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Avengers Half Marathon Archives

October 18, 2017

RunDisney Cancels All Disneyland Events for 2018

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The rumors have been flying around for months but on Wednesday, October 18, runDisney made it official: all runDisney weekends at Disneyland will be on hiatus beginning in 2018. This includes Star Wars: The Light Side, Tinker Bell, Disneyland Half Marathon, and Super Heroes. This year's Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend will still take place on November 9-12 as scheduled.

Here's the announcement that was posted on the runDisney blog, https://www.rundisney.com/blog/articles/run-disney/:

We have heard from many of you over the past few months regarding registration for runDisney race weekends at Disneyland Resort. We greatly appreciate your loyalty and dedication to our runDisney race events and want to share the following update with you..
Given the level of construction to support the ongoing Disneyland Resort expansion, we have been working hard to determine how we can continue providing our West Coast participants with the best possible runDisney experience, which is designed around the ability to run throughout our resorts while enjoying entertainment offerings and characters..
After careful consideration and weighing all possibilities, we have made the very difficult decision to place all runDisney race weekends at Disneyland Resort on hiatus beginning in 2018. This includes the associated Coast to Coast Race Challenges..
Anyone who has registered for one of these races will be contacted directly by runDisney today by email and will receive a full refund for registration fees and for any commemorative items they may have purchased..
While news of this hiatus is sad to share, we are so thankful for the magic and memories you have helped create at our race weekends through the years. We look forward to hosting the upcoming Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort November 9-12, and we hope to see many of you there..
We encourage runners to continue to visit runDisney.com for other race opportunities. A full schedule of races at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris are currently still being offered, in addition to our virtual race series. Guests with questions can contact rundisney@disneysports.com.

We've known something was up for a long time: first runDisney put registration for Stars Wars: The Light Side Half Marathon Weekend on hold back in March, and then a 2018 date for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend failed to materialize at all. Other dates also came and went - the most recent being submission of Proof of Time for Star Wars was due on October 10. Hard to submit Proof of Time when you can't even register!

So the announcement wasn't a surprise to me at all. Even so, I'm upset and angry, feelings that I know I share with many of you. For me it's largely the timing. It's clear to me that they've known this for a long time, yet they chose to wait until the race date was only three months away to make a definitive announcement.

I've already received an email from runDisney, since Lee and I registered for Star Wars back in January, taking advantage of an early registration opportunity offered to those of us who participated this year. The email contains most of what is quoted above, with this information added:

You will be fully refunded for your registration fees and for any commemorative items you may have purchased with your original form of payment. This will be reflected on your next billing statement. In addition, if you have any questions at all, a Disney Cast Member can assist you at 407-939-iRUN (4786), between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., EDT, seven days a week, or you may email us at runDisney@DisneySports.com.

It will be interesting to see if the race weekends do in fact return in the future. While the 5K and 10K races have sold out quickly, the half marathons have not been selling well in the last couple of years. And with the decision this year to replace race volunteers with paid temporary employees, I think the quality has suffered. Lee and I have cut way back on the number of runDisney events we participate in, and I know a lot of the rest of you have as well.

Maybe runDisney has "run its course" in California. I guess time will tell.

What do you think about runDisney's decision?

N.B. On Thursday morning I received an email from Active.com informing me that my registration fee, including Active.com's $21+ processing fee, has been refunded to my credit card. - Laura






November 19, 2016

2016 Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

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Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

After a 10K/half marathon race challenge weekend at Walt Disney World followed by a four night Disney cruise, what would you do? How about running a 10K at Disneyland? At least this year we did only the 10K and not the half marathon, too!

We had initially not planned to run any of the events of the Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland. But when runDisney announced the theme of the 10K was Dr. Strange, then Lee really wanted to do that. And I love 10Ks - it's my favorite distance.

Friday, November 11

We got off the Disney Dream on Friday morning, took a bus to the airport and caught a flight to John Wayne Airport. As we did last year, we'd flown out of that airport instead of San Diego, and left our car there. (By the way, I recommend snagaspace.com to find good prices on airport parking. The last two years we have parked at the Marriott near John Wayne Airport and had an excellent experience - the parking and shuttle staff at the Marriott is so nice!)

We had an earlier flight this year and arrived at the airport earlier than we did last year. So we did not have the horrible Friday afternoon traffic that we experienced last year. We arrived at Disneyland a little after 4:00 and went straight to the Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It felt strange to only be picking up a 10K bib and not a Challenge bib. We didn't need to get our photo taken this time. As usual, the bib pickup area was not too busy and we were in and out quickly. As in Florida the week before there wasn't a big printed race program, but this time they gave us a brochure at bib pickup that had all of the really useful information like course maps and time schedules.

The main part of the Expo was upstairs in the Disneyland convention center. There were some new super heroes added to the banners this year.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We picked up our shirts...yet another maroon long sleeve shirt. With a large rubber graphic on the front. Come on, runDisney - most of your race participants live in California and Florida! PLEASE give us some short sleeve shirts!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nesquik was one of the sponsors this year (Nesquik chocolate milk was available to runners at the end of the half marathon on Sunday), and the Nesquik bunny was in the booth when he wasn't posing for photos with guests.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The Expo seemed to have most of the usual vendors, though there were a few new sponsors this year, like Nesquik and Misfit.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We heard an announcement about a special offer for Annual Passholders at the runDisney booth, so we went to check that out. They looked at our passes and then put a sticker on our bibs and told us there would be a special AP tent in the finish area of the 10K and half where they would have a special gift for us. Interesting!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The runDisney booth also had the medals for the upcoming Star Wars - the Light Side weekend in January. Everyone seems to be very excited about the BB-8 10K medal! He spins!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There was no line to get into the Official Merchandise area. And it seemed as though they still had everything left - I didn't see a lot of space that had been filled by generic merchandise as I often do. All of the items that I usually look for were still there.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were lots of different shirts - even more than in the photos below.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

All of the "I Did It" shirts were available, though a cast member told me that in the 10K shirts they were out of small-sized shirts and only had a few mediums left.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There were a number of Infinity Gauntlet items available, though most of the shirts were (as usual) for women.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

There wasn't as much 10K merchandise - the mini medal pin, a hat, and a couple of shirts.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Lee really liked this shirt so he bought it and wore it the next day for the 10K.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Nice to see Black Widow get some attention. Now, when does SHE get her own race?

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were surprised to see a few items from the previous weekend's Wine and Dine Expo.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For dinner that night we went to Disney California Adventure and checked out the food booths at the Festival of Holidays (as I wrote about in this blog). Maybe not the best pre-race dinner, but it was only a 10K the next day. :-)

For once jet lag worked in our favor - we'd come from the east coast and were tired from a long day of travel. So we went to bed at 8:30 and actually fell asleep quickly.

Saturday, November 12 - Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We'd set the alarm for 4:15, but we were both awake before that. This might be the first time I've ever gotten a full night's sleep before a race!

