My husband and I ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January, and when we finished, we swore we’d never do another half marathon. But a few weeks later, we started thinking of ways that we could have had a better run… Things we could improve… And before we knew it, we were contemplating a Half Marathon at Disneyland, so we could earn a “Coast to Coast” medal in addition to the one for our run. And then, in a stroke of great luck, runDisney announced a NEW Half Marathon: the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon! It would be held in November, which would surely be prime running weather in California, so we registered and started planning our costumes!
When the time arrived, we were so excited. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, so we would be very close to all the action. We arrived on Friday, ate lunch, and headed to pick up our runner bibs.
Lines were very short, and the volunteers were doing a great job as always. We had a small snag getting my Coast-to-Coast wristband (I changed my last name between the two races) but it was cleared up very quickly.
Then we were off to the Expo. All the merchandise was so tempting! We bought a few things (they had already sold out of the Hulk “I Smashed the Half” tees we really wanted, but we still managed to spend some money) and ogled the medals on display for upcoming races, and generally took our time soaking up the excitement!
We spent some time Friday and Saturday in the parks, and went to bed early Saturday night in preparation for the 4:00am wake-up call on Sunday.
The Big Day arrived dark and early. We had been checking the temperatures, and the forecast called for mid-50’s for our race time, and we were excited to get to run in such great weather. (Foreshadowing here, folks)
We got our outfits on, and headed down to Corral G. (We are super slow, but we submitted a time anyway to avoid being in the last corral, like we were for the half marathon in January. One of the things on our list of “things we could improve”.)
Our corral was a mob. Since this was an inaugural race, hopefully this is one of the things that runDisney will iron out in the future, and find a way to put fewer people in each corral.
But everyone was pleasant and excited, and we chatted while waiting for our start time. Then we were off and running!
The first part of the race course went through California Adventure and Disneyland Park. This was a really fun section. It was a little cramped with all the runners, but there were photo ops
and the park restrooms were open (always a luxury instead of porta-potties), and there were characters to see, and Disney cast members were cheering us on. It’s a great feeling to be running through the park before it’s open to the public, and a privilege to run through the castle. It was just such a fun environment for a race!
Very soon, we left the parks and headed out onto the open road. It was a relief to get to spread out a bit, and pay attention to our running intervals and pacing, so we could pick up our speed a little. There were people lining the road with encouraging signs, and cheerleaders from local schools cheering us on.
We got some water around this area, and I’d have to say this was the most comfortable part of the course for us. Then the wind began to pick up. It was a nice steady breeze, but we began to hear things from people around us: “A friend in Corral D says the wind is really crazy around Mile 5”, “I’m glad I brought sunglasses, I heard the wind is blowing sand up ahead”, and things like that. We weren’t worried.
Then we turned a corner, and were hit with about a 20-mile-per-hour headwind. Cheerleaders were trying to stay upright. Road debris was flying everywhere. All the Captain Americas began using their shields to keep sand out of their faces. And it started getting a little crazy.
We put on our sunglasses, squinted to keep the dirt out, and ran. We passed the Crystal Cathedral, which was very beautiful, and got some more water. Empty cups were flying all over the road (A big Thank You to the people who cleaned that up. We threw them in the trash cans, but they just blew back out. Sorry!)
The next mile or so was mostly unremarkable, except that I started thinking it was probably time to get out my Sport Beans and get a few calories on board. And right about that time, a woman appeared in the middle of the road, handing out Red Vine licorice sticks. What a wonderful treat! Thanks! I munched on that, and started nibbling on Sport Beans, so when the next water break came up, I was super ready for a drink. I got lucky and got a cup of water that was poured just recently, as the ones that were sitting on a table for a few minutes were full of leaves and sand and rocks!
Then we began the section we call “Dust Alley”. The course took us on an asphalt bike path about 8 feet wide (this is another thing I’d like to see changed for future races, as it was just too narrow for this many people, and we had no choice but to walk) for about two miles. The bike path had gravel and dirt to the sides, and with the awful wind (about 25 miles per hour at this point) we were just getting sandblasted. We joked that we were getting a workout with a bonus exfoliation treatment. But we didn’t talk much, since we got sand in our mouths any time we opened up to speak. It was pretty demoralizing. You can see the dirt swirling around and people leaning into the wind here.
And then we came upon these amazing chalk drawings. They were so beautiful, and you could just feel the whole group start to perk up!
Then we ran past these wonderful cosplay people. They were out there cheering us on, giving high fives, and braving the awful wind in full fantastic costumes. I can’t thank them enough for being there at the right place to give us a boost when we all needed it the most! Thank you!
Next, it was time to head into Angel stadium. There was a water stop just before entering the stadium, but all their tables had blown over. Those poor volunteers were still trying to give out water by just pouring one cup at a time and handing them out, but it was slow going. They told us there would be another water stop just past the stadium, so we thanked them and kept going. Once inside, it was nice to be out of the wind for a bit, and there was a band and more cheerleaders. I’ve got to say runDisney does a great job of providing on-course entertainment to keep you energized, and it really helped us.
The water stop after the stadium also had Clif Shot Energy Gel packs in several different flavors, so my hubby and I got a couple to try. He liked both of the ones he got, but I discovered after one mouthful that I didn’t care for the texture at all. But I thought it was great that they still had plenty of products for everyone, even this late in the run (remember, we are slow).
The next area had a group of veterans in uniforms from different time periods, which was really neat. They gave us lots of high fives, and we all thanked them for their service. I was really moved that they were out there spending their time to congratulate us. I might have gotten a little teary-eyed, but it was probably just the dust….
And then we just had about 5K to go! And that’s when I totally ran out of steam. I just walked most of the rest of it, and my husband was a really good sport about it. My body was requesting loudly for me to sit down, and I had a rock in my shoe, but then I saw this sign, so I just kept going.
And before we knew it, we were back outside California Adventure, and heading to the finish line! We got our finisher medals, and then our Coast-to-Coast medals
and grabbed snacks and drinks and moved out of the area. There was supposed to be an award ceremony, but it was cancelled due to the wind. Tents had blown away, porta-potties had blown over, and the staff was just trying to move everyone away from the danger zone. We took our snacks and just sat on the sidewalk in Downtown Disney to stretch and refuel. We were totally worn out, and covered with dirt, but so very happy we did it!
After a shower to wash the rocks and leaves out of my hair, and a quick rubdown of my feet, we got breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. The characters all congratulated us on our performance.
And then we caught the monorail to the theme park. Because once you finish a half marathon, what are you gonna do now? “We’re going to Disneyland!”
I’m Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a Travel With The Magic agent specializing in Disney vacations. You can contact me at Brenda@travelwiththemagic.com for help with your family’s travel needs.