Wednesday, February 28, 2024

2024 Disneyland Half Marathon Report & Overview: runDisney Returns After 7 Years Away!


After a 7-year hiatus, runDisney returned to California and I returned to operating with the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon. I’ll share photographs and ideas on this race report–together with my tackle occasions at Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland, plans to run the 2024 Halloween Half Marathon or 2025 WDW Marathon, and extra.

After I say that this marked my return to operating, I imply that within the since that I haven’t finished a runDisney occasion for the reason that final Disneyland Half Marathon. I used to be registered for the Walt Disney World Marathon when that returned, however one thing got here up that prevented me from operating. Different makes an attempt at race registrations failed when the occasions offered out. I used to be really pretty fortunate to get a spot within the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon–it stuffed up inside minutes after I scored my spot.

This additionally kind of marks my return to operating–not simply racing. Longtime readers is likely to be aware of my coaching routine, which is kind of don’t. I point out this up entrance as a result of I do know runDisney has a fervent fan following, and a few of you is likely to be operating zealots. This race report is just not for you. It emphasizes the Disney in runDisney, relatively than the run.

I’m not a runner. I’ve by no means gone for greater than a 5-mile run outdoors of a runDisney occasion. Actually not as soon as, ever. Whereas I did some neighborhood operating out of boredom again in 2020, I can’t even keep in mind the final time I ran greater than 2 miles previous to the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon. It was in all probability 2020, perhaps early 2021.

With that stated, I did some kinda-sorta coaching. Sarah has a Peloton bike, so I used that 4 occasions within the lead-up to the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon. I even did an 11-mile journey one time, which I’m advised is completely the identical as operating 13.1 miles. I additionally shunned consuming at In-N-Out Burger for about 4 weeks earlier than the race. However I did have lots of ice cream, assorted meats, and different unhealthy meals throughout that time-frame. Whoever schedules these flagship runDisney races proper after the center of the vacation consuming season is simply plain merciless.

Whereas this lackluster coaching has kind of labored for me prior to now, I used to be nervous going into the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon. Though I typically have a nutritious diet and am fairly lively, my physique has additionally aged 7 years since my final run of any considerable distance. Not solely that, however I’ve been consuming much less wholesome and been much less lively than regular within the final ~11 months.

However we’ll circle again to all of this within the closing remarks on the finish of the race report…

Not figuring out the place the beginning or end can be, we opted to hedge our bets and e-book a resort months in the past that will (hopefully) be comparatively handy–or at the least not inconvenient–to both potential possibility. With that in thoughts, we booked the Westin Anaheim as quickly as race registration opened and earlier than costs skyrocketed.

For these planning on doing future runDisney races at Disneyland, making reservations ASAP is the way in which to go. Most ‘actual world’ Anaheim lodges elevate their charges based mostly dynamically based mostly on demand and provide, and there merely is just not sufficient stock for Disneyland plus runDisney plus Anaheim Conference Heart.

The day you register for the race needs to be the day you reserve your room. Ebook one thing refundable in case the map comes out and also you’re not proud of the placement, however get one thing. (If the beginning line stays in the identical spot for future races, there are a ton of reasonably priced choices with higher areas than the on-site lodges.)

We simply wrapped up a keep on the Villas at Disneyland Lodge (see Our Keep in Disney’s Smallest Lodge Room) final week, however I didn’t need to choose up my race bib or do the expo (each indoors) in a congested and slow-moving surroundings. I additionally figured it could be a little bit of a cluster, so I waited till 3 p.m. on Saturday.

This was the right plan. As an alternative of the prolonged line and lengthy wait that different runners reported, I encountered zero wait in anyway. It took me 5 minutes complete, and that included a fast go by the shop to see if there was something price buying. I really actually favored among the race merchandise…till I noticed the value tags!

On the plus aspect, there was a ton of stuff left on the finish of the expo, so maybe it’ll find yourself on the shops. Half worth on a few of these shirts is nearer to my vary. I do need to give props to the runDisney design workforce, because the graphics and merchandise for a number of current occasions have been phenomenal. No marvel runDisney has turn into so standard!

I used to be hyped to be in Corral C for the race, however this was a very good and dangerous factor. The advantage of being to date up within the corrals was that I began about ~10 minutes after the race itself. In previous runDisney occasions, I haven’t crossed the beginning line till 30-45 minutes after the occasion began.

