Winged Fairies Fly Through the runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekendby Adrienne Krock, staff writer
In 2012, runDisney introduced a second Disneyland half marathon weekend: A women-focused Tinker Bell-themed event (its first being the Disneyland Half Marathon, held annually over Labor Day Weekend). This past Sunday, May 8, 24,000 women (and men) completed the fifth anniversary weekend of events, including the Neverland 5K, Tinker Bell 10K, and Half Marathon, and the Pixie Dust Challenge for participants who completed both the 6.2-mile 10K and 13.1-mile Half Marathon.
A local runner, 31-year-old Jennifer Serna from Fullerton, California finished in first place, witha time of 1:25:49. Kellie Nickerson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed in second place, at 1:29:41. A familiar friend to MousePlanet, Nickerson is also the winner of the 2012 Inaugural Tinker Bell Half and ran the weekend's races as a member of Team Muscle Makers for Ullrich's Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. She also took home first place finishes in both the Neverland 5K on Friday and the Tinker Bell 10K on Saturday.
Jennifer Serna, celebrates Mother's Day with a first place finish at the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. "It was a surreal experience. All the cast members and locals were supportive," Serna said. "Running through the park was really fun and exhilarating, I didn't even feel like I was running." Photo © Disney.
The top three winners were:
|Race||Female Winners||Male Winners|
Although men may register for the events, runDisney only recognizes the top female participants in the women-focused Tinker Bell events.
For a full list of results, see the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Results at TrackShack.
Events at a glance
|2016 Disneyland Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at a Glance|
|Tinker Bell Half Marathon||The flagship race was 13.1 miles long, held on Sunday, May 8, 2016.|
|Tinker Bell 10K||The 10-kilometer run was 6.2 miles long, held on Saturday. May 7, 2016.|
|Never Land 5K||The 5-kilometer family fun run/walk was 3.1 miles long, held on Friday morning, May 6, 2016.|
|Pixie Dust Challenge||Special recognition (in the form of a medal) given to participants who successfully completed both the 10K and half marathon back to back. Registration for the challenge was required to obtain the medal.|
|Coast to Coast Medal||
Special recognition (in the form of a medal) given to Tinker Bell Half Marathon finishers who also successfully completed either the Walt Disney World half-marathon or marathon, or Disney's Princess Half Marathon this year. Those who completed the Princess and Tinker Bell races got a special pink edition of the medal.
As most returning runners know, the race before the race begins when the official event Expo opens. For this event, Disney staged shoppers in queues downstairs, near the bib pick-up area. Disney cast members distributed wristbands to those in line and then escorted rows of shoppers upstairs to queues outside the official merchandise area. Disney announced that the Expo would open at 10:00 am on Thursday, May 5, but shoppers reported that the doors opened earlier, at 9:30.
Shoppers joining the queue at 10:30 waited 90 minutes to enter the official merchandise area. Some merchandise appeared already sold out by noon—the last two Tinker Bell-themed wine glasses were nabbed by a lucky customer off the shelf shortly after 12:15 pm.
Approximately 950 runners who participated in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon for all five years earned the distinction of "Legacy Runners." RunDisney recognized these runners with special bibs, listed their names on displays, and awarded them two special gifts: A compact mirror and an additional ribbon for their medals.
Many visitors to the Tinker Bell Expo stopp for a photo opportunity with one of the new Autopia cars sponsored by Honda, featuring the event logo, where cast members passed out special Tinker Bell Half Marathon drivers licenses, as well. Photo by Adrienne Krock.
One significant merchandise change this year involved race day photos. Instead of using MarathonFoto as it had in the past, photography duty went to Disney's Photopass photographerss. Many photographers lined the courses through the parks, sitting inside green tents. The tents made finding the photographers along the race route easier, and runners found their photos posted the same day. This was a particularly popular feature for those Disneyland annual passholders who have free Photopass photos as a benefit of their passes, since it resulted in great savings. For more information about finding your race day photos through Photopass, visit MousePlanet's article, Tips for the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend.
