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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Archives

October 3, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 3, Half Marathon

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Somewhere along the way the race was renamed the Inaugural Disneyland® Paris – Val d’Europe Half Marathon. Or Semi Marathon, as they say in France. Val d'Europe is the area that surrounds Disneyland Paris, and we would be running through it for over half of the race.

It was a fantastic event. Maybe the most I've ever enjoyed an Inaugural runDisney event (Disneyland's Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon is way up there, too.) The race organizers, the cast members, the community, the volunteers all came together to give us a marvelous experience. Thank you to all of you!

Going into the race we really weren't sure what to expect in terms of on-course support, water stops, and nutrition. And given recent events in France, security was a concern as well.

I'm very happy to report that none of that was an issue. While perhaps there wasn't quite as much entertainment or cheering crowds, those that were there were enthusiastic and very supportive. And there were plenty of well-stocked and staffed water and nutrition stops. As for security - it was very different seeing pairs of armed guards all over the course, but I felt safe.

The race course was terrific. We had even more park time in the Studios than we did for the 5K, and about the same in Disneyland. The first 5K was basically parks, and then we had 1K backstage before going out onto the roads in Val d'Europe.

It was a beautiful area, and I very much enjoyed the views as we ran through the countryside. We saw parks:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Woods:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Houses:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Lakes:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

And even corn fields.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were never that far from Disney and could often catch a glimpse of Space Mountain or the castle in the distance and even hear some music.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was very nice that for most of the last 5K we were back on Disney property, where we ran through several of the Disney resorts. Hotel Santa Fe:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Hotel Cheyenne:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Newport Bay Club:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We finished by running through Downtown Disney, then ducking backstage around the Studios for the final kilometer to the finish line.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The weather was perfect. There was rain in the forecast but thankfully it held off until the afternoon, and for the race we had clear skies and temperatures of about 55-60. There was a light wind at times. It was very comfortable for running.

I was very pleased to see that the race organizers had learned some lessons from the 5K and made some changes to address a few issues. There were screens and speakers in the corrals that morning, so we had a much better idea of what was happening up front.

At the character stops, the handlers let runners in line know when a character would soon be going for a break, and when they would be coming back. And they let us know if a different character was coming out to replace them. That was much appreciated.

They pulled the PhotoPass photographers from the castle ramp, which really eased congestion when we went through it - we barely slowed down.

The Disney characters were still at the finish line, but they were more away from the line - it wasn't the bottleneck that it was the day before.

Once again, the race organizers did a great job of giving us character photo opportunities along the course. And very different characters than we had saw during the 5K. The number of character stops was about the same as for the 5K, but there might have been even more characters - some of the stops had four or five different characters associated with them! Some of the groups:

Mad Hatter, March Hare, White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat(!)

Dug, Carl, Russell/Baloo, King Louie

Remy/Marie, Toulouse, Berlioz (Aristocats)

Aladdin, Abu, Genie, Sultan

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Cinderella, Prince Charming, Belle, Prince Beast (by far the longest line I saw so we didn't stop)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We also saw Chip and Dale, the Incredibles, Spider-Man, Darth Vader, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. I think Remy and Spider-Man/Captain America were the only repeats from the 5K. That's quite a lineup.

Race Day

We got a slightly earlier start - had our race breakfast at the hotel and were on our way to the corrals by 6:10. I was concerned that it might take longer to get through the security check, but it was again very efficient.

We learned from the way the 5K started to try to get further forward in the corral. We were in Corral B for this one, so that helped a lot. There were over 10,000 runners registered for the race, so it was about twice the size of the 5K. There were four start corrals instead of three.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

As I mentioned before, we had video monitors and a PA system for the half, so we were able to hear the announcements when they told us they would start us in waves - I think they said 32 waves.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was another cool morning - about 55 degrees - but there was a light wind and it felt a little colder. I'd remember to wear my gloves this time! With arm sleeves, trash bag, and gloves I was comfortable while we waited.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The race started 10 minutes late - no explanation as to why.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were near the front of corral B and started about 10 minutes after the official start of the race. We were at the front of a wave, and that was nice.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