I know I say this every time, but if you're new to my blog you won't have seen it before: I love race weekends at Disneyland. The race logistics are SO much easier! Everything is within walking distance of the hotels (even many of the neighboring hotels), so there's no need to catch a bus at an insanely early hour. We pushed it more this year than we usually do - the race started at 5:30 but we didn't get up until 4:15, and left the hotel at 4:45. And we still had plenty of time to get to the start corrals. Short/no lines for the porta-potties, too.

I wore my Agent Carter costume again, and Lee wore his new Dr. Strange tech shirt.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange is one of Lee's favorite super heroes, but to be honest I'd never heard of him, and didn't know anything about him until we saw the movie on the Disney Dream a few days before the race.

I was hoping that there would be some photo ops in the pre-race area before the race but there wasn't anything other than some race banners.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We were in Corral A, but I thought this collection of balloons for the other corrals was pretty.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Dr. Strange actually came out on stage before the race. We hoped that meant that we would later see him on the race course. After that they showed us the preview for the movie - and reminded us that it was showing at the AMC Theaters in Downtown Disney. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While the talented Disneyland cast member was singing the national anthem I noticed that there was a special pattern on some of the lights!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The race started about a minute late. No fireworks at Disneyland - just some colored puffs of smoke.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course was different this year, thanks to Disneyland construction, though the first part of it was the same with the first two miles off Disney property. We ran down to the Convention Center on West Street, then cut across and over to Harbor Blvd, and back north to Disney Way, then went backstage at DCA. That was about mile 2. Having the first two miles outside the parks really helps spread the runners out. We didn't find that the course felt crowded at all.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

While we were winding around backstage there were some interesting projections on some of the buildings.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The first character we saw was Thor, near the Wine Country Trattoria. The line was a little long, so we didn't stop. We were hoping for shorter lines further on, since we had started so far forward.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran around Paradise Bay, and past the mile 3 sign. Almost halfway done! There's that symbol again on California Screamin'.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Captain America was just outside Soarin'. The line was maybe 20 deep, but it was Captain America! I got my hug again, but I didn't get swept off my feet like I did last year. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran down Hollywood Blvd near the Animation Building a cast member was telling us that Spider-Man was ahead to the left. The race course turned right, and since he was on the other side and kind of hidden behind a building I think a lot of runners didn't see him. The line was pretty short.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We ran backstage next to the Tower of Terror. The sun was coming up and there was a beautiful sunrise!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

A high school band was performing back there. The majorette was doing some pretty good baton tricks, but I didn't manage to get a photo of that. There were just a couple of bands along the course - since so much of the course was on property there wasn't really any place for them to set up.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

For most of the next mile we were backstage - we ran through the tunnel that goes under the bus area and connects DCA and Disneyland, and then wound around backstage at Disneyland, finally entering the park in Toon Town.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Mile 5 - only 1.2 to go. We were still feeling really good. A 10K is so much easier than a half marathon!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

It was getting light out, but we could still see the lights on "it's a small world" Holiday.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Black Widow was in front of "small world", and there was almost no line!

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

Not too much further away was Hawkeye. That's been Lee's costume in previous years. There was one person in front of us. I think we were in the sweet spot where the serious runners who don't stop for characters were ahead of us, but we were running fast enough that we were ahead of most of the other people who do stop for photos. However it worked out, it was a great place to be.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we ran around the Matterhorn, we saw Dr. Strange!!! There was a line there, but only about 10 people in it. We were really happy to get our photo with him. He was very much in character, and SO serious.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We really didn't spend much time in Disneyland at all - didn't run through the castle, Frontierland, or Adventureland. After seeing Dr. Strange we ran to the hub and down Main Street and out of the park. As we ran under the train station the villain from the Dr. Strange movie, Kaecilius, was standing on the bridge above us. He had a microphone and was making in-character comments to the runners, though I don't remember what he said.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

The course finished through Downtown Disney and ended at the usual finish line near the Disneyland Hotel. I got lots of cheers for my Peggy Carter costume throughout the race, and especially towards the end where there were more spectators, and that's always fun.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We finished in 1:09:38, which I thought was really a good time considering we stopped for five character photos plus a few other shots. This was a smaller race than the Wine and Dine 10K. Less than 10,000 entered, with 8245 finishers. I thought it was interesting that the male-female ratio was not quite so skewed as it is in many Disney races. There were still more females, but it was 4861 women to 3384 men.

Since as Annual Passholders we get free downloads of our race photos, we stopped to get our post-race photo taken.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We went to the Annual Passholder tent to get our gift - it was small cans of Coke with several of the Avengers on them. We were told they would have Iron Man the next day after the half marathon.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

One not-so-good thing about the Disneyland 10Ks: trying to get back to your hotel afterward. Since the courses finish through Downtown Disney you have to cross the race course. Even though they have cast members controlling the crossing points it can take some time. One thing we learned is that when staying at the Grand Californian, you do not want to try to go through Downtown Disney to the usual hotel entrance. If you do you'll have to cross the course three times! So we cross the course once and go right towards the Paradise Pier, then cross Disneyland Drive and go into the hotel via the main entrance. If you're staying at one of the hotels on Harbor Drive then you don't have much of an option, though.

I really enjoyed this race! It was nice to see six character stops on the course instead of just the four they've had for this race weekend in the first two years. And we really lucked out with the character lines not being too long.

I think my biggest issue with the race was the limited time in Disneyland, and that so much of what we did have was backstage. Still, for the most part I liked this course. I'd much rather have the miles outside the park be at the beginning of the race rather than at the end. I think having that two miles for the runners to spread out really helps with the congestion and the overall enjoyment of the course.

The rest of the day felt a little strange (so to speak) because we weren't preparing to run a half marathon the next day. So we didn't have to worry about what we ate or drank, or about trying to go to bed early - which was why I'd scheduled the World of Color Dessert Party for that evening. :-)

That night for a change we actually had to pay attention to the road closures map that was left on our door, and the phone message about the race that had been left on our phone. We were planning to leave around 8:00 on Sunday morning - the half marathon wasn't going to be over until about 10:30. Everything we read indicated that we should be able to get out of the parking lot by 8:00, though. And that proved to be the case. The only issue we had was getting our room key to work to open the automated parking gate. :-)

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

As we drove down Disneyland Drive we went under the start line...that was as close as we got to it. I thought I might be more bothered that we hadn't done the half marathon, but I really wasn't.

Super Heroes Dr. Strange 10K

We had no problems getting out of the resort, but the same was not true for those trying to get to the resort. Traffic was backed up on I5 both north and south - it was quite a mess. But some of the freeway exits were closed because of the race course, so I think there was only one way in, and everyone was trying to use it.

It was nice to do only one race - and a shorter one at that - and we really enjoyed the race weekend. If you haven't done a race weekend at Disneyland, then I highly recommend that you try it. I find that it's just a lot easier. There are fewer runners than in most of the Walt Disney World races and everything is closer together - walking distance, really. No buses required unless you are staying way off property. Think about it!








