Race Review: Tinker Bell Half Marathon
January 19th, 2014
My first big race of the year was a good one. I have been looking forward to running the Disneyland Tinker Bell Half marathon for nearly 3 years. If I had to sum the race up in one sentence I would say: “It is the biggest small town race you will ever run.” I mean that in a very good way.
We went to the expo first thing Saturday morning. I know from previous experiences that being early is much better. Plus no fear of them running out of smaller shirt sizes (aka the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon). When we were leaving the expo the crowds had already amassed. Since it is mostly a women’s race the vendors are geared towards women which I loved. I wasn’t too impressed with the official RunDisney tent but oh well everything else was top notch.
As most Disney races do, the start was 5AM. If there was one major draw back to these fun races it is the extremely early wake up time. At Disneyland you can walk from most of the surrounding hotels. No need to get up at 2:30 to catch a bus. The race starts in front of the Disneyland Hotel so depending on where your staying your walk will be approx. half a mile. There were tones of Tinker Bell’s walking to the start with us! I would say that 90% of the runners (men and women) were in costume.
RunDisney Tip: Try to get in a corral towards the start. If not you will be with a ton of walkers. Not that there is a problem with walkers but the average field at Disney is slower than most. We ran in corral A and did about a 9:30 pace.
The Start: The start of the race was ver well organized and they even had a lane that was clear to walk in to get to whatever corral you were in. I loved that! Instead of people dogging we had plenty of room. Fireworks and Tinker bell send you off on your run through the parks and Anaheim. I love the energy at Disney races and this one was no different.
Miles 1-5: The first five miles of the race are the “meat and potatoes” to every Disney race as you run through the parks. I was quite impressed how they actually got that many miles in the parks because they are not that big. Several runs backstage and a long run through Downtown Disney also helped up the mileage here. There were a few character stops along the way but not that many. If you really want a character picture don’t miss your chance in this phase of the run. Running the empty parks in the dark is a big highlight.
Miles 6-10: After exiting the parks get ready for a lovely flat run around town. Crowd support was decent. At one point there was a street lined with what must have been a hundred Red Hat Society ladies, so cute. The town of Anehiem was still waking up at this point so not much local support. Even though this part of the course is pretty boring I still considered it a good course because you got a feel for the nice area around Disney. The major disappointment was that there were no Disney characters at all:( That’s sort of why I say this was a large small town race. The Disney magic sort of stopped at the parks and outside it was a very well organized run for tons of costumed people. Local high school bands and cheerleaders keep the energy going. I just had to show you this blurry picture of Jasmine. The best one I saw in my opinion.
Miles 11-13.1: As you head back towards the finish the crowds fill out again. You backtrack about one mile but not really in an out and back way. The finish shoot was pretty small compared to the other Disney races but still very nice. I liked that there felt like plenty of room to move.
There was penny of room post finish shoot to stretch and recover before grabbing your gear and meeting your family. Disney has the program down pat for bananas, snacks and water, no complaints here. There were not even any lines to take a post race picture!
Pros: Plenty of breathing room during the whole race, well organized, lots of water and Poweraide stops, flat, good Disney entertainment for the first half, awesome metals and shirts, great crowd watching, small town race feel, totally flat.
Cons: Not enough Disney magic through the course, needed more characters.
I would totally recommend this race. Since we didn’t see to many runners out at the parks after the race I assume that it is more of a local field. If you’re looking for a Disneyland race for the coast to coast I thought this one was better than the half in September.