Posts Tagged by race

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon: A Race Course of History, Heritage, and Legacy

In the three years that I have been writing Running at Disney, I’ve found that one of the best things about this experience has been getting to know my fellow Disney runners and reading their stories.  I’ve had the privilege of getting to know John this year when he stared writing Anaheim Antics for RAD and it has been wonderful to follow along in his journey towards his first half marathon.  I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished (wait until you see his time!!) and lucky to call him a friend.  I can’t wait to see where his legs take him next, but for now here is the the big race!


When I first signed up for the Avengers Half Marathon, I knew I would want to write about the experience for RAD. What I didn’t know was that my actual race experience would differ from my expectations, and not for any reason that had to do with training, fitness, or endurance. In this case, it was the course itself. Winding through several Orange County sites of interest, the course was a personal. Many of the sites on the route were places that held personal and fond memories for me, and numerous other runners.

The start of the race was, of course, on Disneyland Drive, which was once known as West Street. West Street, along with North Street, South Street, and East Street, mark the borders of the original 1857 settlers’ colony of 200 arches, which became the City of Anaheim. Today, few people know the history of these four Anaheim streets, despite crossing them every day.

The starting line, looking north on Disneyland Drive

The starting line, looking north on Disneyland Drive

After winding through the Parks, the course continued down Harbor Blvd, and then turned right on Chapman Avenue. Chapman Avenue is named in honor of Alfred Chapman, who served as Los Angeles City Attorney and Los Angeles County District Attorney. But he is most known as the real estate businessman who, with partner Andrew Glassell, founded the City of Orange in 1888 (Anaheim borders Orange just east of Disneyland). I had the privilege of growing up in the City of Orange, and previously worked at Orange City Hall, so this bit of heritage was rather personal to me.

A beautiful but blustery sunrise on Chapman Avenue

A beautiful but blustery sunrise on Chapman Avenue

The course then wound through a site that was even more personal, and more famous: Christ Cathedral. Previously known as the Crystal Cathedral, it was the home base of Possibility Thinking preacher Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller. Dr. Schuller founded the church (originally known as Garden Grove Community Church) in 1955, the same year Disneyland opened, and built the Cathedral 25 years later to accommodate a growing congregation. Many will recognize the church’s Welcoming Center as Starfleet Headquarters from Star Trek: Into Darkness. On the church’s south side is a decorative display of gold bells, which was donated by Disney Cast Members attending the church in the 1960’s. In its heyday, the church had arguably more of Cast Members in its congregation of any other church in the area. After Dr. Schuller retired, a series of poor management decisions forced the congregation into bankruptcy. The property is now owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and known as Christ Cathedral. The former Crystal Cathedral congregation renamed itself the Shepherd’s Grove congregation, and moved to a new location just down the street: Our next stop on the course.

Sunrise at Starfleet Headquarters, aka, Christ Cathedral

Sunrise at Starfleet Headquarters, aka, Christ Cathedral

The course continued south on Lewis Street, passing the current home of the Shepherd’s Grove congregation. Many will recognize it as the home of the nationally televised “Hour of Power” television program, the longest running religious television broadcast on the air today. This is also my church home, where serve as director of the Shepherd’s Grove Handbell Ensemble.   It was very heartwarming to see members of the congregation line the route to cheer the runners on as we passed by, especially at 6:30am.

Shepherd’s Grove, home of the “Hour of Power”

Shepherd’s Grove, home of the “Hour of Power”

The course then continued down Garden Grove Blvd, then up the Santa Ana River Trail, and then through Angel Stadium. Angel Stadium is home to the Angels Major League Baseball team, which Disney owned controlling interest from 1996 until the team was sold to Arte Moreno in 2003. Under Disney’s leadership, Angel Stadium underwent a $118 million renovation, turning it into a state of the art facility. Many OC residents like me have grown up here, spending countless weekends in the stadium seats rooting for our Halos. The treat for the runners this day was being able to run through the Stadium itself, running the track around the field. One could easily imagine the good old days of Walt Disney sitting with original team owner Gene Autry in the suites overlooking the field.

Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium

The final leg of the race headed back to the Park, with the Matterhorn straight ahead. Several friends warned me about hitting the wall around mile 11, but it never happened. Perhaps it was the sight of the Matterhorn, or perhaps I was just in good form. I regained some of the speed I lost around mile 7, when encountering brutal wind gusts. The most grueling part of the course was just prior to mile 13. It was a straight shot up the Downtown Disney access road to the finish line, but for some reason, time seemed to pass very slowly. As the crowds got louder, and the finish line came in sight, it seemed like forever until my feet crossed that line. But when I did, it was such an insatiable feeling, as though could run 100 miles more.