There’s additionally the fact that even within the longer distance occasions, Disney races draw a extra “informal” crowd. RunDisney has gotten fairly good about sharing “race etiquette,” however lots of people assume that doesn’t apply to them. Suffice to say, there’s undoubtedly one thing to be stated for not having to dodge hordes of individuals strolling 5-wide for the primary 2 miles of the occasion. It’s additionally good being within the dwelling stretch by the point the solar comes up.

The draw back is the contrasting “energies” behind the pack versus the entrance. Like a mullet, runDisney corrals are enterprise within the entrance, get together within the again. There are far more Disney followers sporting costumes, pleasure, and basic hijinks within the again, as in comparison with people who find themselves very severe about finishing this race as rapidly as potential to attain a brand new PR. You possibly can’t have all of it, although, so that is admittedly a silly criticism. It’s both a smoother run early on or having enjoyable with followers–not each.

The opening act of the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon was a very good one. The primary mile was on Harbor and Katella, heading again in direction of Downtown Disney earlier than reducing onto a backstage highway behind Avengers Campus and Automobiles Land at Disney California Journey, after which into Hollywood Land proper across the second mile marker.

Following that, the course weaved by nearly land in DCA–over a full mile simply in that park–earlier than heading throughout the Esplanade to Disneyland. This was one other hearty stretch of the race, beginning with the quintessential run down Essential Road USA earlier than weaving by Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and coming again by Sleeping Magnificence Citadel.

The race then continued to the Rivers of America and, for the primary time, by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toontown earlier than exiting backstage and heading previous the Crew Disney Anaheim workplaces. This wrapped up the primary 5 miles (roughly) of the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon. It was a really sturdy begin to the occasion.

Each Disneyland Half Marathon that I’ve ever finished has begun within the parks. Whereas I’d personally choose to backload the race with operating by Disneyland and Disney California Journey after I want extra motivation and, ahem, magic to complete, I get why they do it this manner. Must clear the parks earlier than they open for the day!

My solely actual criticism with the in-park portion was the dearth of characters. I actually favored when runDisney launched the elevated selfie stations a lot of years in the past with characters on elevated platforms. For no matter cause, these are actually gone and meet & greets are again…and never practically as lots of them. It additionally was a very perplexing resolution to place Dumbo so near the beginning of the race within the Hollywood Backlot–his line was already minimize by the point I received there, and I arrived pretty early!

However, the largest constructive of the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon was that the primary 5 miles or so of the run have been knocked out inside Disneyland Resort. Earlier races I’ve finished in California entered the parks barely earlier and have been out earlier than mile 4. Getting an additional mile within the parks was big.

However that’s as a result of the majority of the race is thru the streets of Anaheim, and that is constantly the worst portion of any runDisney race I’ve ever run wherever. It’s just like the interminably lengthy a part of the Walt Disney World occasions that head out to the ESPN Huge World of Sports activities, besides on this case, nicely over half the race.

This was mainly the identical stretch of highway as prior Disneyland Half Marathons, besides even worse than regular. For many who are unfamiliar with this notorious portion of the course, it largely runs by the Anaheim Enterprise Campus, which is a really industrial portion of city. It’s mainly the true world inspiration for Avengers Campus–however minus the tremendous heroes. Simply boring constructing after boring constructing in a neverending workplace park.

Usually, that is punctuated with a run by Angel Stadium. At the same time as you’re trudging by the boring parts, there’s that to stay up for. For no matter cause, that didn’t occur this 12 months. I’m inclined in charge the largest villain in Southern California now that Bob Chapek has been dethroned: Arte Moreno.

The course went by the parking zone at Angel Stadium, round Angel Stadium, however not inside Angel Stadium. It was actually bittersweet to be proper there however not go inside. Nearly like we have been being teased.

On the plus aspect, we did circle the outside of the Honda Heart, and that was extra vigorous than regular. I don’t recall ever seeing Wild Wing throughout one of many earlier Disneyland Half Marathons–that was one of many highlights of your entire run for me!

The opposite huge blow was so much much less on-course leisure in the course of the Anaheim portion of the race. To one of the best of my data, there has by no means been Disney leisure throughout this portion of the race. I assume that’s as a result of it’s a non-Disney surroundings and the corporate has strict character integrity guidelines (and possibly doesn’t need to entice crowds of non-runners), all of which makes full sense. That’s not my criticism, although.