This time we went into the Studios first and to the Lights, Motors, Action stage at the back of the park.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There weren't lines at the kilometer signs as there were the day before. 21 of them for this race.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We ran through the Studio 1 building that's just inside the Studios' entrance. It was strange to be running inside.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Since we were closer to the front of the race the character lines were much shorter, so we were able to make a number of stops. But one not-so-good change between the 5K and the half: CMs were apparently instructed not to take photos with guest cameras. So we all had to get someone else to take our photo if we wanted one with our own camera. Everyone was willing to do it, it was just awkward to pass the phones back and forth.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The CMs were still out in force and enthusiastically cheering for us, though!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We went the opposite direction through Toy Story Playland this time and into the Ratatouille area. I was hoping that Remy would be out again, but I didn't see any character stops. Unfortunately I missed it - it was behind the line of cheering cast members nearer the Fastpass distribution area. I found out later that in addition to Remy that stop alternated with Marie and some of the other kittens from The Aristocats! I was really disappointed that I missed that.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We'd run a little less than 3K when we entered Disneyland and ran down Main Street.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

In Discoveryland there was a line for Vader and the Storm Troopers. It was the longest line we waited in - about 8 minutes. While we waited for that I took this photo of Lee. The Vader photo was only taken by the PhotoPass photographer and I REALLY hope it comes out - it should be a good one.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

In Fantasyland we had our first experience with the CMs telling us that characters would be leaving. The March Hare and White Rabbit were out, but the CM told us they would be leaving in four minutes. The line was short, so we knew we should have time. But when the Mad Hatter came out (less than four minutes later) they pulled the other two, so we missed getting them - but at least we had a photo with the Mad Hatter.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The Sheriff of Nottingham was out on Adventure Isle (some people saw Robin Hood, also). That was a new one for me, I think.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

When we were in the parks the kilometer markers were themed to the area of the park that we were in. (No race clocks on any of the kilometer markers like we're used to seeing here.)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

After we left Disneyland we ran backstage for a while - this backstage road had traffic circles on it, and there was a gargoyle statue in each one! Surprisingly this was the only Hunchback character that we saw during the races.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At the 6K mark we left Disney property for the surrounding commune of Val d'Europe. About 3.7 miles on Disney property to start the race, most of it in interesting on-stage areas - very nice.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We ran around a number of traffic circles that day.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At one point we ran about half a lap around a high school track. That was nice and cushy. Felt good.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were two nutrition stations - one at about 7.5K and one at 15K. Different than what we're used to - they offered cereal bars and apple slices. We split one of the packets of apple slices and they were quite good. There didn't seem to be too many takers for the cereal bars, though.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were a number of teams of runners who were pushing a disabled person in an interesting one-wheeled sedan chair. One person in front rickshaw-style and one in back pushing. They swapped out fairly frequently. Despite the chair they were moving pretty fast - most of them passed us.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There were a number of bands along the course - most of them seemed to be high school bands.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

And this was a very unusual group. The long tubes are didgeridoos. Their name was Pranavibes.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

11K - over half way! When we weren't in the parks the signs were themed to different Disney movies.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

One part of the course I didn't like so much - for about 5K we were on an out-and-back, which meant that we saw people on the other side going on the opposite direction. Not so bad when we were the ones further along, but a little disheartening when we were still going out and watching those on the other side of the road who were almost 5K ahead of us!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

About kilometer 12 we ran through a village. There were quite a few people out to watch us, including a very enthusiastic cheerleading squad.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon
The volunteers were outstanding!
Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At about 13K we ran around a small lake. We started on a gravel path, which then turned into a packed dirt/gravel track. I heard a number of complaints from runners around me in this section, but I enjoyed the change in surface.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

At kilometer 17 we were back in Disney property. I liked the way the markers at Hotel Santa Fe and Hotel Cheyenne matched the theme of those resorts.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Running along Lake Disney - a little over a mile left to go.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The wind had played a little havoc with the 21K sign. CMs said that it was only 100 meters to the finish from there, but it felt longer than that to me.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Arrivee!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Again there were characters at the finish but runners weren't allowed to line up like they had the day before.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Lee and I both got our Challenge medals from the smallest race volunteer I've seen - isn't she adorable?

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The signage for the Castle to Chateau wasn't clear - I passed by it the first time, and had to backtrack a bit to get to the entrance. I was also quite surprised that no one was marking our wristbands to make sure no one received more than one - it seemed like it would be possible to do that.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Really beautiful medals! And the one has that special word on it: Inaugural. :-)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It was still under 60 degrees and a little chilly - I was surprised that mylar sheets weren't being distributed. I'm not even sure they were available at the First Aid tent, since I didn't see anyone who had one.

