Welcome back to the third and final part of the Run Disney series for 2016’s inaugural Disneyland Paris half marathon weekend if you’ve missed them, you can catch up with parts One and Two using the links!
Sunday September 25th, the big day was finally here and again I was greeted with another painfully early alarm! As it had worked so well for the 5Km I again set up everything the night before so everything was ready to go and I could get to my corral nice and early, unlike the 5 Km the half was chip timed and had a pace requirement, which was something I was pretty anxious about. Luckily from following the US run Disney races I knew the pacers would only start after everyone had crossed the start line, so the closer to the front of my corral I could get the more time I would buy for myself to get clear of the pacers.
On my way to my corral I saw my friend Gaëtane who’s content you can check out here; Blog & YouTube who was nice enough to come and join me, I had arrived a lot earlier today so the wait in the corrals was a bit longer and I was a lot more anxious so having a friend to distract from everything else going on was a massive help. The corrals were set up in the same way as the day before but with an additional corral added to reflect the higher number of participants. The race started a few mins late, but before we knew it it was our turn to start.
The course for the Half took us through the studios first and then on to Disneyland park before leaving at the back by the Indiana Jones ride to run round Val d’Europe before re entering Disney property at the Hotel Santa Fe. Not only was the course different, there were a lot more character photo ops and they were much better managed than the 5K, so Thank You to the run Disney team who listened to the feedback and made the changes so quickly!
We didn’t stop for every character as we had already seen some that weekend, so Missed Spider-Man and Captain America at the start of the studios we also skipped Chip and Dale and Marie from the Aristocats.
The course first allowed us to run through the Light Moteurs Action stunt show, and through the back of Studios tram tour, and this was such a unique experience that you really wouldn’t ever get any other way, seeing everything up close was incredible and I’m so glad we got to do this! we then ran round the back of Studio One and then doubled back to run through the studio, through toy story play land and Place de Remy and then towards the Disneyland Park, stopping quickly for this photo with Mr and Mrs Incredible, which as a HUGE Pixar fan I couldn’t resist.
The route took us straight into discovery land from the bottom of main street and round behind space mountain as before, when we got to the Jedi Training academy it was the turn of Vader and 2 of his troopers to meet runners.
Again the course cut through the backstage area behind Buzz Light-year’s Lazer Blast and brought us out in Fantasy land by the small world gates, where the path splits to go towards the castle stage the story book float from Magic on Parade was parked up and Royal couples were taking it in turn for Photos, we timed this just right and got to the front in between change overs and got to meet Cinderella and Prince charming as well as Belle and Beast, it was great to get so close to a parade float I’ve admired for years!
Further through fantasy land the course took us past Alice’s curious labyrinth where we got to join the most wonderful tea party with most of the Alice crew! Being able to meet Cheshire Cat before his Halloween debut was pretty special, but to have the March Hare turn up as well was totally unexpected.
The course then went through to frontier land, where we found this handsome chap, Robin Hood, unfortunately my photo pass pics have gone missing so I don’t have a brilliant picture with him, but meeting him was an experience I’ll remember for a long time even without the pictures!
In adventure land we met Aladdin Genie and Abu having literally just missed Jafar, Jasmine and the Sultan, and then at the back of adventure land we met Dug Carl and Russell, again for a massive Pixar fan this was a huge moment for me, they were better than I had imagined.
Once we left the park there was still plenty to see and experience with lots of live music along the course, this was the bit I had worried about most but actually there was so much support, regular water stops and so much entertainment that the kilometres seem to stack up fairly quickly. When I got to Kilometre 15 I happened to look across from where we were running and saw the top of the Sally and Lightning billboard on the Hotel Santa Fe, that was it we were nearly there, I was actually going to do it.
Once we got back to Santa Fe there were about 5 or 6 Kilometres to go until the finish and although they seemed to go on and on forever the support from cast members, guests, friends family and runners who had already finished was incredible and really made those last kilometres achievable!
Again at the end Mickey and Pals were waiting for us, and then we got handed the most incredible medals, that moment made each of the 21.1 Kms worth while, I got my finisher photo and went for a well deserved afternoon at Inventions with friends.
I cant believe its been over 2 weeks since that run, the more time I have to reflect on everything I experienced and all the great people I met that weekend, it honestly was the best experience, I’m so glad I did it despite all the training and anxiety every kilometre really was magical, and if they’d let me, I’d already be in my corral for next year!
So that’s the Run Disney experience, or my experience at least, did you run, do you wish you had or are you signing up for next year, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!
See you at the start line?