November 21, 2015

2015 Avengers Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2

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Avengers Half Marathon Start Line

Sunday - Avengers Half Marathon

Jet lag caught up to me Saturday night and I went to bed at 8:30. I never even heard the Disneyland fireworks! So 3:30 didn't seem quite so early - I was awake before then. We had our usual yogurt and bagels in the room. Lee also went to the Hearthstone Lounge (which opened at 4:00) to get coffee.

Today our costumes were Princess Captain America (finally able to wear my tiara again!) and Hawkeye. Same costumes we wore last year, but why mess with a good thing? Unlike last year, this year there were actually two people who recognized that I was Princess Captain America. Lee's Hawkeye costume got most of the attention, though. There weren't too many Hawkeyes out there, plus he looked really good (though I told him he was smiling too much. ;-) )

It was another perfect morning for running! 54 degrees, 55% humidity and no wind. There was not going to be a repeat of last year's Santa Ana wind event that sandblasted us. That was pretty challenging. No shortening of the race course for us this week - we were going to have to run the full 13.1! :-)

Even though there were more participants in this race (11,000 as opposed to 7,000 the day before) we ended up a little further forward in Corral A than we had the day before. Before the race started they brought Captain America on the start line stage along with runners who were representatives of each branch of the Armed Forces.

Avengers Half Marathon Start Line

The National anthem was performed by a serviceman - unfortunately I do not remember his name or rank.

Avengers Half Marathon anthem singer

The race started a few minutes late, but we were off and running. The first part of the course was like last year, and from Disneyland Drive we very quickly turned left to run behind DCA. What I do not like about this course is that the parks portion is very short: by mile 2.5 we are out of the parks.

Because we stopped for all of the characters the day before we were only planning to stop for Hawkeye this time. Black Widow was near the Golden Vine Winery and had a pretty long line. Hawkeye was near the exit to DCA. His line was longer than any that we waited in yesterday - almost 5 minutes.

Avengers Half Marathon Hawkeye

There was another Hawkeye in line behind us. :-)

Avengers Half Marathon Hawkeye

We ran across the Esplanade into Disneyland. Thor and Captain America were in Disneyland but both had lines and we didn't stop. Besides, there was no way I was going to top my Captain America encounter from the day before! :-)

It was disappointing that there were only the four characters again. Though I guess the advantage is that if you run multiple races you have multiple chances to get at least one photo taken with them. There were S.H.I.E.L.D agents in various areas of the parks who were cheering us on, and even some HYDRA agents. (I kept getting suspicious anytime that we were told to "HYDRAte HYDRAte HYDRAte.")

Avengers Half Marathon SHIELD Agent

My biggest issue with this race is the lack of park time: by mile 2.5 we were out of the parks and out onto the streets. We still had some entertainment - there were lots of cheerleaders in the business areas. But some parts of the course during miles 4-7 had us running by houses and apartment buildings and that was quiet since people were still sleeping.

At least this year there was no wind to blow all of the mile markers down! :-)

Avengers Half Marathon Mile 4

The course was a little different this year - it seemed like we were on the Santa Ana Trail longer. And we were running on the east side of the trail and not the west like last year. The cosplayers were along the trail again. It seemed to me like there were fewer than last year, but it might be that they were closer together. I wish I'd taken more photos - there was a really amazing Loki!

Avengers Half Marathon Cosplayers

We were surprised to see our friend Caitlin cheering - it was great to see her! (And I loved her Peggy Carter outfit.)

Avengers Half Marathon Cosplay Agent Carter

There were banners with different Avengers characters placed along the trail - they'd had these outside the Expo entrance originally.

Avengers Half Marathon banner

We exited the Santa Ana Trail at Angel Stadium.

Avengers Half Marathon Angel Stadium

There were lots of cheerleaders in the stands, rather than the Boy and Girl Scouts that we see during the Disneyland Half Marathon.

In the parking lot outside there were the military re-enactors. They looked terrific, and they were very enthusiastic!

There was also a group of swing dancers, but they weren't performing when we ran by.

The newest Avenger movie hero, Antman, was also represented on some of the signs and banners. I'm used to the Disneyland Half Marathon course where this point is mile 10, but it was only mile 9 - that was a little discouraging. We had to take a longer route back to make up the extra mile to the finish area.

Avengers Half Marathon Mile 9

More S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were waiting for us at mile 12. We were ready to be finished. That half mile behind DCA is a little tough because there's very few people cheering for us - just a few cast members. They do their best but lack the numbers to really energize us. It's a lot better once we cross Disneyland Drive as there are always a lot of cheerleaders next to the Paradise Pier Hotel and they generate plenty of energy. From there to the finish there are lots of spectators lining the course to cheer us to the end.

Avengers Half Marathon Mile 12

I got a nice shout out from race announcer Rudy Novotny as I approached the finish line. And the announcers were counting Hawkeyes - Lee was number four. :-) I finished in 2:22:29 - anytime I finish a Disney half marathon in under 2:25 I'm very happy with that.

Avengers Half Marathon finish line

We collected our half marathon and Infinity Gauntlet medals. The Gauntlet medal is interesting - it has a big purple stone on the back, and the word: "SPACE". I wonder whether the medals will be different next year? I guess that's one way to keep people coming back...

Avengers Half Marathon finisher medal

We didn't linger in the finish area - we needed to get back to our room to shower and pack, since we were checking out and (finally) going home that day after 11 days of food, fun, and running.

Avengers Half Marathon Hawkeye running costume

I enjoyed the race a lot more than last year since the weather was so much better. We lucked out with the wind, though - the day after the race we again had very strong winds in southern California!

There were some minor changes to the course this year which I think made it better, though the entrance to the Santa Ana Trail we used this time was pretty narrow and had a sharp turn. Later in the race that might have been congested, though it wasn't bad for us. I enjoyed running along the trail. The area we ran was all paved, though I wouldn't have minded running on dirt!

It was again wonderful to see all of the cosplayers come out and support the runners - they were terrific.

I think this race is a lot of fun if you want to run in costume - it's pretty easy to find an appropriate shirt, and then decide how much more you want to put into it. While there were lots of Captain Americas, Thors, Iron Men, and Hulks, I saw a number of Wonder Womans, Spidermans, and even some Guardians of the Galaxy characters. I was surprised at all of the people who carried hammers and Captain America shields for the entire half marathon (I carried a shield, but it was a small one).

Thank you to all of the volunteers, cast members, cheerleaders, bands, cosplayers, and spectators for all of your support - we couldn't do it without you!

Even now that I've run this race twice, this second time in optimal weather conditions, I'm still not quite sure what I think of it. I really enjoy the Avengers/Super Heroes theme, but there should be more characters on the course. It's a great time of year for a race weekend in southern California because the temperature is generally going to be cool - MUCH better than conditions for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. I enjoy the Santa Ana Trail part of the course, but there's too little park time. The Star Wars and Tinker Bell weekends at Disneyland are still my favorites, but I think Avengers edges out Disneyland because of the weather - it's just too hot in September.

