The Disneyland Half Marathon has always been one of my favorite races. This year runDisney upped the ante by adding the Disneyland 10K and the Dumbo Double Dare for those wishing to do both. I’m always eager to run a new race through the “Happiest Place on Earth” so I was up for the challenge.
We started the weekend off by going to the expo right when it opened. We usually get there long after it opens but this time a few people in our party wanted to make sure we got there early before all the good stuff disappeared. It turns out a lot of other people had the same idea. There were huge lines just to get in the door when we got there at 9:30. 30 minutes before the expo was to open.
Once inside we went straight to the official event merchandise and it felt like Black Friday times ten. People were all over the racks like carrion ants on a carcass. Luckily I was able to find the one shirt that I wanted in my size on some random rack and a medal for my Vinylmation. Once everyone in our party got what they wanted we made our way to the checkout line which nearly stretched to the back wall of the expo. Fast forward about 45 minutes and we finally checked out and were ready to go pick up our bibs and shirts and then check into our room.
Later that afternoon the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney was hosting a meet and greet with Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings, Rudy, and Goonies fame. One member of our party heard that we had the honor of meeting Sean at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo earlier this year and as a huge Goonies fan was hoping to meet him too. We weren’t sure what time he was going to be there but somehow guessed correctly and she got to meet Sean.
Next up was an early dinner followed by an early bed time. All runDisney races have one thing in common. They start early and the new Disneyland 10K wasn’t an exception.
After a short night’s rest we were up before the crack of dawn to head down to the staging area and eventually our corrals. After a quick stop in the staging area to check a bag we headed over to the corral staging area. This year the Disneyland 5K preceded the 10K and we had to wait until after they cleared out before we could queue up.
After a some banter from the runDisney announcers Carissa and Rudy we were off! The plan was to go out easy for the 10K in order to save my energy for the half marathon the following day. It WAS a good plan. One that I quickly abandoned once I realized I was sitting in around 20th place after the first mile. The top three in each age group get awards and I figured I had a shot so I cautiously went for it. The new plan was to hold my position and pass anyone that appeared to be struggling with the heat and humidity.
Shortly after the second mile we entered Disney’s California Adventure. After a trip through Cars Land, around Paradise Pier, and Hollywood Land we headed over to Disneyland. So far my modified plan was working. I was holding position and passing an occasional runner. At the same time I wasn’t pushing the pace in order to leave something in the tank for the half marathon the next day.
Once inside Disneyland we headed down Main Street, through Tomorrowland, Toon Town, Fantasyland, through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and finally out through Critter Country. In between some of the lands we made excursions backstage.
After exiting Disneyland we had a little less than a mile to go through Downtown Disney before reaching the finish line by the Disneyland Hotel. I picked up the pace for this and passed a couple runners including some of the final 5K runners who were still on the course being trailed by the infamous sweeper wagon.
After reaching the end of Downtown Disney you make a sharp right and the finish line is in sight. With no one around me I casually cruised through the finish line with a time of 41:13. Somehow, with a pace slower than my half marathon pace at this race last year I was able to secure 3rd place in my age group. I think the combination of people taking it easy for the half marathon the next day and the stifling heat and humidity lead to some soft times across the board. Regardless, I’m excited to have placed in the inaugural Disneyland 10K!