The Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend took place at Disneyland January 27-29. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday and Saturday, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K was Friday night, the kids' races were Saturday morning, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon was Sunday morning, starting at 5:45.
This event was geared towards women, but men were allowed to enter, too. :-) There were over 11,000 women registered and only 920 men, so guys, with that 12:1 ratio, you're really missing the boat if you don't think about participating. :-) (Lee ran it with me, and he enjoyed the scenery. A lot.)
Though it was the first year for this particular event, Disneyland has six half marathons under its belt, so I thought it was well-organized and went off without the first-year glitches you typically would expect.
It was a new half marathon course - this one went north into "Old Anaheim" and to Anaheim City Hall before coming back south - we still got a tour of the industrial park area, but it was shorter than it was on the normal half marathon course. We went through Disneyland/Downtown Disney between miles 1.5 and 4, but didn't get into Disney California Adventure until miles 11.5-13.
Lee and I approached this one a little differently, and decided we were going to have fun with it. So we did something we'd never done before, and ran in costume - both of us with sparkly running skirts and pixie wings. (I also had a rainbow tutu - couldn't convince Lee he needed one of those, too, but we saw a couple of guys out on the course wearing skirts and tutus, and I think he felt a little envious then!) We found our sparkly running skirts and wings for Lee at team-sparkle.com. They also had a booth at the Expo, where they gave us some great ideas about how to attach the wings securely and in such a way that they didn't cause friction. It really worked - we did not find them uncomfortable or distracting at all.
We drove up from San Diego on Saturday morning and were at the Expo by about 11:00. It wasn't too crowded at all, though of course our line at the packet pick-up was the longest one. ;-) We were running as a team entry, so there was a special number range for us, since our packets had team bibs as well as our regular bib. Because we were a team, I was surprised that I was in Corral A, but Lee was in Corral C. We asked at Runner Relations, and were told that no men were in Corrals A or B, because they wanted a woman to be the first across the finish line. Bummer for me, since it meant I had to go back to Corral C! We got our Coast-to-Coast Challenge wristbands, too.
The Packet Pick-up area was in its usual place in the underground parking garage of the Disneyland Hotel. They had put up some Tinker Bell decorations at the entrance.
And inside were some pixie-ish backgrounds for photos.
The Health and Fitness Expo was also in its usual spot in the Convention Center of the Disneyland Hotel. It seemed like most of the usual vendors, though there were a couple of new and different ones - we were very intrigued by sporthooks.com, which sells a variety of hooks to hang your medals from. They'll even do custom things. (I think Bling Junkie works for me...)
The booths selling tutus, wings, sparkly skirts, wands, tiaras and the like were doing bang-up business - it looked like just about everyone was going to be running in wings!
The runDisney booth had the glass running slipper on display. :-)
We also got our Tinker Bell shirts. I must confess I was worried about what this one might look like - I was afraid it was going to be too girly - but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's a nice simple design and I like it. They had shirts of different cuts for men and women which was also very nice - I really don't like the boxy unisex ones we've been getting lately from Disneyland and WDW. The woman's shirts were very slightly fitted - flattering, but not too tight.
There was a pretty nice selection of Official merchandise. But not nearly the selection of Coast-to-Coast merchandise that we saw at the Expo in Florida - for one thing the t-shirt that Lee and I bought there was not to be found in California (and not because it was sold out by the time we arrived - one of our Team AllEars mates was there first thing when the Expo opened and was disappointed not to find it). So I'm really glad we bought the shirts in Florida!
Here's what I brought back from the Expo...(the shirt with Tink's face is one I bought).
On Saturday afternoon we met up with several fellow Team AllEars members who were running the race - and since we'd all done at least one race in Florida three weeks ago, we were all getting the Coast-to-Coast medal, too.
We had a great time chatting with Carol, Jill and Mike.
One very nice thing about the Disneyland races is that most of the hotels in the area area close enough that you can easily walk to the start - no need for buses! So you don't have to get up quite so insanely early. Lee and I were up at 4:15, and were over in the race area by 5:00 (the race started at 5:45). Though by then they were already encouraging people to head to the corrals.
We saw Jill, and later happened to see Mike and his wife in our same corral - actually they found us, because they saw Lee's wings! :-)
The race went off right on time - there were even some fireworks during the singing of the national anthem.
Minnie and Daisy were on the stage at the start line, and we saw Tink's pixie-dusted flight trail above us, too.
It was dark when we started, and the race course was pretty congested and narrow when we got into Disneyland at about mile 1.5 (we had already run backstage a little bit). The first thing we saw on entering the park was an enormous line off to the side for the people waiting in line to get their photos taken with the princesses. Yikes. No thanks. There was a line of about 16 people waiting for Hercules and Tarzan, and we did wait for that one. (And it's not true that I chose this particular photo-op to compare Lee in his sparkly skirt and wings with Disney's two hunkiest heroes. That was just a side benefit. :-) )
I have to say that I did not enjoy the Disneyland part of the race very much...since it was so early in the race the runners were still very bunched together and that meant that the lines for character photos were a lot longer. A lot of the paths we were running on were narrow and very congested, and we had to walk just because it was too crowded to run. The first water station I thought was in a very poor location - we had just come off of Harbor and were about to go backstage, so between the turn and the abrupt narrowing of the course plus the water station on both sides there was no way to run through there and we had to walk.