This time our post-race snacks were a banana, cereal bar, peanuts, and a dried fruit/nut mix.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

There was still no entertainment in the Family Reunion area and the lines for photos at the photo backdrops were long.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

We were both getting a little chilled so we headed back to our hotel. We had to cross the race course twice to get there, but the runners had thinned out enough that it didn't take too long. I had a really good race and felt really good - but it's always very nice to be done.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

A few souvenirs from our trip to France!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

This was a terrific race weekend. Totally exceeded all of my expectations. Congratulations to everyone involved, and a heartfelt thank you from me as well. I hope this race weekend will be around for a long time. While I'm not planning to run it again next year, I would certainly like to run it again in the future - maybe the 5th anniversary?







October 1, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, 5K

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Disneyland Paris 5K

The 5K started at 7:00 on Saturday morning. A very civilized hour for those of us used to the typical 5:00 or 5:30 starts of most runDisney events! (Though the start time was NOT listed in the official program!) And since everything was so close, we didn't even have to get up that early - we set the alarm for 5:15.

Continental breakfast at the hotels was included as part of our race packages. On race mornings, there was also a limited race breakfast available starting at 5:00. I was very surprised that there were NO bread products at the race breakfast! We're in France, where there's a boulangerie on almost every corner, and there's no croissants or toast for race breakfast? There was yogurt, fruit, and cereal, as well as juice, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. That was ok for me, but Lee is used to having a bagel or toast or something like that before running.

We met our friends Julie and Mike at breakfast, and then walked over to the start area - left the hotel about 6:15. We again had to go through security, but most runners obviously weren't carrying anything and could just walk through. It took less than 10 minutes to walk to the Events Center. The pre-race area was right next to it.

It looked like it was going to be a great day for running, with a forecast of mostly clear skies and temperature around 54-56. That's perfect in my book. A little chilly for waiting in the corrals, but I'd brought one of my trusty trash bags from home, and I had arm sleeves. I'd also brought gloves but I forgot to wear them that morning - they would have been nice to have. I wore my Belle running costume for the 5K.

Bag check was in the Events Center - the same location as packet pickup, merchandise, etc. That was different, though it was nice that everything was in the same place, and it certainly made sense to do it there. We didn't check any bags, but had to go through the Events Center to access the Runner's Only area. There were lots of people checking for bibs in a couple of places to make sure that only registered runners were allowed to enter.

The event map showed "Photos" in the pre-race area, and I was hoping for Disney characters as they have started to do here. But no, just a couple of backdrops with pretty long lines.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And there were NO PhotoPass photographers - none roaming around taking photos, and, even more surprisingly, none at the photo backdrops! That was one reason the lines were moving so slowly - we all had to hand our cameras to someone else for photos. I was starting to wonder what the use was of purchasing the PhotoPass card if there weren't going to be any photographers!

We eventually got to the front of the line at one of the backdrops and had a few photos taken.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And then we went to the corrals - which were a very short distance away. Corral assignment for the 5K appeared to be completely random. Mike, Julie and I were all in B, but for whatever reason Lee was assigned to C (even though he and I had booked together!), so we all had to go back to C to run together. That was a bummer, as it turned out. We ended up near the back of Corral C.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There were 5,000-6,000 participants in the 5K - and most of them were ahead of us. We could barely see the start line, and there were no speakers or monitors anywhere around us so we had no idea what was going on.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There was a small burst of fireworks a few minutes before 7:00, and then after that we started seeing occasional puffs of "smoke" over the start line.

Disneyland Paris 5K

It appeared that the race started on time but we didn't start moving for another 10 minutes, I think. And once we did start moving we'd move a bit, then stop, then move some more. The reason became obvious as we approached the start line: within the corrals, they were grouping people together and starting them in waves about a minute apart. Interesting strategy, and it did seem to work to spread us out a bit more early in the race. But it was confusing since we couldn't hear anything and had no idea what was going on until we got pretty close to the start line.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There were a couple of race announcers, but we couldn't hear them until we were close to the starting line. They were mixing it up between English and French. Really made me miss Rudy Novotny and Carissa Bealert, though.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We started about 20 minutes after the race officially began. We were on the wide walkway between Downtown Disney and Disneyland, so crowding wasn't much of an issue and we had room to maneuver around slower walkers and runners.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were very quickly on Main Street in Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There's that lovely castle...but no PhotoPass photographers!

