Well, this was a year in the making. My original goal to complete all the Disney races in a year got slightly messed up after getting severely sick after doing the Dopey Challenge the week before. You can read about the setback and how we can (and must) overcome life’s obstacles HERE. This was the last series I needed to complete Disney race in the US. (It took 375 days).
I’ve got to say I do love the Disneyland Expos. They are just so well organized. I hit the merch line a little over an hour early and I was probably around the 125th person in line. You sit inside with wristbands on carpeted floor in the hotel. They then will escort your line down to the area so that no one breaks in front of you. Very orderly and zero chaos and drama.
I had to get this one!
There was a lot of cool new items this time around. There were also totally new items like a race specific medal hanger and a race specific ornament. (The ornaments will start being a new one for each series at least through 2017)
I always love the transition area from bib pickup to the shirt pickup. It has a fun red carpet feel to it. I actually remembered to get a picture this time too!
Checked in with Jeff and Barb to see how they were doing. We talked about the crazy weather from marathon weekend the week before. I only got to see them at the Expo then, because I only ran the 1ok and the cancelled-turned-virtual half marathon. No risking getting sick this time! We talked through possibly linking up for the half this series. I’m fairly certain they are both half machines.
The expo seemed a bit lighter than normal, but that may have been because I was there early.
Bonus tip: If you can make it out there on Wednesday do so. The parks have been empty the Wednesday before the race every time. Add a little rain and you get this….
I rode Buzz Lightyear 8 times in a row just as fast as I could walk from the exit back to the entrance.
Star Wars 5K
I was super excited about the 5k. I know DL does not have a great track record for characters on the course, but the theme for this race and much of the signage at the expo was about Rogue One. I’m not expecting anything crazy…. give me a death trooper or something generic and I’m good to go.
Darth Vader got the race going that morning…and every morning after that. OK, he was pretty awesome in Rogue One, so that sort of counts.
Before you know it, it’s time to get going! I’m still super pumped about the characters and you’ve got to love the 5K course. The whole thing is in both parks.
The character stop is right around mile 1. R2D2! OK, he had a cameo in the movie, so that sort of counts too I guess. C3P0 made his appearance after I had been through. He’s also pretty rare now since they don’t do Star Wars Weekends anymore on the east coast.
One of my favorite stretches is through the California Adventure. I love it all lit up and empty. They usually have a character or two here, but no stops today. They had some of the people out from Jedi Academy out performing. At least they had a speeder bike out?
Onwards in to Magic Kingdom and I was sure I was going to run into someone from Rogue One. Sometimes DL will load the special characters last, I think to help with congestion. I round a corner and there is Darth Vader again. I stopped since he was just hanging by himself. He must of been having an off morning because he talked non stop and none of it made sense. It was actually really funny.
He was still chatting it up at this point.
So soon after this point, I realized that there wasn’t going to be any Rogue One specific characters. I decided to change my focus on another challenge: The Jump Picture. It seemed a competition started forming after my post about how to get great pics at races. Some friends had thrown down the gauntlet at the races the weekend before, so if I could get a good pocket, I would try to answer. Sure enough I hit a giant hole right before the castle. Here’s my reply:
Extra height, toe tap with a twist.
The twist to get the number in was the challenge. Now it’s your turn!
The best stop of the day turned out to not be any of the SW characters but the DL horses. They were great and the cast members were fun.
After that is was a short cut through downtown Disney and then to the finish. A great start to a great weekend!
Lastly, they had some great backdrops from the other Star Wars Race over on the east coast. So fun! If you ever get a photo spot like this and the line is backed up before the race. Come back after the run. There will likely be no line.
Up next: The Star Wars Lightside 10K and Half Recap!
The end begins here and I learn about an odd family dynamic.
I’ve got to give it to the West Coast RunDisney crew. The expo keeps getting better and better. First the merch has been tweaked and improved every race this year. By the last series, they had very organized lines, wrist bands and water stations set up in the Disneyland Hotel for you while you wait. There is zero chaos and you have lots of room to shop. Its really a great experience.
They had some fun new merch this time!
Attendance seemed low and for the first time that I could remember, you could actually still register for the race at the expo. There were some fun exhibits that are just out here and of course I connected with the Galloways who I just ran with in FL a few days earlier.
They also have a pace car out West with a prize wheel. I won a Black Panther tsum tsum.
Disneyland expos are really fun. It’s smaller than out East, but there are unique things to do out here and everything is in the same building.
My only disappointment was not in the expo itself, but an apparent licensing issue between Marvel and Disney. I learned that Disney is not allowed to associate anything with the Marvel series. This explains quite a few things:
Why you will only see the same 6 characters on all three course. Disney cannot put their characters out there.
