Race Review: 2013 Disneyland 10K (8/31/2013), or: “Can you hear the violins playing your song…”

blgdl10ktshirtlogoThere’s something a little bit cool about doing an Inaugural race, isn’t there? The obvious answer to that question is another question, and that other question would be “Aren’t inaugural runs just another excuse for runners to feel entirely smug and overly pleased with themselves?” It’s true. We just can’t get enough of ourselves. What’s that saying, “How can you tell if someone’s run a marathon? Don’t worry: they’ll tell YOU.” Yeah, we just can’t shut up about it.

So yeah, 7,828 runners were inaugurating the 2013 Disneyland 10K. Compounding that sense of ever-so-snotty snootiness was also the excitement of the 5,300 runners (including myself) who were running the race as the first leg of the brand-new Dumbo Double Dare challenge, a two-day, 19.3-mile challenge. That meant we were in this weekend for three medals, or four if you were also doing the Coast To Coast challenge. Which I was. Oh I was just RIDICULOUSLY aristocratic all weekend.



Nonetheless, a race is a race, and a Disney race is always focused on fun and friendliness. With that in mind, the inaugural Disneyland 10K — as a racing experience — lives up to the promise of what a Disney race is expected to deliver. We experienced 6.2 thrilling miles through the theme parks, picture ops, on-course entertainment, an exciting pre- and post-run environment, and support along the way.

It was a fun run!


More on that in a second…

First off, let’s take a look at the course map, courtesy of my Garmin watch and Google Maps:

The Disneyland 10K course.

The Disneyland 10K course.

A pretty concise route. 6.2 miles, starting at the Disneyland Hotel, a little bit through the Anaheim streets and then mostly through the parks.

My pre-race routine was… routine, really. Boots and Ann had gone to see Vivian Campbell play at the Baked Potato the night before, whereas I planned on being asleep by 9. My alarm went off at 5AM; since we were staying at the Disneyland Hotel, I literally had to roll out of bed and saunter over to the Start Line. My gear had been laid out the night before, so by 5:30 I was downstairs where I met my buddy Suzannah by the elevators. Suz was running the Half the next day with me, but had ever so graciously offered to cheer me on that morning. What a peach! We chatted and caught up a bit as we made our way to the runners’ corral entrance (we got back to junior high, and I’m not gonna count the years, thank you very little), and took this nifty pic right here:

I was wearing lifts, apparently...

I was wearing lifts, apparently…

After bidding me good luck, I made my way to Corral B. The morning was unseasonably humid for Southern California, which meant it was only a bit humid by Southern Florida standards. It was somewhere in the low 70s, a bit steamy, but definitely very do-able. At least, that’s how I felt. I heard many grumblings elsewhere.

Before the race started, two things stood out to me: 1) Corral organization was chaotic. After marching the racers to Disneyland Drive, all traffic ground to a halt before we could get to our Start corrals. There was some confusion, as racers in the front insisted that they were being told they had to go all the way back to the pre-race area and get to their corrals from another entrance. Then we saw other racers sneaking in through the other side of the intersection, and people started making a break for the western edge of the street, trying to get in as well. Finally they just opened that side and EVERYONE had to push their way through. It was a mess.

Madness reigns...

Madness reigns…

2) Tempers were running HIGH. I saw two women sniping at each other and then almost break into a fistfight. No I’m NOT enough of a recalcitrant man-child to cheer them on, hoping they’d start pulling each other’s hair, wrestling on the ground, and then start making-out. This was a FAMILY environment, thank you very much. But it was ugly, and nasty, and unwelcome. We were in close-quarters while being herded about, so it behooved everyone to keep a cool head and rise above any confusion, accidental bumpings, elbows to the face, etc. But tempers were flaring that I noticed, unfortunately.

Well finally, we get to our corrals. Things were mostly chill at that point… except the weather, of course. The sun was starting to emerge and the cloud cover underscored a steamier morning than most had anticipated. Nonetheless, there was a cool breeze blowing and people around me seemed mostly excitable. I was able to capture a snapshot of the Start Line from Corral B (as best I could, anyhow):

Corral B, a few minutes before Launch Time

Corral B, a few minutes before Launch Time

And where would an egotistical egoist be without his facacta Start Line Selfie??

