To some people, waking up at 3 in the morning to go run 13.1 miles sounds crazy. To others, it sounds like a typical Sunday morning. I am totally the first, but that didn’t stop me from dragging my butt out of bed to go run the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon on Sunday.
Marathon weekends are a huge deal at Disney, with the excitement starting days before the first race. The Health and Fitness expo at the Disneyland Resort Hotel starts on Thursday, this is where the runners’ pickup their bibs and race packets along with anything they pre-ordered, and where spectators and runners alike can soak up the excitement. Tons of retailers (mostly fitness related, but not all) are there with great expo exclusive gear, like New Balance’s Disney running shoe line, or some nice deals. There’s also tons of event swag you can get (pass holders rejoice, your discount works on these!).
The half marathon weekend is so much bigger than just one race. There are kids races ranging from 100m-400m and a 5K on Friday morning, a 10k on Saturday, and the half on Sunday. If you’re extra crazy you can sign up for the “Rebel Challenge” where you do the 10k and half, totaling 19.3 miles for the weekend. I’m only half crazy (hehe) so one race was enough for me.
As we waited in our corrals for the race to start, scenes from the new movie played on screens through the corral area while two announcers were there to pump us up. After quite a bit of waiting (take the suggested arrival time with a handful of salt) we were off!
The first part of the race is the best, this is when you’re actually running inside the park! You start off running through the back stage area and go through the entire park! Everything was still decorated for Christmas so it made for some beautiful scenery.
After running through California Adventures, it’s out on the street where the real work begins. Going through the parks was my favorite because there’s tons of characters to take pictures with and all the employees setting up the park stop to cheer you on.
Plus, once you’re out of the park the novelty begins to wear off and you realize you are barley on mile 5 of your 13. However, this is also where the amazingness of the fans and spectators truly shine. There are marching bands and cheerleaders all along the street playing music and keeping the energy level up, the “elite” runners, already on their way back, cheer on those who still have a way to go, and the families watching will help you out even if they aren’t your family. Fans from all over come to watch the excitement, and a lot of them come dressed up and pose for pictures with the runners.
The best people were the ones who were truly there to help, they came with boxes of water and quick energy snacks to help those runners who just hit the wall. My favorites were the runners who, at mile 11, stopped to buy doughnuts and started handing them out to other runners! These people prove that Star Wars fans are some of the best fans out there.
I felt absolutely amazing crossing the finish line, the announcers even called out my name congratulating me on finishing my first half marathon!
Once we got our medals and free bananas, we waddled to our car with dreams of hot tubs for sore muscles and ice packs for achy joints.
This race was such an amazing experience. I met some wonderful people and learned I can really do anything I put my mind too.