Sunday 23rd September
Today started much the same as the morning of the 10k. I was awake for about 5am and caught the same RER from Val D’Europe to the resort as the previous day. Security was once again a breeze and I met everyone near the front of Corral C just after 6am. The weather wasn’t quite as nice this morning but thankfully the rain threatened but didn’t come to much. Our foil blankets kept us warm while we waited – and doubled up as ponchos when needed. The time actually passed pretty quickly and before we knew it Corral A were being led to the start line.
Like the previous two races there was a race pre-show, but like the other two races I couldn’t hear anything until we were right in front of the stage before setting off. Today’s villain themed race was launched by Cruella de Vil. I’d say how entertaining it was but to be honest as I write this a few weeks later I can’t remember a single thing about it. I think I was just really nervous about the run at this point. There wasn’t long to wait though, soon we were off on the final race of the weekend!
Those familiar with previous half marathons at Disneyland Paris will know that a lot of this race doesn’t actually take place in the resort. The first 7 or so kms were in the parks, then the next 10 or so headed out into the surrounding areas before heading back into the resort area for the final stretch.
I was looking forward to running in the parks again but needless to say I wasn’t quite so excited about that middle section.
The race started well. I started at a nice and fast (for me) pace and made good progress through the Studios until I hit the first character spot just as we left Studio 1 and entered the Front Lot. The characters switching out here were Gaston and Governor Ratcliffe. I’d had to have waited about 15 minutes for the switch to meet the latter, so as the line was fairly short I decided just to get a quick picture with Gaston then be on my merry way – there was a meet not too far in the distance that I knew would be an absolute must do.
I continued through the Studios and onto the Backlot Tour route. It wasn’t long until I reached the queue I was looking for and oh boy what a queue it was! When I got there Kronk and Yzma were meeting but in 20 minutes or so they would be switching out for Hades, Pain and Panic. This was an absolute must do meet for me, its a film I love and you never really get the chance to meet these three individually never mind all together. I knew I was well ahead of the balloon ladies so decided just to enjoy the rest and get in line. Thankfully a lot of my friends were also in line so the time passed very quickly and before I knew it I had the picture I was waiting for!
Definitely worth the 30 or so minute wait!
It actually wasn’t that long until I came across yet another character meet. The course took us backstage behind Frontierland and as I entered into the back of Adventureland I spotted Dr Facilier meeting with a very short wait – one of the benefits of being in that Hades line for so long is that the character lines afterwards had cleared out a bit. Even though I’ve met him several times before I couldn’t resist stopping for a quick picture.
From here the course went into Frontierland, past Big Thunder Mountain and through the gates onto the hub. Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear were once again meeting here. They weren’t due to switch for a while so I decided to skip this meet and keep going.
I then quickly ran through the Main Street USA section and got the obligatory castle picture.
After this it was back into Adventureland for another must do meet – Shan Yu from Mulan. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have time to meet him before he switched with Jafar (talk about disappointment if that happened!) but thankfully we had plenty of time!
Flotsam and Jetsam also made another appearance today (they were also on the 10k) but with one major difference – today there was no line at all! I thought it’d be rude not to jump in for a quick picture.
At this point I knew the end of the park section was fast approaching and that I was still a good distance ahead of the balloon ladies. Based on that I decided to just stop for any other characters I saw before I headed off property. There turned out to only be one more – Darth Vader in Discoveryland.
Again I’ve met him a few times before, but the line was pretty short and he was being much more chatty than the last few times!
I don’t have any pictures of the off resort section so I’ll just summarise my thoughts. They really did seem to make an effort into putting some entertainment on the route to keep people’s spirits high. There was dance groups, cheerleaders, bands, singers etc. It also felt like there was more water and snack stops in this section which was much appreciated. Admittedly it wasn’t as fun as running on property but it was nowhere near as bad as I worried it might be.
At around the 16th km the route headed back into the resort via the Santa Fe. Here I was starting to struggle a bit – during training the longest single, uninterrupted run I’d done was 10 miles so any distance after this was uncharted territory for me. I must say the Santa Fe and Cheyenne feel a lot bigger (never ending at times) after you’ve already run 16 kms!
I powered through though and after settling into a lighter pace I was onto Lake Disney and through Disney Village into the last stretch. The course went backstage again in the Studios and the final straight was once again past Rock n Rollercoaster and Armageddon, into Production Courtyard. I did it!
I attempted to grab a quick selfie with Sorcerer Mickey who was greeting racers as they finished.
And got another quick picture with my medal!
Unfortunately it was around 11am at this point and I had to be checked out of my hotel by about 12.30pm so had no time to hang around. I shuffled my way up a very crowded Disney Village to collect my challenge medals. Thankfully the process of collecting these was very efficient so I had time for another quick photopass picture!
From here the day was a bit of a blur. I rushed back to my hotel for a quick shower, packed up and checked out. Then I met a few friends for Inventions Brunch – it was fun and the food was nice but honestly I was just exhausted and in pain by this point. After brunch I met Sophie and Hoodsie in Disneyland Park and we grabbed some medal pics in front of the castle before doing a few rides – fun fact I did more rides in this hour than over the rest of the weekend combined!
Not long after it was unfortunately time for me to go home. I collected my case from the hotel and made my way back to Paris for the Eurostar home. Needless to say I slept for pretty much the entire journey.
And that was it. An incredibly fun, exhausting, stressful, rewarding Run Disney weekend!
To wrap up I’m just going to give some overall thoughts about the weekend.
- The corral allocation was a bit of a disaster. If you don’t trust the times people submit when they self certify then there is a simple solution – you ask everyone to submit a proof of time and if they don’t do so then they start in the last corral. This would help avoid the situations I saw like runners having to dodge around people walking and would just make it a fairer experience for all. I believe the US Run Disney races already use a system like this.
- There was too many repeat characters on the 10k and Half Marathon. In a way I understand why they did this, not everyone was doing both, but it came off feeling a bit lazy.
- I didn’t feel like there was enough character stops on the 10k. I think there should have been at least another couple.
- Running through the parks will never get old. There’s just something so special about getting to run through a Disney park. I think that will continue to be the main draw for me with these races.
- The medals this year were all incredible, Run Disney smashed it out of the park.
- Unless you have no other choice, I would not recommend doing the kind of trip I did. I will be doing the races again next year and I’ll be staying onsite, doing either Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday. This was a fun trip but it absolutely destroyed me for about a week afterwards.
- If you stay offsite though, the Ibis is a solid option.
That wraps it up for this trip report. Be sure to keep following along as I now train for something even bigger, the Dopey challenge in January! Thanks for reading as always.