Hey guys!

Thanks for coming back for the final race write up for the 2018 Paris weekend. I'm writing this a little less than 2 weeks after the event happened and it already seems ages ago, so it's really nice to be able to re-live it with you all. If you haven't caught up yet, you can check out my write-ups of both the 5km and the 10km.

Half Marathon morning always seems to come out of nowhere, and no matter how much training I've done, how much sleep I've had or how hard I've tried to prepare the night before with hot baths and KT tape, I don't think I'll ever wake up feeling ready! Once again it was a 5:30 alarm with the plan to leave the Santa Fe by 6, it actually felt a little bit weird to be leaving soph sleeping in the hotel that morning to make the walk on my own, and I was really nervous.

Honestly, my training just hadn't gone to plan this year, I started too late, was plagued with injury and most of all I was constantly filled with self-doubt. In the final run-up to the weekend, I wasn't even sure I'd make it to the start line, so that lonely walk to the village felt like the longest one ever. Luckily once I got to the expo there was pretty much no queue to check my bag in and again it was easy enough to cut through to the front of my corral to find David, Megan, Leah and Emma.

I cannot stress enough how helpful and reassuring it was to have friends in my corral, they made those morning waits so much easier and helped keep my anxiety and self-doubt to a minimum. So if you guys are reading this, thank you so, so much. It meant everything to share it with you.

The half marathon theme was Villains, I was really hoping for either Prince John from Robin Hood or King Leonidas from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. But honestly, I just wanted to finish and was preparing myself for limited character stops and the prospect of being swept. The course was very similar to last year with a few minor tweaks, the most notable of which was the new loop of Main street which saw us run down towards the train station, and then back up to the castle.

The wait in our corral was a little chillier than last year, and there was a minimal amount of rain, David had offered to bring a spare foil blanket for me and I was really grateful for this. I felt too nervous to chat much, but just listening to everyone else made the time pass quick enough. Cruella was on stage to send the runners on their way, though by the time we got there it was just 2 of her henchman on stage, slightly disappointing as she's a favourite of mine!

Once we got started the course again cut through the back into Disney Village then around into the back of the studios, past Place de Remy and then through studio 1, once we emerged into front lot our first character stop was just on the right-hand side. When I got into front lot Gaston was out meeting, he's not a particularly favourite villain of mine, and in Paris he is quite easy to meet, so I wasn't too fussed about meeting him and instead decided to check who he would be swapping with and when. The lovely cast member told me he had about 15 mins left before swapping with Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas, as I'd not met him before I decided to wait, the queue moved quickly and I had already got to the front before the swap over, luckily, Aimee, a lovely CM we met on an earlier trip this year was there and let me wait to the side until they swapped. In hindsight, I do slightly regret waiting so long, but I'm glad I got the photo and got to tick another more unusual character off my list.

The course then took us round into the tram tour, honestly, I've probably said it before, but running through this attraction has given me such a unique view of it, to the point where I know it's pretty dated and terrible, but I really have a soft spot for it! The tram tour once again had a character stop at the Reign of Fire section, today it was alternating between Kronk and Yzma, and Hades, Pain and Panic. Now I can't lie, it felt a bit odd to have Pain and Panic out on the half, rather than on the 10km where they featured on the medal, but frankly, I was just happy to meet them. Hades was every bit as creepy as you'd want him to be, but Pain and Panic were utterly adorable, I can't put into words how happy I am to have met them!

Now the risk with any Run Disney race is weighing up time spent in character queues vs time spent actually running! The races have a pace requirement of 16 mins per mile and if you fall behind this you risk being taken off the course, to help give a visual representation of this Disney have the "Balloon lady" volunteers. These women start right at the back of the last corral, and carry Disney balloons to make them extra visible, they keep a 16 min mile pace and don't make stops for characters etc, you can fall just behind them and still be able to finish as they aren't an official sweep, but falling behind them indicates you're probably not keeping to the minimum pace.

The reason I mention the balloon ladies is that this is the first year I've actually seen them, they just overtook me as I was finishing up in the queue for Pain and Panic. This worried me more than I expected, I was less than 3km into the race and I was already behind pace, I was running with an injury, didn't know if there were any more characters ahead that I really wanted, and was starting to doubt my own ability to finish!

I pushed on and passed them quickly, we cut into the main park after a small backstage loop where I saw the fantastic Buffalo Bill statue above. The course went back into the parks and through Frontier Land, there was another character meet at Fort Comstock and I'd had a tip-off that Prince John was out! I thought all my Christmases had come at once, unfortunately, though, it wasn't to be, by the time I got there he had switched with Brer Bear and Brer Fox who I met the day before. The lovely Emma was one of the CMs looking after them again so I checked with her, but the next swap over wasn't for another 20 mins, and I was still feeling a little shaken from seeing the balloon ladies at the last character stop. So with a heavy heart, I made the difficult decision to skip waiting for Prince John and continue on with the race. I hope I'll get the chance to meet him again in the future.