I'm glad runDisney added the 10K this year. It's a great distance, and I really like the course. Two miles in the beginning to let us spread out, and then all on Disney property with lots of park time.

That said, I'm not sure if I will run this race next year...or maybe I'll just run the 10K. Registration opens April 5, 2016, so I have some time to think about it.

Thanks for reading!






November 20, 2015

Avengers Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1

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Avengers Half Marathon

The third stop on our Eat, Drink, and Run tour was Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Our first event was the 10K on Saturday. But we didn't get off the cruise ship until Friday morning. Makes for tight timing when have to fly cross country so you can get to the Race Expo before it closes on Friday.

When we first talked about this trip our friend Eddie had the brilliant idea that we should fly in/out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County rather than from San Diego - thus saving ourselves the hassle of trying to get from San Diego to Orange County during Friday afternoon traffic. It worked out great. By driving to John Wayne Airport (SNA) and flying from there we could leave our clothes/costumes for the Disneyland portion of the trip in the car (and Lee had a couple of large costume pieces), and have our car for transportation to Disneyland and then back home after the race on Sunday.

As an added bonus - SNA is a REALLY nice airport! We were very impressed. Even the TSA people were very nice!

I used snagaspace.com to pre-pay for parking at a hotel near the airport, which saved us over 40% of what we would have paid for airport parking. The hotel shuttles were very efficient and the process worked very well.

Friday afternoon traffic in Orange County was still a bear, and it took us almost an hour to get from the parking lot to the Grand Californian. Yikes. But we still arrived about 6:00 - plenty of time to hit the Expo and pick up our bibs and shirts.

I really liked the red (half marathon), white (10K), and blue (challenge) shirts! Just wish they were short sleeve.

Avengers Half Marathon shirts

We visited the official merchandise area. There was still some variety left, but a lot of things were sold out. I think all of the magnets were still available, but of the mini medal pins only the 1/2 marathon and Coast-to-Coast pins were left. And there were NO race pins at all. Apparently this time they were ONLY available as pre-orders. I know a lot of people were disappointed about that.

Avengers Half Marathon magnets

All of the "I Did It" shirts were available.

Avengers Half Marathon shirts

Eddie had picked up this Hawkeye shirt for Lee earlier in the day, just in case, but they were still on the rack when we arrived.

Hawkeye shirt

And Lee also liked this "Avengers Race Weekend" shirt.

Avengers Half Marathon Weekend shirt

We didn't wander around the rest of the Expo because we still needed to check into the hotel AND we were hungry! It was going on 10:00 for us by then, since we'd come from the east coast.

After dinner we finished unpacking and getting our costumes ready for the next morning, and set the alarm for 3:45.

Saturday - Captain America 10K

Captain America 10K logo

3:45 doesn't seem nearly as early when you've just come from the east coast. :-) We'd brought bagels and peanut butter, and had purchased yogurt in Whitewater Snacks the night before so we had something to eat before the race.

We met several friends in the pre-race area - four of us were in costume. Since it was the Captain America 10K, Lee dressed as Captain America (and he had the shield strapped to his back!), and I went as Agent Peggy Carter. As you might expect there were a lot of Captain Americas in the race, but I only saw a few other Peggys.

Avengers Half Marathon

The weather was absolutely perfect! 52 degrees, low humidity, almost no wind. I wore a trash bag and arm sleeves while waiting for the race to start, but even without the trash bag I think I would've been ok. Once I started running I was very comfortable, and didn't need the sleeves after mile 2.

When we picked up our bibs the night before we were very surprised to find that we were assigned to Corral A for both races! The same proof of time had put us in D for Wine and Dine. There must be more serious runners in the Florida race. We had both worked pretty hard earlier this year to improve our time and ran a couple of fast (for us) races. We were about 2/3 back in Corral A, but it was still nice to get a better view of the pre-race festivities.

A wonderful trio called the "Nightingals" sang the National anthem.

Avengers - Nightingals singers

And then we were off. Though this was a new 10K, it followed the same 10K course used by the Disneyland 10K. We ran down to the Convention Center, turned left, then came back up Harbor Blvd and went backstage behind DCA. That put us just about the two-mile mark. The rest of the course was on Disney property.

Because we were in Corral A, we were hoping the character lines wouldn't be too long and that we would be able to get photos with them during the 10K, since lines would be much longer during the half marathon.

The first character we saw was Thor. It took us over four minutes to get through that line.

Captain America 10K - Thor

Next was Black Widow. That line was much shorter - only 8 or so people in front of us.

Captain America 10K - Black  Widow

We crossed over into Disneyland, where we stopped for a photo in front of the new Super Hero HQ in Tomorrowland.

Captain America 10K - Super Hero HQ

The line for Hawkeye was very short - just 4 people.

Captain America 10K - Hawkeye

Then we wound around backstage for a while.

Captain America 10K

We passed the mile 5 sign in Fantasyland. All of the mile signs had Infinity Gauntlets with a different gem and word on them.

Captain America 10K - Mile 5

Captain America was in Frontierland. Given how we were dressed, we were going to stop no matter what, but the line was actually pretty short - only about 10 people in front of us. And it was the Best Character Stop Ever. :-) He greeted me as Peggy Carter and gave me a big hug. Then he decided that I needed to be on his other side so he picked me up (with one arm) and swung me around to the other side. The cast member who had my phone did a great job of capturing the moment. It was awesome!

Captain America 10K

  
Captain America 10K

  
Captain America 10K

And then he posed with Lee, too. ;-)

Captain America 10K

I think I floated for most of the remaining mile of the race...

We found our friend Beci cheering in Downtown Disney not long before the finish line.

Captain America 10K

  
Captain America 10K - Mile 6

I got a shout out as Agent Carter when I approached the finish line - that was fun. Actually, during the race I had a number of people cheer me on as "Peggy" or "Agent Carter", so I was pretty happy with my costume choice!

Captain America 10K finish line

Even with our photo stops we finished in 1:07:52. I was very pleased with that! Amazing what cooler weather does for my speed.

Captain America 10K

It was still in the low 50s when we finished, so the volunteers were handing out mylar sheets in addition to our race medals. We didn't linger in the finish area - just took a couple of photos and then went back to our room.

Captain America 10K medal

We had to cross the race course near ESPN - there was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent there. We knew from previous experience that if we went left to get to the Grand from the Downtown Disney entrance we'd have to try to cross the race course at least twice more, so instead we went down to the Paradise Pier and crossed Disneyland Drive there and used the main entrance of the hotel. Much faster.

Captain America 10K

We went to the Hearthstone Lounge for some warm beverages and our friend Ellie spotted us in there and came in to say hi. It was wonderful to see her.

