Another Disneyland Half Marathon completed! We had a very good race, and finished in 2:25:30, which is a really good time for us in a Disney race since we stop for photos - though we didn't stop for all the characters this time.
This year the half marathon started a little earlier - at 5:45 instead of 6:00. Probably because they added more people to it - it was capped at 17,000 this year.
One thing we LOVE about the Disneyland races as opposed to the WDW races is that we can WALK to the start line - no need to allow a bunch of extra time to deal with buses! So rather than catching a bus at 4:00 a.m. we scheduled a wake-up call for 4:00 a.m., and left the room about 4:40. This was our view at the time...(I loved this room - I was so sorry to leave it!)
There was quite a bit of foot traffic next to the Disneyland Hotel and for a while we felt like we were doing the "marathon shuffle" like we do at WDW when going to the start corrals. But that didn't last too long, and we went to the pre-race area where we met up with other Team AllEars runners.
After the photo (and a porta-potty stop) we went off to the start corrals. It seemed to me like they had a lot more porta-potties this year, though some of them were back-to-back and people didn't realize they were there! They also had some out alongside the start corrals, which I don't remember seeing in the past.
We were in Corral B along with Mike and Christine from Team AllEars. We were way in the back since we didn't get there until 5:25 or so. :-) But that was nice since it meant a lot less time standing and waiting!
A service member sang the national anthem - accompanied by "the rocket's red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air".
At 5:45 the wheelchair athletes started, with Corral A a couple of minutes after that. All the waves started at 5-minute intervals so we started 5 minutes after Corral A. We were actually jogging (though quite slowly) even before we reached the start line...and then we were off down Disneyland Drive!
The first mile was on city streets around the perimeter of DCA before entering the property where we ran behind Cars Land and Paradise Pier. This is always a bit cruel, because we also run on that road at the end of the race - so we see the Mile 12 sign twice.
With all of the construction that's been going on in DCA over the last few years, the half marathon course has been a little different every year - it will be interesting to see whether this year's course will be the official course for a while. We entered DCA at the parade gate next to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and ran around Paradise Bay, where some of the World of Color fountains were performing just for us.
And then the half marathon course took us into Radiator Springs down Route 66 for the first time! It was still before sunrise, and the neon lights were on.
We took a left at the traffic light and ran past Luigi's then quickly ducked backstage before re-entering the park next to the Tower of Terror. Then it was through Hollywood and past the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Soarin' Over California, then a right turn and out into the eastern end of Downtown Disney. In the past we have gone backstage at Disneyland on the east side of Main Street, but this time we were on the west side before going into Town Square.
Another change - we went left into Frontierland and took the Big Thunder Trail to Fantasyland and then ran through the castle and went right into Tomorrowland. There were some characters out, but unlike WDW they do not allow spectators on Main Street in Disneyland, and I miss that.
In Tomorrowland were Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers - I regretted not getting my photo taken with them last year, so I was NOT going to miss it this year! There were about 10 people in line in front of us, but the line went quickly. One of the guys in front of us stepped up to Darth and put both hands around his own throat like he was choking - and Darth raised his hand in the "Force Choke" gesture. Very clever.
We ran around the Matterhorn to the "small world" mall - that's where the princesses were (Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White), but we only stopped for Merida. This time each princess was by herself, instead of having them all together, so the lines weren't as bad.
In Toontown were Daisy Duck and Clarice the Chipmunk.
Then we went backstage again, where some of the Big Thunder Ranch residents were watching the runners go by! The horse and donkey seemed quite interested - though when we posed with them it seemed what they REALLY wanted was to see if our bibs were edible. :-)
We went back out onto Disneyland Drive and that was it for park time. We're not even quite to mile 4, with over 9 miles to go, and most of the fun is over. That's the thing I really don't like about the Disneyland Half Marathon course.
The race spent the next four miles meandering up and down the streets of the Anaheim industrial park. We so appreciate the support of the community in this area - every street has bands and dance groups and cheer squads to entertain us. I always look forward to seeing the big Mariachi/Mexican dance group and the Hawaiian hula group. I know they have to get up very early to get out there in time to perform for us!
Something new this year - with this year's race having more of a "cars" theme because of the opening of Cars Land, Disney put a call out for volunteers with "specialty and vintage vehicles". And, wow, did they answer the call! There must have been a couple of hundred vehicles parked on the road, from classic touring cars to "woodies", plus Cadillacs, Corvettes, and other muscle cars. It was really special.
