Half Marathon Prepby Lani Teshima, staff writer
Have you been working on your training and really getting into your longer runs, or have you been like me and putting off serious training (I have, however, recently started commuting to work on my bike)? Regardless of your training level, the Disneyland Half-Marathon is only five weeks away, and it's time to start looking at what to expect.
If you have not participated in the Walt Disney World marathon events, you might be wondering what to expect. Let's take a quick look through some of what you might expect next month.
But before we start, just a quick note: The WDW Half-Marathon is now full. If you still want to participate, you need to register for the full marathon.
Annual Pass Blockout Dates
If you own a SoCal Select or SoCal annual pass, be aware that marathon weekend includes blockout dates. Both Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17 are blockout dates for SoCal Select AP holders, while Saturday is a blockout date for SoCal AP holders.
Park hours are not hindered by the marathon events, and they are as follows:
Saturday, September 16:
- Disneyland open 9:00 a.m. to midnight
- Disney's California Adventure open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Disneyland open 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Disney's California Adventure open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
If you are a participant in the weekend's events, make sure you stop by the Health & Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel on Friday (from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) or Saturday (from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Do have in the past accommodated people flying in late for the WDW marathon who needed to pick up their packets after the expo closed, the official policy is that you must pick up your packets during expo hours only.
When you get to the expo, it will most likely be pretty packed and noisy. There will be a cordoned-off area for participants to pick up their running packets.
If you are picking up someone else's race packet, you need to make sure your friend has signed the waiver card. Bring the waiver and your friend's photo ID with you, or else they will not release the packet to you.
If you are participating in the half-marathon (versus the 5k), you will also want to verify that the ChampionChip tracking device they give you has been correctly associated with your record. There will be a table near the exit of the packet pick-up area where you can scan your chip. If you own your own ChampionChip, you can scan it there as well. Just a reminder: Don't forget to have the volunteers remove your chip from your shoelace at the end of your run (otherwise you will be assessed a fee after the event). But more importantly, don't forget to wear your chip on your shoe. Without it, there will be no proof of your having participated in the event.
The expo also includes a number of vendor booths where you can purchase souvenirs and fitness-related merchandise. Just remember not to buy a brand new pair of socks and run in them on Sunday without testing them out on a run first.
The expo also includes a section against one area where you can purchase official Disneyland Half-Marathon merchandise. The merchandise you can buy at the expo usually includes stuff you cannot buy before the event. Even if you already purchased official logowear from the Disneyland Half-Marathon Web site, you will find other things to buy. If tradition holds, you should be able to purchase postcards, trading pins, coffee mugs, beanie plush, and a multitude of T-shirts, including the all-important "proof I was there" shirts. These are different from the official participant shirts, which are not "finisher's shirts" (for one thing, you get them in your race packet when you pick up your bib number). Plan to bring plenty of cash or plastic, especially since this is an inaugural event and chances are likely the merchandise will say so.
Family Fun Run 5k
If you have signed up for the Family Fun Run 5K, it starts at 7:00 a.m. bright and early on Saturday at the Pinocchio parking lot next to the Mickey & Friends parking structure. Yard for yard, the 5K is a better course than the half-marathon because it quickly goes past Downtown Disney then winds through Disneyland (including right through Sleeping Beauty Castle), and finishes off after making a grand tour of DCA. Unfortunately if you haven't signed up already, you're out of luck; registration for the 5k has long since filled up. The WDW version of the 5K includes a plain white T-shirt with a silkscreened motif for whatever movie they happen to be promoting that year. For the Disneyland version, it means you will get a nifty Pirates of the Caribbean 2-themed T-shirt.
There is also a kids' race following the 5K. The details are not published in advance but they are usually broken down by age bracket, and it's probably the only kids' race where characters like Goofy and Pluto cheer your kids on.
If you are staying at one of the Good Neighbor hotels, there will be shuttle buses running "every 20 minutes" to take you to and from the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center. In addition, the shuttle will provide complimentary transportation services for all the official events, including the 5k, half-marathon, and awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
The first shuttles start running at 3:00a.m. [Get to bed early on Saturday night!]
If you have friends you want to cheer for, or simply want to get caught up in the excitement of the half-marathon, be aware that there are no viewing areas available in the parks. This is one of the biggest differences from the WDW marathon events, where watching your loved up Main Street is the highlight of many people's visit. Instead, these are their officially recommended viewing areas:
Start of race from 6:00 to 6:30, from Disneyland Drive to Katella Avenue, accessible by foot only (mile 1)
The Esplanade between Disneyland and DCA from 6:12 to 7:11, accessible by foot only (miles 2.5 to 3.5)
Disneyland Drive to Ball Road from 6:20 to 7:20, accessible by foot only (miles 4 to 4.3)
Downtown Disney from 7:00 to 9:45, accessible by foot only (miles 12.5 to 13.1)
In addition, if you are a guest of one of the Disneyland Resort hotels, you can view the race from one of the on-property resorts:
Paradise Pier Hotel from 6:00 to 6:15
Grand Californian Hotel from 6:12 to 6:40
Notice something here? These viewing spots are all on-property. Half of the course is on public property, and it also passes by Arrowhead Pond stadium and the Anaheim Angel Stadium (oh erm... make that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). If your friends don't mind not being on-property, there are a lot of options. Pull up the course map and figure out which places are most convenient for your friends and family.
Unlike the WDW marathon where most of the participants fly or drive into the area well in advance, where there is a very extensive transportation system with ferries, monorails and shuttle buses, traffic at Disneyland for this event may end up being one of the linchpins to the success of this event and how much you enjoy your experience.
All the roads in and around the Disneyland Resort will be affected by the event, including road closures starting at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. If you are local and you plan to drive to the half-marathon, whatever you do, start your drive early. My suggestion is that you plan on getting to the parking lot no later than 4:30 a.m.; early if possible. Feel free to bring a portable alarm clock and snooze in your car, but don't drive in late.
Excited yet? Let's hope this turns out to be a successful event for Disney, spurring them to turn this into an annual event.
PS: If you can't manage the half-marathon, at least sign up for the 5k in the future. The 5k course is really the best portion of the half-marathon course.