Agent Carter running costume

I had a great time in this race. I LOVE the 10K distance. The theme was a lot of fun, and I really like this 10K course. Having the first two miles outside the parks helps spread the pack out so that it's not so congested when we get inside the parks. This was also a pretty small race - just under 7,000 finishers. We had really good character interactions though had we been further back in the pack with longer lines I probably would not feel quite the same. (We heard that the lines later on were 30 minutes long!) My only real complaint is that there were only four character stops. No Disney characters on the course at all. Why couldn't they dress some of the Disney characters as super heroes, or at least bring out the Incredibles?

So...Part 1 of the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge complete - bring on the half marathon!






April 13, 2015

Trip Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

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In response to one of my recent half marathon blogs, Kristyn sent this comment:

Enjoy your RunDisney posts. I am looking for recommendations on two topics if you can help me, Laura. I am doing my first event this fall at Wine and Dine. Can you do a blog on how you prepare for a nighttime race as most of us are used to the early morning runs. Also, not sure if it has ever been covered, but how to plan on where to stay and how to get to to packet pickup and the event if you don't have a rental car. Would love some advice on how to plan for a RunDisney trip. Thanks.

I'm hoping there are others of you that are interested in this information, too. So here are some of my thoughts on how to plan a trip for a runDisney race.


7-9 months in advance

Choose a race weekend and a race or races.

The first decision you have to make is which race weekend you're going to attend, and which events are you going to participate in. This could be influenced by a number of factors, including work/school schedules, potential weather conditions, and race theme.

As I write this, runDisney offers seven different race weekends in Florida and California, with most race weekends including 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. (There's no 10K for Wine and Dine Weekend; and WDW Marathon Weekend also features the WDW Marathon, which is the granddaddy of them all!)

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

So, what's it going to be? Decisions, decisions. WDW Marathon Weekend in early January offers all four race distances, in addition to the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. This is also the largest runDisney race weekend and has the most participants.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Is The Force with you? Then you might want to choose Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, which is also in January, a week after Marathon Weekend. There are 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as the Rebel Challenge, where runners do both the 10K and the half marathon. Races at Disneyland have smaller fields since the resort is smaller - this tends to make for a more pleasant race experience, but it also means they often sell out faster.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Are you looking for a "Girls' Getaway"? Then you might be interested in Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World or Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Both of these race weekends are women-focused. That doesn't mean that men are not allowed, but in the last few years women have outnumbered men by about 11:1 in the half marathons. Both race weekends offer 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as a 10K/half marathon challenge. Princess Half Marathon Weekend takes place at the end of February.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

This year Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend has been moved from January to Mother's Day Weekend in May. We'll see how that works out - many of us (myself included) think that's a poor choice for a race weekend, especially one focused on women. Getting up really early to run a half marathon is not the kind of pampering that most moms are looking for on Mother's Day!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is held over Labor Day weekend, and also offers 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, and includes the Dumbo Double Dare 10K/half marathon challenge. It's pretty warm in Anaheim at this time of year, but a race weekend is a great excuse to visit Disneyland, if you haven't been out here before. The City of Anaheim really comes out in support of this one, with lots of high school bands, cheerleaders, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community dance groups. And then there's the classic cars!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Do you want to run a race and party afterward? Then the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon might be for you. This is my favorite WDW race: it's at night, it's a different course that goes through three theme parks, and there's an after-race party in Epcot until 4:00 a.m. The Food and Wine Festival food booths are open, as well as some attractions, and there's also special entertainment. The race weekend takes place in early November. There's no 10K for this one, just the 5K (which takes place the same day as the half marathon - but early in the morning), and the half marathon. But the 5K is also slightly different, since it's held at Animal Kingdom and not at Epcot like the others. This half is also a smaller field than the other WDW races.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

If you want to bring out your inner super hero, then how about the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland? In addition to having the longest name, this is the last runDisney event of the year, and takes place the week after Wine and Dine. There are 5K, 10K (new this year), and half marathon races. With the introduction of the 10K, there's the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Weather-wise, this is a terrific time for a race in California.* In addition, the parks are fully decorated for the holidays. making it a special time of year for a visit to the Disneyland Resort.

*Last year's wind event during the half marathon was an anomaly.

Now that you've decided on a race...

Race registration opens 7-9 months in advance, (you can visit the runDisney web site to sign up for a reminder email) and many of the races sell out quickly (sometimes in under 30 minutes!). I highly recommend that you be prepared to register the minute that race registration opens (typically at 12:00 eastern time) so that you don't get shut out. The 10Ks and race challenges are usually the earliest to sell out, because they allow fewer participants. If you are an Annual Pass Holder or DVC member, there will be a pre-registration opportunity about two weeks before regular registration opens. A limited number of registrations are available during this time, and they also tend to go quickly. The good news is that if you qualify for this you get two shots at registering, and if you don't get in via pre-registration, you can try again during open registration. (In the past pre-registration was also available to Disney Visa card holders, but I do not know if this is still the case.)

RunDisney uses active.com as their registration site. If you don't already have an active.com account, then it's a good idea to set one up in advance. It doesn't help with pre-registration, but during open registration it will speed the process if you have an active.com account you can log into.


So you're registered...what's next?

Time to make some additional decisions about the race weekend. Are you going to turn it into a vacation, and add on some days before and/or after the race? Where are you going to stay? How are you going to get around? Some of these considerations are slightly different depending on whether the race is at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, so I'll address them separately.

Since most of us travel to WDW or Disneyland we want to spend some extra time there apart from the races to give some added value to the trip. I personally recommend adding more of the time on after the race and not before. You'll still want to arrive at least a day or two before the race so that you have time to visit the Race Expo and pick up your race bib and shirt, etc., but once the race is over it's nice to have some time to relax and enjoy the parks.

At Walt Disney World, if you are staying on-site at a WDW resort, then race transportation and where to stay are kind of all rolled together. For each race weekend, there are multiple Walt Disney World resorts that are designated "host resorts". Race transportation is provided for runners staying at these hotels - this includes free transportation to/from the Expo in addition to transportation to/from the races. So, between using Disney's Magical Express for airport transportation and normal Disney transportation to the parks, then if you're staying at a host resort you probably don't need a rental car. For Marathon and Princess weekends, all WDW resorts are considered host resorts and offer race transportation. For Wine and Dine, the resort choices are more limited. You can visit the runDisney web site and go to Travel->Walt Disney World and then select the race weekend you are interested in for more information on the host resorts.

