Disneyland Half Marathon Course Preview
Labor Day and the cooling fall temperatures don’t just bring new backpacks and the sounds of school bells ringing, but one of the most ‘magical’ races on earth – the Disneyland Half Marathon! One of the highlights of the year for the Clif Bar Pace Team, the Disneyland Half Marathon is a beautiful and FUN run that’s sure to be one of your favorite running memories.
The mostly flat course begins just outside the Lilo Parking Lot in Downtown Disney, adjacent to the three on-property hotels. The corrals are crowded and the field is large, so make sure you arrive EARLY – around 4:30 am is best. We know it’s an early morning, but better to ease into your race as calmly as you can than be “racing” to the bag drop or the start. Plus, runDisney puts on a GREAT pre-race show that’s sure to get you pumped up and keep you entertained while you wait for the gun!
The pace team will be lined up promptly at 5:00 am, and from that time on, you can find us on the right hand side of the street in the corrals. Curious about where your target time will be? Here’s what you need to know:
1:40 – Corral A
1:50 – Corral A
2:00 – Corral B
2:15 – Corral B
2:30 – Corral C
2:45 – Corral C
3:00 – Corral D
Once you’ve lined up with your pace team, feel free to ask your leader any questions you may have about the course or their strategy. Soon enough, Mickey, Minnie and their Disney entourage will be on hand to start the race, and your magical run will be underway.
Starting from Downtown Disney, you’ll spend your first two miles on the gorgeous, palm tree lined streets of Anaheim just outside the Disney complex. These gorgeous, two lane roads with a center promenade are a serene start as the sun rises over you, and the perfect place to shake out those pre-race jitters as you relax into your pace. LISTEN TO YOUR PACE LEADER as they remind you to keep your pace in check; these early miles are supposed to feel easy, and we want you to enjoy the parts of the race that feel good.
After your two mile loop around the parks, it’s finally time to go in and enjoy the ambience of “the most magical place on earth.” The next two miles will take you through Disney’s California Adventure Park as well as Disneyland itself, highlighting attractions like the Grizzly River Run, Space Mountain, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and, of course, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
A couple of warnings about the park! The Clif Bar Pace Team has paced this race for five years now, and we know its pitfalls. Remember: the lanes may get narrower, and many runners will be looking around or stopping to take pictures. Please keep a close eye on your own feet and those around you. It can get a little chaotic in the parks, but a bit of courtesy goes a long way. Also beware the music: it’s very exciting to finally be in the parks, and all too often, it means our runners speed up and even get ahead of us. Fight the temptation! Maintain your pace in spite of the music, excitement and characters, as it is still very early in your race. FINAL NOTE: The pace team does not stop for photos with characters. If you wish to do so, it will be your responsibility to gradually work your way back to your team.
Leaving the parks around mile 4, you’re in for a bit of a challenge. Here, you’ll begin a long but gradual climb that will continue until just before the mile 7 mark. From there, you’ll have a brief downhill before climbing again until mile 8. While some sections of this climb are more gradual than others and some more noticeable than others, you’ll certainly be working a bit harder in this section than before. You may also find this section to be more challenging given the excitement of the start and the parks are now behind you and you’re now running the streets of Anaheim until the Honda Center at mile 8. This is the best time to settle in behind your pace leader and let them do the work for you. Look for coaching, stories, entertainment and encouragement to pull you through this section, and remember that you still have some fun and exciting sections of the race ahead!
At mile 8, the worst of the climbs are over and you’re approaching Honda Center at Arrowhead Pond. There will be a narrow stretch of gravel path that you need to be ready for, as it can get crowded and dusty for about a quarter mile. But from there, the real fun begins: the trip through the Angel Stadium parking lot and the stadium itself!
Runners don’t normally get excited for “parking lot” runs, but this one is almost as good as being in the Stadium! As you approach Angel Stadium through the parking lot, prepare to be literally lifted off your feet by countless spectators, cheerleading squads and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. The energy is downright electric as you approach the stadium, and this is the second place on the course you need to be extra-cautious of maintaining your pace. Even though you’ll be a bit more tired now at almost nine miles in, we promise you’ll be tempted to show off in front of these awesome crowds!
From there, it’s into Angel Stadium for your triumphant run around the bases. There will be big screens up in the stadium that you can see yourself on; like the parks, be sure to watch your feet and those around you to keep everyone safe. But absolutely wave at that screen!
Coming out of the stadium, it’s back onto Anaheim streets and Interstate 5 for the next two and a half miles back to Disneyland itself. This is another challenging section of the course, mentally as well as physically. You’ll have downhill terrain from Angel Stadium until mile 11, but you’ll be faced with two sharp hills to push through in mile 11 – when you’re tired and sore. Again, trust your pace leader’s guidance and encouragement, and gather up your strength and mental fortitude for that 11th mile. Remember, it’s doesn’t have to be pretty or graceful, but you do have to get through it. Hang onto your pace leader’s voice and balloons, trust in your training, and give it your all. You’re almost there!
A nice downhill follows these two climbs, and helps you roll into mile 12 at last. The first half mile continues on Interstate 5 and can be mentally draining, but your pace leader will keep you motivated and pull you along. At last you’ll be back on Disneyland property, running back through the electric energy of Downtown Disney and headed toward the finish line at the ESPN Zone! Get your hands ready for those big high fives from the characters at the finish, and prepare to celebrate your best and most magical half marathon yet as you sprint toward the finish line, leaving your pace leader in the dust! You did it!
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