Runners head up the first I-5 overpass of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. A familiar sight to runDisney participants in Anaheim, Sunday's run up the Ball Road incline included mercifully overcast skies. Photo by Adrienne Krock.
The weather for the featured race on Sunday could not have been better. The half marathon began under overcast skies and the sun barely poked out before 9:00 am. The construction of Star Wars land meant significant changes to this year's half marathon course. In the past, the course ended behind the Paradise Pier Hotel. This year, runners crossed the finish line near the Disneyland Hotel, in the same spot as the Disneyland, Avengers and Star Wars half marathons. Tinker Bell posed with runners outside the Matterhorn and the Lost Boys rode King Arthur's Carrousel in Disneyland. Although, some runners commented that they felt there were fewer character photo opportunities than usual.
MousePlanet reader Michelle Lee and her daughter Rebekah stop for a photo with Vidia during the Tinker Bell 10K on Saturday, May 7. Many runners enjoy dressing up for the runDisney races. Photo by Michelle Lee.
Disney cast members always provide support along the race course at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Among them, the third shift custodial staff traditionally displays this cheerful banner along the route. Photo by Adrienne Krock.
The overall course support felt a bit quieter than normal for runDisney races in Anaheim. Behind the Paradise Pier Hotel were stretches with no spectators. In fact, spectators were not allowed in the stretch of parking lot between Disneyland Drive and the turn behind the Paradise Pier Hotel. Race officials kept spectators crowded onto the north side of the intersection. After crossing Ball Road and entering a local neighborhood, the course became very quiet, with very few, if any, spectators. After passing through the Downtown Anaheim area, runners continued up Harbor Boulevard, again, with very few spectators. Runners passed twice behind Disney California Adventure with little fanfare or cheering: Once between miles 4 and 5 and again between mile 12 and 13. Some runners noted that, in the past, representatives from the Luna company cheered along Anaheim Boulevard, but they did not see them on the course this year.
The Red Hat Society members return year after year to encourage the Tinker Bell Half Marathon runners. This year, instead of cheering near Downtown Disney, they lined the streets of Downtown Anaheim. Photo by Adrienne Krock.
At the inaugural race, members of the Red Hat Society lined the course near the Disneyland Hotel cheering for runners as they passed. They quickly became a hallmark feature of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, returning year after year and growing in number. This year, with the new course, the Red Hat Society cheering section relocated to the Center Street Promenade area in Downtown Anaheim, near mile 8. Just as before, their loud cheers encouraged the runners. At the same area, another welcome tradition continued: The MousePlanet cheer station provided runners with encouragement and Red Vines.
At various spots along the city streets of Anaheim, unofficial race supporters from the community offered runners cheers and treats ranging from donuts to gummy bears, with one group providing a small buffet of goodies including water bottles and a variety of snacks.
Above all, the runners owe a debt of gratitude to runDisney's outstanding legion of volunteers. From the packet distribution at the Expo to the volunteers staffing the water stations along the course and the medical personnel in their red shirts, runDisney volunteers provided hours of service with good cheer, as runners have all come to expect.
Race registration information
RunDisney has announced that the Tinker Bell Half Marathon will return in 2017, again over Mother's Day weekend, May 11–14, 2017. Based on past history, registration should open sometime this summer. Watch MousePlanet for more details or follow our Team MousePlanet forum, where we keep an updated thread with information about all runDisney races.
Coming this fall, runDisney has events with registrations still open in Anaheim. The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend registration is still open for Labor Day weekend, September 1–4. The Kid's Races, 5K and 10K events are sold out, but the Half Marathon and Dumbo Dare Challenge events are still open. Likewise, the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend registration is also open for November 10–13. The 10K is sold out, but the 5K, Half Marathon, and Infinity Gauntlet are still open.
If you're interested in reading more about past Tinker Bell Half Marathons, visit our archives:
- The 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend by Lorree Tachell
- The 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Covers Disneyland with Pixie Dust by Lorree Tachell
- We Could Fly! A recap of the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend by Lorree Tachell
- The 2012 Inaugural Tinker Bell Recap by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.