Disneyland Paris 5K

We reached the first of what were to be the most character stops I've seen in any Disney race as we made the turn from the hub towards Discoveryland. Cruella deVil and Jafar. Unfortunately, because of our start in Corral C, the lines were very long, so we didn't stop at most of the official photo stops - we had to make our own fun photos instead.

This is one of my favorites. Mike, Julie, and Lee got in the car and the CMs who were cheering there saw what they were doing and rushed over to photobomb them! It was great! There were a lot of cast members out cheering throughout the race, and they all looked like they were having a wonderful time doing it.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We passed the 1K marker in Discoveryland. A few runners around us thought we had already gone a mile. Nope, sorry, different system of measurement here! :-) There were even lines to take photos of the kilometer markers, so we didn't stop.

The course went through all of the various lands - Main Street, Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland before exiting Disneyland and taking us into the Studios.

There were lots of character stops - most of them had more than one character. And several of them were characters not often seen. For example, in Fantasyland there were two pairs of more unusual characters - Eeyore and Rabbit, and Thumper and his girlfriend. We counted 11 character stops. Very impressive.

Disneyland Paris 5K

Between Discoveryland and Fantasyland we turned and ran into a backstage area which was lit by some interesting lights - they changed color.

Disneyland Paris 5K

In Fantasyland we stopped for a photo outside Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

Disneyland Paris 5K

One of the two water stations was located in Adventureland just past Pirates and Adventure Isle. They were clearly marked.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We actually went into Fantasyland twice - once from the backstage area and once from Adventureland. The course designers did a great job of maximizing park time for this race. The second time we saw Mary Poppins and Bert at the Carousel. That's probably the one photo op that I regret not stopping for.

Disneyland Paris 5K

After that it was time to run through the castle. There were PhotoPass photographers on the Main Street side, so people were slowing down as we went through to mug for the cameras, though we didn't come to a screeching halt like we do in some Disney races.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We stopped in Frontierland to take photos with some of the "pumpkin people" (there were lots of Halloween figures out on Main Street and Frontierland for their Halloween celebration), and the people in front of us were the young woman and her father that we had talked to when in line for the Expo! It was so much fun to see them - and they were having a wonderful time.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were disappointed that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is shut down for a lengthy refurbishment - but it's still a very pretty backdrop.

Disneyland Paris 5K

After Frontierland we left Disneyland and went backstage to get into the Studios. In that area we were passed by a scooter with a cameraman on the back - we'd seen a couple of these. I felt like I was in the Tour de France. :-)

Disneyland Paris 5K

We didn't go through quite as much of the Studios park, though we passed most of the major areas and attractions. It's a much smaller park than Disneyland. It might even be Disney's smallest theme park - or that's how it feels to me. We passed the 3K sign just before we entered, so we didn't have too much of the race still remaining.

There weren't as many character stops in the Studios but there were a few very interesting ones. Near Crush's coaster was a character I haven't seen in a VERY long time - Roger Rabbit! And I think the longest line I saw was outside Bistrot Chez Remy - for Remy, Linguini, and Emile! Wow. Very cool to see all three of them.

Disneyland Paris 5K

A bit of a loop - the runners behind Lee, Mike, and Julie who are exiting Playland were ahead of us.

Disneyland Paris 5K

The course took us back into the Hollywood portion of the park and past the Tower of Terror and Rock'n'Roller Coaster. The final character stop was Marvel characters. We saw Spider-Man - others saw Captain America. The line wasn't too long (by far the shortest one we'd seen) and we stopped for it. Unfortunately only the PhotoPass photographer took the picture, and it's not available yet.

The last kilometer of the race was in backstage areas between the Studios and Downtown Disney. We finally found a kilometer sign that didn't have a line. Yay. :-)

Disneyland Paris 5K

The sun was just starting to come over the trees, and it was in our eyes. Lee was inspired to do his best zombie walk. I don't know why.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We reached the Arrivee line. This race wasn't officially timed, but by my Garmin it took us about 53 minutes. Even though we didn't stand in character lines we still stopped a lot for photos. We had a great time running with Mike and Julie.

Disneyland Paris 5K

One very odd thing...there were characters just AFTER the finish line - and they were letting runners pose for selfies with them! It clogged up the finish area. There were Goofy, Minnie, Mickey and Pluto. It was nice to see them, but it became a bottleneck.

