I’m excited to bring you this prelude to a fun new monthly series here on RAD called Running Coast to Coast!! This week Alice is not only bringing us her Coast to Coast story, but also taking us through her first run at Disneyland…it’s so magical running through Walt’s footsteps and she has a great recap of all that magic. Make sure to come back next week as the new series officially kicks off on Wednesday…can’t wait! 🙂
To all that come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
I’m a west coast gal, but the Dumbo Double Dare (DDD) was my first runDisney event at Disneyland. I love Disneyland but hadn’t been to the park since 2008 so was really excited to see the changes there. My last event at Walt Disney World was the Glass Slipper Challenge (GSC) so I thought I might try to compare the two race weekends in which my sis, Lala, and I participated to earn our awesome Coast-to-Coast Challenge medals.
For the GSC, Lala and I stayed on Disney property at All-Star Sports. We don’t spend much time in our room and we want to keep costs to a minimum (to save up for more runDisney races!) so Value Resorts are perfect for us. I love not having to drive on vacation, so I never rent a car and make full use of the WDW transportation system. You are able to take a Disney bus to and from your resort to the Runner’s Expo and all running events. The WDW Expo is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which provides plenty of room for vendors and participants – although wear your sunglasses for the walk to the convention area because the glare from the concrete is crazy! (Sarah’s note: That’s no joke!)
I am not a morning person, so getting up at 2:30 AM on WDW race mornings was not magical. But once I put on my running costume and headed out for the bus with all of the other runners from our resort, I was starting to feel the magic. It was great fun looking over the costumes while waiting in the very long line for the bus and the excitement was starting to build for everyone. For the 10K my sister’s costume was Jiminy Cricket (her favorite!) and I was Cinderella Warrior Princess. For the Half Marathon, Sis wore Beast Mode (inspired by Beauty & the Beast and the Seattle Seahawks – Go Hawks!) and I wore Super Cinderella. I was inspired to do my versions of the Cindy costumes after I ran the Warrior Dash in 2013.
For the DDD, we stayed at an inexpensive motel on Katella Avenue (that’s the Anaheim Resort Transit Bus Route #8 – all runners receive a free ART pass for race weekend), which was about ¾’s of a mile from the Disneyland entrance on Harbor Ave. and also about the same to the race corrals and Expo in the Downtown Disney area. I’ve been to quite a few different race expos and I have to say, the Disneyland Half/DDD Expo at DL has been my least favorite. It felt like a maze or a quest where the prizes were our race bibs, shirts and pins. I think one part of the Expo was in an underground parking garage. Disneyland has much less space to work with than WDW, which factors in to several differences on the two Coasts.
At DL because there aren’t the long bus lines like at WDW, there’s an opportunity to sleep in a little on race mornings. I slept in until 3:30! I know some runners slept in until 4:30 or so and then trotted over for the race start but I need more time in the AM to get my cranky self up and moving. ART busses are running on race mornings but we chose to walk-jog over to warm up. We saw a couple of runners from our hotel, dressed as Nemo and Madame Ulanova from Fantasia (shout out to Julie!), but there wasn’t that same feeling of camaraderie and magical excitement as being with a large group at WDW. For the DL 10K my sis and I dressed as clowns inspired by the Dumbo Bucket Brigade game at Paradise Pier and the circus from the movie. For the Half, sis was the Stork who delivers baby Dumbo and because of a malfunction with my planned outfit (doh!) I instead went with a very simple and last minute Elsa costume.
At WDW, when you get off the bus at the race center, many people are gathered around the DJ area and dancing along for fun and to warm up. There are also several photo ops, gear check and meet up areas.
People are mingling, taking photos of each other and having a good time even at that oh-so-early hour. There are portapotties in this area but there are also portapotties in the corral areas. It’s a fair walk from the race center area to the corrals but it was a good way to get focused. People were chatting and excited for the start. And it’s fabulous to have fireworks at the start of every corral for all Disney races!