Seeing the Matterhorn said the finish was just 2 miles away

Seeing the Matterhorn said the finish was just 2 miles away

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of this half marathon course. It’s mostly flat, easy to traverse, runner-friendly, and with plenty of points of interest to keep you interested. I truly hope they use this same course for upcoming Disney half marathons. Local residents will no doubt fine many personal touchstones along the route, and out-of-town runners will discover new gems in the jewel that is Orange County’s Resort District.

Oh, and how could I forget to mention my own achievement?   This was my first ever half marathon. My final time was 2 hours, 6minutes, 47 seconds, for a pace of 9 mins 40 seconds per mile. That pace put me 1060th out of 10463 runners. Now it’s on to the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, where I will be participating in the Rebel Challenge!!

Next Up: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend!

Next Up: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend!

RADically yours,



John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Contributors Needed for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend

This is the first year I will not be running The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and because I won’t be there, I need YOUR HELP!!


I am looking for anyone who will be in Walt Disney World that weekend (October 3-5, 2014) to cover all of the events!!  I will be following along from afar, but there is nothing like actually being there.  Here are some ideas for posts:

  • Race Recaps
    •  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler
    • Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run
    • runDisney Kids Races
  • Disney Villains Hollywood Bash
    • A Runner’s Point of View
    • A Spectator’s Point of View
  • Health & Fitness Expo
  • runDisney Speaker Series
  • First Time runDisney Runner Experiences
  • Preparing for a Night Race vs. a Morning Race
  • Getting the Most Out of Your WDW Vacation While Running
  • Enjoying the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival When Running
  • Creating a Costume for the Race
  • Halloween Fun in Walt Disney World
  • VoluntEARing
  • And anything else you can think of…

Choice of topic will come on a first serve basis, so email me at if you are interested in covering one (or many!) of the events over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend for Running at Disney!!

Now who is looking forward to getting one of these glowingly rad medals?!?!


Also, check out my new The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend Pin Board!  Follow along as I will be updating it with images leading up to and after the event!

Best of luck to everyone running and I look forward to hearing from you!

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Anaheim Antics: Battle of the Theme Park Races

Wait…there are races outside of Disney???   Ha Ha, just kidding!  Today John is back with more Anaheim Antics and compares a runDisney race to another Anaheim theme park’s race.  How do you think it will compare??


“The Gold Standard”  That’s the term we often apply to Disney Theme Parks, describing superior quality and legendary guest service.  But that standard also comes with a price.  runDisney events have quickly become the gold standard of running events, not just in spectacle, quality, and service, but also in price.  Any runner who has done a runDisney race will attest to the Disney difference.  But here in Anaheim, Disney is not the only theme park in town with a race series.

Just a stone’s throw from the Happiest Place on Earth is Knott’s Berry Farm, proudly billing itself as “America’s 1st Theme Park”.  Indeed, Knott’s predates Disneyland by 15 years, when Walter Knott built a replica Ghost Town next to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  Today, Knott’s Berry Farm hosts their annual Coaster Run, which offers a 5K, 10K and the beloved Camp Snoopy Kids Run.  Having recently run the Disney’s Tinker Bell 10k, I of course had to run Knott’s Coaster Run 10k as well.  So how do two theme parks within a few miles from each other pull off running events? Let me tell you.


OPERATORS:  Disney races, including the Tink 10k, are managed by runDisney, which means a very well managed race with high emphasis on service and quality.  You’re guaranteed a positive runner experience thanks to their management.  Knott’s uses Renegade Racing, started in 2004 by competitive athlete and former US Marine Jonathan Pauley.  Knott’s was the third Renegade race I’ve run, but it won’t be the last.  I’ve been very satisfied with their operations at every race.

REGISTRATION:  $43-$55 for Knott’s compared to $105 for runDisney.   Of course, runDisney’s Tinker Bell 10k sold out within hours, while the Knott’s Coaster Run had same-day registration available.  Put simply, $50 is a lot easier to swallow than $100.  But the laws of supply and demand say both of these races are reasonably priced.  Both use as their registration portal.

PACKET PICK-UP: Disney runners must pick up their packets at the runDisney expo at the Disneyland Hotel.  This means greater Downtown Disney parking lot congestion, and a guarantee of your wallet being thinner once you’ve found that perfect product in the expo.

