This weekend’s 2014 Disneyland 10K as part of the runDisney Dumbo Double Dare was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had during a race. I’ve said many times before how much I love the 10K distance, so add a lot of time running in the actual Disney theme parks themselves and hanging out with my friend George as we ran the race together, and you have a recipe for a perfect race experience.
I’ll start with the Expo, since that’s for me one of the most fun parts of a runDisney weekend, now that I’ve done two and can compare relatively. I went on Thursday, the first day of the Expo, about three or four hours after it opened. The line for packet pickup was long but moved quickly, and as always at Disney events, everyone was very chatty and friendly and that made the line wait time pass even more quickly. I happily retrieved my bib and my Coast to Coast wristband to prove, once I passed the finish line on Sunday, that I earned that Walt & Mickey medal, then made my way over to pick up my commemorative pins. I don’t think in the future I’ll do the pins. I thought there would be something more special to them, but I guess it’s only really for if you’re one of those people who obsessively pin trade around Disney. Oh well. They look nice on my medal ribbons.
I met up with my friend Jayme for lunch and frolicking around Downtown Disney. I hadn’t seen Jayme in almost 3 years and in college, he was one of my very best friends. We ate at Ralph’s Jazz Kitchen in DD, meaning Jayme ate lunch and I ate a lot of beignets. Then we window-shopped and played with Legos and figurines at the World of Disney store and generally caught up. Between hanging with Jayme on Thursday and with another one of my BFF’s from college Liz on Sunday, the trip would have been worth it just for that.
I went back to the Expo to retrieve my official participant shirts and also look for some things to wear for the half marathon. There were things I’d had my eye on to wear for the races over the past few months but decided to wing at least half of the weekend’s race wear at the Expo based on good deals vendors always have for the Expo. I came away with a new pair of PROCompression socks since I decided in a game time decision to wear the pair I’d packed during one of the races itself and knew I’d want a clean pair, a new Team Sparkle skirt and visor, some straightforward Champion gear that was all on clearance, a couple of SweatyBands, and the only official merch I bought was a car magnet and a Dumbo hoodie. RIP Dumbo hoodie, we hardly knew ye. To the thief who took it from me on Splash Mountain – may karma reign terror on your head.
Now let’s get to the 10K.
The early wakeup call wasn’t so bad on Saturday since I was still on East Coast time, so when my alarm went off at 3am I felt like it was 6am and it was much easier to make peace with. I’d laid everything out the night before, charged my Garmin, and since it was just a 10K, didn’t even bring a bag to check. I put my hotel room key, my bus pass, and my credit card in my sports bra and set off. Disneyland is different than Disneyworld in that since Orlando pretty much just IS theme parks, whereas Anaheim is its own city that has Disneyland just part of it, the hullaballoo surrounding race weekend was not as orderly and clockwork as it was in Orlando for Princess. The buses were working early for the race, but Disneyland is pretty walkable from the downtown Convention Center hotels (where I was staying) BUT– the hotels did not bother to serve breakfast early for race participants (though neither did they in Disneyworld, it was just easier to get stuff onsite in a Disney hotel to keep for the following morning for breakfast), and walking around in Anaheim is not the safest at 3:30 in the morning.
All this to say I had to get off my bus halfway to the bus lot to get something to eat at 7-11 because I cannot run on an empty stomach. I walked the rest of the way to the starting area with another girl clearly dressed to run after getting my breakfast. I found George and we did the “take a bunch of pictures to pass the time” thing before heading to corrals. A huge highlight? I got to meet Sean Astin! George being the Twitter superstar he is, found Dawnley, who I’d connected with on Twitter, and who runs as part of Run3rd, captained by the one and only Sean Astin (of Samwise Gamgee and Rudy fame, duh). I was excited enough to meet Dawnley in person, but then she was like “oh hey meet Sean,” and this happened:
I would also like to take a moment to clarify what is on my head.
I wore a pair of bunny ears I found on Etsy, a Raw Threads tank top with a pocket watch on the front, and a white Sparkle Athletic skirt for a simple White Rabbit costume for the 10K. Rounding around Sleeping Beauty’s castle during the race, I even heard a race announcer yell “go White Rabbit! Hurry!”, which was super fun.