In the parking lot at the Honda Center was one last car - a really great replica of Lightning McQueen!
One of my favorite parts of the race is just past the Honda Center, where we run on the dirt along the Santa Ana trail for a while. It feels really good after pounding pavement for 8+ miles. But it's a bit narrow, so it can get congested.
When we arrived at the parking lot for Angel Stadium the cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts were out in force to encourage us. A lot of the boys were high-fiveing runners, and a couple of them were counting how many high-fives they had received. :-)
I think one of the biggest thrills of the race is running in Angel Stadium - we run on the dirt from right field around home plate and out to left field. And around third base there's a camera that shows runners on the Jumbotron. There were hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts inside cheering us on - they were really loud this year. That comes just before the 10-mile mark in the race where a lot of us are getting pretty tired, and it gives us a great boost of energy.
Another two miles and we were back on that road behind Cars Land again - only this time we were really WERE at mile 12! Sometimes they have some characters back there but not this year - it was pretty quiet, so I guess we were all focused on finishing. Once we crossed Disneyland Drive by the Paradise Pier hotel it was NOT quiet and we had wonderful crowds to cheer us on the final .3 miles. That makes a big difference for me in finishing strong. The course gets a little narrow as it approaches the finish so you have to be a little careful. But at the finish line Mickey, Minnie, and Chip and Dale were there to welcome us - I got a high-four from Mickey as I went by. The race announcer called out Lee's name as he finished.
It seemed strange to only be getting one medal this time - but we already got our Coast-to-Coast medals in January. It's the same medal as last year (other than the year), but it's a really beautiful medal.
It was a warm sunny day (though not as hot as I feared it would be) and we were grateful for the cool towels that they gave us after we finished. The bottles of water were also cold, and I do not remember that being the case in the past. That was very refreshing.
When we got to the food tent, instead of piles of bagels and muffins and oranges and bananas, all they had was these piles of runDisney boxes - along with bananas at the end of the tables. That seemed odd to me. Since the box was one more thing to juggle I didn't open it until after we returned to our room.
Inside were packages of crackers, peanut butter, gummy candies, almond roca, raisins, and an energy bar.
I still haven't made up my mind about this. Part of me thinks it's a nice variety of snacks that are better than what is usually available, and the box makes it easy to carry. And part of me thinks: "Come on, Disney, you can do better than that!" I know how tired and uncoordinated I am after a race, and trying to deal with opening the box, not to mention all of those cellophane and foil packages inside, would be intensely frustrating when all I'm trying to do is get some quick energy into my body. I didn't take the time to open the box until we got back to our room, and to be honest there wasn't really anything in there that I would've WANTED to eat right after finishing a race - maybe the gummies. But I usually go for the orange slices and a bagel when I finish. Something easy to eat and NOT packaged. I think I give this idea a FAIL.
We both felt good after the race - tired, of course, but we still had plenty of energy for the walk back to the Grand Californian. After we'd showered we went to Storytellers Cafe where we had reservations for a late breakfast with another couple from Team AllEars. We really enjoy the breakfast buffet there - especially after a race! As you might expect it was very busy, but since we had reservations we got in fairly quickly. It's a character meal, but it's pretty laid-back - and it's always fun to show our medals to the characters.
In the afternoon we had a Team AllEars meet at Clarabelle's in DCA - after our half marathon we figured we all deserved ice cream! :-) I had the mocha sundae, which was very good, and Lee had the strawberry sundae.
After ice cream we posed on Buena Vista Street with our medals - first with the Storytellers statue (even Mickey has a Coast-to-Coast medal!):
And then with Pluto. It was a lot of fun, and great to get to know some of our teammates a little better.
This was our fifth Disneyland Half Marathon and despite my criticism of the course, it's still a race that we really enjoy. The logistics make it an "easy" race for us - we don't have to travel very far and since we stay on-site there's no transportation and traffic hassles before and after the race.
The race would not be what it is without the tremendous support of a lot of people, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge "Thank You!" to all of the wonderful volunteers at the aid stations, the Disney cast members, and to all of the community groups, bands, dancers, cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, classic car enthusiasts, and everyone else who came out to cheer us on and support us. You made it better for those of us running the race, and we appreciate your efforts so very much!