Disneyland Paris 5K

5K complete!

Disneyland Paris 5K

I think the medallion is really cute! This is the last of the rubber ones - they will all be made of metal from now on.

Disneyland Paris 5K

In addition to bottles of water and PowerAde, volunteers were handing out bottles of a lactose-free chocolate or vanilla milk called Sporteus. It was pretty good, and hit the spot after running.

Disneyland Paris 5K

And...no runDisney snack boxes at this race! Yay! Instead we received an apple and an actual bag that had peanuts and a cereal bar inside. It was very nice to have the bag to carry the beverage bottles in - juggling all of that is always difficult.

Disneyland Paris 5K

There was no entertainment in the Family Reunion area at all - that seemed strange. There really wasn't anything to do once we finished the race unless we wanted to try to get photos with the backdrops. The lines were even longer than they had been in the morning and there was still no PhotoPass photographer. The generic half marathon weekend backdrop was available, though. I should mention that there were PhotoPass photographers in the finish area to take our official finisher photos.

Disneyland Paris 5K

We were finished and on our way back to the hotel by 8:30. Continental breakfast was still available there - we even had time to shower first. :-)

When we headed to Disneyland after breakfast we could see the Kids Races going on across the lake. It sounded like everyone was having a lot of fun.

Disneyland Paris 5K

Final Thoughts

I must say that I was very impressed - it was an excellent 5K. Easily the best runDisney 5K I have run. The course was terrific - most of it on-stage, and we had lots of time in the parks. I did not experience any real crowded and congested conditions. A little slowing when we went through the castle, but that was the only place that I had to drop to a walk, and not for very long.

And the characters! Disneyland Paris got it RIGHT. I was amazed at how many character stops there were. I hope that Disneyland and Walt Disney World were paying attention.

I didn't call them all out in the blog, but here's the ones that I saw:
Cruella
Jafar
Chewbacca/R2-D2
Eeyore/Rabbit
Thumper/Miss Bunny
Captain Hook/Mr. Smee
Mary Poppins/Bert/Penguin
Jessie/Woody
Roger Rabbit
Remy, Linguini, Emile
Spider-Man

From other runners I know that sometimes the entire Pooh gang, including Pooh, Piglet and Tigger, were out together, and Captain America alternated with Spider-Man.

I was disappointed that we started so far back that the lines were too long, but that's just luck of the draw. And it was our choice not to wait in some of the lines. The one complaint I heard about characters was that the handlers didn't close the lines when they knew a character would be leaving, so some people waited in long lines only to have the character pulled before their turn came.

Considering how much they pushed the purchase of the PhotoPass card, I was surprised that there were no PhotoPass opportunities in the start and finish areas. But there were a reasonable number of photographers along the race course, and at all of the character stops. There were a few other official photo stops in the parks, such as in the hub with the castle behind, at the entrance to Playland, and with some of the Tower of Terror Bellhops. But I'm disappointed at how long it is taking them to make the photos available to us - I'd hope to include some in this blog, but we are still waiting for them to be posted.

The pre-race experience was lacking. There were no video displays or speakers, so we had no idea what was going on. And especially when it turned out they were creating separate waves within the corrals, it would have been nice to know that.

Speaking of waves...I thought the wave idea worked very well in spreading us out a little bit more at the beginning. Especially for the 5K where corrals seemed to be randomly assigned and it was such a mix of runners, walkers, families with kids, etc.

The medallion is adorable...and I really liked the race shirt, also.

I was pleased with the refreshments. Chocolate milk is a very common post-race beverage at non-Disney races, and I was happy to see it here. I don't really need much after a 5K but the apple and cereal bar were nice to have - I ate them later. And giving us BAGS - hallelujah!!!

It was really a terrific race, and we had a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend this race, and I hope to do it again some time. Thanks, Disneyland Paris. Your debut race was a winner!

Next up: the Semi Marathon







September 30, 2016

Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1

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Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Logo

For a number of years there had been rumors in the runDisney community that a half marathon race would be coming to Disneyland Paris. The official announcement was finally made at the Disney Princess half marathon in 2015, while we were waiting in the starting corrals. There were few details at that time other than the dates, September 23-25, 2016. There was also a run.disneylandparis.com/ web site, but all that was available there was an email signup for additional information when it became available.