For the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon, there was additionally much less leisure and visible curiosity, interval. Granted, it’s been ~7 years and my reminiscence isn’t excellent–however I’ve an enormous catalog of photographs and video from earlier races. Throughout prior occasions, there have been prolonged stretches that includes cultural teams (flamenco dancers, and so forth.), highschool bands, and extra.

Previously, there have been actually mile-plus stretches of basic automobiles. This 12 months, it was a blink-and-you-missed-it lineup of some dozen autos. There’s no getting across the Anaheim portion of the course being boring. It’s what it’s. Not having a lot of something to assist fill these lulls made it even worse.

It additionally felt like there have been far fewer spectators alongside the Anaheim stretch of the course. I don’t have photograph ‘proof’ of this and even when I did, it’s not like that will be the fault of runDisney.

If something, I’m guessing that the frigid climate saved a good variety of individuals away who in any other case would’ve been there. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to be mad in regards to the climate (who would you even get mad at, anyway?) since I’d far choose to run in chilly temperatures than sizzling ones.

There have been different points with the race, however I’m prepared to grant some grace and attribute that to hiccups after a 7-year hiatus. I do suppose that it could’ve been clever for runDisney to not run its two flagship occasions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland on back-to-back weekends so they might’ve higher ready for each. Maybe their choices have been restricted and this was the weekend the Metropolis of Anaheim needed. So I’ll even be forgiving of that. The dearth of leisure wasn’t a easy mistake, although; it was a acutely aware resolution.

As for my private efficiency within the race, my “aim” was to complete the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon in beneath 2 hours, however that was a aim I set the morning of the race after reviewing my earlier outcomes (from 7+ years in the past), so it’s not like I had my thoughts set on this or spent months coaching to attain it. On the contrary, I hadn’t skilled in any respect (save for these few Peloton rides).

By way of the primary 10K, I wasn’t doing too terribly, with a time of 1:02:38. That might’ve put me inside placing vary of the two hour mark, assuming I might enhance my time within the again half of the race. Previously, I’ve finished precisely that–since I’m stopping for photographs fairly continuously within the entrance half, my occasions tended to get higher outdoors the parks.

Not so this time round! That is the place my lack of coaching and age caught up with me. So as to keep an inexpensive operating tempo, I began dishonest on my mechanics and touchdown on my heels as an alternative of the balls of my ft at round 7-8 miles. Shortly after that, I had horrible knee ache–exactly why I labored on altering my stride to keep away from heel strikes over a decade in the past within the first place! The ultimate few miles have been painful, and I needed to stroll on a number of events not as a result of I used to be drained, however as a result of operating harm.

Clearly, that is my very own silly fault. It’s not the dearth of operating as coaching; I haven’t been as lively within the final 12 months as regular. I ought to’ve seen the crimson flag final August after I was drained after solely every week of 30,000 steps days within the parks–however I assumed it was the warmth.

I ended up with a complete time of two:23:16. I do know lots of people can be very proud of this, and I in all probability needs to be one in all them. It’s not that I’m sad with it–I didn’t deserve something higher–however extra that I’m disenchanted in myself. I really feel a kick within the pants to do higher subsequent time. Being wholesome is extremely essential to me, particularly now that we’ve got a daughter, and I need to do the work to really earn higher outcomes, if that is smart.

With that in thoughts, I’m left questioning when and the place I’ll need to do one other runDisney occasion. Actually, I used to be shedding curiosity within the Disneyland occasions earlier than they went on hiatus, and I in all probability would’ve stopped operating them had the choice not been taken out of my arms.

I began doing runDisney occasions in 2012, and actually ‘peaked’ on them in 2015-2016. After that, issues began going downhill for me, which was presumably on account of a mix of diminishing returns (subjectively) and fewer leisure (objectively).

Even again then, I keep in mind singing the praises of on-course leisure and the fabled “Disney Distinction” in my race recaps and to first-timers on the fence in regards to the races. Longtime runDisney pals mainly stated in response, “you must’ve seen it ___ years in the past, it was even higher!”

My hope was that a number of years away would lead to runDisney hitting reset and the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon feeling recent. To make certain, it was superior operating by Disneyland and Disney California Journey once more, however I didn’t get the sense that something was reinvigorated.

