Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Recap: The Meet-Up

Hi, guys! So I know it has been quiet here for a few days, but I have a good reason, promise…as many of you know, I was in California to take on the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not having a whole lot of time to update while I was away!

However, the good news is that a.) I DID successfully complete the Dumbo Double Dare and b.) I have tons to share with you all! I’m going to start with the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Meet-Up!

After landing in California on Thursday morning, my mom, sister, and I headed straight for the parks. This was my first trip to Disneyland, so I wanted to make sure I saw EVERYTHING. We started with California Adventure; we hit a few attractions, had an awesome dinner at Carthay Circle, grabbed pictures with a few friends (ha!), and ended the evening with a viewing of World of Color. Of course, I also had to invest in a pair of Dumbo ears, which I later had embroidered to say “Dumbo Double Dare 2013″ like a giant dork!




The meet-up was scheduled for bright and early (and I do mean early…we had to meet at the Disneyland Hotel by 5:30am!) on Friday morning, and among my first orders of business was changing into the runDisney shirt they gave us to wear for the morning (not a huge fan of the men’s sizing, not gonna lie). Next order of business? Meet Jeff Galloway! As I may have mentioned here, I personally don’t follow his walk/run method, but nevertheless, he is definitely an inspiration to ALL runners, no matter what training plan you follow!


Next, we were greeted by some of the runDisney folks, and treated to an abbreviated workshop on proper form led by a few representatives from New Balance. This was definitely helpful for me, as someone who was really never “taught” how to run…you can read all of the Runner’s World articles you want, but at the end of the day, it’s still nice for someone to SHOW you exactly what you should (and should not) be doing when you run!


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Of course, it wasn’t long before we were visited by our first special guest – since the theme of the new Disneyland 10K is Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit ran through to crash the party.


Photo credit: JimmyDeFlippo

Soon it was time to start our two-mile run through the parks, and I have to say, this is the part I was looking forward to the most.  Of course, I knew I’d have the opportunity to run through California Adventure and Disneyland that weekend during the actual races, but there was nothing like seeing the parks almost deserted while running with a bunch of fellow runDisney fanatics. I had a cheesy grin on my face the entire time. Couldn’t help it!


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

About halfway through the run, we were treated to a special ride on the teacups, and got to meet Alice!  Truth be told, I NEVER ride the teacups because they make me want to lose my lunch, so I made sure NOT to spin. At all. DSCF5052


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Running through the parks was, quite possibly, the coolest thing ever. Really. Since we had only spent time in California Adventure on Thursday, it was the very first time I was seeing Disneyland…and there was absolutely no better way to do it.


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Not to get all corny or anything, but since Disneyland IS the park where Walt actually walked, you can’t help but get swept up in his original vision and the history of it all. No matter how many races I compete in, no matter how many times I lace up my sneakers, I really do feel as though I am “doing the impossible” every time I go for a run. I couldn’t help but think about how far I’ve come…running was NEVER, EVER, IN A MILLION YEARS something I saw myself doing, and here I was gearing up for my fifth half marathon and participating in an exclusive running event — and, best of all, in a DISNEY PARK!


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Participating in an event like the Disneyland Half Marathon Meet-up served as a reminder of just how much I appreciate the ability to run and participate in so many incredible races. Sure, the runDisney events can be expensive, but to me, it’s so very, VERY worth it.

The morning wouldn’t have been complete with a few quick photo opportunities with some of runDisney’s speakers and special guests – I grabbed a quick photo with Joey Fatone (who is QUITE popular with the ladies, I must say).


Meanwhile, Sean Astin gave me a few lessons in taking clear photos in dim lighting, haha. (His trick? Breathe out slowly while you press the shutter.)


The Mad Hatter also dropped in for a visit, so I grabbed a few pictures with him and Alice. DSCF5066


After we were treated to a yummy breakfast, it was time to hear from a few speakers.  Faron Kelly, runDisney’s director of marketing, led the talk with a discussion on future runDisney events. Spoiler alert: there are supposedly FOUR NEW RACES in the works! Of course, when prodded, he wouldn’t give us any details…but I must say, I’m EXCITED. Stay tuned, everyone!