Since it had that wonderful "I" word, "Inaugural", associated with it, I knew that I wanted to run it. Plus neither Lee nor I had ever been to Paris or Disneyland Paris. So it seemed like a great opportunity to do that.

Eventually there was a bit more information - there would be 5K and Kids races also, and there would be a Castle to Chateau Challenge medal for those of us who had completed a Disneyland/Disney World half marathon in the same year. Lots of excitement about that!

Later that summer we learned that initial registration would take the form of a package that included hotel nights, park tickets, and race registration. Those would go on sale in October. Bib only sales would not take place until early 2016. For many of us coming from the U.S. a package deal was somewhat attractive since we would want to combine the race with a trip to Disneyland Paris, but many European runners were not so keen on that idea. Some already had DLP annual passes and didn't need park tickets, or lived nearby and didn't need lodging, etc.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon
[Non-attributed photos courtesy of Disney]

There was also a lot of confusion about which travel agencies were "authorized" and had packages to sell. GET Travel was the only U.S. agency, though a number of U.S. agents partnered with U.K. agencies to provide packages. (The latter is the way that we went.) A number of people also called and booked with Disneyland Paris directly, though it was not initially obvious that you could do that. Different providers had different rules on how much you had to put down, and when you had to pay the balance. The one we used, Sports Tours International, didn't require as much down, plus we didn't have to make final payment until the end of June.

The packages offered a stay of 3-5 nights, though all of them required a Monday checkout, which I thought was odd. All of the various hotel properties were available, which meant there was a selection of price points. We decided on Sequoia Lodge, which is classed as a Moderate and has more of a wilderness theme.

Disneyland Paris Sequoia Lodge

It wasn't until mid-December that we each received an email giving us a username and password to the race registration site. That allowed us to register for the 5K and half marathon races. French law requires those participating in half marathons (or longer) races to provide a medical certificate from a doctor certifying that you are healthy enough to run. This of course was unusual to those of us in the U.S. but I thought the requirement was very well communicated. There was a particular certificate template on the web site that we had to print for the doctor to sign. (The hardest part was that the date fields were reversed: day/month/year.) As part of the registration process we had to upload a completed copy of that. And if we were eligible for Castle to Chateau we had to upload a copy of a finisher certificate from a 2016 Disney half marathon (or marathon). It didn't all have to be done at once, but the registration status was not complete until everything was uploaded AND we received an email stating that the medical certificate and finisher certificate had been accepted. Runners who wanted to use the Disneyland Half as their Castle to Chateau qualifier were nervous because their race certificates weren't available soon enough after the race, and I think most ended up bringing a copy of their results to the Expo.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Registration

Bibs went on sale early this year, and it seemed as though those who wanted bib only were able to register. There was even a transfer policy for those who had initially booked a package and then found they would be unable to attend. Bibs for the half marathon were still on sale as late as August. I do not think the race reached capacity. By the way, registration was quite inexpensive by U.S. Disney standards - 29 Euros for the 5K and 69 Euros for the half. Approximately $35/$80.

In addition to the 5K and half marathon, other events that were available were the Inaugural Party, a private event at the Studios on Friday night, and the "Rice Party" (in place of a pasta party) on Saturday night at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Downtown Disney. We did not attend either of those.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon events

We received some email communications from the race organizers in Paris, but there still didn't seem to be nearly as much information available in advance as we are used to. The actual race courses were announced quite late - though that may have been due to security measures. The emails with links to our vouchers (which would allow us to pick up our bibs) didn't come out until September 6, and the actual race waiver form we only received via email the morning of the 16th, as we were preparing to leave for the airport!

I was a little concerned because we had nothing more than a confirmation number from the travel provider. There was an information packet we'd been able to download (again, not long before we left), but nothing really personalized. One detail that should have been communicated: when we arrived at Sequoia Lodge we had to check in at the group area (which was in a separate building) and not at the main desk.

We spent four days in Paris before going to Disneyland Paris. We had managed to travel with just a carry-on suitcase and small bag/backpack each, partly because of the move partway through the trip. We took the metro and the RER-A train to the Marne-la-Vallee Chessy station, which is right outside the gates to Disneyland Paris. Very easy.

