2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2
Another Disneyland Half Marathon successfully completed! That makes seven for us. We had a good race, and felt strong despite running a 10K the day before.
Even though at Disneyland we have the advantage of proximity to the starting line, we still had to get up pretty for a race that starts at 5:30! Lee was happy that the Hearthstone Lounge in the hotel opened at 4:00 so he could get his morning coffee. (All of the coffee-type places in the Disney hotels opened early today as did many locations in Downtown Disney.)
We again met some of our fellow runners in the lobby and walked over to the pre-race area together. Even though there were 18,000 registered this morning (as opposed to 10,000 for the 10K) the walkways still weren't congested, and even the porta-potty lines weren't very long.
We headed to our corrals a little after 5:00. And even that wasn't bad, as compared to previous years when there's been a couple of choke points where we've moved by inches and not feet with each step. I have to say that Disneyland for the most part has continued to improve the running experience each year.
The first 6 corrals were much smaller in size this year - I have typically been in C or D in the past, and this year I was in F, though I was about as far back as I was when I was in D last year. Lee and Michael were in earlier corrals but they came back to F to run with me - wasn't that nice of them? :-) As it turned out they sent the first 6 corrals off in pairs, so A and B went together, C and D, E and F. After that the corrals were a lot bigger and went off one by one. This photo is looking back - there's a LOT more people behind us than in front of us!
The national anthem was beautifully performed by a Disney cast member - he really did a great job. We got some fireworks during the anthem, as well as some when the race started. Corrals E and F started 15 minutes after the official start, and we crossed the start line about 16-and-a-half minutes off the start.
The weather was warmer than the day before - 70 degrees at the start as opposed to 66, and humidity was 76%. So it was warm. Fortunately we had cloud cover for most of the race, and that helped a lot.
The course was the same as the last few years - around the outside of DCA on the city streets before going backstage at DCA and coming into the park itself at Paradise Pier. Some of the Green Army Men were there near Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, and Sarge was encouraging the runners. The World of Color fountains were going and we stopped for a quick photo.
We ran through Cars Land and down Route 66 in the opposite direction than we'd done in the 10K, and looped around through Hollywood and past Soarin' Over California.
We ran across the Esplanade, where there were lots of people out to cheer us on despite the early hour, and into Disneyland and down Main Street. The Three Caballeros were out near the hub but the line was long and we didn't stop.
We went through Frontierland where there were more Green Army Men near the Mark Twain's dock - seemed like an odd place for them to be, but the line was short so we stopped.
The race route went around Big Thunder Mountain and the mile 3 sign, then into Fantasyland. Cinderella's stepsisters were on the Carrousel, and the Prince was sitting on one of the bench seats with the Wicked Stepmother - that seemed like quite an odd couple, and I'm sorry I didn't get a photo.
We ran through the castle and into Tomorrowland. There were no characters at the castle, which was unusual. But Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers were in Tomorrowland. Huge line - the longest one we saw - so we didn't stop. We went past the submarine lagoon and the Matterhorn. Along small world way, instead of princesses, they had villains! There were three stations, but only two had villains when we went through. Jafar and the Evil Queen had a long line, but Cruella and Dr. Facilier had a relatively short line. Cruella was great - she was telling everyone where to stand and how to pose. (We heard that Maleficent was at the other photo stop.)
From there we ran into Toontown and went backstage and past the stables before exiting onto Disneyland Drive and turning north. Not long after that was the mile 4 sign. This is my main complaint about the Disneyland Half Marathon - the park part is done much too early in the race. :-(
We turned right onto Ball Road and began our tour of the Anaheim Industrial Park. The community of Anaheim does a great job of coming out and supporting the runners during this part of the race - there are lots of bands and cheerleaders. Two groups that I look forward to seeing each year are the mariachi band and dancers and the Hawaiian dancers. Both groups have performers of all ages in beautiful costumes.
The classic cars were back along the route from ~mile 6.5-8. They have been such a wonderful addition to the race these last three years! The cars are beautiful and the owners are so (deservedly) proud of them. And they support the runners, too - cheer us on, ring cowbells, blow horns, etc.
Past mile 8 as we neared the Honda Center Lee noticed a large unusual-looking structure in the distance ahead of us. It was still some distance away when we made the turn into the Honda Center parking lot, but Lee saw an Anaheim policeman standing there and asked him about it. It's the new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which is still under construction. A variety of train, bus, and taxi services will be available there. Looks cool!
After going through the Honda Center parking lot we reached the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs along the Santa Ana river channel. This has always been one of my favorite parts because we get to run on dirt for a while. I know some people don't like that, and it's also a little narrow. But it appears to have been widened, and most of it has been recently paved.
The race route exits the trail at Angel Stadium, a bit past mile 9.
