Lights out was at 11:30pm. I already knew it was going to be a short night of sleep. I had dreamt I was running the Disneyland Half Marathon and had already finished and when the alarm went off at 3am, it was a little disappointing.
I left the house at 3:30am and because the freeways were empty arrived at the Mickey & Friends parking structure right around 4am. The wait at the parking booths was only 3-4 cars deep. Well since everything went so quick this morning, I'm pretty early. I hung out in the car, snacking on a banana and a strawberry poptart. An hour before the race started, I took off for the corral.
There were multiple checks along the way to make sure you ended up in your correct corral. I'm running fairly close to the front.in corral C. In the past, without a qualifying time, I've been placed in the corrals all the way in the back. Not only is it more crowded there, but you're constantly racing the clock to not get swept off the course for not running fast enough. Normally that wouldn't be a problem anyway, but since I like to stop for characters and have to wait in line for them, sometimes I'm cutting it close at the beginning.
The other unfortunate part about being in the further corrals is that you can't see the stage, or even the screen showing what's going on on stage. Here's my view near the front of corral C around 5am.
To keep us entertained while standing around in the corrals, they played a 2-3 minute video showcasing all the Limited Time Magic events from DL and WDW this year, and they interviewed some of the runners.
One running couple who had come out from Florida to collect their Coast to Coast medal was interviewed, and at the end, she was proposed to! The pressure was on, but she said yes. Otherwise it could have been an awkward 13.1 miles racing together if she had said no...
Sean Astin, from The Goonies, Rudy and Lord of the Rings fame, came out and gave us some last minute motivation. His advice for today? Stay hydrated! It's not the hottest Disneyland Half Marathon I've run in, that would be the 2007 race where the event was threatened to be red flagged due to heat, but it's still pretty warm and humid.
By completely random chance, I happened to see my friend Dave DeCaro. He's all the way up in corral A. Hopefully he'll have a great race!
At 5:25am, we heard the National Anthem. I was surprised to see some low level fireworks going off! Fireworks have been hit and miss in past years, so they were fun to see.
In past years, I remember after corral A leaves, corral B follows immediately on their heels. This year though they handled things differently. Instead, this year after corral A left, corral B went up to the starting line, but was held for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, they had their own countdown and then took off.
They did the exact same thing between corral B and C, and because I was at the front I was right in front of the stage.
Corral C race start.
And we're off! Who's ready to run 13.1 miles?!? The staggerd start worked out great! Instead of dodging walkers and people lined up 4 wide it wasn't crowded and there was lots of room to run.
So at this point, I should probably explain that I don't run any of the Disney races for time. I'm there to take photos with all the characters and floats and to continue my Disneyland Legacy runner status. As such, I should tell you that if there is ever a photo op anywhere on the course, I'm stopping. Five minute line? No problem, I'm still stopping. So for those who are wondering, here are all the characters that were on the course when I ran by.
It was still dark when I reached the backstage portion after Mile 1. From the Pixar Play Parade, the Incredibles float with Jack-Jack and Violet was sitting beside the course. I didn't see any cast members around so I took a self shot. Hmm. One of the small complaints I have had in previous years is that there was no one around to take your camera and take a photo while you're posing with the characters. In the past, there are a few places where you had to rely on your fellow runners to take your photo.
As I started running again, a cast member came by and apologized saying she didn't see me and that she would have taken it for me. Well since she's offering, might as well get another picture.
And the complaints I had from previous years? They totally fixed it this year! All the places with characters had a cast member stationed nearby, and in the case of some of the really popular characters, there were two cast members! It made the lines move a lot faster and I really appreciated that. Not only that, but also at almost every character was an official event photographer who would take your photo and you didn't even need to bring a camera!
Another float in the Pixar Play Parade.
Finally we're on stage inside DCA. The World of Color theme was playing and the fountains were lit up and dancing. They're beautiful in this early morning light.
Running through Radiation Springs, the cast members in front of Tow Mater's Junkyard Jamboree were waving finish line flags. That's a dirty trick!
DJ was parked in front of Flo's.
And at the end of the street were Mater and Lightning McQueen.
Red was parked in his normal place along the path towards A Bug's Land.
The Monsters University float was a popular one this year and had a couple minute wait.
We ran by Buena Vista street and I got a photo with the Storytellers statue. A cast member saw me and came over to take a photo for me.
Then she took a photo in front of the 717 Red Car trolley.
And just behind it, another cast member was stationed at the 623 Red Car trolley.
Just before leaving DCA, Phineas and Ferb and some Fireside girls were rocking out. I love this cartoon! These guys are an inspiration and they think every day should be an adventure! I like their philosophy!