It was great to get out into Downtown Disney where the paths were a little wider, plus we had lots of spectators to cheer us on (spectators are not allowed in Disneyland while the race is in progress). Just outside the Disneyland Hotel were a couple hundred ladies from the Red Hat Society cheering us on in their red and purple hats, outfits, feather boas - they were just terrific. Thank you so much for coming out!
The route took us on the street behind the Mickey and Friends parking garage, which is a typical suburban residential area! I had no idea there were real houses just two blocks from Disneyland! We ran about a mile before getting back to more commercial areas again. But it was very quiet - I think because it was a residential area, there were no bands or cheerleaders or other groups along that stretch to entertain us.
And that was one area this race disappointed me - I thought there was a lot less entertainment along the course than there is during the Disneyland Half Marathon - I didn't see the same type of community support both in numbers and variety (this one had mostly cheerleaders and bands - I saw one Hawaiian group but I missed the mariachi group that is always at the Disneyland 1/2). Thank you to all of the bands and cheerleaders that DID come out, though!
The participants really had a lot of fun with this race, I think - there were wings and tutus everywhere you looked, as well as other Disney costumes, too. I saw Maleficent running with Princess Aurora - talk about an odd couple. I mentioned the 12:1 female:male ratio - well, I gotta give it to the guys, they were SO supportive, and I'd say the majority of the men were in some kind of costume, whether it be wings and tutu, Peter Pan, Captain Hook (or other pirate), prince - I even saw a guy dressed as Minnie Mouse (as he went blazing by me!)
We went into "Old Anaheim" and around the Muzeo at about mile 7 and then were on our way back to Disneyland - though we still ended up with a partial tour of our favorite (not) industrial park (my least favorite part of the Disneyland 1/2).
There were lots of people cheering us on along Disney Way, but once we went into DCA at about mile 11.5 there was no one to cheer us except a few cast members until we had almost gotten to mile 13. Since we had just run the Disney World marathon course three weeks before, it was VERY fresh in my mind how most of the last 2.5 miles was run in public areas where there were lots of people to cheer you on, and I really missed that here.
We went all around DCA - we came into the park next to the Tower of Terror, then down Hollywood Blvd and past Soarin', then a left turn past Grizzly River Rapids and out to Paradise Bay, where the Monsters, Inc. characters were greeting runners - I think most of us were too tired to be scared, though. :-)
We went past the Golden Vine Winery and into "a bug's land", and then backstage behind Cars Land - all we could see was the back side of the Cadillac Range, though. Our last character stop was for the Toy Story gang - we had the Green Army Men and Jessie. Buzz was also there, but the photographer didn't get him in the shot. :-(
I was very disappointed that there were only two sets of characters in DCA - yes, because of construction walls the course was narrow in places, but they easily had room for them near the Tower of Terror and near the airplane outside Soarin'.
There were lots of people cheering for us when we came back onto Disneyland Drive and around the corner onto Katella before going into the Simba parking lot where the finish line was. I high-fived Daisy and Mickey as I ran to the finish line. Our time was 2:35:34 - not our best time (five minutes slower for me than the relay three weeks before), but I'm going to attribute the slower time to the drag factor from the wings. :-)
The nice volunteer gave me my Tinker Bell medal.
And we both got our Coast-to-Coast medals, too - it took us just three weeks to do it - the shortest possible time. :-) There were 581 Coast-to-Coast medals awarded, so not nearly as many as they will give out in September (it was about 2500 last year).
It was a beautiful sunny morning, but after we'd gotten refreshments and had someone take our picture (thank you to the team-sparkle.com ladies), we wandered back to our room to relax and shower.
We had an early lunch at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta at DCA - four-cheese ravioli tasted very good, and Lee enjoyed in BBQ Chicken flatbread pizza. We wandered back to our room via Downtown Disney and the new Cupcake Store. They just reopened in a new permanent kiosk the previous Tuesday - I was glad to see them back because I really enjoyed the cupcakes when they had a temporary location a couple of years ago. The Pure Chocolate cupcake was VERY good, and Lee enjoyed the Red Velvet cupcake, also.
Later in the afternoon we met Team AllEars at the Tiki Bar for Dole Whips - yum.
And afterward we went to Pixie Hollow to get our picture taken with Tinker Bell - it seemed the polite thing to do since we had not had a chance to tell her how much we enjoyed her race. :-) I was actually very surprised that I didn't see anyone else in line with their Tink medals. (She was a pert and sassy Tink - Lee told her he had worn wings during the race, and she asked: "So where are they now? Ohhhh...I see, didn't want to wear them to the park..." :-) )
The race was really a lot of fun, and I'd definitely run it again. I thought it was even more of a "fun run" than the regular Disneyland Half Marathon, and it seemed like there were more people in costume for this one. I thought 12,000 was a nice number, but since it sold out, I'd expect it to get bigger next year.
The start and finish were in a different area - they were south of the Paradise Pier Hotel rather than north of the Disneyland Hotel. It was much easier to get to the start corrals - it wasn't nearly the bottleneck that we are used to. I think that area also worked a little better as far as traffic flow went - it didn't affect the people going to/from the hotels and parks and Downtown Disney like usual.
The course itself...I think I prefer the Disneyland 1/2 marathon course, mostly because of the opportunity to run through Angel Stadium - though I think this one was a more interesting overview of different parts of Anaheim.
My only real complaint about the race was the location of the characters - there were a lot in Disneyland, but it was just too crowded because it was too close to the start, and in DCA, where everyone was spread out, there were only two sets of characters.
Here's my bling for January - not bad, huh? :-)