The weather in Anaheim for race weekend made Hades and the Underworld seem a bit chilly. After a fun course, running primarily through both Disneyland as well as California Adventure on Saturday, I was ready to tackle thirteen miles the following morning adorned with a red cowgirl hat and cow print chaps!
Another early wake up call, prompted a protein bar on the go, and a zombie-esque crawl to my corral. A trumpet sounded the anthem, queuing runners from their corrals onto the first mile of the course.
Similar to the 10K, the half-marathon course had us starting in California Adventure. Runners legged it past the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, through Hollywood Land and towards the Ferris Wheel. The water was dramatic in vivid colors portraying a World of Color performance as I looped around the boardwalk. After seeing Russell, Mr. Fredricksen and Dug greeting runners by the Redwood Creek play area, the course took participants into Disneyland.
The route passed through a backstage area where cast members stood with the horses that pull the trolleys up and down Main Street each morning! As a horse lover, I loved seeing them on course! After entering the park just behind Splash Mountain, runners were greeted by Woody as he waved from the balcony of the Saloon! I loved seeing the newly remodeled area where the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and petting zoo used to be, now transformed by unfamiliar caves and abandoned train mines beckoning explorers.
After bounding through the castle, around the Matterhorn and through Tomorrowland (Note: Distance sounds far superior than actuality) runners hit the streets of Anaheim. This is the point in the race where runners usually take it to a walk once photographers are out of sight. Due to the heat advisory, I noticed the energy was low and many runners were taking breaks less than a mile into the race. It was unusal not to have that excitement from atheletes around you, but luckily the cast members and course entertainment made up for it!
A couple of miles along the Anaheim roads brought runners to wonderful and much-needed entertainment. I enjoyed the marvelous Mariachi band and dancers around mile 7, shortly followed by hula dancers, rolling their hips and hands to He Mele No Lilo (Main Title) from Lilo and Stitch.
I always look forward to seeing the Classic Car Row during the run! This year did not disappoint. Many eager car aficionados were waving runners on and even honking their horns in acclamation.
I could see the giant symbol for Angel’s Stadium growing closer with every stride. After a few minutes, I had finally reached the stadium. This was the stage of the race I was most excited for, waiting almost two years until I would run past the dugouts, along the field! An announcer read names from bibs, as young kids and family members waved outreached arms, hoping to snag a high-five. The energy was contagious and it really helped with the last few miles of the half-marathon.
After exiting the stadium, shortly after, volunteers were passing out mini bags of Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans. Each small packet contained an assortment of flavors, containing electrolytes and both Vitamin B & C. While easy to consume, I appreciated the sodium and potassium but found myself missing the usual Clif gels found on Disney’s half courses.
I carried onwards, seeing a freeway overpass coming into view. I had to laugh as Endorphin Dude behind me was commenting to a volunteer stating how he thought the course was supposedly flat. As I trotted up the “mountain” I could not take advantage or gather any momentum heading down towards the finish.
Just within the last two miles it started to rain. When I thought it could not get hot enough, the combination of water and hot asphalt made the air more muggy. Finally hitting Katella and seeing the tops of attractions, I finally found the push I was looking for many miles back.
I sprinted past the Disneyland Hotel, along enthusiastic cheerleaders with amusing signs, and clanging cowbells. I could not wait and get to the finish to enjoy a tall, cold , refreshing WATER! Did I mention it was hot?
FINISH LINE AND BEYOND
As I crossed the finish beside runners who looked as if they had just gotten out of a swimming pool, I could only eagerly anticipate the next twelve months until Disneyland half-marathon weekend would roll around again. While the temperature was much warmer than anticipated, I thought the race staff, volunteers and cast members went above and beyond to make an enjoyably fun weekend.
After a hot weekend of running, I now have a new appreciation for water and Powerade! I made sure to hydrate just after collecting my medals. For completing the half, I received a Toy Story themed medal as well as the Double Dare medal for running the 10k Saturday and the half on Sunday. This medal displays Luxo Jr. and Pixar’s famous brick architecture!
This will continue to be my favorite weekend of all the Disney races due to course entertainment and pure bliss of running down car row and through Angel’s Stadium. It is always a pleasure to reunite with friends and make some new ones with each race I run. I am enjoying this run journey thus far and cannot wait to see what the remainder of the year will bring!
Hope to see you out on a course soon!