I'm happy to say I wasn't left feeling bad about my decision for long as after Frontier land we ran the new loop of main street, we ran past Casey's corner towards the train station, ran around the gazebo on town square and then back up towards the castle. Now as a back of the pack runner I did find that the majority of the spectators had already cleared out of main street and in truth, this was a little disappointing and lacked some of the magic. But at the end of main street outside Victoria's, I was lucky enough to have my own little cheer section of wonderful friends. Sophie, Patrick, and the lovely Ben from ED92 were there to show their support and more than anything else, to stop me from giving up!

After Main street we dipped into Adventure Land where Shan Yu from Mulan was meeting guests near the Agrabah Cafe, I was still feeling really conscious about my time and had no way of gauging the gap between myself and the balloon ladies, so decided to skip the queue, the course went through Skull Rock where Flotsam and Jetsam were out again. They had pretty much no queue so I don't know why I didn't stop, and honestly looking back I'm kind of kicking myself for all the opportunities I missed.

We ran through the castle and back into Fantasy Land, before arriving in Discovery Land where the final character meet was, Darth Vader was hanging around just outside the StarPort, but as he's so easy to meet daily and rarely has a queue of more than 20 mins I didn't stop here either.

The Half Marathon is unlike the other races in that the majority of the course isn't in the two parks. At about 7 km the course took us out the back of Discovery Land and then it's time to experience Val D'Europe as well as some more areas of backstage Disney. I think these are the areas that people don't look forward to running through as much, perhaps its considered less interesting, or perhaps the character stops give natural rest breaks and break up the distance, which of course you don't have once you're outside of the parks.

I hope that I can reassure you that although the experience once you've left the main parks is much different, I found it just as interesting and enjoyable. Along the next 8-9 Km there's more than enough to keep you occupied and help you distract yourself from the remaining miles. In the Disney backstage area, there's a number of cool statues and show buildings to look out for, I particularly enjoyed seeing things that were an old show or meet and greet prop, including some Stitch branded palm trees that I don't remember from any of my visits since 2010! Not only that but backstage we were greeted by this most unusual and somewhat villainous musical group!

Once completely off Disney property, the entertainment didn't stop and at regular intervals, along the course, there were local music, dance and cheerleading groups which really helped to keep morale up and distract from the task at hand!

At 16 km we re-entered Disney property at the Hotel Santa Fe, mentally this is a huge wall to get passed and signals the final stretch. As we were staying in this hotel, Sophie had come down from the room to cheer us on, and seeing her there waiting for us was very emotional.

The finish line was again situated in the Studios, and once I got my medal I just had to stop for a selfie with the adorable Sorcerer Mickey. This is my favourite Mickey/Mickey costume of all time and I was so happy to see him!

We only got given our half marathon medals at the end of the race, if you had any challenge medals to collect you had to walk back to the expo to get these. I understand a few people were unhappy with this, and to an extent, yes I can understand that. You've just run 13.1 miles, you're tired, achey and you just want to sit down, so the extra walk to the expo is a little disappointing. However, the system at the expo was so well run, your bib was checked as you entered to ensure you were the same runner who collected the bib, and presumably to make sure you'd passed every timing map over all the eligible races. You then got fed into a queue to collect each medal and, if you wanted it, get a finisher photo. Then once you left the medal collection area, your bib was marked to prevent you going around again and collecting a 2nd medal. Yes, it was an extra walk, which I'm sure for some was out of the way, but if this process ensures everyone gets the medals they deserve, and people who haven't run/completed the challenge don't get medals they shouldn't have? I'm all for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the half marathon, though I must say it wasn't the experience I wanted. It was mentally and physically exhausting, and I know I need to work harder to overcome the lack of training and injury next year in order to have a better race experience!

So that's a wrap on Run Disney in Paris for 2018, did you run? Which was your favourite race? Will you run next year? And what would you like to see as the next theme? As always, drop me a comment!

Hoodsie  xx

Hey guys!

Welcome back. If you haven't caught up on my series of posts about this years Run Disney event in Paris you can find my overall review here and my 5 Km write up here. If you are all caught up, then let's jump straight back in!

