.
This year, even though the Expo started the day before, there was still plenty of Dumbo and other items to be purchased.
As far as I could tell nothing was sold out - or at least items that I was interested in were still available. So this year I got my Dumbo magnet and my mini-medals.
The thing that WAS missing from the store was 10K merchandise. No shirts, magnets, mini-medals, etc. Last year there was at least one shirt, but nothing this year. And it wasn't that it was already gone - friends who went at opening on the first day also said there wasn't any 10K merchandise. I don't get it.
Around the perimeter of the merchandise area they had some cool artwork for other upcoming runDisney races.
After we shopped we wandered around the Expo floor and visited some of the vendors. As i said, there seemed to be a lot fewer exhibitors this year.
Our friend Kim (who we know from Team AllEars) was the first person we ran into that we knew. They had a really cute 10K photo op set up outside the Exhibit Hall, and the line was short so we all posed for a photo.
We went and checked into the Grand Californian and got unpacked. We are in a nice studio - it's on the first floor, which isn't my favorite, but we're at the end of the hall with a stairwell on one side and a one-bedroom unit on the other, and it's actually very quiet and out-of-the-way! And the great thing about the first floor is not needing to use the elevator.
Later we went over to Trader Sam's to meet some other Team AllEars friends - and also ran into a couple of friends from the rec.arts.disney.parks news group! Trader Sam's was very busy - we lucked out and were able to get a table outside for the five of us. But there was a line of people waiting to go inside - even if all you wanted was to go to the bar and order a drink so you could sit by the fireplace you had to wait in line! The servers working the outside tables were very busy, and we had to wait a while for someone to take our food and beverage orders. (I'll have a separate blog on food.) Lee ordered the Piranha Pool - it was pretty good, and very colorful, though thinking too much about what the red color in the drink represents is probably not very appetizing. Forget I mentioned it.
We met up with some other friends later in the Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand, but we tried to make it a relatively early night since we had a race the next day!
And that brings us to 10K morning!
We'd agreed to meet friends in the lobby at 4:40, so we scheduled a wake-up call (and set an alarm) for 4:00. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Disneyland races, where we can walk from the hotels to the starting line, so there's no need for buses, and no need to get up insanely early? I have? Sorry...but it's one of the things I REALLY love about Disneyland races as opposed to WDW. We were walking from the hotel to the pre-race area at the same time we would've been walking from the pre-race area to the corrals in Florida.
Since the 10K had a Hawaiian Stitch theme, Lee and I (and a lot of others) dressed Hawaiian. Lee and our friend Michael both wore Disney Hawaiian shirts and board shorts. (The shirts were very hot, but they both said the shorts were comfortable.)
I did my take on Cinderella goes to Hawaii. I was wearing a short grass skirt, though it's hard to see. I thought the rustling might get a little annoying but it was fine.
We had no problems getting to the pre-race area - very appropriate that it was in the Lilo parking lot!
Most people had already headed to the corrals, but there was still a DJ out on stage.
The weather at the start was slightly better than last year - 66 as opposed to 73 - but still 80-90% humidity, so it felt warmer. By California standards we've had a very humid summer.
The race went off right on schedule at 5:30. Lee and I were running with Michael and Stan, and we were towards the back of Corral B. We crossed the start line about 8 minutes after the race started. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone around us was going about the same pace that we were - we didn't have really slow people to go around, nor did we have really fast people blitzing by us.
The first two miles of the race are outside the parks - the race goes south on Disneyland Drive to the Anaheim Convention Center, then through the Convention Center grounds and back onto Harbor, then north until we take a left and go backstage at Disney California Adventure near the Tower of Terror, just before mile 2. After that it's all on Disney property.
We ran through Radiator Springs down Route 66 - the neon lights were on and the mountain range was nicely lit.
Then we took a lap around Paradise Bay and ran by Grizzly River Run and Soarin' (and the mile 3 sign), then down Hollywood Blvd, and backstage next to the Tower of Terror.
One disappointing thing - other than Mater in Cars Land, there were no characters out on the course in DCA! They had an Elvis near Little Mermaid, but that was it. :-(
We stayed backstage until we entered Disneyland's Town Square.
Then we ran down Main Street (no characters) and into Tomorrowland (also no characters, but the mile 4 sign was next to Innoventions).
Chip and Dale were near "it's a small world", but the line was pretty long, so we kept going. We looped around the backstage areas before re-entering the park at ToonTown, and ran back towards Fantasyland. This part of the course was somewhat narrow, but it wasn't unpleasantly congested for us - I'm not sure about those who were later in the race, though.
The mile 5 sign was near the Carrousel. I was surprised that there were no characters in Fantasyland, either.
We ran into Frontierland and right by the Mark Twain was Stitch! Dressed as Elvis! I expected the line to be huge but it wasn't - maybe 15 people in front of us, and the line moved quickly.
Next to Splash Mountain we went backstage again, and around the perimeter of Disneyland and into Downtown Disney. About .4 miles left at that point, with lots of people to cheer us on to the finish! We passed the mile 6 sign near Tortilla Jo's.
When we made the right turn at the Disneyland Hotel the finish line was in sight about 100 yards away. The guys gave me a bad time about how I took off at a full sprint with no warning - but they don't seem to have had any problem keeping up with me, and in fact both Michael and Lee finished ahead of me. (Thanks to our friend Eddie for taking this finish line photo of us - he finished about 20 minutes ahead of us.)
My official time was 1:09:41. Not bad, since we stopped for some photos. It was a really good race for me - I felt good the whole time and didn't get too overheated despite the humidity, though it made a big difference that we never had sun on us. I'm hoping for some additional cloud cover tomorrow.
We all got our Dumbo Double Dare wristbands which we will exchange for our medals when we finish the half marathon. And of course we have our "Tiki Stitch" medals. I really like this one - great design! For some reason it's lighter in weight than most of my other Disney medals. That's not necessarily a bad thing. :-)
After finishing we got the usual silly runDisney food boxes. Sigh. We waited in the finish area until most of our other friends had finished - a couple of them were walking (but FAST), and started in later corrals. Everyone did great!
Then we tried to walk back to the hotel...ugh. We had to cross the race course in Downtown Disney. They had crosswalk areas set up but it still took a long time to cross the first one - and then there was a second one further down! The end of the race actually went by us before we got across that one. It took us 30 minutes to get back to our room! Very frustrating.
Some thoughts on the 10K...I still really like this course, and all the park time we get. And I LOVE the 10K distance. It's very nice to be done in a little over an hour! And it's especially nice for me to not have to wear a hydration belt like I do in longer races.
I also love the fact that they changed the theme for the 10K this year - Alice in Wonderland was a fun theme last year, but it was great to have something different, and I hope they will continue that in the future.
This year I was very disappointed in the lack of characters along the course, especially compared to last year, and to what we experienced in the Tinker Bell 10K in January. (Haunted Mansion Ghosts. Best. Photo. Stop. Ever.) In all fairness I suppose I should mention that there were a number of Elvis characters along the course, in places where in the past there have been Disney characters, and I didn't stop for photos with them. But they weren't Disney characters.
The water stops were MUCH better spaced this year. It helped that it wasn't as hot as last year, but I was still ready for some water at all three stops.
There were 20% more entrants in the race this year, and I was a little worried that it might seem more crowded than last year, but it was fine. But I started in Corral B - those in later corrals might not have had the same experience. According to runDisney there were 10,000 entered in the 10K, and 9603 finishers - that's a very high percentage, since I know there weren't 10,000 who actually started.
It was a fun morning, and I really enjoyed the race and running with Lee, Michael, and Stan.
Half Marathon tomorrow!