Disneyland RunDisney Avengers Race Weekend California
Having flown to Florida and then onto California to complete four races in 8 days, covering 38.4 miles. Tackling the last possible Coast to Coast challenge for a while as California halts all runDisney events for the foreseeable future. I knew it wasn’t going to be like any other races and I was right. The weekend started with the Thor 10k on the Saturday, and as I headed out for the run, in my brand new New Balance Disney vest I realised that California has a lot less humidity than Florida. It was nippy that’s for sure. Staying at the Paradise Pier hotel meant it was a short walk to the event area and the corrals.
Now when running any of the runDisney races you must submit evidence of your current times to allow them to put you in the correct start corral. Guess which idiot missed the deadline? Yep that’s right this idiot here!
I headed over to Corral J which was the very back, and waited patiently for the 5am start. 5am came and off Corral A went, and I was cold at this point, 25 minutes or so later and we are still stood waiting. Goosebumps and shivers kicking in! And then finally movement, we were walking to the start line. People still rushing out for one last toilet stop. I manage to hustle my way to the front of the Corral eager to get some pace in my legs before catching the earlier Corrals up.
And we are off, and I go full idiot mode, running off like my life depended on it. Checking my watch, it says I’m running a 5:30 mile, why?!? Leading the pack is a strange sensation which I don’t think I enjoyed as much as I expected. Kind of felt like I’d ran the wrong way as I’m not used to it. I keep it going and about three quarters of a mile in we hit Corral I, and another runner starts to weave in through the crowd before running full speed into a cone and spectacularly rolling along the road like any stuntman would be proud of. This served as a reminder that I don’t NEED to go full idiot mode and I wind it back a bit. Keeping up a decent pace but not risking injury to myself or anyone else for that matter.
I kept up with the strategy of not stopping for characters or photos on the 10k, saving that experience for when I would do the half. It felt way more comfortable than Florida, no ridiculous heat or humidity to contend with. And once I got my rhythm weaving in and out of people it felt like fun. Not getting annoyed if I should wait or do some skilful dodging. Not ruining anyone’s race for the sake of mine. I kept a good pace going and enjoyed the views of California and running through Disneyland and Disney World of Adventures or whatever it is called. And brought it home in 46.
In the run up to the race I had posted online my idiocy with submitting times and I was aware of a game that has been created for any speedsters that like me forget to submit their times because their legs work a lot better than their brains. It is called ‘Dead Last Start’ or DLS, and it involves starting right at the back with the sweepers and seeing how many people you can run past, these people are called ‘Kills’, which I think is a little harsh but hey I didn’t create the game. I guess it is to make you feel better about being a total idiot. I didn’t start right at the back so my score was: 3151, had I started at the back my score would have been 3604.
When all was said, and done, despite my worries that starting dead last would scupper any fun I would have during the race I had a blast and was more than happy with my time. I didn’t fully embrace the whole Disney vibe and make it a fun run as I took my time seriously but it was still a great experience to run around the parks and see so many people dressed up having the time of their lives. Also amazing to see an incredible amount completing their first 10k, that’s what these races seems so good at, getting people to conquer challenges they wouldn’t normally tackle. But they are so committed to the Disney brand and everything they are about they push to get that collectible medal and have a unique experience.
Avengers Half Marathon
With the Avengers Half Marathon coming around and being my final runDisney race, by the time it came to get up and get to the start I just wanted it done, my diet went off the rails slightly in California and unintentionally I had been surviving on mostly snacks and not having full meals. The dangers of staying club level at your hotel. For those who don’t know if you pay extra for club level you basically get access to a special room where snacks are free as well as DVD rentals, and many beverages including beer.
As I walked to the start area again, this time in a proper T shirt to avoid the chills I experienced the day before. I could feel the mileage had taken its toll on my legs, having completed 25 odd miles so far on this trip, combined with the constant walking around various Disney parks meant I hadn’t rested, recovered or done any rehab, which to be fair is my usual M.O. I am that idiot that never does any rehab, never foam rolls and just bumbles along fingers crossed that all will be fine.
I had planned to not even attempt to get to the front of the back, and just start somewhere in the middle of the last Corral, J. For some reason I was a frequent flyer with the portaloos that morning, and managed to pee about six times before the start, something I am not used to .
I bumped into a lady I had met the day before and we chatted before the start, chatting about how I ran off like a lunatic the day before. Everyone was super friendly and chatty which was nice, as we finally got moving to the startline around 5:40 we wished each other luck and both stuck our headphones in and got ready got the countdown.
Not long into the course we entered the first park, and that’s where my Achilles started to remind me that rehab is a good thing and not doing it is plain silly, Now it is fun running through theme parks but my god it is a twisty slalom of a route, combine that with people dodging because you are an idiot and started out at the back, your ankles are in for a battering. The race strategy was simple and the same as the Wine & Dine half, stop at every Character station for pictures and try to get it done in under two hours.
Problem is the race setup was very different, apparently Disney only put so many chacters on the highways in Florida bcause they own the land and in California it is a public highway so they can’t do that. This means ALL the characters are bunched together, and my fourth mile ended up being a twenty five minute mile once I have hung out with Black Widow, Thor, Loki, Captain America and Spiderman. With it being so stop start any race rhythm I had was gone, I needed a pick me up and quick. After a quick Facetime with the wonderful Laura, the call was closed with right I’m off to do a seven minute mile in classic dick head mode, and that I did nailing a 6:58, but that pace didn’t stay for long and despite their being no reason to keep stopping I found myself looking for reasons to stop, and of course being a race that doesn’t feel right my laces came undone more than once.
After mile four we headed out the parks and onto the highway, and don’t get me wrong I love running, but when you pay for a runDisney race you expect to run most of the race in actual Disney not bored shitless running along yet another Highway. The only highlight came in the form of running through the LA Angels baseball stadium and having their announced call out peoples names in classic US fashion, that felt a real special moment, sadly short lived as we headed back out to highways and stayed there until mile 12 when we came onto the finish, the buzz they create at the finish is unlike any other, with the show hosts and DJs hollering and calling out names of the lucky few you can feel nothing but special as you run down the final 50m, there are a few sprint finishes but not many. Mostly its time to get that special finish photo so there are jumps, smiles, thumbs up or in my case you run across the finish line with a stuffed toy, as I headed up to the finish I was handed my daughters favourite toy Mr Monkey and she insisted he join me for the final dash for the line. And as you can see from the picture below we both did her proud.
Now lets talk about the race and my time, I ended up crossing the line with a time of 2:20 when my PB is 1:39 for a half marathon, now normally this would devastate me and were this a normal race I would be one very pissed off idiot. But this isn’t a normal race, it is a runDisney race and I’m in bloody California, I didn’t enjoy this experience and it was my worst experience when it came to it, not to do with time but with the characters bunched together the miles and miles of highway and heavy legs it just didn’t tick enough boxes for me. If these races ever do come back, I very much doubt I would make the special trip to California, instead I would definitely head back to Florida even with the humidity.
Having completed the Florida Wine & Dine race last weekend I can directly compare the two events and I must say that the California events quite simply aren’t up to scratch and with the many rumours as to why this will be the last race weekend in California for a while, who knows maybe it is simply that they can’t keep up with the high standard delivered by Florida Walt Disney World.
- Not as hot and humid as Florida
- With the smaller size of the whole complex everything is within walking distance
- Amazing Medals, so beautiful!
- Less Photographers out on the course compared to DisneyWorld
- After mile four the half marathon entertainment is pretty non-existent
- Race Expo is short of merchandise and vendors, felt short changed