At Disneyland everything is much more compact, so from any of the Disney hotels and from many of the hotels in the surrounding area you simply walk to/from any race weekend events. The Expos are held in the convention center at the Disneyland Hotel, and the races all start/end near either the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier Hotel. (This makes the race morning logistics a WHOLE lot easier than at WDW - no bus ride required!). There are some designated host hotels that are further away which do offer Expo and race transportation, so that's also an option.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's no "Magical Express" equivalent at Disneyland, though there are a number of reputable shuttle services that provide airport transportation to all area hotels. You'll have to pay for it, but balance that off against the price of a car rental. Also, most hotels (including the Disney hotels) charge a fee for parking, so that's another thing to keep in mind. The two most popular airports to fly into are John Wayne (SNA) and Los Angeles International (LAX). SNA is a whole lot closer to Disneyland, but doesn't have as many flights. Long Beach (LGB) is another airport option, but it's very small, and few airlines fly there.

There are only three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, and they are all high-end, so Disney depends on their "Good Neighbor" hotels to provide the more moderate and budget-priced options. You won't get the Disney theming, but the accommodations are just fine, especially if your biggest requirement is a place to sleep and shower.

And did I mention that a lot of them are walking distance to the race events and the parks? :-) i can not stress enough what a huge benefit that is when running a race at Disneyland. You can find some additional information, including links to the hotel web sites, on our Good Neighbor Hotel FAQ


2-7 months in advance

Train for your race(s). I'm not going to say too much about this, since everyone has their own strategy, and what works best for them. But I will address Kristyn's question about Wine and Dine, and how to prepare for a nighttime race: I personally don't do anything differently in my training. I typically run one evening a week, but the first time I ran Wine and Dine I wasn't doing that, and it didn't make a difference in my performance. I think that if you've done your training, then your body knows what it needs to do, and time of day doesn't matter. If anything, I find it a little easier to run at night because it's dark and I don't have the sun beating down on me.

This is also the time period where you'll be able to submit your "Proof of Time". This is a race result from some other race you've participated in during the past couple of years, which runDisney will use in determining your placement in a start corral. This is done via a web page. You can use another runDisney race, but most of us don't have our best times in a runDisney race. :-) You'll need to have the race information, including the name of the race, date, location, distance, your time, AND a URL where runDisney can find the race results. If you run a different race and get a better time, you can go in and modify it. But you will not be able to modify your proof of time within about 3 months of the Disney race date - the cutoff date will be posted on the page. You are not required to submit a proof of time, but if you don't have one runDisney will assign you to one of the later corrals.

For WDW races, starting 6 months in advance you can make your Priority Seating arrangements for dining. So if it's important to you to eat a particular kind of food - or at a particular place - before a race, it's something to consider far in advance. And of course there's probably other restaurants you'd like to enjoy after the race - we often have a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on Sunday night of race weekend.


60 days in advance

At Disneyland it's time to make your Priority Seating, though this isn't nearly as critical as it is at WDW. The exceptions would be for a special dining package, such as Fantasmic! viewing, or if you're booking for a large party.

For WDW you can make your Fastpass+ selections, if you are staying at a WDW resort.


1-4 weeks in advance

Race waivers will be available on the runDisney web site. You must complete a race waiver and present photo id to pick up your bib at the race Expo. While there are print stations at the Expo, it's a lot easier and faster if you print the waiver in advance and bring it with you. This is also how you find out your bib number, and you can determine your corral placement from that - otherwise you'll have to wait until you pick up your bib, as the corral will be printed on that.

Make a packing list. Don't forget things like gels, running belts, and throwaway clothes. If you use a particular nutrition product bring it with you - don't count on being able to purchase it at the Expo. If you're planning to run in costume, make sure you list all of the pieces. If you can do a test run in the costume to make sure it's going to work that's great, but I'm sure most of us (myself included) don't do that.


The week before

Obsessively stalk the weather channel. Ok, maybe that's just me. :-) But honestly, you want to know what to expect so that you can bring the appropriate clothing, both for running and park touring. And be aware that the weather can change drastically, even a day or two before the race (though this is more often an issue in Florida than California). Predicted starting temps in the 60s can suddenly turn into the 40s (or 30s!), or 50s can turn into high 60s, with finishing temps in the 80s. And rain is always a possibility. I've had experience with all of those, and they all have their own challenges. If it's chilly, the worst part is all the waiting around before the race. In that case, those little chemical hand warmer packets and some cheap throwaway gloves will go a long way to keeping you more comfortable. I ALWAYS pack a LARGE trash bag in my suitcase - it comes down past my knees and really helps me retain body heat while waiting.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend


Race Weekend

Yay! You've made it to your destination, with your running gear and waiver in hand. Next up is the race Expo. If you want first chance at the race merchandise, then you need to arrive EARLY on the day the Expo opens and be prepared to wait in line. This is the one situation where it's easier if you have a car since the buses don't start running until 30 minutes or so before the Expo starts. Also, remember that bib pickup and merchandise are in separate areas - you can choose to go to merchandise first and later pick up your bib or vice versa. If you don't want to wait in a lot of lines and are willing to take your chances on merchandise, then I would suggest visiting the Expo sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon. I've never encountered much in the way of lines at that point in time.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Be a little cautious about trying the samples that are available at the Expo. That energy bar might contain some ingredient that doesn't agree with you - and stomach issues are not something you want to deal with on race day.


The day before the race

It's really difficult to stay off your feet when you're at Disney, but it's a good idea the day before a race, especially if you're running the marathon. Even with a half marathon, being on your feet for hours the day before will tire you out to some extent. We try to do some limited touring in the morning, and then take an extended break back in our room in the afternoon, before venturing out in the early evening for dinner. And you should be drinking water throughout the day - not drowning yourself, but if you're running a half or the marathon then you want to be well-hydrated.

When you're out and about, pick up whatever it is you're going to want to eat in the few hours before the race. This might be a bagel or a banana, or yogurt - or maybe it's an energy bar that you brought with you. Your choices the morning of the race will be very limited, so if you already have what you need that's one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

When it comes to dinner the night before, just about everyone has their own idea of what works best for them. Some want pasta, others pizza, and some swear by Chinese food. At this point, you should have done enough long training runs to know what you need to fuel yourself for the next day. You definitely do NOT want to gorge yourself the night before, but you should eat a good dinner, with some carbs and protein. I like chicken and rice, with some vegetables or a salad, though my go-to meal the night before a Disneyland half marathon is four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.

For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, since it's a night race, we do things slightly differently. We still do some touring in the morning, and then we'll try to have our big meal of the day around 1:00-2:00 in the afternoon. And by "big meal", I don't mean gorging on an all-you-can-eat buffet - I mean your largest meal of that particular day. I recommend something similar to what you would eat for dinner the night before a morning race. Then around 6:00 have a light (and I do mean light) meal or snack.

In the couple of hours before the race, whether it's in the morning or the evening, you'll want to have something to eat. Again, from your training, you should be familiar with what works for you. You may want to eat in your room, or you may want to take something with you to the start area.

The Disney resorts usually have some kind of quick service option that's open very early on race mornings where you can get coffee and light fare such as fruit and bagels. At Disneyland several locations in Downtown Disney are open early on half marathon mornings, like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.


Race Day

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

And...you've made it to race day! Get out to the start line and have a great time on the course!


