In early January I was in Florida to run the Dopey Challenge at Disneyworld, which comprised of 4 days of back to back running starting with a 5k up to a marathon as the finale. The Dopey Challenge is notoriously known to be tough, both mentally and physically. Four days of straight running and having to wake up each morning much before sunrise, for the start of the races at 5:30 a.m.
So what is the (Disney) Coast to Coast Medal Series challenge? Basically it requires you to complete a race in Disneyworld (minimum a half marathon) + another race in Disneyland in the same calendar year. I completed the Coast to Coast challenge with the combination of completing the Dopey challenge in January and the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge in Disneyland, which was a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday, with both the races going through the Disneyland resort.
Arrived Friday afternoon from Vancouver. LAX was busy as usual. After picking up our rental car, we drove straight to the expo in Anaheim. The afternoon was not overly busy. I didn’t spend much time browsing around the expo, and instead went to pick up my bib. Since I was doing the Coast to Coast challenge, I needed to have my picture taken, I think because this was a way the race committee could verify nobody cheated when collecting the Coast to Coast finisher medals at the end of the races.
The expo was neat. Caricature and tattoo booths were set up, but I had decided to forego that as the lines were rather busy for both the booths. I did line up for the Disney racing merchandise though, and got myself a car magnet (see below). There were a lot of enthusiastic racers buying souvenirs, and I noticed there were lots of beginner runners participating in this race, which was nice to see! For me, I was happy because of the 3 shirts I got in my race package: one for the 10k, the half marathon and the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge!
After the expo, workers were busy taking down the 5k signs from that morning and began transitioning the start & finish area to the 10k event for Saturday. One thing I admire about Disney races is how efficient they do everything. So good at operations and logistics!
We had an early dinner as I needed to get ready for bed early, in preparation for the next day’s race start time at 5:30am.
Race day morning, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. in order to catch the 3:45 am shuttle to Disneyland from the hotel which was 15 min away. On the shuttle there were a few ladies dressed up in Disney costumes. For the 10k, the theme of the race was Aladdin & his pet monkey whose name I can’t remember (was it Abu?)! There was this young girl who made her own costume as well as her Mom’s costume to match the Aladdin theme. Very talented. What a contrast to a typical shuttle bus going to a marathon. Everyone on this bus was cheery and talked about how much they loved all things Disney and it seemed no one could get enough of seeing the characters.
Our bus took off almost right on time. We got to Disneyland and it was still pitch-dark. I tried to get a picture in front of the Disneyland entrance but it did not turn out too clear. We all walked towards the start line. Every store was closed except the Starbucks in Downtown Disney, so all these runners made a pit stop there to either buy their coffee, or just to sit around or use the bathroom. I stayed at the Starbucks for a few minutes, then headed towards the start line.
For the 10 k, I was seeded in corral B, so my waiting time was minimal. I got into my corral with about a half hour to go. I was excited! The last 10 k I did was in Disneyworld, almost 9 months prior. Our corral took off at about 5:45am.
It was a beautiful morning. As I got to about the 7-8 k mark, the sun began to rise. The route took us through most of the park. I particularly liked the first 2 k in the park, which took us through the Grand Canyon that was all lit up in this pink-ish tint. If you weren’t paying attention, you might actually think you were running in a canyon! That is one of the reasons why Disney is so magical, you can let your imagination wander. The route also took us through Main Street USA and Cinderella’s castle. Disneyland is much smaller than Disneyworld, so within 10 k, we basically covered the whole park.
Not only is this race cool because you go through the Disney Park, but there is also entertainment throughout, including the Disney characters who greet runners. My personal favourite was seeing Mickey waving at us –and being my most favourite character, I had to wave back at him, as did so many runners around me! We all turned into kids again. Everyone was so happy, it’s no wonder they say Disneyland is the “happiest place on earth”.
The 10 k went by real fast. I was at the finish line before I knew it, and I picked up my first medal of the weekend (see picture). Every runDisney medal is so carefully designed. And they are so big and cute! They make me smile!
Afterwards, we got back onto the shuttle, where we were the only ones, so the driver joked we had a private shuttle bus to ourselves. He was nice enough to explain to us the history of Anaheim & the surrounding areas. It was really like a private tour. He was very sweet and told us he just had his 50th high school reunion.
When we got to the hotel, we were still able to catch the complimentary hotel breakfast, as it wasn’t even 10am, which is when it runs to every day. Your day really seems so long when you wake up that early.
In the afternoon, we went to pick up our kids from the airport who flew in from Toronto. I was so delighted our kids could join me and my husband. This weekend was special not only because I was racing in Disneyland, but also because it was a celebration of end of summer as well as my birthday.
We spent a couple hours in Malibu and along the coast but before long, it was time to carbo-load for dinner again. We got back to our hotel and called it a night, prepared to wake up real early again the next day for the half marathon. Stay tuned for my recap!