Can you believe it? We’re less than a week away from the start of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend! This year, I will not be running in the Disneyland Half Marathon. However, I have run in the past 3 Disneyland Half Marathons. I don’t have as much time as I would have liked to type this post out. However, I wanted to give a few pieces of advice for those of you who may be running the race for the very first time.
Sadly, Rudy will not be there to see us off this year. However, whoever is there, it will be a fun send off to your 13.1 mile victory lap. The runDisney race MC’s are usually very good at keeping the energy high while you wait in your starting corrals. While you’re in your corrals take the time to talk with those around you. If you’re not in a corral with a friend, make a new one while waiting. It really helps the time go by quickly. Most of the folks around you will welcome the chat!
The good news about the Disneyland Half Marathon is that you’re not off property for very long. Before you get to the mile 1 marker, you will be running backstage at Disney California Adventure. It looks like the mile 1 marker is outside of Cars Land. I mention this because, there is a real restroom as you head up Route 66 (the main street of Cars Land). Keep that in mind if you feel like you have to use the restroom. If you can wait, you’ll have an opportunity to use a real restroom before you finish the first mile.
You’ll spend most of the first 4 miles in the theme parks. So, if you have a few gears that you run in, this is the part with the slow gear. Have fun! This is what you paid all that money for…to run through theme parks! So have fun! There will be character stops, photo ops with various props, and other iconic parts of the theme parks for you to grab plenty of pics with. If you’re a slower runner, consider taking selfies rather than lining up for photos (costing you valuable time). Understand that, the mile 4 marker will come backstage at Disneyland. So, you’ll have 9.1 miles to make up time you loose having fun in the parks! This is a great course for negative splits!
If you’re a back of the packer like myself, mile 5 starts your stint running into the sun. If you’re speedier, you probably won’t have to deal with this sun over Ball Road. It’s not fun running into the sun. My advice is to try and find spots not directly ahead of you to look at. This is the first boring section of the race. Miles 5 – 7 offer nothing fun to look at. There will be some marching bands, cheer leading squads, and maybe a Mexican dance group (although they weren’t there last year). I’d spend miles 5 – 7 getting into the rhythm you trained for. Treat these miles like you’re on a training run and you’ll be fine.
Mile 8 through the first half of mile 9 is a car show. This is seriously fun. It’s a section that you can decide if you want to check out the awesome cars or just enjoy them as you run by. If you’re running the race for time, it’s a nice distraction and helps you get through a really boring stretch of running. The car show will take you all the way through the parking lot of the Honda Center (home of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks).
From there, you head onto the Santa Ana River Trail. This is another not so fun part of the course. The pathway is narrow. So, it will be hard to pass by slower runners/walkers here. Part of the path is paved with asphalt. If you want to pass, you’ll likely need to be comfortable running on the dirt. It’s your choice. The path lasts a little more than a half mile.
At the end of the river trail is my favorite part of the entire route…running the warning track at Angel Stadium! As you approach the end of your time on the river trail (and the end of mile 9/start of mile 10), you’ll hear the crowd. Turn off the music, or at least turn it down, and let the excitement build.
You’ll get your Cliff Shots here in the parking lot…
The lower bowl on the first base side is very full of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops who are there to cheer you on. If this doesn’t give you goosebumps, you might be dead inside. Take it all in. This is YOUR moment in the sun. A crowd of complete strangers are cheering for you as though you were an Olympian!
Once outside the stadium, you’ll likely be entertained by 2 pep bands on your way out of the parking lot. The mile 10 marker comes as you leave. Then, you’ll hit the last boring section of the course. What I finally learned last year is that this section is ONLY 2 miles long. So, be ready for miles 11 and 12 to be boring. If you can switch back to training mode for those two miles, you’ll be fine. Last year, as I left the stadium, I told myself…get through the next two miles and I’ll back at the parks.
If it’s hot, know that you get to run through this tunnel at the start of mile 12. It’s heaven on a hot day!
This is me, right before the mile 12 marker in 2013. Once you get here, you run back stage at DCA to start mile 13. There’s a long straight section with wide open road ahead of you. You ran the other way on this road at the start of the race. This time, you’ll run out and across Disneyland Way…
You’ll run behind the Paradise Pier Hotel towards Downtown Disney. While this part is the last part of the route in wide open space, there is plenty of room to run the final half mile. So, don’t sweat it. You’re almost home!
The mile 13 marker is just before the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney…only 0.10 miles to go!
The crowds are large for the whole finish stretch. There will likely be some characters by the finish line. So, keep an eye out…
In 2013, I lucked out and got to give Mickey a high-five right before crossing the finish line, and Marathonfoto caught the moment! There were characters on both sides of the finish stretch. So, keep an eye out. You’ll see them pretty far out.
Lastly, keep running/walking through the finish line. Where the finisher’s chute turns, is a great place to get that selfie marking your finish. Go all the way to where the barriers are located to stay out of the way of other finishers.
A lot of the volunteers are more than happy to pose with you getting a selfie while giving you your medal. So, feel free to ask.
This is a great day to get those PhotoPass photos. Some PhotoPass Cast Members have great ideas for photos. So, it’s totally worth it to have them take some for you.
Wow! This post turned out to be longer than I planned. Anyways…if you’re coming out to the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend for whatever races you are entered to run, I hope you have a ton of fun! Make sure to wear those medals around the parks after your races. You’ll receive a lot of “Congratulations!”
It’s almost race week! Time to get excited!