What about the rest of you? What are your suggestion on planning for a runDisney trip?

Learn more about runDisney from Laura on this episode of AllEarsNet TV



December 1, 2014

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

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2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend was held at Disneyland November 14-16. This is a new runDisney event, which of course means it has the "I" word, Inaugural, associated with it. :-) All events sold out very quickly, but Lee and I were able to register for the half marathon.

This was the third event in what has been a very busy week for us. We ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon last Saturday night (you can read more about that HERE), then went on a four-night Disney cruise. We flew back to San Diego on Friday, went home, repacked our bags, and drove to Disneyland that night. It was a long day, but it was nice to have all day on Saturday at Disneyland, rather than driving on Saturday and not being able to check into our hotel until the afternoon.

The events for the weekend included the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday, the Super Heroes 5K and Kids Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. We didn't arrive in time to go to the Expo on Friday night (which was one reason we chose not to register for the 5K), so we went on Saturday, around 11:30. We intentionally did not go at opening, since we'd heard what the crowds were like the day before in the merchandise area. At least this time they had a system, with a queue and cast members controlling access to the area (unlike for the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare in 2013), but still, the lines were long on Friday morning. And, unfortunately, some of the merchandise sold out on Friday morning. I don't know why Disney seems to have so much trouble ordering sufficient merchandise. But it's pretty disappointing to be a registered participant in the race, and not have a chance to purchase items. There's no reason for shirts to be limited editions. I really wish runDisney would allow registered runners to pre-order merchandise other than pins. But that's another topic.

Anyway...The Expo was held at the Disneyland Hotel's Convention Center, like all of the other Disneyland race expos. Packet pickup was a breeze - we had printed our waivers in advance (which is highly recommended - saves a lot of time), and I walked right up to the counter to pick up my number - no line at all!

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As they did for Wine and Dine, there were photographers in the packet pickup area to photograph those who were going for their Coast-to-Coast medal. This didn't affect us this time but it still was not clear at all that this was something that Coast-to-Coast participants needed to do. The volunteers who give out the Coast-to-Coast wristbands need to be given better directions on this. It was in the race program - but who reads the race program in advance on-line, much less takes the time to read the printed version at the Expo?

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

They had some fun banners posted outside the hall.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The shirt pickup was upstairs in the Expo area - that was also a very fast process. I like the shirt fabric. It's the same softer, lighter weight fabric they have been using for other race shirts this year. The design is also nice, and I'm still very happy with the women's cut. Though these are long-sleeve shirts and the sleeves are too long.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon


The Expo seemed pretty small to me - not that many vendors, which meant that it felt less crowded and easier to get around. Though it wasn't really that busy when we were there. The vendors that I expected were there, and I couldn't tell you who was "missing".

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

There were no lines at the merchandise area when we got there - I think that really the only busy time was Friday morning. As I mentioned before, some of the merchandise was already sold out, but there was still a pretty good selection remaining, including the "I Did It" shirts, though it looked like they were running low on some of the sizes. There was a unisex version and a women's version. They were cotton this time and not tech shirts. That has received some mixed responses. I personally like the cotton shirts, but others prefer the tech shirts.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

We spent the rest of the day visiting with friends who were also running the half marathon and getting a first look at all of the holiday decorations in the parks. And as usual we ended our day with our traditional pre-race favorite meal: four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.

One advantage to our travel schedule is that we were on east coast time. So getting up for a race that starts at 5:30 Pacific time isn't that bad when your body thinks it's 8:30. :-) We went to bed at 8:45 on Saturday night and set a wakeup call for 3:45 a.m. That's pretty close to a full night's sleep! And I know I've said it before but I LOVE the races at Disneyland because we can walk to the start line instead of taking a bus, so there's no reason to get there insanely early.

No rain in the forecast for this race (for which we were very grateful, after last weekend's rainy Wine and Dine run), and in fact the conditions looked really good, with temperatures of 55-64 predicted for the race itself. We arrived at the pre-race area about 4:40. This was a relatively small race, with only about 12,000 registered. (There were 10,449 official finishers.) The pre-race area was not crowded at all, and there weren't even any lines for the porta-potties!

Lee and I had both dressed in costume. He put together a really nice Hawkeye costume, and even carried a bow for the entire race. There weren't very many Hawkeyes in the race, so he got lots of compliments! I did a "Princess Captain America Winter Soldier" look - but there were hundreds of Captain Americas. :-) Lots of Thors, Hulks, and Iron Men, also, not so many Black Widows. Also lots of Supermen, Wonder Women, Batmen and Robins, and Spidermen. I did not see very many runners dressed as traditional Disney characters in this race.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The race started on time - we even had some fireworks at the start, which is unusual for a race at Disneyland. Lee and I were running with our friend Eddie - both Eddie and Lee were in higher corrals, but they came back to Corral D to run with me. As in the Disneyland half marathon, they sent A and B together, then C and D together, then E and F. Those were the smaller corrals. The larger corrals went off individually. As usual, the runners were pretty bunched together at the start, but we started to spread out after about 3/4 of a mile.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon
2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The Avengers Half Marathon is a new course. When I first looked at it I was surprised (and disappointed) to see that we would be out of the parks and off Disney property before we even reached mile 3. By way of comparison, the Disneyland half leaves Disney property just before mile 4, and for the Tinker Bell half it's almost mile 6! Upon leaving the parks the Disneyland half heads basically east, Tinker Bell heads north, and this course went south, then east. About mile 6.5 it turns north again on the Santa Ana River Trail for a couple of miles, exiting at Angel Stadium. From there on it's very similar to the Disneyland half, though it takes a loop around some of the off-site hotels near the park to add a little more distance. The last 1.1 miles of the race is identical to the Disneyland half, and it finishes in the traditional place near the Disneyland hotel.

The course map is HERE.

The first park was DCA, and we entered near "a bug's land" and then ran by Luigi's Flying Tires, and turned right to run through Radiator Springs, then left towards Paradise Pier. Lightning McQueen and D.J. were in Radiator Springs. The photo op for Thor was positioned in front of Blue Sky Cellar, and had a very long line. We did not do the traditional loop around Paradise Bay, which really shortened our time in DCA. But even so I was surprised that the World of Color fountains weren't running, nor was the Fun Wheel lit.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

We turned right at the Little Mermaid and ran by Redwood Creek, where I saw Dug and Russell. Then we passed Grizzly River Run, and turned left just before Soarin'. Hawkeye was there, and had a relatively short line. Since Lee was dressed as Hawkeye we had to stop. Though the line seemed relatively short, it still took over 5 minutes.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

We ran out of DCA and entered the backstage area of Disneyland near the Indiana Jones attraction, then ran into Disneyland itself by Splash Mountain. There were a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (dressed in dark suits) cheering us on. The course took us along the Rivers of America past the Haunted Mansion and Pirates. We saw Black Widow in front of The Golden Horseshoe, but that was the longest line we'd seen and we didn't stop.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon


We ran past Big Thunder Mountain and the mile 2 sign, and into Fantasyland.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were on the Carrousel, though they were far enough away that it was hard to pose with them.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

We ran through the castle, which is all covered in its seasonal icicle lights and snow. I do have to say that one very special thing about this race was getting the opportunity to run through the parks when they were decorated for the holidays, though we weren't able to take full advantage of that since we never ran by "it's a small world".

