Although they didn't have a booth at the D23 Expo, the folks at runDisney made a mark by hosting 2.3-mile run-walk (which they appropriately called the "D2.3 fun run") through Disney California Adventure as part of the expo. As with previous runDisney meet-ups, participants were chosen via a lottery that was announced by the runDisney Twitter account and Disney Parks Blog, with hopeful D23 members submitting their requests faster than Dash escaping Syndrome's robots. These runDisney race meet-ups have become so popular that people stay up late into the night to make sure they don't miss the short period during which runDisney opens up the application window.
This time around, the group consisted both of runDisney race veterans as well as those D23 Expo attendees unfamiliar with runDisney events.
The group met early in the morning outside of the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday, August 9, but not so early that there weren't already people in line waiting to see the big D23 Arena presentation from the animation groups. Runners checked in and were handed a runDisney tote bag with their name on it, to stash any items they wanted to leave behind while out on the run. This bag was a nice addition, allowing runners to shed unwanted layers and pick them back up at the end; I hope they continue to offer this at future meet-ups.
As the runners gathered, we were able to mingle with one another; Biggest Loser winner and star of Live Big With Ali Vincent on the Disney/ABC-owned Live Well Network, Ali Vincent, was on hand to provide cheerful motivation to the sleepy runners. The additional camera crews filming the activities for Ali's show, lent an air of papparazi to the event.
After a brief discussion of the Jeff Galloway run-walk method, we were off on our run-walk (consisting of 30-second run, 30-second walk intervals). The small group were all at the same pace, unlike other past, larger meet-ups that split into different pace groups. I'm not sure I could handle stopping and starting so frequently during a run, but it made for a nice leisurely pace out of the Convention Center area, and down the street to a backstage area of Disney California Adventure. We came onstage right next to Cars Land, then headed clockwise around Paradise Pier and into Grizzly Peak.
The course wound its way down Condor Flats, through Buena Vista Street (wave to the trolley), up Hollywood Land and out through "a bug's land" to return to Cars Land for some breathtaking vistas.
The Cadillac Range provides a great backdrop during the fun run. Alan Young (front) is a Southern California native, and one of the "Perfect 20" group to have completed all 20 Walt Disney World Marathons. Photo by runDisney.
We finished up back at the Convention Center, where the expo crowds had swelled considerably since our early 6:00 a.m. start. Bob Hitchcock, runDisney Public Relations Manager, made sure that we were pumped up to wave and cheer for the crowd, demonstrating the enthusiasm that comes with runDisney races.
Unlike previous meet-ups at runDisney events, there wasn't a panel of veteran runners or fitness experts after the run. Ali Vincent shared a few more words of encouragement on what makes runDisney so special for her, and the group posed for a photo. Participants of the event were given a parting gift as well: a runDisney Vinylmation figure with its own special D23 Expo medal. [Disney now sells Vinylmation-sized miniature medals, so that as you complete a runDisney race, you can decorate your figure with a medal that matches the big version!]
The event was a great way to get a taste of what a runDisney race is like, running through the parks in the early morning when they are practically empty. You get to see and experience them in a whole new way. Those fun run participants who have yet to participate in a runDisney race seemed pretty convinced that they would be trying one in the near future, so it seems like this inaugural event was a success. I hope it continues at future D23 events, and encourages more people to stay fit and active while having fun at the Disney Parks.
RunDisney's video highlights of the D23 Expo D2.3 fun run.