I really hate doing these... but I feel like I "owe" it to you!

I really hate doing these… but I feel like I “owe” it to you!

After an instrumental National Anthem on trumpet, the wheelchair athletes were soon off on their way, and at 6:15AM the Inaugural 2013 Disneyland 10K was off! There were no staggered corral launches; there was one launch and that was it, 5,300 runners were on their way. I punched up the Zombies, Run! 10K race mission, and as I crossed the Start Line at 6:20AM I was off on a 6.2 mile adventure.

The Course

The 10K course is significantly different from the Half course, other than the obvious changes in distance. As you pass the Start Line you head south on Disneyland Drive, with an almost instant decline as you pass under the Downtown Disney bridge (and then an incline as you head back up). But instead of turning east on Katella, you continue southbound on what is now West Street for just under a half mile before turning east onto Convention Way. Here we ran through the Anaheim Convention Center area for about a third of a mile, exiting in Harbor Boulevard. On Harbor we headed north, past Katella until we made a left turn onto Disney property itself. By the time we were backstage behind Disney’s California Adventure, we already had two miles behind us.

Soon after we hooked around and entered California Adventure from just behind the Tower of Terror, heading west into Cars Land (right next to Luigi’s Casa Della Tires) and north onto “Route 66”.

Gettin' mah kicks!

Gettin’ mah kicks!

The course turned west into the Paradise Pier section of the park. This was a beautiful, open sight, with Mickey’s Fun Wheel lit up and the World of Color fountains bubbling colorfully and appreciatively. We looped around Paradise Bay, passing such rides as California Screamin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, the Ferris wheel itself, and the Little Mermaid adventure before heading north between the Grand Californian Hotel and the Grizzly Pass Trail, where we hit the 3-Mile mark.

The course turned east and took us down Runway 30, through Cathay Circle, down Hollywood Blvd and around Sunset Blvd, before finally curving north as we exited California Adventure. It was right around this point when I noticed something I have never noticed in any race before.

I was thirsty.

VERY thirsty.

If you’re running and you notice that you’re thirsty, you don’t have to worry about becoming dehydrated, because you already are.

Now I was born at night but it wasn’t last night. This was my umpteenth race event; I knew the drill. Hydrate for days before hand. Hydrate the night before. Hydrate that morning. I had done it all. And I was still parched as hell. Simply put, the race needed more hydration stations. There were only three in total:  just past the 1-mile mark, 3.5 miles in, and at about 5.7 miles in. There should have been four, perhaps spaced out every 1.25 miles. People were complaining loudly about it, and doubling (or tripling up) on water at every stop.

I’ve never done any race with my own hydration before (belts, bottles, etc.), because I’ve never needed to. Until now, perhaps.

OK, other than that issue — since we’re on the subject of race issues, anyhow — I had one other problem with the Disneyland 10K: inconsiderate walkers. Now I am in NO WAY anti-walker. Ever. I do 6:1 intervals which means I’m running 6 minutes, walking 1, for the entirety of the race. So I welcome walkers, either if they’re doing intervals or just power-walking the entire course. This is an inclusive event.

But these inconsiderate walkers need to wise the eff up already. Before the race, you’re given a runners’ etiquette list by Disney. Live it. Learn it. Love it. If you’re on walk break, go to the side of the course; never walk in the center. Raise your hand before you do so that other runners know that you’re about to move to the side for a walk break. Or even better, gradually make your way to the side about a minute before your break is about to start. The amount of walkers that were walking willy-nilly in the middle of the road as other runners had to swerve to avoid them was mind-boggling. And for the love of all things holy, please walk single-file (or at the very least, no more than two abreast). Your human wall is an obstacle we don’t need!

But OK: this is a Disney race. There are a lot of newbies or non-runners that are just out for a good time. You know that going in, and you can of course expect some to be less-than-aware of the rules of the road. Still, everyone should make an effort to familiarize themselves with runners etiquette. For the good of all involved.

