Disneyland Paris 2018 Run Disney 1/2 Marathon

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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


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