A Mad runDisney Meet Up Through Disneyland!

To say that my first trip out to Disneyland was magical is an understatement, but who knew it would be mad?!  Well runDisney did of course!  With the new Disneyland 10K theme focused around Alice in Wonderland, it was only fitting that the runDisney meet up theme would be centered around the film as well.

As with most runDisney meet ups, the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend meet up started at the crack of dawn.  Over 50 runners met under the Sorcerer’s Hat at the Disneyland Hotel bright and early to run our way through the parks, we must be mad to do that!

01 RD-DL-Meetup

runDisney BFF Amanda & I!
runDisney BFF Amanda & I!

We made our way over to Downtown Disney to get the low down on the run from Tony Morreale of Disney Sports and get some great tips on good form running from the folks at New Balance.

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04 RD-DL-Meetup-New-Balance

Let’s Make Excellence Happen  is the motto when it comes to running and New Balance, and they are dedicated to helping runners achieve their goals in a safe and healthy way.  We were given the four main goals of good form running, which are:

  • Posture
  • Mid-Foot
  • Cadence
  • Lean

They came up with a great mnemonic to remember this by: Party’s Make Cinderella Late…genius!  We walked through each goal and were encouraged to try to use these tips as we ran through the parks.  Easy for them to say…I knew I would be distracted by all the Disney goodness on our run 🙂  Luckily there is a video available to brush up on good form running while at home.

Then guess who interrupted our lesson??  The White Rabbit of course!  And as usual, he was LATE!  But what else were us Disney runners to do, but chase him??

05 RD-DL-Meetup-White-Rabbit

So we took off in pursuit of the White Rabbit and into Disneyland, but obviously I had to stop for a pic with Joey Fatone first…we did become BFFs at the WDW Marathon meet up after all 😉


Off we ran through Downtown Disney and into Disneyland Park.  Even though I had visited the park for the 2 days prior, there was something magical about being there at dawn.

06 RD-DL-Meetup-Disneyland

And then running down Main Street USA with Joey Fatone (totally surreal for this ‘Nsync fan) and through Sleeping Beauty Castle made it even more magical.

07 RD-DL-Meetup-Main-Street

08 RD-DL-Meetup-Castle

As we entered Fantasyland, I noticed the group in front of me slowing down and wondered what was happening.  Then I saw Alice and was so excited for a fun photo op!

010 RD-DL-Meetup-Alice

What I wasn’t expected was that we were going to be able to ride the Mad Tea Party!!  As a Walt Disney World native, I must say I LOVE this version of the attraction.  It is out in open and the lanterns are so whimsical.  I often find it difficult to get someone to ride the tea cups with me in WDW because of all the spinning, so I was excited to get to experience this in Disneyland with no wait!

011 RD-DL-Meetup-Teacups

09 RD-DL-Meetup-Sarah-Amanda

But what made the experience even better was riding with these folks:

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How many celebrities can you cram into a tea cup?

Yes, there is video…

I totally could’ve stayed on there all day, but we had to move on.  We ran through Tomorrowland and back down Main Street towards Disney California Adventure.  Do I look excited??

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We headed towards Cars Land, which was equally as beautiful in the early morning hours, and then on to Hollywood Land and what else but the Mad T Party area!

013 RD-DL-Meetup-Carsland

There we were greated once again by Alice who was now joined by the Mad Hatter.  I LOVE this character…he is always so fun to interact with 🙂

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We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock of Disney Sports and treated to a continental breakfast and some much needed coffee.

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Bob Hitchcock

Then the highlight of the morning…something I totally was not expecting.  Bob and Faron Kelly of runDisney Marketing unveiled the new runDisney medals for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekends!  O.M.G.  they are gorgeous!  I can’t wait to get that new Wine & Dine medal in 2 short months!!!

017 RD-DL-Meetup-MedalsTo say the group was excited is an understatement.  Bob and Faron fielded questions about upcoming events and any new races that runDisney has planned, but didn’t give up too much.  Faron just eluded that runDisney is “efforting” new races…does this mean a Disneyland Paris race is in our future??  We can only hope!

