2013 runDisney Dumbo Double Dare Challenge Picks Itself Up and Dashes On

If you’ve read any of my previous race recaps, you know how much I love runDisney events.  Over Labor Day weekend, runDisney hosted a double inaugural race weekend with the brand new Disneyland 10k and Dumbo Double Dare challenge.  RunDisney has offered the Disneyland Half Marathon since 2006, and I have a soft spot for the event.  I ran the inaugural race, and every one since.  In 2008, my siblings joined me in the half and my nieces and nephews all ran the kids’ races (well, the littlest did the Diaper Dash, so he crawled, rather than ran).  We are a Disney family and hold runDisney to a high standard.  You can imagine my surprise when race weekend rolled around and things didn’t go as smoothly as expected.  Do you want the good news first (continue reading below)?  Or the bad news, click here?

If I were you, I’d read the bad news first.  The bad news is pretty bad, but the overall race experience was good.  I want you to be prepared for eventualities and manage your expectations for future runDisney events, but not scare you off them completely, because there is nothing quite like running through Sleeping Beauty Castle and finding Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip waiting for you.

2013 Disneyland Half Marathon

THE RACES

Before I get to the pictures from the 10K and half marathon races, I want to talk about the race logistics.  The courses were wonderful, as always.  Running through Sleeping Beauty Castle will never get old.  Seeing the characters (both on and off the course) is thrilling and fun and funny.  The camaraderie of the runners (for the most part) is encouraging and inspiring.  People help each other along and compliment costumes and have a great time.  As a Dumbo Double Dare runner, I was given a single bib for both races, which, frankly, made me a nervous wreck.  As I mentioned in the Expo section of the previous post, I was especially concerned about the b-tag attached to the back of the bib.  I had to get through the 10K and the half marathon without damaging the b-tag.  Happily, I managed it, though I did run my thumb down the inside of my bib many times to ensure the b-tag was still straight and undamaged.

All of the races (5K, 10K, and half marathon) started and finished in the same places near the Disneyland Hotel.   The skins on the start and finish arches for the 5K and the 10K were the same, but swapped out for the half marathon.  The party atmosphere was in full force at the 5K and 10K races.

THE 10K COURSE

We started on Disneyland Drive, ducked under Downtown Disney, skirted the Convention Center, then ran up Harbor until we entered Disney California Adventure.  We ran around the Boardwalk area, brightly lit with the Mickey Wheel turning and the World of Color fountains splashing, then past Grizzly Peak, across Buena Vista Street, through Hollywood Land and then out of the park.  We ran to Disneyland, heading up Main Street, through Tomorrowland, back into the corral area where the animals live (lucky beasts are the only permanent residents of Disneyland), then into Fantasyland, through Sleeping Beauty Castle (!), into Frontierland, around the Rivers of America, past Splash Mountain and out the back way to run back through Downtown Disney to the Finish Line by the Disneyland Hotel.  Seeing that Sorcerer’s Hat is such a joy because you know you’re almost there!

2013 Disneyland 10K

For more photos from the Wonderland 10K course, check out the gallery below.  Note: photo gallery requires Flash Player, click here to view all the photos from the Disneyland 10K if your device is not Flash equipped.

THE HALF MARATHON COURSE

We started on Disneyland Drive, ducked under Downtown Disney, ran to and up Harbor until we entered Disney California Adventure.  We ran around the Boardwalk area, brightly lit with the Mickey Wheel turning and the World of Color fountains splashing, into Carsland around the backway to Hollywood Land, across Buena Vista Street into Condor Flats, then across the esplanade (just one monorail support beam away from running over my family’s tile, for which I am profoundly grateful) into Disneyland.

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We skirted the hub, ran through Frontierland to Fantasyland, through the Castle and around the hub to Tomorrowland, up Princess Alley towards it’s a small world, into Toon Town, through the backstage area, then out of the park to the streets of Anaheim.  Four miles later, we ran past the Honda Center to the Santa Ana Trail into parking lot for the Anaheim Angels (I’m not sure of the name of the team), around the warning track of the stadium (appearing briefly on the Jumbotron), back through the streets of Anaheim to the backstage area of California Adventure, then past Paradise Pier to the Finish Line.

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For more photos from the half marathon, check out the gallery below.  Note: photo gallery requires Flash Player, click here to view all the photos from the Disneyland Half Marathon if your device is not Flash equipped.

MILE MARKERS

The 5K and 10K mile markers were wonderfully themed (see what I did there?).  Scenes from Alice in Wonderland and the Wonderland characters were on all nine markers.  The 5K markers were left up during the 10K race (probably because there wasn’t enough time to remove them – the 10K started 45 minutes after the 5K), so I have pictures of two of those, as well.  The mile 6 marker for the 10K was interactive!  The Disneyland Half Marathon mile markers are the same every year.  A good number of those mile markers are on the public streets and might be more tempting if they included gorgeous scenes like those in the shorter races.

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SPECTATORS

It is refreshing to see so many spectators along the course of a half marathon.  Anaheim isn’t a big city and a good portion of the race takes place inside the parks, but there are spectators along nearly every street.  There are cowbells, signs, hands out for high-fives, people cheering, and my favorite – calling my name and telling me, by name, that I can do this and that I’ve got this.  My two favorite signs made me laugh out loud and I even had to double back to get a picture of the first one.