The Clif Shot station was there, and there was lots of music and people cheering us all the way to the stadium itself. And then we went down the tunnel into the stadium and onto the field! We ran on the dirt all the way down the right field line and around home plate, and down the left field line before taking the tunnel out of the stadium. Lots of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come out to cheer us - they make a lot of noise!
Not too far outside the stadium is the mile 10 sign. From there until we get back to Disneyland there are lots of bands and cheerleaders along the route. They are so enthusiastic and full of energy, and that helps us when we are starting to get tired.
At mile 12 we went backstage at DCA again - we actually ran part of the same course we ran at the beginning of the race. And we ran around Paradise Pier again - except that instead of the Paradise Pier inside DCA we crossed Disneyland Drive and ran around the Paradise Pier hotel. :-)
Again, lots of cheerleaders and other people to encourage us as we ran that last quarter mile or so around the hotel and past Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel to the finish line!
My time was 2:31:05. I'd hoped to break 2:30, but I guess we goofed off a little too much along the way. :-) Even though we didn't stop for that many character photos, we made some other stops so that Lee and Michael could show off their dance moves...
Volunteers gave us our beautiful, slightly re-designed Disneyland Half Marathon medals, and also a wonderful cool towel. Ahhhhhh.
Michael went to exchange his Coast-to-Coast wristband for his medal, and then we all went to get our Dumbo Double Dare medals. It's not a Disney race without that lovely "clank, clank" sound as you walk around afterward. :-) (No Coast-to-Coast for us because we got it back in January after doing the Dopey Challenge and the Tinker Bell 10K and 1/2 marathon on consecutive weekends.)
For refreshments there were bottles of water and PowerAde, and then those Disney MRE boxes. (That was Michael's term for them. I like it.) There were also bananas.
Not much in the boxes: a packet of rice crackers, soft cheese, a mini Clif bar, packet of blueberry rice cake things, and a piece of Almond Roca. I still think Disney can do WAY better than that after a race. How about some chocolate milk? Oranges? Pretzels? Nuts?
Something our friend Dave pointed out to us later that day was that there was no concession stand in the finish area. He spent a fair bit of time at the finish line waiting for all of us, and he was hoping for a cup of coffee, but there was nothing to be had. Yes, Downtown Disney isn't too far away, but it's not convenient to the finish area at all. Anyone waiting for a runner in the Family Reunion area had no easy access to food or beverages.
We were in the finish area when they did the awards ceremony on-stage - I'd never seen that before! The winner, Nick Arciniaga, finished in 1:07:48. The guy in second place finished in 1:13:06 - BIG gap there.
It was still partly overcast when we finished but the sun really came out while we stood watching the awards, so I know it got very warm for those still on the course. 72 degrees doesn't sound bad, but 72 with full sun beating down on you feels HOT.
After the awards we went back to the hotel. Fortunately we didn't have to try to get across the race course like we did for the 10K, so it was a lot easier and faster!
The race went well and I felt good despite running 6.2 miles the day before. Guess that whole training thing really works. :-) But seriously, I did train for this one, and all those miles I put in this summer in even warmer conditions that we had on our race days helped a lot. Still, you never exactly know how you're going to feel on race day - you can do everything right, yet for some reason you just don't have it on race day.
We were very happy to see that there were a lot more characters on the course than during the 10K. Both races had about the same number of miles in the park, but I guess the characters had Saturday morning off. So maybe that made us appreciate them a lot more on Sunday. Still, it wasn't really fair to those who only ran the 10K.
A huge thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked all weekend at the Expo and the races. They put in a lot of long hours. We had friends of friends who volunteered this year, so we heard a little more about the types of days the volunteers have. I know I complain about getting up early, but the volunteers are up even earlier, since their shift will start at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning! In addition to working their area they have to set it up first. Did you know that all of the medals come in their own individual bags, and then on race morning they have to be un-bagged and checked and then hung on the racks you see at the finish line? It's a lot of work!
And also a heartfelt thank you to all of the community groups, bands, cheer teams, dance teams, classic car enthusiasts and members of the community who come out to support all of us who run. We so appreciate your enthusiasm and your energy, and the wonderful signs, and the high-fives, and calling out our names. And also being there with water, oranges, pretzels, licorice and even Vaseline. And then there's the very brave among you who offer free hugs no matter how sweaty the runner.
This is a wonderful event. Is it perfect? No, but considering the logistics of dealing with something like 35,000 participants over the course of three days, it's pretty well done. Yes, it's expensive. Is it worth it? There are many answers to that question, since there are so many intangibles that go along with any race, but especially a Disney race. But that's probably a topic for a whole other blog.
We had a great time, and will definitely be running the Disneyland Half Marathon again. We certainly plan to participate next year, which will be the tenth half marathon, as well as Disneyland's 60th birthday, so we hope for something even more special.
Did you participate in any of the events during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend? What are your thoughts?