It felt like kind of the identical trajectory as earlier than. To the extent that it felt extra magical than final time, it was as a result of I hadn’t finished it in 7 years. Objectively talking, the 2024 was not so good as the Disneyland Half Marathons I did from 2015 to 2017. The in-park course was longer, in order that was good, however nearly all the pieces else was inferior.

Actually, it’s tough to fault them provided that runDisney occasions have been extra standard than ever in the previous couple of years. Positive, there’s been a component of pent-up demand, which might be doubly true at Disneyland the place races went on hiatus for the development of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Even at Walt Disney World, although, occasions appear to be promoting out quicker than ever.

(With that stated, I can keep in mind writing at size about declining demand for runDisney again in 2017, and the way runDisney’s “resolution” to slower gross sales was to chop corners. So it could appear that top demand is an excuse to scale back leisure…and so is low demand. Probably not positive what that leaves?)

In any case, I’m already desperate to run one other runDisney occasion to ‘treatment’ my outcomes from this half marathon and obtain some kind of vindication. Though I’m already “over” the common Disneyland Half Marathon as soon as once more, I discover myself tempted by the Disneyland Halloween Half Marathon.

For one factor, it’s an inaugural race and, like all Disney followers, I like the primary of something. The Disneyland races are additionally nearer and extra handy to us, and I choose the comparative predictability of Southern California climate. Against this, the subsequent Walt Disney World race I might do is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and Florida climate in early November appears like enjoying with fireplace.

Maybe I’ll simply wait till the 2025 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I’ve cherished that flagship occasion prior to now, and have actually needed to do it once more for the previous couple of years. When setting climate apart–which I feel you can do for the January races–the Walt Disney World occasions are higher.

This isn’t actually a California vs. Florida factor, simply the sensible actuality of Walt Disney World having full management over its programs because of 43 sq. miles of dimension. Disneyland Resort doesn’t have that very same luxurious on account of being the dimensions of a postage stamp and having to work with the encompassing Metropolis of Anaheim. (Usually, I feel the compact structure is generally advantageous for Disneyland–however not for operating!)

This isn’t to say there aren’t boring stretches within the Walt Disney World races–there undoubtedly are–however none of it goes previous workplace parks and on account of all of it being on-property, there’s extra themed leisure even while you’re simply operating on boring ole roadways. The park sections are additionally simply pretty much as good, and sometimes spaced out higher–since there’s extra than simply an Esplanade separating them. And hey, perhaps if I really prepare, I might do the Dopey Problem once more!

Wrapping issues up, we headed to In-N-Out Burger for the fourth not-so-annual “Disneyland Half Marathon Double Double Meat-Up.” Per custom, none of you confirmed as much as the occasion (thanks so much, everybody). Granted, I didn’t inform any of you about it, however I count on the clever readers of this weblog to at all times be stationed at In-N-Out Burger, prepared to guard our nation’s best treasures.

Devouring two Double Doubles instantly after underperforming within the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon in all probability isn’t one of the best ways to say that I’m severe about wholesome dwelling, however this post-race restoration meal was wanted to replenish very important vitamins and so forth. Maybe the In-N-Out celebratory meal is one of the best cause of all to proceed the runDisney custom in California. As a lot as I like Sonny Eclipse, Cosmic Ray’s simply doesn’t hit the identical method!

In the event you’re planning on entering into runDisney, learn my complete planning & prep publish, “The Fool’s Information to runDisney” for all the pieces to know: coaching, what to pack, really helpful races, the registration course of, and extra. If you’d like my first-hand accounts from previous occasions, try my runDisney Race Stories. Additionally you’ll want to try my runDisney Packing Ideas publish for what you must use to coach, and what to hold on race day. For extra Disney ideas, particular gives, and information, subscribe to our e-newsletter!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Do these of you who ran the race have something so as to add? Do you agree or disagree with my notion of a quality-decline within the leisure of this 12 months’s Disneyland Half Marathon? Are you contemplating the 2024 Disneyland Halloween Half, 2025 Disneyland Half Marathon, or a special runDisney occasion at Walt Disney World? Listening to from you is half the enjoyable, so please share any questions, ideas, or further ideas you’ve gotten within the feedback!



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