By comparison, Knott’s runners can simply stop by the Buena Park Mall or Sports Authority in Irvine.  You should be in and out in 15 minutes, whereas the runDisney expo will carve a good hour or so out of your evening.  There’s no expo, but there’s also no congestion.  Unfortunately, there’s also no related merchandise, which might have a place there.


RACE DAY PARKING:  Disney runners will want to park in the Mickey 7 Friends lot, but you’ll have to pay for parking.  The race start is on Disney Drive adjacent to the structure, so it’s not much of a walk at all to your assigned corral.  This is where Knott’s really shines.   Parking is in the Knott’s Berry Farm parking lot, and parking for race participants is free.  I wasn’t expecting this, as I pulled up to the parking lot with my wallet out.  It was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

THE COURSE:  Both courses start on-property, and wind through the respective parks.  Both have characters on the course, and both have courses that are clearly marked.  Both have parts of their courses on public streets, and both have finish lines in reasonable proximity to their park entrances.  What differentiates the two is the overall quality of each.  Disneyland is, without a doubt, the higher quality park as far as show standards.  Goofy looks like Goofy should, and Mickey looks like Mickey. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, though, look like 6 foot tall stuffed animals.  That’s not to say they look bad, but it’s hard to let go of the Disney show quality.

When it comes to the course, Disneyland paths are wider and more level, while Knott’s tends to have narrower walking paths with more noticeable changes in elevation.  I recall one very tight hairpin switchback in the Knott’s race, which had a great deal of bottlenecking and shoulder bumping, and another whose incline was steep enough that a runner near me almost lost his footing.


THE FINISH LINE:  After an hour of running, there’s no greater sight than the finish line in the distance.  Disney’s finish line is festively appointed, with a huge video screen allowing spectators to watch your victory sprint.   Just past it is a nice wide area to prevent bunching of runners.  A runDisney volunteer congratulates you, and then awards you by putting the beautiful medal around your neck.  Next is a series of Photopass backdrops for the perfect shot.  And don’t forget to pick up your assortment of fruit, bottled water, and other goodies.

By comparison, the Knott’s finish line itself is just fine, but once you pass it, you immediately hit a wall of runners trying to squeeze through single, poorly placed photo backdrop, and then the medal distribution, where you are simply handed your medal as you continue for much needed fruit and water.  One thing Knott’s is known for, though, is boysenberries, and part of the perk is a slice of their famous boysenberry pie at the end of the race.  It’s a great perk, but this area of the finish line is so congested it can be downright uncomfortable.

THE MEDALS:  There’s no denying it:  runDisney medals are works of art.  They’re huge, have some serious weight in them, and are clearly where a good portion of your registration fee went.  The Knott’s medal is nicely designed, colorful, and the size of a standard medal (about 2” square, give or take), which will look great on your medal rack.


PERKS AND PIQUES:  After the Knott’s race, my group proceeded right over to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.  What better way to celebrate your victory than with a generous chicken serving of southern fried chicken smothered in gravy?  But it needn’t end there.  All race participants get 50% off park admission for the day.  You’ve already parked for free, so why not stay a little longer?  Disney doesn’t offer an admission discount for runners, but there’s the appeal of grabbing a post-race breakfast at Tangaroa Terrace, Steakhouse 55, Goofy’s Kitchen, or Storyteller’s Café, all of which are outside the Parks.  You’ve already paid to park, so why not?

OVERALL COMPARISON:  In some aspects such a show standards, it’s simply unfair to compare the Disney look to the Knott’s look.  They’re apples and oranges, and should rightly be judged on individual merit.  If I didn’t have Disney on the brain, I probably would find no fault in Knott’s characters or walking paths.  But some comparisons are rightly of concern.

Knott’s post-race bottleneck and areas of steep elevation changes should be reviewed.  Likewise, runDisney should give consideration to how packet pickup at the Disneyland hotel adversely impact traffic in the Downtown Disney parking area.  But successes of both should be similarly considered.  Disney’s atmospheric level of quality comes as an expectation given the price tag of the race, and even there, the level of Guest service exceeds expectations.  Knott’s doesn’t have to let you park for free, or let you into the park for a discount, but they do.

All in all, when weighing expectations, it stands to reason that there’s no race like a runDisney race.  But other theme parks are similarly capable (and in Knott’s case, quite successful) at putting on a race event that promotes a fitness lifestyle, a family tradition, and a fun atmosphere.  See you next year, Knott’s.  Please keep that slice of boysenberry pie at the ready.

