Race Recap & Review: Disneyland 5K

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Part 1 of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

RunDisney. A mix of running and Disneyland. For the running Disney fan, this is the ultimate race.

To run at Disneyland? I decided to go all out. Disney offers a 5K, a 10K, a Half Marathon, and the new Dumbo Double Dare (DDD). The DDD is a challenge where if you run a 10K, then a half marathon, you get a special Dumbo medal. Logistically, it was possible for me to do all three, so when registration opened back in mid-January I immediately registered for all three.

My mom and Erica, both avid Disney fans, wanted to run Disneyland as well, so my mom registered for the 5K and Erica registered for the 10K. We were set!

I completed my first runDisney race this past weekend with the Disneyland 5K. This was the first of my three races at Disneyland (the 5K, 10K, and the Half Marathon), and I knew that this would be a fun race. Knowing that I registered for this race way back in January and was sold out within weeks added to the excitement that Disney would give nothing but the best 5K I could ever run.

The Expo

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The Half Marathon Expo was held at the Disney Convention Center next to the Disneyland Hotel. It was held on both Friday and Saturday, but since the 5K and 10K were held on Saturday, I took the drive down to Anaheim to check out the expo on Friday. The expo had all the normal components of any large race expo, from spinning lottery wheels, to sampling the latest GU, to all the latest shoes and gear from the sponsor brand.

As is the typical Disney fashion, there were places where you could take Disney photos throughout the expo, each with their own line. No Fastpass this time!IMG_2746

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I even got to take a picture with the runDisney spokesman and Olympic runner, Jeff Galloway!

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There was also a store of runDisney merchandise, with a line that went out the door and almost went outside the Convention Center. This was possibly the first time I’ve ever seen the race organizer’s own gear would be this popular.

The 5K

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The 5K was held on Saturday morning at 5:30am. My mom and I left at 3:30am, picked up Erica, and made it to Anaheim in a record 20 minutes. Logistically, everything went perfectly, and there wasn’t a single traffic jam. I figured since a 5K/10K would be a drop in the bucket compared to what they see in a normal day.

Since it was a Family Fun Run, the 5K was not going to be timed and there wouldn’t be any special awards.

Since I was running the new Dumbo Double Dare (10K and Half Marathon), I moseyed over to the very front and tried to get as close as I could to the start line so I could get to the 10K start line as soon as I finished the 5K.

About 30 minutes before starting, we got some very good entertainment, Alice in Wonderland style!

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I noticed that I was standing next to Sean Astin, the actor who played Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, and is now a prominent runner in LA. He was also doing the same crazy thing as me: the 5K and the Dumbo Double Dare. I managed to get a not-creepy-at-all shot of him mere seconds before the start time.

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The race started promptly at 5:30am and we were off! Since I had a 10K to catch 45 minutes later, my mom and I would run at our own paces.

The 5K course starts at the Disneyland Hotel, and races on the street of Anaheim for about a quarter of a mile. From there, it turns into Disney’s California Adventure’s backstage lots before going into the park itself. Since I started very far up front, I and about 5 other runners ahead of me were running alone in the dark. The cast members weren’t quite ready for us yet either!

Mile 1: 7:24 / mile

Once turning into Paradise Pier in California Adventure, World of Color was playing and the rides in Cars Land were in operation. I dashed around Grizzly Peak, past the Cable Car, and exited California Adventure fairly quickly.

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As I entered Disneyland and Main Street, I passed the first water station with warm water. It was a very warm morning, with the temperature hovering around 80 degrees when I started, so I wasn’t terribly surprised. I pushed through Main Street and went past the Matterhorn to Adventure Land.

Here, the cast members were a bit more prepared, and I had the chance to take pictures with the various Disney characters along the course since there was also no line at all. However, I was on a strict time limit and didn’t take any photos. I figured I could always take a picture with them during the 10K.

Mile 2: 7:49 / mile

The final mile took you to Disneyland’s backstage, where you could see all the tram storage, the Disney train, and where the Imagineers did their work. That was very cool.  It then takes you out of Disneyland and into Downtown Disney, where I pushed passed the stores and back to the Disneyland Hotel.

Mile 3: 7:08 / mile

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I finished at 23:05, or 7:26 / mile. A new 5K record! While it wasn’t timed, I think I finished in the top-10 as well! My mom finished 20 minutes later at roughly 41 minutes. Hooray!

The 5K medal was also made out of rubber, not metal. It looked very cute, very colorful, and of course, very Disney.

I then hustled over and prepared myself for the beginning of the Dumbo Double Dare: the Disneyland 10K.

Read Part 2: The Dumbo Double Dare (10K and Half Marathon)

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