Thursday, 29 September 2016

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon - Race Report

Another weekend, another early alarm where I wake up asking myself  'what am I doing?!' I always said I would never wear fancy dress to run a race, but this all changed when I entered the Disneyland Paris Inaugural Half marathon. If there is ever a race to dress up for, one through Disneyland is surely it?!

With Ariel from The Little Mermaid decided on,  I chucked a shell bra and some mermaid print leggings into my bag for a weekend in Paris, and off we went!

Mermaid kit throw down
The race started at 7am with corrals closing at 6.30 - pretty early but no additional buses were put on to transfer those staying outside of the Disney parks. We ended up getting an extortionate taxi but saw plenty of runners walking the 30 min+ route bleary eyed through the dark towards the start line. Thank goodness for Starbucks! Stood at the start in the dark with the search lights going was pretty exciting, but I was glad I'd had some middle-of-the-night running practice at Equinox24 the week before!

It was late starting and despite being in the first corral we ended up crossing the line at about 7.15. They did however stagger the start in about 2 or 3 minute intervals, which I thought was great as it meant that the course was never congested and everyone had plenty of room to run. This was brilliant for us at the front, but looking at social media this strategy meant that people further back didn't start until gone 8am, and were then rushed through the race and not allowed to take photos or stop because the park was opening! Not cool Disney, not cool.
Start line selfie - Ariel & Captain America

The route wound its way through the two Disney parks for the first 5k, with plenty of support from Disney workers and characters on course. There was music playing and the atmosphere was just really really FUN. Loads of runners would dash over to a character stop on the course, have a quick snap, then race off - it was pretty hilarious to watch. Turning on to 'Main Street USA' was pretty cool and we even ran through the castle itself. I didn't think I'd actually like it all as much as I did!
Mid run blurry Main St USA shot 
I'd checked out the route online so knew that after the first 5k we would exit the parks and run on roads around the french countryside. I was dreading this and thought it would be pretty boring, but there were still bands and lots of support on course, especially from the marshalls at the water stations and the fun fun fun atmosphere continued. There were also some spectators out and watching the sun rise while running was pretty bloody lovely. The course was quite hilly in places with a couple of out and backs which I like, especially on this course as you could look at everyone elses costumes! I also kept an eye out for Paula Radcliffe who was leading the pack and I yelled a very energetic 'GO PAULA!' at her which made her laugh. I bet she's not had a mermaid cheer for her before...

After a couple of long road stretches, we made our way around a lovely lake and then back towards the park and through it again for the last 3k. These last kilometers were the hardest as the route back inside the park was really windy and twisty with lots of turns. Then for some reason we were taken out onto an empty car park for the finish, where Donald and Daffy Duck were cheering you over the line.

I was so glad I wore a costume for this race, as there were loads of 'Go Ariel' and 'I love your outfit' which really made me laugh. I basically had a great run and really enjoyed it. I had decided that I wasn't aiming for a PB and so didn't wear my running watch which meant no pressure and no constant checking of distance or pace. My aim was to enjoy myself and I really really did. I thought I'd be happy with a time of 1.45 but on course I thought I was on for 1.50 so was very surprised and happy when I finished with a time of 1.38 - just a minute away from my PB! I think the lack of self inflicted pressure really helped me and made for a much more enjoyable race. Im thinking I might do this more often...we'll see!
'Go Ariel!'
All in all I'm really glad I ran this race, although there were faults with it. The bus situation at the start; spectators had to get special bands from the expo which wasn't made clear and could only watch at certain limited spots (and were also at the mercy of the travel situation); the results were not available until 3 days after the event (3 days!!); and who knows what's happening with the official photos - they are no where to be seen! For £60 I think these things need to be ironed out for future races.

But I loved the atmosphere and the route way more than I thought I would; the race t-shirt is great and actually fits and the medal is amazingly chunky. It was a great experience and really good fun, and a wonderful excuse to spend the rest of the day screaming our heads of on roller coasters.

RunDisney medal

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