George and I ran the whole race together. He is definitely faster than me, so it was so nice and generous of him to appease my stops for pictures and walks through the aid stations since I didn’t bring a water bottle for a 10K distance.
The first thing we did was run down Disneyland Drive and wound our way right past my hotel! I was so excited and in such a good mood, but even then, I was so excited to be done with the race and eating beignets back in my hotel room bed. Running past your own hotel room at 6 in the morning reminds you just how Dumbo you are for signing up for this shit.
Soon we were in California Adventure Park, and I have to say, I am a big fan of the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend over Princess Weekend because while there are way fewer characters on the course, you spend way more time actually running in the parks themselves. Stopping for photos makes me anxious about whether I should care about my overall time or not, whereas just plain running through the awesomeness that is the Disney parks makes the running itself so much sweeter. I prefer park time to character photos, I’ve gotta say. I mean just look.
George and I had ridden the Tower at the Adventure Park the day before, and it was so cool to see it at dawn. We wound our way past the park and into Cars Land. I haven’t seen the movie Cars, so this part wasn’t as exciting as it was for some of the other runners who love the movie, but it is still a REALLY cool part of the park! You gotta hand it to Disney for ambiance.
By far the best part of running the whole weekend was getting our very own World of Color show. I mean wow. The whole way around Paradise Pier and Pacific Wharf was just amazing. Obviously I had to make George stop for a picture.
Too cool, am I right? I was just so excited at this point. And even more to come, as we headed out of California Adventure Park and straight into Disneyland proper! Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Toon Town all got their due out of our tour through the Park. Another absolute must for a photo opportunity was Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It is way smaller than Cinderella’s castle, of course, but I’ve only ever ben to Disneyworld three times, whereas I grew up going to Disneyland because my mom grew up in Anaheim. I don’t remember much about it but I do always remember that Toon Town and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle were such a sight for me. Cinderella’s castle may be more to write home about, but it was still pretty cool to revisit the first castle of my childhood.
At this point it was getting light out and I could tell George was getting sort of done with the photo opps, so we booked it for the finish. Around the Matterhorn ride was when we had just over a mile, maybe less, left, and I was excited to get my hands on the first medal of the weekend. As we came around through the finisher’s chute, I said to George, “race you,” and we took off in a sprint. I believe we crossed the finish line at exactly the same moment!
We made our way through the Dumbo process of getting our wristbands to certify that we had indeed completed part 1 of the challenge, took the requisite pictures, and made our way out to the finisher area. George had people he wanted to meet up with; all I wanted was my banana. We managed one last picture together before parting ways and unfortunately, I didn’t see George again for the rest of the weekend. Thanks for being my 10K running buddy George! See you in Vegas!
My official finish time for the 10K was 1:12:21 which I was really happy with because my Enchanted 10K time was like 1:18 or something and this felt super easy anyway.
After being shown through to the finishers/family reunion area and splitting off from George, we were directed out of the parking lot and back into Downtown Disney. This meant that we had to cross the finishers’ chute in weird stop and go motions when there were gaps in runners coming through still finishing. It went on for another hour and a half, with people from later corrals still finishing. And they wouldn’t let anyone out of Downtown Disney until the very last finisher had gone by. This was fine at first, as I continued my quest to manage to gain weight during a 19.3 mile race weekend with beignets at Ralph’s.
But I seriously think runDisney should rethink this. Technically I could have walked back to my hotel from DTD instead of trying to get to the shuttles, but a) my feet were super tired and I had a half marathon to run the next day so no, and b) not every runner was staying within walking distance anyway. This was my major problem with the organization of the weekend. I appreciate the respect for every last runner crossing the finish line to still have all the pomp and circumstance of the finisher’s chute and room to go through, but that chute needs to be rerouted so as not to block people trying to get to shuttles.
In any case, a VERY fun morning anyway. I love the 10K, I love the medal, I loved the course, I loved my beignets, I loved running around with George, I loved knowing part 1 of the challenge was complete. I don’t think I’ll do it again for a while due to money, travel, and time, but I would definitely recommend the Disneyland 10K to others for whom a runDisney California race is feasible.
Disneyland Half Marathon recap to come soon!!