Welcome back everyone, this is part 2 of 3 of my Run Disney experience attending the inaugural half marathon weekend at Disneyland Paris, if you missed part One you can catch up here!
Saturday September 24th 2016, an early start in the hotel Santa Fe, my alarm went off at around 5:45 am ready for the 5km race, luckily I had the common sense to get all my rce stuff ready the night before so all my clothes were out ready, my gear bag packed and my race bib pinned in place, no one wants to be messing around with safety pins when they’re still half asleep!
Now I’m not a breakfast person, especially when I run, which I know is really backwards but that’s how I’ve been running up until now and I’ve had no issue yet so we’re just going to work with it. I did grab a few snacks to put in my gear bag for after the race and one pan au chocolate for before hand, I got ready and left my hotel room read to walk to the start.
Th walk from the Santa Fe to the parks is actually quite short and remarkably simple, this was actually the first trip where I had ever walked to the parks before and I was surprised just how easy it was, even more so as I was in one of the last blocks at the back of the Santa Fe right by the bridge to cross from the Cheyenne! It felt very strange to be up and about so early in Disney and even more so to be walking to the parks in the dark, but the closer I got to the village the more runners I started to see.
First a quick stop in the expo hall to drop off my gear bag, this is a clear plastic bag you’re given when you collect your race bib which has a space to put a sticker with your bib number on it, its a drawstring bag a bit like the JD sports ones which you can fill with anything you want stored during the race, for example I had a few post race snacks, a sports drink and my hoodie I’d worn for the walk down, these were then kept on racks in the expo hall for you to collect after your race free of charge which was a brilliant idea and enabled you to get straight into the parks after your race.
In the expo hall I caught up with Axel, you can check out his content here and then went out into the holding area which had porta potties and pre race photo ops, this was directly behind the Newport Bay Club hotel, and I did think the music was rather loud considering how close we were, if you were stopping in the hotel and we disturbed you I’m very sorry! From the holding area there were 3 lanes with lit up inflatable markers to show which entrance to use for each Corral, you were assigned a corral on your bib and could move down a letter to run with friends but weren’t allowed to move up a letter. Each pathway took you through towards the start line into the final holding area to wait for the race to start at 7am.
The wait for the 5 Km race to start didn’t seem too long, there was a bit of a buzz and everyone was really excited to see what was ahead of us, at the start line was a stage with 2 race presenters helping to motivate people and tell us what was going on and count us down to the start, and further back in the corrals were big screens showing what was happening on the stage. In hindsight, I wish I’d got to my corral earlier, the sooner you get there the closer to the front you’ll be, and although people were squeezing through to get closer to the front, if you turned up late this wasn’t an easy job.
Before we knew it our turn came to start running, the course left the Disney village to run through fantasia gardens and down main street, and from the moment we stepped into that beautiful Disneyland park the support from the cast members and volunteers was incredible. Honestly they’re support alone would be enough to push you round the support, considering the early start time it was a little overwhelming to see just how many cast members were out clapping and cheering, so if you were one of those cast members – Thank You!
As you reached the bottom of main street the photo opportunities began, the course took you past the castle stage where Jafar, Cruella and Hook were waiting for photos, then back up and past the Annual Pass office where you could have your photo taken in front of the castle.
Next the course took us through Discovery land, round the back of space mountain to the first Kilometre marker and round to the fenced off star tours, once you got round to café hyperion Chewbacca and R2-D2 were outside the doors to Jedi academy with a photo pass photographer.
From there a short back stage section took you to the small world gates of Fantasy land where Pooh and friends were taking photos outside bella note, and through fantasy land to see Mary Poppins and Bert near the carousel. The course then gave you the chance to run through Sleeping Beauty’s castle which honestly was exactly what I had been waiting for!
After Fantasy land came frontier land, which is one of my favourite parts of the park at the moment, as we ran round the corner I saw woody was meeting and knew I had to stop, it was only once I got closer I realised Jessie was with him too, honestly a dream come true. The queues for characters weren’t too long on the whole, but I didn’t feel they were very well managed, lots of people were taking a long time with the characters and it really slowed things down, it also meant character queues had to be closed and re opened to ease the flow of runners, another reason to get in your corral early! Once I got to the front meeting Jessie, while dressed as Jessie was an incredible experience and as you can see the photos came out great!
After frontier land another backstage passage brought you into the studios where roger rabbit was meeting guests in Toon town and Remy, Emile and Linguini were meeting guests in Place de Remy and then the course cut through toy story play land and then finally past the tower of terror and past rockin roller coaster before leaving the park toward the finish line.
At the finish line the Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto were taking it in turns to meet the runners for Hugs and High 5’s dressed in their finest track gear and runners were presented with their Medals and a goody bag of snacks.