Disneyland Paris Train Station

We decided to walk to the hotel rather than take the shuttle bus. I was surprised that we had to go through a security checkpoint to enter Downtown Disney - but it was also the security perimeter for the parks. Going through security was something that we got used to. It's quite efficient since they use an x-Ray machine to scan bags and everyone walks through a metal detector, or gets scanned with a wand. Even when the lines seemed long they moved quickly. I wish Disney would do that here.

Disneyland Paris Security Entrance

After we were directed to the correct check-in area, check-in at the hotel was easy. It was only 1:30, but our room was ready! Because our package was prepaid we didn't even have to leave a credit card - and they don't use the keys for room charging like we are used to here. We received 5 day park hopper tickets since we had a five night package. That meant we could go into the parks that afternoon. We were leaving early on Monday so that wasn't going to be a park day for us. The CM gave us a race information pamphlet but it really had very little information - the hours of the Expo and where things were located and not much else.

Disneyland Paris group check-in

We went to Disneyland Paris that afternoon - but that is for another post. :-)


The Disneyland Half Marathon Expo opened at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. I thought that was a little unusual. The Disneyland Paris resort is quite compact and reminded me more of Disneyland, with parks, hotels, Expo, and start/finish areas all within walking distance. That's all the long way of saying that the Expo took place in the Disney Events Center, on the opposite end of Downtown Disney from the parks, and close to most of the hotels. And again, within the security perimeter - there was a checkpoint between the hotels and the entrance to Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Paris Events Center

People were concerned about the availability of merchandise for an Inaugural race, and were lining up outside the Events Center by 1:00, and probably before. We didn't go until about 3:20, at which point there was still a long line to get in. The line was because they were checking that everyone had their waiver, race voucher, and ID. It turned out that we needed two waivers - one for each race, and had only printed one, but there were boxes of blanks readily available. There was an area available to print out race vouchers for those who arrived without them.

Disneyland Paris Expo Line

Disneyland Paris Events Center

While we were waiting we chatted with a lovely young French woman behind us (who spoke excellent English). She and her father were running their first Disney race, the 5K, and they were very excited. They were from the local area, and have annual passes to the parks. We tried to give them some idea of what to expect - but of course we didn't know how much it would be like the races here.

Once we got inside there was a huge line. I assumed it was for merchandise and got in it, but it was for the Castle to Chateau wristband! Computer issues. Eventually we figured out what line we were in, and that we didn't need to do that right then.

Disneyland Paris Events Center

Though the lines weren't long, picking up the half marathon bibs took a long time. There was a laptop computer at each pickup counter for the volunteers to scan the bar code on the bib, but the computers were having problems. We also got the gear check bag there with a copy of the program and a cereal bar, but had to go elsewhere to pick up our shirts. We are used to getting our challenge wristbands when we get the bib, but that was not the case here - that was the huge line.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Bib Pickup

After we picked up the bib we had to move to a photo location to have our photo taken with our half marathon bib - we assumed that was for PhotoPass identification since they scanned the bib after taking our photo.

Disneyland Paris Expo

We picked up our 5K bibs and went into the merchandise area. There was no line to get in at that time. There was a line to pay, but there were lots of registers and it moved steadily.

Disneyland Paris Official Merchandise entrance

There really wasn't much merchandise available. "I Did It" shirts for the 5K and half, which were cotton, and men's and women's gray tech shirts with a half marathon logo.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

There was a hat, mug, and a few Remy-themed items. No magnets, wine glasses, or a lot of other popular items. There was surprisingly no Castle to Chateau shirt, but we received a flyer with info on ordering them from the Disney Store web site. It loses the immediacy that way, but at least we'll still be able to get them.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Merchandise

The thing I wanted was the pins. There was an open edition half marathon weekend pin in the merchandise area, but the limited edition pins were only available at the registers. Since they were actually limited to one per transaction I had some hope that there would still be some left. But, of the five pins available, the mini-medal versions of the 5K and Challenge pins were already gone. This was less than two hours after the Expo opened on the first day. At least the half marathon mini-medal pin was still available. The two "I Did It" pins were also available, but I didn't want those. At the register they said they would have more of the other two the next day. I can't believe how badly they misjudged the quantity of pins to order. There's simply no reason to make them so limited! (The 5K mini-medal pin is already missing from the pin display as it was sold out.)