And don’t even get me started about the Poop-Head at the beginning of the race who decided — in the middle of Disneyland Drive, dead center — to come to a complete dead stop while in mid-run, turn around with his camera, and start taking video of the runners coming towards him. IN THE CENTER OF THE ROAD. I’ve never heard that many obscenities being tossed about by so many strangers at once. Good lord!

OK… we got that out our system. Back to the race!!

After heading north for a bit then west on perimeter roads, we finally entered Disneyland proper! That’s right: Main Street USA baby! This was the money shot of the entire race: heading down Walt’s approximation of turn-of-the-century small-town USA with Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the background! Check out this magnificent specimen right here:

Main St. USA! Like a boss!

Main St. USA! Like a boss! No cup will stop me!!

At the hub we turned east into Tomorrowland, north past the Matterhorn and Nemo Submarines, making a curve to the right past Small World into the backstage area. There it was a half-mile loop around the backstage area until we re-emerged on the other side of Small World. It was mostly smooth, easy running until I simply had to stop and take a picture with these fine furry friends:

Could that little cow be any LESS thrilled? :-\

Could that little cow be any LESS thrilled? :-\

That was the only picture I stopped for. Took a minute off my running time. It was worth it 🙂

After that we headed south through Fantasyland, through the castle, and then west into Frontierland. After curving around the Rivers of America, we passed Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh, exiting out the backstage area on the west side of the property. We followed a perimeter road south and east until we exited Disneyland and entered the Downtown Disney area. Soon we were at the Mile 6 marker and finishing up the final 0.2 miles of the race!

Running through Downtown Disney. Look at that S car go!!

Running through Downtown Disney. Look at that S car go!!

I saw Suz waiting on the side, snapping pics, and ran over for a quick High-5 from my buddy! She then snapped a pic of what is easily my best angle:

Not quite the Jungle Cruise's "back side of water", but close.

Not quite the Jungle Cruise’s “back side of water”, but close.

As I rounded the corner past the big hat at the Disneyland Hotel, I could see the Finish Line. Furthermore, there was only one guy ahead of me at the time. That meant that Race-Announcer Rudy would easily be able to call my name out as I crossed the Finish, right? WRONG. The guy ahead of me was celebrating a birthday and was apparently some well-known bloke, so he got like five-dozen different shout-outs that took forever. By the time Rudy was done, he went on to the next group of runners…GRRR!! But who cares… I was finishing the 10K and doing it in style!!

Totally metal, baby!

Totally metal, baby!

Two things I also want to mention: 1) I high-fived Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, and 2) I “Baba-Booey’ed” Dennis Marsico as he was recording a video segment. HAH!!

The 10K was over and while it was hot, humid, and under-hydration-station’ed, I had a great time. Now let’s look at the Quantitative Results:

The Quantitative Results

Here are my stats:

The Quantitative Results

The Quantitative Results

My net time was 1:04:28; not my fastest 10K ever — this was a Disney race, after all — but I’m overall pleased with it. Overall I placed 1,361 out of 7,828 runners, which puts me in the top 17.4%. For Men, I placed 774 out of 2,695, which puts me in the top 28.7%. For Men 40-44 — mid-life crisis brothers! — I placed 121 out of 430, which puts me in the top 28.1%.

I love Disney race stats. They make me feel all bad-ass and stuff 🙂

After the race I paused for my requisite Finisher’s pic:



… and then met up with a freshly-awoken Boots, who brought me a choc-o-late milk and waited for me to finish my stretching before we attempted to make our way back to the Disneyland Hotel. After being unable to cross the street anywhere close, we looped around Magic Way, bumped into Suz and chatted for a bit, and finally made it back to the room. After showering and a delicious breakfast at Tangeroa Terrace, we went to DCA for a few hours before heading back to the hotel for some pool time.