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I loved seeing all the cast members out there, too, including these groups waving checkered flags in Radiator Springs, offering Wreck-it Ralph fist-bumps and Mickey high-fives, and, of course, the Custodial Crew with their banner and course-side cheering squad.

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One of the best spectator groups is also “Course Talent.”  The local vintage car clubs that lined the course last year to commemorate the opening of Cars Land were back!  So many wonderful cars . . . so tempting to stop, talk and take pictures.  There are more pictures in the slideshow above, but here are a few favorites.  Be sure to check out all of the pictures of the Deathstar in slideshow.

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COSTUMES

As always, there were some beautiful and inventive costumes on the courses.  I didn’t run the 5k, so my goddaughter (you may have read about her decision to run the 5k in my post about last year’s Disneyland Half Marathon) automatically wins favorite costume for the 5k, but would have won anyway, because she went as Boo from Monsters, Inc., wearing a pink t-shirt and lilac shorts, with her hair in two ponytails.

2013 Dumbo Double Dare

In the 10k, I saw a George (monster head with sock pinned to back of t-shirt), Russell and Carl, too many Alices, Red Queens, Cheshire Cats, playing cards and Tweedles to count (including runDisney’s race announcers Rudy Novotny and Carissa Bealert), a Richard Simmons (yes, that Richard Simmons), but I think my favorite overall was the Mary Poppins chimney sweeps.  I don’t have pictures of them, unfortunately, but they had black tulle skirts and batons with black tulle on the end to represent the brushes.  In the Half Marathon, I saw CDA Agents, Tarzan, some great Fab Fivers, a pair of Lost Boys and my favorite . . . Vanellope Von Schweetz!

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ENTERTAINMENT

As is to be expected, there was entertainment at almost every turn, especially when we ran through the parks.  The lines for character photos were long, so I just skirted them and took pictures between runners (when possible).  There was even a section where the Green Army Men were taking pictures in Toon Town.

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My favorite character interaction was not between me and a character.  As I was trying to get a picture of the official playing cards at the Photo Op in front of it’s a small world, two girls dressed as playing cards were getting their picture taken with them.  As the girls started to leave, one of the cards yelled, “Okay, see you at home later!  The pack is under the table.”  I was laughing for a quarter of a mile over that one!

2013 Dumbo Double Dare

Outside the parks, we were cheered on by cheerleaders, dance squads, marching bands, Girl and Boy scouts, the aforementioned car enthusiasts, locals, and ChEAR Squads.  ChEAR Squads are “official” spectators, who have purchased a package from Disney.  There are varying levels of ChEARability, including t-shirts, clappers, and special cheering sections along the course.

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BACKSTAGE ACCESS

The BEST part of running a Disney race is getting to see the backstage areas.  Disney sets up parade floats and cast members come out to cheer.  There are even animal interactions at the corral area, where runners can stop, pet the animals, and get their picture taken with them.  This year, we had horses, lambs, a donkey and an adorable baby moo cow!  (Yes, I know they’re called calves, but just look at that face – it’s a baby moo cow.)

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My favorite picture backstage was the speed limit sign behind Hollywood Land.

2013 Dumbo Double Dare

It was nice to see that there are “Hidden Mickeys” for the cast members, too.

2013 Dumbo Double Dare

RACE FINISH

The race finish area was seamless.  I was stupid and didn’t bother to read the final race instructions and it never occurred to me that runDisney would need some sort of proof that I have finished the 10K in order to give me my Dumbo Double Dare medal.  When I finished, I saw a crowd buzzing near the “Dumbo Double Dare” tent and wandered over there to see what was up.  Well, what was up was the distribution of bracelets to be worn until the half had been completed.  When I saw that, it struck me how clever it was of runDisney to organize it that way.  And, thankfully, I was paying attention after the 10K ended!  Note to runners: read the final race instructions!!

Runners at all three distances were offered full bottles of Dasani water and PowerAde as they finished and were then given a runDisney snack box and a banana as they crossed from the photo area to the post-race festival area.  I mentioned these boxes in previous recaps, but runDisney has made an innovation.  The box now has a handle, so it can be carried easily by tired (and, in my case, dopey) runners.

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As a legacy runner (I’ve run the Disneyland Half marathon every year since the inaugural running in 2006), my bib was marked with a stylized L.  I assumed that was to denote my legacy status and I was right.  When I finished the half marathon and ducked my neck for my Disneyland Half medal, the volunteer checked my bib and denied me my medal, saying, “Oh, you’re Legacy!  There’s a special medal for you.”  As I moved past him he shouted back “Legacy” and someone behind him came up to me with the legacy medal, which is the same medal, but with a second Legacy Runner ribbon.  Special bibs and special ribbons are some of the nice touches that runDisney uses to honor its loyal/legacy runners.  I can’t wait to see what they do in 2015 for the 10th anniversary running of the Disneyland Half Marathon.

2013 runDisney Dumbo Double Dare Challenge

So what do you think?  Did you run any of the races during the 2013 runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon weekend?  What was your experience?  Or are you considering running one of the runDisney races in the future?  Please leave a comment below to share and continue the conversation.  For more running adventures, family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.