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Pins

After we shopped we wandered around the rest of the Expo. There weren't too many exhibitors there, and very little merchandise for sale. If you'd forgotten some running essential you probably wouldn't find it there.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

We also picked up our race shirts. The 5K shirt is a light soft cotton and the design is very cute. Overall I really liked the shirt. When I selected my shirt size there was an advisory that European sizes run small in the women's cut, so I went with a large instead of a medium. I would have been ok with a medium, I think. They had a shirt exchange but I decided to keep what I had. It's comfortable.

Disneyland Paris 5K shirt

The half marathon shirt is a tech fabric and it's dark gray. I don't know what it is with runDisney and gray shirts, but I'm not a fan. A number of the shirts for sale were gray, also. The Mickey design was nice, though. I thought it interesting that both of the shirts were made in Portugal.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon shirt

The other thing we purchased at the Expo was the Photopass. For a (special?) price of 40 Euros, we will be able to get all of our race photos, plus any PhotoPass photos taken in the parks. To purchase I had to have a bib, and they scanned it, so at least my half marathon bib should be associated with it. And we are supposed to be able to put in all four of our bib numbers. But there wasn't much information on this, and the web site where we are supposed to go put in the info still isn't functional yet, as of this writing - current info says to wait for a week after the race. Not nearly the instant gratification that we are used to!

Disneyland Paris PhotoPass

Disneyland Paris 5K

I guess I should mention that the Expo was in a very large tent. It was a sunny day and it was very warm in there.

The runDisney booth was giving away runDisney shopping bags but the lines were too long so we skipped it. But they had all of the upcoming race medals, including those for Marathon weekend in January. They have all been redesigned. Almost makes me wish I was planning to run the half or full next year. Almost. :-)

runDisney 2016 Mickey's Holiday 5K medal

runDisney Inaugural Wine and Dine 10K medal

runDisney 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Medal

runDisney 2016 Inaugural Lumiere's Challenge Medal

runDisney 2017 WDW 5K Pluto medal

runDisney 2017 WDW 10K Minnie Medal

runDisney 2017 Half Marathon Donald medal

runDisney 2017 Marathon Mickey Medal

runDisney 2017 Goofy Challenge Medal

runDisney 2017 Dopey Challenge medal

runDisney 2017 Castaway Cay Challenge Medal

Isn't the Castle to Chateau medal a thing of beauty? I was definitely looking forward to getting that one put around my neck!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Medals

The line for Castle to Chateau wristbands was even longer, so we decided to just come back the next day - especially since I was hoping to get the other two pins. At that point there was no line to get into the Expo, and not much for bib pickup or merchandise.

Here's what I brought back from the Expo that day:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon medal pins

On Friday the Expo opened at 10:00 and we went back about 10:40. There was a short line to get in, but we explained we'd already picked up our bibs and needed to get wristbands and they let us in. We went to the merchandise area. They did have the Castle to Chateau pins but were already sold out of the 5K pin. By sometime later that afternoon all pins were sold out. Major failure.

There was a line of 15-20 people waiting for Castle to Chateau wristbands but it moved very quickly.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Expo

We had to have our bibs to get the wristband - they stamped the back of the bib to show that we had picked up the band.

Disneyland Paris Castle to Chateau button

Then we went to the runDisney booth, where there was a Castle to Chateau button for us. Our wristband was marked with a small "X" to show that we'd received that. I thought it was nice to see those measures in place.

Disneyland Paris Castle to Chateau button

The Disneyland Paris race director, Laurent Charbonnier, was giving a talk on the race as part of the "Speaker Series" so we sat down to listen to that. He obviously had experienced some runDisney races before, and described some of the similarities and differences that we might see. He also gave us a preview of both of the race courses - we were especially interested in what he had to say about the half marathon course, since much of that was outside the parks. One other thing I found interesting was that he warned us that at character photo stops we might find that some French and Italian people (yes, he singled them out specifically) could attempt to cut in line. He suggested that we firmly direct them to the back of the line. (We never saw any of that - and there were lots of French people in the race.)

Disneyland Paris Race Director Laurent Charbonnier

As you can tell, there were some Expo glitches. Though it seemed to me that they made adjustments between Thursday and Friday so that things went more smoothly for those who arrived on Friday. Honestly, I thought it was pretty good for a first attempt.

My major complaint is merchandise, specifically the pins. I just can't understand how, with as many race expos as there have been, that Disney can't figure out the merchandise quantities they need to order. Especially for an inaugural event.

Next up: the 5K








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About Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

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