Saturday 22nd and our alarm goes off at around 5:30 am, this can only mean one thing, another Disney race day! Today was the 10 Km and Soph and I were running together as Tinkerbell and Fawn from the Tinkerbell movies. We left the Santa Fe at around 6 am to make the short walk to the Disney Village, again the corrals were situated behind the expo and we were easily able to get right to the front of corral C to meet David, Matty, Megan, Leah and Emma. The wait wasn't too bad but it was a little bit colder in the morning than it had been the evening before. Luckily Matty gave us his foil blanket which really helped, it's a shame these weren't available at the event as it is something I would happily have bought! Better add it to next year's packing list.

The process was the same as the day before, with each corral being lead to the start line and then split into smaller waves. Initially Pain and Panic were on the stage to start the race, but by the time we started they had swapped out for Meg, it was still really cool to see her up close though.

The theme for the 10 Km race was Evil sidekicks, we speculated a bit between us what this might mean, but really we were hoping for at least Mr Smee to go with our costumes. Again the course started by cutting through the village and then into the studios park for a small loop before going back out and into the main park.

The first characters we saw were the Tremaine sisters from Cinderella who were meeting by castle stage, they were swapping out with Gideon and Honest John from Pinocchio who I can honestly say I was gutted to miss!

The course then went through Discovery land, did a backstage loop from Autopia and came back through Pizza Planet before cutting into Fantasy Land. The second character stop was located outside the Curious Labyrinth and was a rotation of Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and March Hare. I'm lucky enough to have met them all before, and Soph isn't a huge Alice fan, this was probably one of the longest queues we saw so we decided not to stop.

We ran through the castle (which is one of the most beautiful and emotional parts of any Run Disney race) and into Frontier Land, this is where my favourite meet of the weekend was. Just outside the entrance to Fort Comstock we had the chance to meet Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox from Song of the South! Now this is quickly becoming one of my favourite Disney films, despite all of its controversy, so being able to meet 2 of the characters was a dream meet!

 As we joined the queue we saw one of our favourite cast members Emma, who we met at the Marvel annual pass party. She explained the Br'ers would be going for their break shortly, and would be replaced by the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood. Neither of us had met him before so we stayed in the queue, once we met him we then queued again so that we were at the front when the Br'ers returned.

The course headed into Adventure Land and through Skull rock where you could meet Ursula's Eels Flotsam and Jetsam, but the queue was pretty long for them so we kept going, honestly I'm not even sure I would class them as a character meet, but they were certainly an unexpected surprise on the course!

Once we got round near Colonel Hathi's we could see the next character queue, Soph joined the back of the queue while I ran ahead a little to check who it was. I'm very happy to report it was our favourite Captain, Mr Smee! Now I know what you're probably thinking, why was I so excited and willing to queue for Smee when he's out all the time in Paris? Well honestly, it was just down to our costumes, if we hadn't been dressed as fairies, we probably wouldn't have waited. Mr Smee was switching out with King Louis from the Jungle book, which again I personally found quite disappointing as he's easy enough to meet on a regular park day. Lucky for us we managed to get to the front just before they swapped so we got our picture with Smee and off we went.

The course then dipped back stage before bringing us back into the tram tour, again a short loop of Catastrophe Canyon lead us to our final character meet, It was Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons alternating with Kronk from Emperor's new Groove. As this was a character we really wanted, and the queue was growing quickly I offered to run up ahead and let Soph and Rach join me in the queue once they caught up. This worked perfectly and the cast members looking after Kronk were working really well with the Photo Pass photographers and the queue moved really quickly! I only watched ENG for the first time recently and I really enjoyed it, although Kuzco is my favourite by a mile meeting Kronk was so cool and he loved our Fairy costumes and pulled his own fairy pose for the camera!

Again we ran through the stunt show before running the final straight up to production court yard, what really surprised me this year is that only the 5 Km course featured any sort of meet in this space. The stunt show is fantastic for this because it's such a large space that it can easily hold a queue without being congested for those who aren't stopping. Even if it was just an unusual parade float or one of the old stars and cars vehicles it really felt like a wasted opportunity.

Once we finished the race we were awarded with our second medal of the weekend, I really love this medal and love that Pain and Panic were on it, I just wish they'd been on the course. At the stage in production courtyard Hades was there to welcome in all the runners, but truth be told I was too busy focusing on getting my medal to get a selfie!

As we headed out of the studios we were able to grab some water and a snack box, we did however notice that all of the Powerade for that day had already gone! Again we were by no means the fastest runners out on the course, but there were still a lot of people behind us, so it was disappointing that they'd underestimated the demand.

For the 10 Km the finisher boards were back up in the entrance to the studios so we took full advantage of this and got some individual and group photos and I love how they turned out! With 2 races down and one left to go it was time to go grab a shower before a fairly slow relaxing day.