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As we ran down Main Street Mickey and Minnie were near the Plaza Inn. Surprisingly they were not dressed in any kind of special costume! I expected some kind of superhero outfit, or at least their runner outfits. Very disappointing. Captain America was near Town Square, and had a huge line - nope, not stopping for that.

From there it was under the train station and out of the park, into the Esplanade, and then left through the shuttle bus/tram area, and out to Harbor Blvd. Done with the parks and we were less than 3 miles into the race. Bummer.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

Once we started south on Harbor, we really started to notice the wind. The Santa Ana winds had kicked up, and though at that point it was coming from our left, we could still really feel it. After we ran south on Harbor for about a mile we turned left on Chapman Avenue, and right into the wind. It was blowing leaves and dirt around, especially when the wind gusted, and the going was much more difficult when we were running into the wind. After not quite a mile we turned south into the Christ Cathedral complex (I remember it as the Crystal Cathedral), and that was a huge relief, since we were no longer heading straight into the wind.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The wind really took its toll on the mile markers - starting at mile 3, almost none of them were intact for the rest of the race. Several had blown over completely, and others had just the framework left. Wow.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

I was wearing a cape, and depending on the wind direction it was either flowing beautifully or trying to strangle me. :-)

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The wind was also a big issue for the volunteers at the water stops, since it was strong enough to blow the tables over! At some locations the tables had been taken down and volunteers were simply pouring water into the cups and handing them out as fast as they could. So it was a difficult day for the volunteers, also.

At about mild 6.5 we went down onto the Santa Ana River Trail. There was a really great mural on the wall!

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

But it was very windy down there, with lots of dust, even though the trail is paved. We even saw a big tumbleweed that was getting blown along. Eddie and I had given Lee a bad time about wearing his sunglasses because it was dark when we started, but we were wishing we had glasses to help keep the dust out of our eyes.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As part of the on-course entertainment Disney had put a call out for volunteers including Costumers (the more authentic, the better), military vehicles and re-enactors to go with them, and veterans.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The Costumers were placed along the Trail. I thought this was a little bit of an odd choice because it was somewhat narrow, but for morale purposes it was a wonderful location for them. They were really terrific - for one thing they looked amazing! So many different and really well-crafted costumes!

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

And they were also very enthusiastic, offering plenty of cheers and smiles and high-fives and encouragement. We were really happy to see them, and they made us forget the dust and the wind for a little while.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

At about mile 8 we exited the trail and went into the parking lot at Angel Stadium, and then into the stadium itself.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

No boy and girl scouts this time, but there were a couple of bands and flag teams, and some other groups in the stands to cheer for us.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

After we left the stadium we ran by the other group of volunteers - those with military vehicles, period uniforms, and veterans in uniform. This was another wonderful group of people, and we also appreciated their support so much!

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon
2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

From that point on we were mostly running with the wind at our backs, and that helped, though the gusts were strong enough that I felt like I was going to get blown off my feet several times. Very odd feeling.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The last 4+ miles back to Disneyland were pretty similar to what we've experienced in the past on the Disneyland half marathon course. Lots of cheerleaders and high school bands to cheer us on. Finally at mile 11 we again saw a mile marker sign that was still standing! Mile 12 was completely gone - replaced by a cast member announcing that we were at mile 12. The mile 13 sign was surrounded by people, and it was ok. But that's when Lee decided to sprint, and I had to beat him to the finish line, so there's no photo of it. :-)

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

My time was 2:42:27. I was kind of surprised it wasn't better, because we didn't stop for that many photos. But the wind made for a very challenging and tiring run - it was a pretty tough day. That said, I'll still take the wind over the rain we had for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The medal is very nice - it's a spinner.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As usual we received the typical runDisney MRE box at the end. Someone (hello, Lori!) asked me recently why I object so much to the boxes. I couldn't put it into words at the time, but in thinking about it I realized that it's largely because here I've been out doing something healthy, running a race, and at the end I get a box that's filled with a bunch of processed food. That just doesn't seem right - it's almost insulting. Disney could do so much better, and in fact other races, that don't charge nearly so much money, do a whole lot better when it comes to post-race refreshments.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

The windy conditions continued to affect things even in the finish area. The photo backdrops used by the official race photographers were missing, and most of the tents in the finish area had to be taken down. The awards ceremony was canceled, and runners were encouraged to leave the area fairly quickly. We didn't really have any reason to linger, so we headed back to our hotel.

2014 Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

Because of the wind, I'm not entirely sure what I thought about this race, especially the course. I expected to enjoy the Santa Ana River Trail part a lot, but because of the dust, that area was pretty unpleasant. Obviously that's not Disney's fault since they do not control the weather - not yet, at least. :-)

But they do control the park time, and I'm definitely not a fan of the very limited park time. That aspect of the course was very disappointing. But even so, there were a lot of things that I liked about this course. It was nice to see some different parts of Orange County. In the Disneyland half, I don't really like the tour of the Anaheim industrial park, so I found this course to be an improvement since it gave us a look at some business and residential areas instead. If it weren't for the lack of park time I would choose the Avengers course over the Disneyland course, but the Tinker Bell course is still my overall favorite.

The other area where I see a lot of room for improvement in future Avengers races is the characters. The lines for the characters were so long - you pretty much had to choose which one character you were going to stand in line for. I can't think of any really good way to deal with that, but one thing that I would've loved to have seen was some of the Disney characters in Avengers costumes. They do that with the Star Wars characters - why couldn't they do it with Marvel characters? Or why not bring out the Disney super heroes, like The Incredibles and Frozone? And Rapunzel, Mulan, and Merida are pretty bada$$ princesses.

Other than merchandise, I didn't really experience any issues that I associate with this being an inaugural race. Disneyland has done this before, and they have learned from previous race experiences and made improvements over the years (well, other than the runDisney MREs...).

The volunteers were terrific, and I'm sure it was a more difficult day for them than it would usually be. I really enjoyed the Costumers and the vehicles and all of those in uniform - thank you to all of you for coming out to support us, and a special thank you to the veterans for your service to our country!

We will probably run this race again next year and hope for more typical November conditions. It really is a great time of year for a race weekend, given our usual weather at this time of year.

Thanks for reading, and thank you to all of you who have taken the time to tell me how much you enjoy my running blogs - that means a lot to me. I'm especially humbled by those who have told me that my blogs have inspired them to go out and participate in a Disney race! Good for you, and congratulations on your achievements.


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About Avengers Half Marathon

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Avengers Half Marathon category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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