I also managed to hit the Mickey Miles Podcast meet-up at 3:00 that afternoon at the Haagen Dazs in Downtown Disney. I met some cool people where we chatted about all things running, Disney, and Running Disney. It was cool to meet show hosts Mike and Michelle, where I blabbed endlessly and excitedly about who knows what, and managed to record a few show intros for them. Here’s a cool pic of me boring the life out of Michelle!

Me: "Bla bla bla blee blee blee bloo bloo bloo..."

Me: “Bla bla bla blee blee blee bloo bloo bloo…”

Well anyway… that was my day. Phase 1 of the Dumbo Double Dare was complete. The next day I’d be tackling 13.1 miles during the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon. So I relaxed by the pool, had an early dinner, and crashed by 9 PM.

The 2013 Disneyland 10K was a fun run, make no mistake. While I do hope that they increase the number of hydration stations for next year, and make sure that all the pre-race corral organization is a little tighter, I would consider this one a successful, really fun and exciting run worthy of the Run Disney name.

And yes of course, here’s the video:

4 thoughts on “Race Review: 2013 Disneyland 10K (8/31/2013), or: “Can you hear the violins playing your song…”

  1. Great recap! A couple of notes – I think they messed up your corral start, because I was in C and Carissa and Rudy called us B at first. I don’t know if the rest of the corrals had individual starts, but I know we did in C (B?). I completely agree about the water. I wish I’d checked the course map for water station placement, because I was not prepared for the three stations being so far apart. They essentially just added one water station for the extra 5k, because the 5k had 2 water stations. I’m with you on the walkers, too. I walked quite a bit (recovering from an ankle injury), but always at the side of the road and never stopping before checking behind me to make sure I wasn’t going to shortstop someone. I got stuck at one point behind 3 sets of walkers who, among them, managed to block off the entire course.

    Being in an inaugural event anywhere is fun, but with Disney, it’s all about the Legacy! If you don’t run that inaugural, you’re out of legacy for good. That said, I think I’m going to stick to my Disneyland Half legacy and let the 10k go.

    Are you doing ToT?

  2. Thanks for commenting George! Since I originally posted the review, a few people have informed me that there were staggered corral starts after A & B took off. I think for a 10K, they should have just let everyone go at once (but in corral order) since it was so hot and muggy. A longer wait time meant more time baking in that damp heat.

    I never really thought about the Legacy aspect before, to be honest. I did the Inaugural ToT last year and didn’t particularly like it all that much, so I’m not doing it again this year. It wasn’t the ridiculously heat and humidity (think the 10K times a few thousand), or my case of food poisoning (blerg!), which are both out of Disney’s control. I didn’t care much for the course or the entertainment. It was kind of dull. I hope they improve things a bit this year. Shoot. I could have gone legacy on that run, AND it’s (semi) local.

    Always funny about Disney runs. I make up my mind not to do certain ones, and then when it’s a few weeks out, I kind of get a bit regretful! Oh well. This year I’m planning on doing the full Florida Storm Series instead. Talk about obsessive…

  3. I think the staggered starts are to keep people from bunching up too much when the course narrows. I’ve done the ToT every year (last year’s “inaugural” was really year 4, but with a change in the distance) and I love it! I think you would have like the original 13k run better. I know Disney tends to get better “with age” so I’m expecting great things this year, although, frankly, the grave digger on the track was enough to make it a great race for me!

    What is the Florida Storm Series? Sounds intriguing (though probably not doable for a New Yorker)!

  4. The big one I’m dying to do is Wine & Dine, but that falls on the same weekend as my niece/goddaughter’s birthday, so no way I can miss that. Next year.

    Florida Storm Series is basically 5 halfs (or 4 halfs and 1 full, or 3/2, depending on how you want to run it). They consist of the Miami Marathon, 13.1 Miami Beach, 13.1 Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beaches Marathon, and Sarasota Half Marathon. All but Sarasota are pretty local to me; I ran Sarasota in March 2012 and loved it, Miami Marathon (formerly ING) not so much. Anyway starting at the third one you get extra bling. I’m going for all five. I think.

    I so owe my wife a NON-running vacation, it’s not even funny…

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