I’ve gotten framed metal sets of my Coast to Coast races. I could not get a frame that had the Marvel medal and the Wine and Dine medal in it. The owner of the company that takes care of me even brought me to a rundisney cast member to talk through the rule.
This explains why there are no traditional Mickey ears race magnets here. This is the only race that doesn’t match the others.
See below on how you may not notice it, but Disney is left out of the branding.
It’s time to do the final Disney 5k of the year. (My 10th Disney 5k in 2016) I was really looking forward to getting a couple of the Marvel characters that you can only get during this race. I also knew that because of the licensing deal, I could do whatever I wanted for the other races since they were going to be the same ones.
The course was set up fairly similar to the Disneyland one. The biggest difference is that this is the only series out here where you get the Christmas Decorations overlay to enjoy while you run.
I love Small World all lit up!
It was fun interacting with the characters on the course. There really wasn’t a wait for any of them and it gave me a moment to catch my breath. (I was trying to make it to breakfast and back to the hotel by sunrise.) It’s definitely fun to run through the park in the dark!
Capt America was the last one and when it was my turn for a picture, he went down into this missile pose. I guess we are doing this then……
I was also glad to see Capt America’s girls on main street. They did an awesome job on the National Anthem and were still singing out there on the course.
It wasn’t long after that until the finish line!
They had a great concept that they were testing this time. It was a passholder retreat where you could get your picture taken and they were giving out exclusive Avengers Cokes. I really appreciated having a nice little bonus for being a passholder.
So this time, I sort of knew what to do and what to expect. RunDisney made several changes from the Tinkerbell series in May. My favorite was the change from queuing people in a underground car lot to the actual Disneyland hotel.
The same rule still applies here: If you want merch, then get here early. I think I got there about an hour early and was fairly close to the front. I spent time in line with a lady who was doing her first Disney race. I was just going for a magnet and she had no clue what she wanted, so we enjoyed our frugalness while the other runners in line got enough points on their credit cards to pay for the trip back home.
They had several cool new shirts and they were even selling some banners from the last race there. We will buy your literal garbage runDisney!
The expo itself was quite fun. They had lots of great booths and partners set up. I got to get a picture with the half marathon pace car…..and then I never saw it again.
I also got to spend some time with Jeff and Barb. They were great as usual. I also picked up one of his pace keepers for Sharon. (My future Disney Darling Runner!)
I’ve come to really love the Galloways!
I got suckered into picking up a pair of the runDisney shoes. (So much for being frugal) and then was interviewed by Cigna on my way back to the parks. I had as much fun getting to know some of the runDisney folks as I did doing the interview.
After that is was off to the parks!
I mean have some manners dude.
Let me tell you a story about the power of a running team. Half of my posts are basically love letters to them and just when I think I’ve realized all the great things about them, more incredible things happen.
This story stars Luke. Isn’t he just spiffy?
Yes, he’s carrying a giant head of Lou Mongello. No, we are not weird. Ok, yes we are kinda weird.
So Luke and I ran together at the Star Wars half marathon. I knew him, but we really hadn’t gotten a chance to spend a bunch of time together. Even during the race he was supporting a new runner and I was running with the ladies learning about things such as bra waffles. (who knew??)
Here’s about our only picture together back then. It just so happens it also looks like we are running to our imminent deaths.
Luke shows up for all three races out there with me and we just hit it off. Several people thought that we had known each other for a long time. It was without a doubt, the most fun I’ve had during a race.
This may have been my favorite start to a Disney 5K yet. It was Country bear themed, so all the characters on the course were bears and they even had a banjo player do the national anthem. He killed it in a way only a true rocker could.
We got out at a decent pace and ended up basically running the majority of the course by ourselves. We had a great time talking to the cast members and picking up characters.
Here is a secret of the 5Ks. If you want some photos worthy of wall hangers, then get in A group and sprint the first mile. What you do afterwards doesn’t matter. You’ll get a ton of photographers just shooting you and not a sea of people.
This is about a 3/4 mile in and you can see it’s thinning out.
We stopped for a few more bears along the way.
It was then off to a solo run through the castle!
We made our way down main street and wouldn’t you know it, the banjo player was there. He was just hanging out plucking away as if to say, “Yeah, I slayed that anthem and now I’m just going to chill here and blow people’s minds with some back country tunes.”
There were a couple of more bear sightings and then it was off to the finish. We ended up facebook live-ing? (Is that how the hip kids say it?) the ending of the race in all our nerd glory.
It may not look it, but Im sure that guy in the background was thoroughly impressed.
