Race Review – Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon

On Sunday, January 29th we participated in the inaugural Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.  For an inaugural event, this was run very well – but, what else would you expect from runDisney?! Disney knows how to host events! And, while there are suggestions we can make, there are no complaints – we had a great time!

The start and finish area for this event is slightly different than it is for the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon over Labor Day.  For that event we always recommend staying at the Disneyland Hotel.  However, for this event, we found that Paradise Pier was a better location.  We had never stayed there before so we were looking forward to checking out a new place – it was perfect!
Race morning was very easy – the race began at 5:45 and we left our hotel room around 5:15 … walked downstairs and as we stepped out of the hotel, we were in corral C – where Kris started.

The corral seeding for this race was different than most other races.  Because it was geared towards women, only women were to be in corrals A & B (hence the reason Kris started in C).  As a quicker lady, this was fantastic! Although I am usually placed in the earlier corrals, I tend to hang at the back of the corral because of all the quick males who push their way to the front (where they should be).

After wishing Kris a good race and leaving him in corral C, I easily made my way up to corral A and made my way to the starting line.  I was surprised with how easy it was to get to the very front – yes, I actually started on the starting line!

Upon making my way to the starting line I still had at least 20 minutes until the start of the race.  It was neat to be up front for the celebrity interviews (Megyn Price and Sean Astin) and the National Anthem.  As we got ready to start the two of them joined us at the starting line and I was able to wish them both a good race … and we were off.

As with the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon, the race started in and around the parks.  The first mile circled the parks and then we ran through Disneyland for a couple miles.  These are always high energy miles with all the characters and cast members out cheering you on as well as a photographer around every corner! However, being at the front of the pack made for a very different feel than I’m use to.  As we started the race, there were about 30 of us who lead the pack and fell into our positions quickly – there wasn’t much passing being done and there was a good amount of space between each of us from the start.  With that, it felt like I had the park to myself … and I loved every minute of it! There were a few spots in the back alleys where it was very dark and being on my own had a lonely feel; however, those moments faded quickly.

As we exited Disneyland we headed through Downtown Disney and hit mile 4 – this was my favorite part of this race.  Downtown Disney was packed with spectators which actually made it higher energy and more motivational than inside the park.  The crowd provided the needed adrenaline rush to make it through a few more miles.

From here we ran the neighborhood streets of Anaheim.  The route was much prettier than the route through industrial Anaheim we are used to over Labor Day; however, it was lacking in the motivation category.  For the Disneyland 1/2, I know we have to endure a couple ugly miles in order to get to Angel Stadium (my favorite part of that race).  In this route, there was nothing to keep  me excited about running – it felt like a regular neighborhood run.  By mile 7 I was fighting to keep my speed up and the next few miles were all mental.  This was where being alone on the course created a big challenge for me.

While I was out fighting with myself to keep my pace strong, Kris was in the parks fighting the crowds.  Starting in corral C gave him quite a challenge and kept his first few miles much slower than he would have liked.

The frustration from this came once he found out there were men who started in corrals A & B.  For whatever reason, there were a few who were allowed to start with the ladies. While Kris still had a great race, a couple of those men ended up beating him because they had that advantage.  This is where one of our suggestions to runDisney comes in – we understand the reason for having men start in corral C (and, as a lady, I appreciate it) – but, that rule needs to be consistent for all men. In reality, it didn’t matter which place Kris finished in – men were unable to win individual awards in this race – but, men could be part of a co-ed team (which we were) so his time mattered for our team.

After 8 miles through the streets of Anaheim, we finally made it back into the parks.  At mile 12 we entered Disney’s California Adventure Park.

At this point I was super excited because I had yet to see Kris – my goal was to make it as far as possible before he caught me (I had about a 13 minute head start). As the race went on I figured if I could make it to mile 12 before he caught me, I was doing really well and just may be able to finish the race with him.  It was now time for the final push to the finish line in hopes of holding him off.

The run through the park was quick and we were back out on the street where they zigzagged us around a little.  They kept saying the finish was around the corner, but then there would be another turn. I finally finished – 33rd female and only 3 men caught and passed me (none of which were Kris!).

Due to his slow start, Kris’s time wasn’t as quick as he had hoped, but he crossed the line only a few minutes after I did.  We made our way through the recovery goodies, post race photos and over to the massage tent – this was one of the best parts about being among the first to finish – an empty massage tent! We both had two massage therapists working on us for a good amount of time … it was fantastic!

We then headed up to our room to clean up and get ready to play in the parks.  As we sat for our post-race meal, we checked the official results. They didn’t post the team results right away but we began to realize that neither of us had many team members finish ahead of us (you could tell which runners were on teams because our bib numbers were all over 20,000).  Later that day, the team results were posted and we discovered we took 1st place in the team division!

To make the day even better, as we walked through The Grand Californian Hotel at one point during the day, I realized Sean Astin was hanging out in the lobby.  We chatted briefly and he was kind enough to pose for this photo.

And, while it took some time to get here – we can finally close this page of the blog with a photo of our team award.  It just arrived in the mail and we can’t wait to find a place to display it!  Next year we’ll be back for sure to defend our title!

– Mindy

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