John has been training for months for this weekend’s Avengers Half Marathon (best of luck!!!) and he has been using many local races as part of his training plan. This most recent race he ran with a former Disneyland Ambassador who shared the story of her running journey and what it’s like to run as a Disney cast member. What a fun perspective!
For some of you, running half marathons and full marathons are standard operating procedure, and your calendar consists of such a race every 2 months, or more. Then there are the rest of us: The marathon (half or full) is an annual or semiannual goal. What to do between those major races? Thankfully, there are numerous smaller races to keep one in proper form. Personally, with my first half marathon (the Avengers) being around the corner, I enjoy the myriad of smaller races my local community has to offer. One of those races is the annual Chapman University 5k, which takes place through the streets of Old Towne Orange, CA, a mere ten minutes east of the Disneyland Resort.
Many past and present Disney Cast Members run this race, so it’s often a reunion and fellowship opportunity. One of those is former Disneyland Ambassador Jolie Hales, whom I got to know shortly after I joined the Disney family. Jolie is a Chapman University alum, graduating with a master’s degree in film directing. I asked Jolie to share her thoughts with us on the running experience.
When Jolie was selected as a Disney Ambassador for 2011-2012, her teammate Rene signed them up for the Disneyland Half Marathon. “I had never had a desire to run more than a mile in my life for any reason whatsoever”, Jolie joked. Of that first Half Marathon experience, Jolie recalled, “It was so much fun! And I beat Rene, bahaha! I was hooked … I’m soooo grateful to Disney for turning me into a runner — I totally owe them for the huge change in my lifestyle”. Fast forward to the 2014 Chapman University 5k.
The Chapman 5k is a fun, flat, straightforward course, which both the novice and seasoned runner will enjoy. Readers might recognize Chapman University from the films “Crimson Tide”, “Accepted”, or “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle”. Parking for this year was remarkably easy thanks to an underground parking structure on the north side of the Chapman Campus. Runners staged near the west gate, and after some words of encouragement by the Mayor of Orange and singing of the National Anthem, the runners were off! Says Jolie of the Chapman 5k, “This is my third year running the Chapman 5K, and I plan to run it every year, if I can. This year’s race was the best out of the three.”
Like Jolie, this was not my first Chapman 5k. I first ran last year, when the race was held during fierce Sana Ana wind conditions. “(The winds) definitely increased the challenge!” said Jolie of last year’s race, “When the wind was pushing with me, it was great! But when I was running against it, I felt like I was climbing a mountain.” Thankfully, this year’s race was met with mild weather and no winds whatsoever.
The first leg of the race was the hardest, thanks to a hard left turn onto South Glassell Avenue just seconds after the starting line. This part of the run was a serious pinch point, making it hard to pass runners in front of you. But it was very brief, and the rest of the course was ample. The course continued down Glassell and around the beautiful Orange Plaza, established in 1888. The course then meandered through the local residential neighborhood, dotted with early 20th century Victorian and Craftsman style homes.
Many residents cheered us on from their porches and lawns. Other scenery included the stunning gothic brick St. John’s Lutheran Church, the modern Mediterranean revival Orange Public Library, and the locally renowned Watson’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain (a MUST VISIT if you’re ever in town). The final leg proved to be the most fun. It was a long, straight shot up the course to the Chapman Campus, where the finish line was clearly visible from hundreds of yards back. That gave me motivation to pour on every ounce of speed. The Chapman University band and cheerleaders greeted the finishers warmly, and there were plenty of Disney voluntEARs to award the finisher medals.
One great thing about being a Cast Member is running into other past and present Cast Members at races such as these. “At local races in Southern California, it’s pretty common to run into Cast Members, and I love it!” Jolie said. “The Chapman 5K is especially filled with cast members — both runners and as VoluntEARS at the finish line — it’s like a reunion each time!”. Indeed. Running into Cast Members like Jolie is a real treat. If you ever see her at a running event, be sure to say hi.
Would you like to hear more about Jolie’s running experiences? Don’t worry! Jolie shared with me a wealth of running knowledge, which will be included in future editions of Anaheim Antics. So stay tuned!
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.