Nothing is more magical than Disneyland, but a race through Disneyland is the absolute best. As if you don’t run through the park when you go there, Disney races are exactly how you’d think they’d be. But why do Disney races? Is it to run with the characters? To dress up? Maybe the ability to run through the back lot, which you never see? For me, Disney races are so much more.
September 3, 2007 I signed up for my first Disneyland half marathon. A friend and I signed up together because we wanted to get in shape and this was going to be a way to motivate us. It was exactly what you’d think it would be: magical, fun, characters everywhere, and so much more.
The start for the race begins by the Disneyland Hotel and Mickey and Minnie were there to cheer us on. We ran through Disneyland, but clearly taking our time. Soaking up every single memory along the way was all that we cared about. That was clear when we finished the whole thing in 2:49:20. But it wasn’t about getting an amazing time, it was about doing it together as friends.
I moved to Utah and convinced two of my very best friends to do it with me again in 2009. Training wasn’t easy, but we knew we had something to work towards. September came around and we were ready for the best weekend of our lives.
We piled in the car and drove all night to California. This became the night we will never forget. Laughing, pulling over for random bathroom breaks, singing to Musicals and Lil Kim, it all brought us so close together.
It was finally here! We had prepared ourselves for this very moment. Again, we wanted to savor every moment and stopped to get our picture with every character in Disneyland that was cheering us on. Training in Utah (with a higher altitude) running seemed easier. Breathing was easier, which meant we could sing as we ran. We were the group singing every single Disney song that played on our playlists.
Running the race is really like no other. Yes, characters are there to cheer you on, but the sites and smells make it amazing. Think of when you go to Disneyland, run to Space Mountain, then running to Splash Mountain. You are used to running all through the park, why not do it and get a medal for doing it, right? Really, I love smelling the corn dogs and popcorn as I’m running through the castle. Doing this you are surrounded by others just as excited as you are to run through it all.
Running through the parks is pretty cool, but you also run over to the Honda Center and in Angels Stadium were you run the baseline. How many races can say they have that? None that I can think of. Everything about this race is so magical you will completely fall in love.
We finished and it was a day we still talk about eight years later. Something about the entire atmosphere of Disney races brings people closer together. Maybe the all the excitement and joy that Disney brings, but whatever it is I love it all. This race brought us all closer than we had ever been before.
In three weeks, I will be doing this again. This time I am taking the very best of the best, my family. We are road tripping it to California with just our family. What I want out of this time around is for my kids to know what all this training has done. Marathon training is exhausting, but having a “fun” run to motivate me helps. Because of that I signed up for the Double Dare challenge: 10k on Saturday, half marathon on Sunday.
I want my kids to know that running can be fun and that there are races that make it so worth it. I hope to make this tradition where my family can go to do the races, enjoy a day at Disneyland together, and just make memories as our little family continues to grow. The Disneyland half marathon has brought me so many amazing memories. Really, I just can’t wait to turn the corner to my family cheering for me in the happiest place on earth.
Honestly, all the Disney races are worth it and they go above and beyond to make sure you feel that Disney spirit to help push you along.