At DL, there are the same areas with the DJ and gear check but for both the 10K and the Half, but we didn’t see people dancing along to the music and the DJ didn’t seem very involved. I didn’t see any photo op areas other than just these signs around the light poles but I may have missed them.
The start for the Disneyland 10K was a little crowded, but not much more so than the Rock-n-Roll runs or other Disney races I’ve done. For the 10K we were in E (which stands for Everybody Else!) and for the Half we were in H (Help Me Make It To the 1st Bathroom Stop!). The 10K was fun and easy breezy – the Disneyland Half was a whole ’nother deal! The other runners we saw the morning of the Half seemed intent on getting to the portapotties and then on to the corrals as soon as possible. Boy, once we got back to the corral areas I could see why – it was a sea of sparkly-skirted, ear-hatted, polka-dotted running humanity! I have never been bothered with claustrophobia (Mission:Space? No problemo!) but wow, after about 20 minutes of standing shoulder-to-should, hip-to-hip and front-to-back at about smack-dab in the middle of the pack of about a gazillion other Happy Hoofers in corral H, I was ready to look for adventure in the great wide somewhere.
But giving up is for rookies, right? – and after what seemed about 40 minutes we hit the start line. I was never so thankful to be moving. Even though the start for our corral wasn’t fast and furious, we saw a couple of people go down – I hope they were ok and able to finish the race.
We were spoiled by the amount of characters and photo ops along the race routes at WDW for the GSC. Especially when you are a back-of-the-pack runner like me, abundant character stops mean that I may have a chance to stop for a few coveted pics with favorite characters.
And here’s a pic of my fave sign from the Half – muggy and sticky? You betcha!
And we loved this guy!
But one of my very favorite moments from the Princess Half was running by the “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” area with the music and the beautiful swooping kites. Sometimes when I’m running in training or at another race I randomly break into that song and smile at the memory. I’ve even heard a shout of “Princess Half!” at a race when someone recognized the song.
In the earlier corrals the runners know they have more time before the balloon ladies and the sweepers come along. In the later corrals we know we have to keep moving so Sis and I pick only those character and photo ops that are near and dear to our hearts, and even at that if the lines are long we must skip them. I so very much wanted a pic with Cinderella for the GSC, but alas, that was not meant to be.
There were very few character ops for back-of-the-pack runners at DDD, especially in the Half. If I’m remembering correctly there was Elvis, Stitch with another Elvis, and TowMater. I know there were quite a few more for the faster runners and those in the earlier corrals. We did stop for a few pics on the course!
However, there was great community support along the Half route and because we were having a pretty rough time of it that day – tired, hot, and frazzled by the race start – I’m not sure we would have finished ahead of the sweepers without that support. The classic car clubs were so wonderful; clapping and encouraging us and seeing the beautiful cars was a great way to make that section go by more quickly. Trudging through the section by “the river” was tough; I think many people felt as I did because it was very quiet, no chattering or encouraging words. So at one point “Elsa-me” broke into a quick chorus of ‘Let It Go’ and when that was well received I led a round of M-I-C-K-EY M-O-U-S-E! Great support along the course also from several different Disney-themed web pages and groups, and from the Boy and Girl Scouts at the Angels stadium. Running through there was great fun and the announcer even called my name over the PA system!
In both race weekends, running through the parks is magical – if you are a Disney lover, it is enough to put a lump in your throat and bring tears to your eyes, all the while making you want to laugh with joy like a child.
I have two upcoming race weekends at Disneyland; the Avengers Half and the Star Wars Rebel Alliance. I know we’ll head to the corrals earlier and try for a better corral placement for Star Wars, and just be more mentally prepared for the crush of the crowd in the smaller space available at Disneyland.
If you haven’t tried a runDisney race, what are you waiting for?!?
Let’s go fly a kite up to the highest height, let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring! Up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear – oh let’s go fly a kite!
See ya on the course real soon!