After the race, I found my photopass guy! He’s probably the funnest, most awesome photo person in the history of photopass people. (He’s the one that took the flex shot that Frank dissed me on at Tinkerbell)
He of course had us do some fun poses. Including our best Usain Bolt impression. I mean we did almost win the race by accident….. He’ll be our go to for the rest of the series and you’ll finally get a chance to meet him on the next recap.
Well the time had come to conquer and complete the women’s series of Disney races. (In the manliest way possible). The experience was much like Disneyland and Disney World. They feel sort of the same, but are very different.
Let’s start the whole experience with a curve ball to what I was used to. The expo here is in the Disneyland hotel which is obviously much smaller than the ESPN center on the East Coast. Gone are the long lines outside, to be replaced by multiple snaking lines all over the place to get everyone in. You start out in an underground parking space. From there you finally get escorted outside the convention hall in a line. You go from that line to a line inside the expo to get into merch. Finally you make it in to the merch area. I got there an hour before opening. Typically the east coast will open early to start processing the line. That was not the case here. I was in line for 2 hours to walk away with a magnet.
On the way to the first underground line. At least it had a good first impression!
The reason for the slowness of the line is that they were letting very few people in the actual merch area at a time. They started doing this at the last Star Wars race in April in Orlando. It makes for a much more relaxed buying time, but makes the wait significantly longer. I haven’t decided which I like better. I like not waiting in line forever, but I also like not having to deploy personal defense measures as the ladies are trying on the few guys clothes that are there. There was also no yelling and freaking out while holding a $2000+ basket of merch. I just want my magnet.
The expo was much more intimate, but it was fun. Easy in and out on that side. Got to spend some time with Jeff again at the Expo. It’s also good to see him and Barbara before the races.
There were several neat booths up for this one. Autopia had just reopened and they had a cool spot there. I ran into Dave from the MickeyMilers so we got a picture together. They also gave out exclusive drivers licenses for the event. They currently have remodeled and the original cars mixed in together at the attraction. They are nice upgrades.
This was equal parts madness and fun! Someone on the running team pointed out that there wasn’t a letter (coral placement) on the 5k bib….that means free-for-all running. I made sure to get there super early to get towards the front. What I thought would happen, did indeed happen. There were a bunch of people at the very front that had zero intention of doing anything besides a walk. One lady who was in front of me said that her goal was to finish the race in an hour. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% all for everyone at any health level getting out there and participating. I also understand the strategy of being closer up front to buy yourself more time to finish. My thought is that the first 10 ft of the front coral is not the proper place for those runners. You put yourself at risk of getting run over from those behind you. I also realize that the 5ks are the first race ever for many people at these races and they may not know all the race etiquette out there.
There was no starting banner. There was no fireworks. It was just the announcer saying “here we go..”
I had zero intention in killing myself or trying to do great in any of these races. I had only run twice between Princess and Star Wars (Feb-April) and only twice more between Star Wars and Tinkerbell (April-May). I was also coming off a back injury from work the week before. You know what happens though….. it’s 30 seconds before the race and I had wiggled my way to the front of the line. I look around and my brain says, “Time to try to win this…” It’s well documented on this blog that my brain is my nemesis that hates my body, and will throw out common sense without hesitation. “By the way, make sure you stop for pictures..” Thanks brain!
There were very few character stops at any of the Tinkerbell races. They did have some good themeing in spots. Above is the mile 1 decorations. I will say it was really neat to run through both parks and not really have anyone else around. You are able to enjoy the area and not be in a sea of people.
They didn’t have the characters really out, but they had a ton of cast members dressed up as pirates. I stopped and got a picture with this one. What was really cool is that he remembered me at the other races and gave me an extra dose of encouragement.
The lost boys were out, but they were riding on the carousel in California Adventure. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by because they weren’t standing still. I needed those characters for the list! The cast member just started snapping anytime one came by. I got a couple that were OK enough to count. They would eventually get off the ride and take pictures with runners. There are advantages to being middle of the pack at these races too.
From the pier, it was less than a mile to the finish. Wendy and Peter were there all by themselves. It was fun getting a picture with them!
They had this next backdrop towards the finish where all the spectators were. It made for a slightly awkward time taking the picture with noone else around on the course…but hey why not. Might as well have a seat and chill right before the end of the race.
The end was just right around the corner and it was finished before I knew it. Great cheering crowds at the end! I ended up in the top 20 for the 5K. That was pretty exciting. I thought that I had gotten the fast one out of the way and the next two would be cruisers. The brain though had already started concocting strategies for the next day.
So here is one tip for you if you ever do this race. Do not listen to them when you ask for directions back to your hotel. The race ran through my route to the hotel. They told me and another guy to take a “shortcut” around the backside. 3 miles later and after crossing I5 twice, I finally made it back to the hotel. There are lanes that they create through downtown Disney that will get you back in a relatively short amount of time.