I woke up on Friday morning not really certain what to expect. I didn't have to get up too early; it was about a 15 minute walk to the start line - a leisurely one - and the race kicked off at 5:45am. Being on east coast time; I wasn't feeling it too much. And I had went to bed fairly early thanks to the wine from the previous evening. I had laid out my running outfit/costume (a tribute to Mr. Smee) the night before; so I really just had to grab a small snack and be on my way.
The race began just to to the right of Sleeping Beauty castle, so we corralled up in a circle in front of the castle and then down Main Street USA. There weren't corral numbers identified for the 5K; and in the program it had noted that you should line up based on pace (fastest runners in the front, walkers in the back), but it really just ended up being whomever arrived first was in the first corral. I saw a couple of four year olds up there - and I doubt they could race at a 5 min mile pace. But, this was a Family Fun Run, so etiquette really can be thrown by the wayside. It also is not a timed race, though Disney needs you to finish at a 16 minute mile pace, so they can clear up and prepare the parks for opening. I was going to use this run for a chance to take many of the pictures I wanted to; so I wouldn't have to stop during the 10K or the half.
When I arrived, I was able to get up to the left front of the Castle. It was a pretty good spot, and the third corral; but the group extended all the way down Main Street, so there were plenty of people after me. I was waiting for about half hour before things kicked off. There was entertainment during this time; and just before the race began there were fireworks (a good deal of them) and Tinkerbell flew above the Castle. It was a great start to the morning. After a little more shuffling, we were off.
I decided to run versus walk, so I could just get a little bit ahead in preparation for all the characters I would be coming across. I saw Daisy and Clara and the line was fairly long, so I decided to just skip them - you know, there would be a lot of characters during this race; I had read about a good deal last year.
I stopped for Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Of course, I had to. I was dressed like one of them. And I would have wanted to anyhow.
So, I continued running. It was nice looking around the park while it was closed (despite it still being crowded) and seeing the Christmas lighting on It's a Small World. I kept waiting for more characters. I finally saw The Lost Boys....but wait, they were out on the water. With "John" and "Michael", the teddy bear, and what I'm guessing would be Wendy. Wait. The Lost Boys were available for pictures during the 2013 5K (I had done my research). What a bummer. Oh well, I continued on.
Before I knew it, we were already headed into California Adventure. So two character stops in Disneyland and that was it? I was a bit bummed, but continued on. As we were heading into Cars Land, Mater and Lighting McQueen were out for pictures, so I naturally stepped over to them and discussed how I could probably beat Lightning in a foot race.
California Adventure was lovely to run in; the World of Color lights were going and it was beautiful around the water. I took a picture there, too. I will note, people during these races are so helpful and friendly. It was great to be able to ask a complete stranger to take some time out of their run to take my picture, and they'd say "sure" in a delightful manner. Even better because the Disney Photopass Photographers aren't in every area.
I ran along the Boardwalk, past Toy Story Mania and all the games, along the backside of the Ferris Wheel and came upon Peter Pan and Wendy. Finally, more characters that are actually related to "Neverland." I waited in line for them and was happy to get another picture.
And before I knew it, I was rounding the corner and finishing the race.
So, here are my final thoughts for the 5K
- I had a lot of fun. The fireworks at the beginning were amazing and Tinkerbell flew in the air for a good while.
- I thought starting in front of the Castle, even though we didn't run through it, was an awesome way to begin the race
- And on that note, ending along the pier in California Adventure was great, too.
- I was disappointed by the amount of characters (I guess in comparison to last year). I thought within the 3 miles, there would be more opportunities than just 4 sets of characters. And where were the fairies? Isn't this TinkerBell weekend?
- Of course, etiquette wasn't really happening during this race. But, that's understandable as there are lots of family and children involved. Though, the people I found to not really follow the "rules" (dead-stopping in the middle of the road) seemed to be adults. Without children. I was just hoping that wasn't a sign of what was to come in the 10K and half. No need for injuries/accidents to happen because somebody doesn't move to the side to tie their shoe.
- Aside from my disappointment in the amount of characters, there were plenty of picture taking opportunities along the course. In front of the Castle, It's a Small World, Haunted Mansion, and practically everywhere in California Adventure. So, I guess that made up for it.
- The course - 3.1 miles - was completely inside the parks, or backstage. As lovely as Anaheim is, I'm glad that the course was entirely in the park. And it made for a great, fun run.
Overall, this was a great first race experience. I love Disney, but of course with anything there will always be cons, but this run was mostly pros. A lot of fun, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I'll make sure I sign up for the 5K at future races, too.