“Adventures by Daddy” correspondent George Gensler takes us along in the 2013 runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon held last Sunday, January 20 through the Disneyland Resort. George is a legacy runner for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon (she ran in last year’s Inaugural race too) – so continue reading for her thoughts and review of the second edition of this race.
My Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend began with the Kids’ Races on Saturday. For the past seven years, the runDisney Disneyland races have been set up in the Lilo & Stitch parking lot in front of the Disneyland Hotel’s conference area. For this race weekend, everything was set up in the Simba parking lot, which is behind the Paradise Pier Hotel. The kids’ races have been held in various locations, starting in the parks back in 2006, but for the past few years, the kids’ races have been held in Downtown Disney. [For a detailed description of runDisney’s kids’ races, please see the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend report.]
The kids’ races location changed yet again for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend. This year, the kids raced around the Simba parking lot, finishing at the official half marathon finish line. The races finished a lot more quickly this year, because the race path was broader and they could send through more kids at one time. A nice new touch for the kids was the new snack bag. Each child received a small tote bag to hold their post-race hydration (Dasani water) and nutrition (Clif Kids Z Bars). The bags are printed with promotional information about the Blu-ray release of Peter Pan, so are perfectly themed. I think they’re a great addition to the races, but wonder if they’ll be offered in future.
A quick word on the new New Balance runDisney shoes. During the Kids’ Races, they announced that there were only about 125 pairs left at the Expo. As soon as we were finished, I went to the Expo to pick up my half marathon gear and stopped at the New Balance booth to check out the shoes. The 125 pairs were all women’s (the men’s were sold out) and only in sizes 6 and under. It was reported that the Walt Disney World Marathon Expo in Orlando sold out of their runDisney New Balance shoes and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon allotment was shipped to the Walt Disney World Marathon Expo to boost sales. If that’s how it happened, I’m really disappointed that New Balance raided the Tinker Bell Half stock and then didn’t replenish its stock for the Tinker Bell Half expo (I couldn’t find them on the New Balance website, either).
I’ve reported on the runDisney Expo before (for the Disneyland Half Marathon), but a nice touch at this expo is the silhouette of the fairies leading us down into the packet pick-up area. Can you name the fairy from her silhouette?
As I mentioned above, there was a change to the race start/finish this year, so we had to go over to the Simba parking lot for the bag drop (which I didn’t use) and the port-a-potties and the pre-race party. The race start was at 5 am, so I got there with just enough time to get to my corral, but I’m sure the party was as fun as it has been in years past.
This event isn’t as crowded as the Disneyland Half Marathon (11,937 finishers vs. over 15,000 in the Disneyland Half), so there were only 5 corrals. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out that there were no port-a-potties in the corrals until I’d gotten to mine and didn’t want to walk all the way back to the Simba parking lot, so I just decided I didn’t need one, anyway. Corral A, where I started at the very back, was on Disneyland Drive, which passes under the Downtown Disney road. Once again, the Disney Touch was in evidence, with red rockets and bursting bombs (red fireworks, then white), at the appropriate moments during the National Anthem.
Tinker Bell flew across the screen to start us on our way at 5 am on the nose and we ran past Minnie and Daisy on the stage. The course went up Disneyland Drive, then circled around Disneyland so we could head into Disney California Adventure. As with all runDisney events, there were characters, parade floats and other entertainment along the course. It was really exciting running into Carsland, because it was still dark, so all the neon lights were still blazing away.
Unfortunately, not all of the park was so well lit. As we ran past the Wilderness Explorer area and Grizzly River Rapids, it was so dark that I nearly ran straight into a bench. Luckily, a fellow runner called out a warning and I was able to swerve around the bench. This was the darkest stretch and I hope Disney considers increasing the lighting in that area for future races.
Leaving California Adventure, we crossed the esplanade and poured into Disneyland, filling Main Street with giddy runners straining to get to the castle. At the end of Main Street, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee posed for pictures with runners while Tink waved down at us from atop her float.
We turned right into Tomorrowland, where Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers posed with runners, then we headed into Fantasyland, passing a line-up of princesses and the beautiful it’s a small world, still dressed in its holiday finery. We had a brief detour backstage to visit the animals, before coming back into Toon Town where the fabulous Clarabelle and Clarice posed with runners.
After passing the Lost Boys on the King Arthur Carrousel, we ran through the castle and out into Downtown Disney. When we reached the end of Downtown Disney and turned to head away from the Disney area, we were cheered by hundreds of Red Hat Ladies, who had set up their “Hatquarters” under the Sorcerer’s Hat and spreading out almost past the Lilo & Stitch parking lot. They were the best cheer-ers on the course!
At this point, the course went a bit flat, though not in the geographical sense. There were a few sections with cheerleaders and school bands, but, for the most part, this was six and a half miles of bungalows and strip malls. The nicest area we passed was the Carnegie Plaza and Muzeo. The last mile skirted California Adventure again, before heading back towards the finish line in the Simba parking lot. This was my least favorite section of the park. We came around a turn and could see the finish line ahead. I started to pour on my finish kick, only to come up short when we turned left, ran the length of the parking lot, turned around and ran back again until we were finally at the short distance to the finish line. No final kick for me.
At the finish, we received our medals, a heat sheet (did I mention it was in the 40s at the start?) and our post-race hydration (Dasani water and Powerade) and nutrition (the runDisney snack box). Happily, we also received the Peter Pan tote bag, as we left the finish area. The set-up here is similar to the Disneyland Half Marathon finish, with walk-through baggage tents, leading to the family reunion areas.
I didn’t enjoy the Tinker Bell Half Marathon as much this year as I did in 2012. It pales in comparison to the Disneyland Half, too, though the spectators, as usual for runDisney events, were plentiful and supportive! Even in the back streets of Anaheim, people were out and cheering for us at nearly every intersection. I think my favorite was the pajama-clad little girl holding back the curtain and waving at us all as we passed. Everyone I asked about her saw her, so she must have held her vigil for quite some time. Tinker on, runners! Tinker on…