What do you guys think of the characters on the 10 Km? Who would you like to have seen?

Hoodsie xx

Hi again all!

Now that I've covered my overall thoughts on the 2018 DLP edition of Run Disney as a whole, I wanted to take a bit of time to break down each race and give you a little insight into what the experience was like.

It seems most sensible to start at the beginning, so first up is the Marvel 5 KM! Now 2018 was the first year when all of the races had a proper theme, with characters along the route that reflected this. For me this was a bit of a mixed bag, the themes didn't particularly appeal to me and I liked having the surprise of totally random characters out on the course. That said, I know many did enjoy this, and maybe if the theme had been something I was more of a fan of I would have been happier.

The race started at 8 pm on Friday 21st and this was our first experience of the new corral and start line location. I actually liked this a lot more than I thought I would, the corrals were tucked in neatly behind the expo tent at the back of Disney Village. This made it really convenient if you had a bag to drop, and a far shorter walk than the corrals around the lake for 2017 were. Sophie and I ended up getting to our corral quite early, we arrived at about 6:45 so had just over an hour to wait. Luckily it wasn't too cold, but in hindsight we probably should have aimed for between 7:15 and 7:30 pm as this is when the corral really started to fill up.

I did mention it briefly before, but other than the random assignment of corrals, my main issue with the new system is that we couldn't see or hear anything that was happening on the stage and screens from corral C. I know a few people have highlighted that this would be a great chance to give some key points about runner etiquette as this is often missed in the event guide, however, from where I was this would have been missed by many of the runners. The front gates to each corral had lights on top, so I'm wondering if speakers could have been attached here so at least the audio could have been heard.

Once it was time to start the race participants were lead towards the start line one corral at a time, within these corrals we were then split into smaller waves to ensure the start wasn't too congested - I really like this approach.

The 5 km race saw a few course changes for this year, most notable is that it went back to running through both parks, which is something I really missed in 2017. Overall I found the course much better, for the most part it was well lit, and only the first corner was really an issue. I tracked an overall elevation of 28m on this course, compared to just 2m in 2017, but I can't say I found the course hilly at all.

In total there were 4 character stops during the race, though we only ended up stopping for 1. The first characters were Gamora and Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy, who were meeting in Hollywood boulevard in the studios. In hindsight, I do slightly regret not stopping for these, as they are not out to meet in the parks, but as I had already had a tip off as to who else was on the course, we decided to keep going.

The next character was at the back of Adventure Land near the Colonel Hathi's restaurant, Black Panther! This was the one meet I had wanted since the first day the themes had been revealed, so when I got tipped off he was due out I knew this was the one I had to stop for. The queues for all the characters seemed quite long and in truth I'm not entirely sure what caused this. I do not believe there were any less characters on the course this year when compared to previous years, I'm not sure if they were just more popular, or if it was because I had started further back? Either way I really loved the photo location for Black Panther as he had his own specially created back drop, we queued about 20 mins and were able to get a Photo Pass picture, as well as one on a phone.

The course then went out the back of  Adventure Land, round a short back stage loop and then back into the studios at the tram tour. We got to run around catastrophe canyon before we got to the queue for the next character meet, Thor and Loki. The queue for this was already quite long, we decided we weren't fussed about Loki and knew we were meeting Thor the following evening at the Marvel character dinner so again decided to press on.

The final character location was in the arena of the Motors Action stunt show and this was Captain America and Black widow. Now admittedly we did take our time during the 5 K and were by no means the fastest runners, but neither were we the slowest. Even still by the time we reached this meet the cast members were advising the wait time could be as much as 45 mins! Now I've met Cap on at least 2 separate occasions already, on top of this both he and Black Widow were due to be at our character meal the following evening so we decided not to wait.

Once we left the stunt show we were on the final straight of the race, the finish line was just by the stage in production court yard and once we got through we were given our medals and were able to meet up with our friends. The medals at the Run Disney races are such high quality and I always look forward to receiving them, this year was no different and being presented with my Thanos medal, complete with all 6 Infinity stones, was a proud moment. I'm also pleased to say that to the best of my knowledge all finishers received their medal this year and there were no shortages!

Due to the early start the following morning for the 10 Km we decided to make our way back to the hotel straight after the race, we did stop briefly for a photo with our medals outside the studios park entrance, but I was really disappointed that none of the finisher boards were up for a proper photo!

So that was the 5 Km and I really enjoyed it! Did you run, what were your thoughts on the race? What theme would you like to see for 2019? Drop me a comment!

Hoodsie xx