We ran through the Esplanade with a huge crowd cheering for us. Time to run through Disneyland!
Running down Main Street.
The line for Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie was the longest one yet, taking over three minutes to get to the front.
Mary Poppins, Bert, and two chimney sweeps were at the end of Main Street.
I think there were three different groups of Green Army Men scattered throughout the course. I'm only posting photos of me with one of the groups.
After running through Frontierland and by Big Thunder Ranch, we exited into Fantasyland.
Captain Hook and Mr. Smee were hanging out at the carrousel. Peter Pan and Wendy were riding the carrousel and waving as it circled. Just across the path, lots of people were posing in front of the Dumbo ride because of the Dumbo Double Dare.
No photographers here, but you have to get a shot with the castle in the background.
Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora were posed in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
Here's the longest line of the day. It took over 5 minutes to finally get to the front of the line.
But, how often do you get to pose with Darth Vader and two Stormtroopers?
The path leading up to "it's a small world" was lined with princesses. Cinderella started it off.
Followed by Snow White.
And ending with the newest Disney princess, Merida!
Our path continued through Toon Town.
Where we then ran back stage to our second water stop of the day. We're making quite a mess for all the custodians and volunteers with all our water cups.
Circle D Ranch brought out a lot of great animals to see including 2 horses, Pancho the donkey, a baby calf, and 2 lambs.
After that it was out on the streets of Anaheim for the rest of the race. There's no more running through the Disney parks and no more Disney characters to see, but that doesn't mean there isn't any more support. Cheering us on all throughout the course were lots of cheer squads, dance troops, and marching bands.
Ever since I can remember this group has been performing here.
Since the Limited Time Magic event for Long Lost Characters just happened last week, I was hoping we might get some of those characters along the course, specifically Hercules, Meg and Hades. I had no luck with that, but I did find another racer wearing the best costume ever! Hercules! There's been lots of great costumes I've seen today including Pocahontas, Mary Poppins and Bert, Fix-it Felix Jr and Wreck It Ralph, a few Vanellope Von Schweetz, lots of princesses, and even a few Fireside girls.
Motivating us along the path, there were lots of inspirational signs. Some of my favorites were "Worst Parade Ever", "That's not sweat, that's liquid awesome", "Run like Maleficent (or Ursula) is chasing you", and the ever inspiring "Remember, you signed the Death Waiver."
There were lots of unofficial groups handing out much appreciated snacks to the runners. Team Mouseplanet was stationed at the 1/2 way point and giving away much appreciated pretzels, twizzlers, and orange slices. Thank you! The best thing I saw being handed out? Someone was giving away whole Krispy Kreme donuts!
The Polynesian dancers were out performing. Maybe it was just me not paying enough attention, but once we got here, I saw 2 runners dressed as Lilo and carrying small plushes of Stitch.
In previous years, Mile 7 - 8 was the worst section of the course. At that time in the morning, you're running directly into the sun and there wasn't anything along the road to see. Last year though, all that changed. Now there are maybe a hundred classic cars lining the street!
Followed by Ford Mustangs spanning multiple years. As we ran by, the owners honked their horns for us.
We made it to the Honda Center.
Then ran along a back road towards Angel Stadium.
And with Angel Stadium not only do we get to run by it...
We also get to run along the warning track around the baseball field.
We're on to the last few miles. The cheer squads are still out in force.
After mile 12, I ran into a barefoot Tarzan. Wow. Just wow. After I complimented him on his costume he said the running was easy, dealing with the wig in this heat was the hard part.
We're at mile 13.1 and there's the finish line!
Receiving my Legacy runners medal. Legacy runners get an extra lanyard showing they've run all 8 Disneyland Half Marathons.
Inside the Runner Refreshment booth where hundreds of boxes of snacks are lined up for the finishing racers.
As well as a big stack of bananas.
What's in the box?
A closer look at this year's medal.
Time to add it to the collection. Now I need to find my 2008 finishers medal. Hmm, wonder where that disappeared to. So the first four years all had the same design with improvements made to the lanyard each year. There was a completely unique design for the 5th anniversary and that's when they started including the additional Legacy lanyard. Years 6 through 8 had a new design, that I suspect we'll see again next year with the 10th anniversary hopefully being a new design.
Time for the worst part of the half marathon. The freezing cold recovery ice bath... Seriously, I hate this part, but it really helps my recovery process.
Race number 8 is in the books! There were 15847 finishers this year with 10,008 women and 5839 men completing the course. The oldest racer was an 81 year old woman who finished in 3:18:31.
Congratulations to everyone who participated! A big thank you to all the volunteers plus the people who came out to cheer!