RunningFool here, one of MousePlanet’s many “Ears on the Street” for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. For those of us in Anaheim, it was quite the event, starting with the Expo on Friday (can you ever have too much runDisney merchandise? Nah…) and culminating with the seventh annual Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday. There's a new route to tell you about and new medals to wear—so let’s get started!
It’s not Disney unless it involves Disney-branded merchandise and shopping
Much like you can't walk out of a Disney ride without being dropped into an assortment of Disney merchandise, you can’t do a runDisney event without taking a gander at the runDisney merchandise area at the expo. Although I didn’t see any runDisney Dooney & Bourke bags this go around (not that there wasn't a lot of frantic searching by a few collectors), the runDisney-branded merchandise that was offered was selling hot and heavy from the moment the expo opened.
Top sellers seemed to be anything branded "Coast-to-Coast" (for those who already ran a half-marathon or marathon in Walt Disney World earlier this year), as well as a purple women’s tech shirt featuring a sparkly Disney “D,” which was quickly nabbed and needed restocking shortly after the expo first opened. Personally, I walked away with a variety of runDisney merchandise that I didn’t need but couldn’t resist, including yet another wine glass for the collection. I’ll have to confirm when I get home, but I believe I’m close to hosting a nice-sized dinner party featuring all the runDisney wine glasses I’ve collected over the years.
Best expo overheard comment: “I learned my lesson at the Princess. Don’t wear Crocs to run a half marathon.” Ouch!
It’s all about the medal
For many of us, a runDisney event is all about the coveted medal. From castles to mouse ears, runDisney is known for creating enviable medals that everyone wants to earn. The weekend of running and walking started on Saturday with the awarding of the traditional rubber finisher's medal for the 5-kilometer fun walk, and the Cars Land theme was well-captured in the design. For the seventh running of the Disneyland Half Marathon, runDisney recycled the “D” design from 2011, which I expect we’ll see until its tenth anniversary in 2015, when they will offer another commemorative medal.
For the 550 or so of my fellow Disneyland Half Legacy runners (those who participated in every Disneyland Half Marathon since its inauguration), we had the added bonus of an additional lanyard in orange to call out our achievement. Then there were the 2600 or so Coast-to-Coast finishers with their Walt and Mickey medals and the now-familiar "clanging of the medals" (was it me or did the park seem full of C2C finishers on Sunday?). And as an added highlight, we had the chance to see the 20th anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon medal in person at the runDisney expo booth. All I can say is "wow!"
Disney Art Director David Brotherton explains the story behind next year's Walt Disney World Marathon medal in "Making Mickey's 20th Anniversary Medal." YouTube video (c) Disney.
Best medal comment (while hefting the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon medal): “Good lord, that is heavy! I thought they were just plastic.”
Running on Route 66
You knew, given the opening of Cars Land earlier in the summer, that the new park would have to be featured at both the 5K and half-marathon—and happily, runDisney did not disappoint. The 5K finish was glorious, running down Route 66 with many finishers more interested in taking a picture than getting across the finish line. And naturally, the half-marathon gave a run-by on the Route as well. Not sure if it was a direct nod to Cars Land, but the mile or so of classic cars along the half-marathon route was incredible, and hopefully something that will return in 2013.
Best 5K finisher’s comment: “I don’t care about finishing! I just want to stay and take pictures.”
Hot, hot, hot!
Two weeks before the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, the weather report was still looking decent, with a slight cooling trend taking the daytime temperatures down into the 70s. Well, that was the original report—but then reality hit. Participants in both the 5K and the half-marathon had to deal with above-average temperatures and high humidity very similar to the 2007 event which, those who were there might remember, was almost black-flagged due to the high temps.
The morning of the 5K featured muggy high humidity, making breathing challenging. For anyone finishing the half-marathon after two hours, the heat and sun turned nasty as we lost any hope of shade along the course. This time around, runDisney was well-prepared for the extreme heat with more than the usual number of well-stocked water/Powerade stops along the course, and I noticed far fewer participants in weather-related distress. Although I miss the later fall weather from the 2006 Disneyland Half Marathon when it was held two weeks later in September, I’m just thankful we weren’t running in the rain or snow. Search online for "2010 Walt Disney World Marathon" for some incredible pictures and video of sleet and snow in Florida. Really.
Best half-marathon spectator’s sign: “McKayla is not impressed,” which drew major laughs around mile 11.
After-party in the park
There is seriously nothing better than returning to Disneyland after completing the 5K or half-marathon and spending the rest of the day walking around the park wearing your medal(s) and basking in the afterglow of a goal realized. For me, it was not only finishing the half-marathon, but finishing my goal of 50 half marathons—a big thank-you to my partner in crime, Thomas, for all his support. I only wish my mom and dear friends Bob, Linda, and Howard, were still with us to help celebrate.
To my 551 fellow Disneyland Half Marathon Legacy participants, see you in 2013 for our eighth year together! To all the 14,000-plus finishers of the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend of events, a big congratulations from the entire MousePlanet team! Look for us at the 2012 Twilight Tower of Terror 10 Miler coming up at the end of September.