Sunday was the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon. The race marked my completion of the Dumbo Double Dare as well as the Coast to Coast Challenge. It was my fourth state to ever run a half marathon in as well as my sixth half this year and eleventh overall. It will be several months before I even have an opportunity to cross off another state, so at least I made this one count!
I arrived to Anaheim on Friday afternoon and was a little worried about tackling the expo. I had heard horror stories from last year’s expo and no one wants to be stressed too much from an expo. I am happy to report that this year’s expo was very easy to navigate and the crowds were no worse than any other large event that I have attended in the past. If you entered from the main parking lot for the Disneyland Hotel, there were plenty of signs to show you where to go and I did not have to wait long for my race materials. I browsed some of the vendors, but actually did not purchase anything. Susan, who did not make the trip with me, did purchase some items for me online because she felt that I needed something to celebrate my finishes beyond the medals. I ate lunch at the Tangaroa Terrace and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of options that the quick service place had. I enjoyed a teriyaki chicken sandwich and some sweet potato fires. After the expo, I went to my hotel to rest and wait to head over the Angels Stadium for the game, but I will post separately about that event.
I previously posted about the Disneyland 10K from Saturday, and after a morning of resting, I headed over to Downtown Disney to walk around and eat. I decided to go to a movie at the AMC theater there, and realized that I must not be the only person there for the race weekend that decided not to buy park tickets. Finding a place to eat was next to impossible, and while I waited, I was very happy that I had snacked at Wetzels Pretzels earlier in the day. I finally was able to have dinner at Earl of Sandwich, which was another excellent quick service option. The chipotle chicken avocado sandwich and mac ‘n cheese were excellent pre-race carbs and I was very happy that I was able to abstain from sampling some of the excellent looking sweets. After dinner, I returned to my hotel to relax and watch some football, and hopefully cool off.
Race morning was another 3:30 am wake-up call. My hotel was about a mile from the start line and this walk to start provided ample opportunity to get loose for the race. Surprisingly, once I arrived at the starting area, there still were no lines for the port-a-potties! No lines are always a welcomed sight! I was in corral F, which meant that I was expecting to start a little after 6:00 am. Thankfully, they were releasing corrals two at a time and I was on the course just after 5:45 am. The half marathon course was certainly more congested than the 10K course, but again, not as bad as I was mentally preparing for. It was another hot and humid (by California standards) morning. I was sweating early, but I was not as uncomfortable as I would have been if the event was held here in Memphis.
The course had some highlights, but by mile 4, you are outside of the park, and when you return around mile 12, you are running on the outskirts of the parks and not near any attractions. They did do a great job of providing photo opportunities in the park miles. I took my photo with the Walt and Mickey statue in front of the castle as well as with Paradise Pier behind me. The one character stop that I really wanted to get a picture at was with Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers. The line was insanely long and I skipped it. I immediately regretted this decision. Outside of the park, there were several marching bands and dance groups for entertainment. There were also over 350 classic cars around mile 7 that provided a nice change of scenery from the road course. Mile 9 had us running through Angels Stadium, which was awesome. Sadly, my hands and phone were not cooperating due to sweat, so I was unable to get any pictures on the field. The finish was hectic and was probably the narrowest portion of the course. The awarding of the finisher’s medals was very organized and there were no issues getting each of my three medals.
Course: A: The park portion was great, and the inclusion of Angels Stadium helped salvage the rest of the course. You also run by the Honda Center, but you do not go in it, so it is more just a building than an awesome landmark. It was very flat, and in better weather conditions, I imagine that the course is very fast as well. In fact, before the race started, the announcers were talking about how this course was the fastest of the runDisney half marathon courses and I believe it.
Swag: A: The Disneyland Half medal has changed very little over the past few years, and I am perfectly fine with that. The script D and castle look great as a medal. I enjoyed the retro look of the shirt and ribbon as well. The post race refreshments were exactly the same as the 10K the previous day. I guess they had a large food box packing party the week preceding the events.
Overall: A: I enjoyed this race, and did not find that the crowds were too overwhelming. The only issue that I had was with my timing chip. For some reason, it stopped working after the 5K split of the half. I have emailed track shack and they are in the process of updating my race time, so sometime next week, I should have an official finishing time. This is the second timing chip issue that I have had during a half marathon and I need to figure out why, I suppose.
Dumbo Swag: A: The shirt is better than the medal, but both are very good. The medal has a lot of detail and is thinner than other medals that I have. That is the trade-off for the colors and details, I guess.
Coast to Coast Swag: A+: Medal only, but it is an awesome medal. It is very heavy and has great detail. I know that it does not really change from year to year, but it is one of my favorite medals, and definitely the best of the weekend to me. It is the medal that I chose to wear around the most after the event. I wore all my medals briefly after the event, but the clanging around scratched up my half marathon medal somewhat, so I stuck to one medal.
After the race, I had to get cleaned up and head to the airport. Since this was a solo trip, I decided to fly back the day of the race rather than laying around in a hotel for another night. I did, however, hit a Southern California landmark that could not be missed on any trip out west, In-N-Out Burger! After 19.3 miles, I think that I earned that greasy goodness, and I enjoyed every last bite, as well as my Neapolitan milkshake! It was a great way to cap off my weekend.
I had a great experience at this race weekend, and would do it again. Maybe next time I will be able to run in the Avengers or Star Wars Half race weekend, with a celebratory In-N-Out trip, of course.