RADically yours,



John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Registration for the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Opens Tomorrow!

Are you ready to run off to the second star to the right and straight on til morning?  For the fourth year, runners will don their wings and soar through the Disneyland Resort over Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, but in 2015 the events will take place May 7th – 10th instead of in January, and will include Kids Races, the Never Land 5k, Tinker Bell 10K, Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the all new Pixie Dust Challenge!


Registration for all of the races opens tomorrow at noon EDT and if you want to run you better not only have speedy legs, but fast fingers as well!  This race weekend has notoriously sold out quickly, but now with the addition of the Pixie Dust Challenge it will go even faster!

Here is all of the information you need to know about Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend so you can be prepared to register tomorrow.  First let’s start with pricing:

Tinker Bell Half Marathon
Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $195 by September 2, 2014
  • $210 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $225 on or after September 24, 2014

Pixie Dust Challenge
Saturday & Sunday, May 9 -10, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $320 by September 2, 2014
  • $345 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $370 on or after September 24, 2014

Tinker Bell 10K
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 5:30 am

  • $105 by September 2, 2014
  • $120 between September 3 and September 23, 2014
  • $135 on or after September 24, 2014

Never Land 5K
Friday, May 8, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • $70 per participant by February 27, 2015
  • $80 per participant on or after February 28, 2015

runDisney Kids Races
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 9:00 am

  • $20 per participant by February 27, 2015
  • $25 per participant on or after February 28, 2015

Similar to the Princess Half Marathon, runners can register as a team if you are going with a bunch of friends.  Runners must register individually for the race and then sign up as a team.  In prior years, teams were limited to two people, but this year you can have as many as you would like for an additional $10 per runner.  Team members will receive a commemorative Team Bib with your team name on it, a commemorative team item, and a team photo at packet pick-up.  Also, instead of being limited to just the half marathon, teams can run in any of the races.

Tink-Half-Liliane-Getting my bling

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo will open at 12:00 pm on Thursday, May 7th in the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall and remain open through the 9th.  You must visit the Expo to pick up your race packet and it’s the only place you can get official race merchandise.

If you’re looking for some added Disney fun before the race, the Pasta Party is a great way to get those carbs in.  This family oriented event includes a buffet pasta dinner and various character interactions with photo ops.  The party will take place at Stage 17 located inside Disney California Adventure and requires a park ticket to attend.

Pasta in the Park Party
Friday, May 8, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

With a Theme Park Ticket

  • $135 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $115 for children (ages 3-9)

Without a Theme Park Ticket

  • $89 for adults (ages 10 and up)
  • $69 for children (ages 3-9)

For all of you amazing spectators out there, there are various ChEAR Squad packages available for you to support your runners!  These packages are only available for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.  You can view the details of the various packages here and pricing is as follows:

ChEAR Squad

  • Bronze Package –  No Charge
  • Silver Package – $45
  • Gold Package – $69
  • Platinum Package – $99

And don’t forget, if you are participating in any of the Walt Disney World races in 2014 you will be eligible for the coveted Coast-to-Coast Medal!  But only if you are running both the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Princess Half Marathon will you get the all new pink Coast-to-Coast!

Coast to Coast Medals

Make sure to visit the runDisney event page for more information on all of the events taking place that weekend including details on the travel packages, transportation information, park tickets and more.

Pre-sales for the Pixie Dust Challenge sold out in 15 minutes this past week, so I’m sure the event itself will sell out very quickly.  If you are interested in participating, I would register as close to noon as possible tomorrow!

If you are looking for information on the past years of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, here are some great posts from RAD Readers who have participated:

What race(s) are you planning on flying through over Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend?  Good luck registering!!

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New Pixie Dust Challenge for 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend!


Well runDisney fans, you asked and they delivered!  New for 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend will be the addition of the Pixie Dust Challenge!  Run both the Tinker Bell 10K and Half Marathon and you will receive a 3rd challenge medal!

Many runners were disappointed last year when there was no challenge announced with the Inaugural Tinker Bell 10K.  There is now a challenge associated with all other race weekends that have both a 10K and half marathon, so it was odd that there was not one for this weekend.  Well now there is!

Early registration for Annual Passholders and DVC members will open next Wednesday, August 6th at noon.  Regular registration will open on Tuesday, August 12th at noon.  Visit the runDisney page for more info.  The addition of this challenge is sure to make the races sell out even faster this year, so mark your calendars and set your alarms for the registration dates!

Will you be taking the Pixie Dust Challenge??

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