At the start line there were two fun, energetic announcers who were sending off the corrals. They were pretty funny and did a good job of pumping us up at 5:30 am. I was in Corral B, so I didn’t have to wait long to take off, which was nice since my adrenaline was really high by this point! Once they let us go everyone was cheering and waving and having fun, but then it got a little serious after the first turn. I’m sure everyone was planning who they were going to take pictures with or just trying to stay focused in the dark. Once we moved into Disneyland (DL) though, the mood got light and fun again. At almost every turn there were staff members or guides who were cheering people on or saying “Good morning”, which really made me smile. Everyone was so friendly (even that early) and I made sure to wave or say something back to as many people as I could.
We first ran through Disneyland, which has a lot of waves and turns but is totally worth it because there’s so much to see! I’ve never been to DL before, so I stopped to take a lot of pictures and of course a few selfies. I found that some characters were a little hidden and if it wasn’t for spotting the line ups, you would probably never know there was one there (for example, Chewbacca was behind a fence in the dark). I also realized that you really have to look out for other runners during a Disney race. The flow isn’t the same and people are always stopping and starting at the last minute and in the middle of the lane. Runners probably shouldn’t listen to music while running through the parks, because you really have to be alert (I did see 2 people crash into one another and it wasn’t pretty). As for characters, I only saw Luke & Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader and I only stopped to line up (for 15 minutes!) for a pic with Chewie (Marathon Photo is at every stop too in case you’re interested in professional pics). There may have been more characters, but if that’s the case, I missed them.
After DL, we then transitioned into the California Adventure park. The sun was starting to come up by this point, so it was really nice to be able to see the park in a bit more daylight. The sunrise was actually spectacular and a lot of us stopped to take many pictures in different areas of the park. I can’t even describe how beautiful the sunrise was, such a nice experience to go along with the race. In California Adventure I only spotted a few characters and stopped to get my picture taken with some Stormtroopers because the line was short. I really enjoyed this park and was totally blown away by the area that looks like the Grand Canyon. Such an amazing sight and the sunrise really helped the experience!
Once through the parks, we then headed out on to the local streets in Anaheim. This did not take away from the experience and I was certainly not bored. There were so many high school marching bands, cheerleaders, people in costumes, and spectators along the way that you couldn’t help but continue to feel motivated. I was blown away by the local support and you just can’t thank these people enough for getting up so early to cheer us crazies on! Also worth noting is that runDisney provided tons of water/Gatorade stops along the route, so there was no need for me to carry water. Clif was also around mile 9 (I think) handing out gel shots, which is good if you already use this kind of fuel.
I will say that all of the starting and stopping when running through the parks did start to affect me. I got a little sluggish around mile 10 or 11 and I got really hungry for more than just race fuel. I toughed through it though, and with the help of all those spectators I got my butt to the finish line! I kept thinking about that beautiful medal and how I just couldn’t wait to have it hanging around my neck. Good motivator, right?
So much excitement at the finish line! Tons of people and a few characters were around, and also the announcer was saying people’s names as they crossed the line. I was a little disappointed that R2D2 and C-3PO were on a stage at the end (were they along the course?!) because I REALLY wanted my pic taken with R2D2 because of my costume. It was hard to grab any pics around the finish because staff/volunteers were trying to move you along, which I totally understand and they maintained a good flow despite the amount of people.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the nice people handing out the medals. A really nice lady hung my medal around my neck and congratulated me and I felt so elated and grateful for the opportunity. Yes, I was grateful to have run 13.1 miles at a very early time in the morning! It’s hard to put all of the feelings to words, but I was beyond ecstatic and had a permanent smile on my face.
After the medals I moved to the picture area because I wanted to grab a pic or a selfie in front of one of the branded back boards. This is where I felt a little rushed. The Marathon Photo staff weren’t allowed to take a pic for you with your own camera/phone and they also hinted that you kind of weren’t allowed to have someone else grab your pic in front of the boards. Well, I was able to find a nice person and we took turns (quickly) grabbing photos with our own cameras. I understand this company wants to make money, but their pics are extremely expensive so I like to have to opportunity to take one of my own. Just my thoughts. Once pics were done we were able to pick up the food kit, which had a nice mix of taco chips, nuts, dried fruit and a banana. Wheat free options actually made me happy in this case. Bag check pick up at this point was also a breeze and then I was set to go.
Of course, I didn’t leave right away because there was still a band playing on the main stage and there was tons of people watching to still do! I saw a few more people in their costumes, took some more pics, rocked out with the band, and then headed on my way to grab some delicious breakfast grub at Denny’s. Don’t judge me! Denny’s is perfect after a race. :)
After grabbing breakfast, I walked back to my hotel room in all my glory. It was about a 10 minute walk and I enjoyed every minute of it in the sun. It was also nice to pass by people heading towards the part who yelled out congrats and costume compliments. Made me feel like I was really part of something… some kind of happy, Disney, silly runner community. And you can’t beat that. Needless today, I am hooked and I hope to do the Rebel Challenge next year!!
~ May the Force be with you ~ ;)
Have you run Disney before? Tell me about your experience in the comments!