Once we all composed ourselves, it was was time to move on to some other fun presentations.  First was a sneak preview of the new ABC series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland starting this fall.  Apparently this is a blending together of Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin, where Alice falls in love with the Genie…interesting!  I’m a big fan the show Once Upon a Time, so this is right up my alley.  Check out the official trailer here:

Next up was Cindy Lynch, the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon 1st place women’s finisher.  I always find it fascinating to hear from elite runners like this because I will NEVER be in their league, but they always offer great advice on how to improve you training and race routines.  Some tips Cindy offered are:

  • Interval runs, tempo runs and long runs are the essentials for race training.
  • Don’t forget to take in the scenery!
  • Roctane is great for fuel while running.  She takes one every 30 minutes.
  • While negative splits are always a goal, even she struggles with them.  (I’m glad it’s not just me!)
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Cindy Lynch

Official runDisney Nutritionist, Tara Gidus, spoke next on how to properly fuel for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge and how recovery in between the races will be the key to our success.  She also went on to tell a funny story about how someone recently called her a buzzkill on the runDisney blog because she broke the myth that just because you’re training doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.  So if you ever run into Tara at a race, make sure to tell her she’s a buzzkill 😉

Tara Gidus
Tara Gidus

My favorite running coach, Jeff Galloway, shared his story of how he began running.  Who knew that super skinny Olympian was once a fat, lazy teenager??  I never would’ve guessed it!  Well he was until he joined his cross country team at the age of 13 that he began running.  He did it because he wanted to be part of a team, which is how he feels about runDisney events.  We are all part of one big team, encouraging each other along the way.  That couldn’t be more true.

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Jeff Galloway & Bob Hitchcok

Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, and Sean Astin (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings) continued with the motivational theme and their struggles with staying on track.  Ali finds motivation in races.  Once she is signed up for a race, it gives her that push to keep training even though she hates getting up in the morning.  She has even signed up for the Dopey Challenge in January!  Sean shared a wonderful story about running with his daughter and how the Galloway run/walk method helped to get her out there.  They have found what motivates them and stressed the importance of finding ours!

Ali Vincent
Ali Vincent
Sean Astin
Sean Astin

Joey Fatone, fresh off his VMA performace, finished the presentations by talking about his emotional journey completing the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge over the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend for his wife.  He also follows the Galloway run/walk method by doing a 1:1 ratio.  He even compared the excitement of finishing a race to the N’Sync reunion…interesting 🙂

Joey Fatone
Joey Fatone

No runDisney meet up would be complete without some great giveaways.  A few lucky attendees won the official runDisney New Balance sneakers, runDisney laptop cases, runDisney travel bags and even a race entry for the 2014 season!  Giveaway ALL the runDisney swag!

This was another fun and memorable event!  What a great way to get a completely different perspective on the parks as well as some very useful tips along the way.  It’s also a great way to meet your fellow runDisney enthusiasts…we’re all a bit mad in our own way 😉

Faith, Amanda & Myself
Faith, Amanda & Myself
Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports
Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports

Have you ever attended a runDisney Meet Up?  What speakers would you like to see there?

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this as media.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

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  • I attended the MAD meetup too – it was my second runDisney meetup – and it was awesome! I got all emotional running down Main Street because it was my first time ever seeing Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and what a perfect way to see it, right?! Love your photos – the how many celebs you can jam in a teacup is hilarious! And the speakers were amazing too – I was cracking up at Jeff Galloway’s story of how he started running. I NEVER would have expected that he did it, first because he had to, and then just to keep up with the gossip! Ha! Hope you enjoyed the rest of your Disneyland meetup just as much!!

  • Hey Sarah! First off it was nice meeting you last weekend (even though I “wimped out” at Cathay Circle). Long time lurker here. Anyway, my wife and I were out for a walk early that morning and managed to bump into the Meet Up crowd as you were gathering. So we kind of crashed it in the corner… it looked like a LOT of fun. We managed to stick around to listen to all the speeches and stuff, but I watched a bit sadly (and very enviously!) as you all took off running. Next year for sure, I’m gluing myself to my PC. Hope you had a great visit, although by the looks of things it’s pretty evident you enjoyed the heck out of Disneyland.

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