A huge moment came when he revealed the medals for several upcoming races…which I quickly realized would all soon be mine! I had to pause a few times to wipe the drool from my mouth – the bling is absolutely gorgeous.


Holding the Dopey Challenge medal was an especially meaningful moment for me.  I’m still struggling with a whole lot of self-doubt when it comes to the idea of taking on my first marathon…but seeing that medal made me realize that this is something that I HAVE to do. And something that I WILL do. Bring it on, Dopey!


We also heard from Cindy Lynch, the champion of last year’s Disneyland Half Marathon and one of the founders behind Running Skirts. I’m partial to my Sparkle Athletic skirts, as you are all well aware, but I find the way she juggles having a family AND running her own business AND putting in some serious mileage every week to be endlessly inspiring. So take that, all you people who are constantly telling me you “don’t have time to run.”


Tara Gidus, runDisney’s official nutritionist, was next up to talk to us about what our bodies need to perform at their best while running. Here’s some good (and not-so-surprising) news – we’re allowed to eat plenty of carbs while prepping for a race!


It wouldn’t be a runDisney event without a speech from Jeff Galloway, who offered some great perspective on avoiding injury. Basically, he told us that there IS a way to run “without pain, injury, or death,” and that if we’re careful and train smart, even seemingly insane race challenges like Dopey are within anyone’s reach!


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Ali Vincent was up next, which was kind of surreal for me. I’ve seen her in person before at the Princess Half, but I was a huge fan of The Biggest Loser (still am!) while undergoing my own personal weight loss journey. Hearing her speak was yet another reminder of how far I’ve come, and how very possible it is to change your life. :)


Sean Astin talked to us about inspiring his kids to run, and how, really, as long as you have the desire, ANYONE can cross a finish line.

DSCF5092 Last up, Joey Fatone regaled us with his tales of running the Goofy Challenge on very little training – insanity! – and he’ll apparently be taking on the Dopey Challenge with the rest of us crazy people!


The runDisney folks gave out some goodies and held a few raffles for awesome prizes (which, unfortunately, I did not win), and then it was time for me to head to the expo.

Honestly, this experience was like a dream come true. I’m still amazed that I managed to get in for this event, and am so grateful for the opportunity. It was an absolute BLAST! For a running addict and lifelong Disney fan, there was absolutely NO better way to kick-off the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!


Photo credit: Jimmy DeFlippo

Next up…a recap of the expo! :)



  1. I love all the pictures and am so jealous that you got to hang with Joey! I’ve been a huge NSYNC fan since 1998. I met Joey once at, of all places, a K-Mart. He was super cool about taking pictures and was a hit with the ladies there too, haha.

    This meetup looks like a blast — and I love that you’re at the front of the running group! :)

    • Haha, yes, he DEFINITELY seems to appreciate all the attention! :)

      It was a LOT of fun…and I may or may not have made sure to be up at the front of the group so I could have a few pictures of me from the meet-up! ;)

  2. Wow, I can’t believe they hinted at 4 more events in the works! How exciting! It sounds like the meet up was a great time, very jealous!

  3. You had me at Sean Astin. ;) OMG and he gives camera tips? Is he a photographer on top of a runner?!?? Ahem…sorry, 40 year old fangirl coming out. LOL. I am so happy for you, you can just feel the excitement and happiness in your recap! I saw a few pics of you as I was stalking FB, twitter, and instagram over the weekend! So glad you had fun, cannot wait to hear more!!

    • HAHA, apparently he is! Aw, that’s awesome! It was such a fun time, definitely a really meaningful experience for me, too! :)

  4. Awesome re-cap so far. I met both of the Running Skirts sisters not too long ago and let me tell you they are FAST. Very impressive runners who put me and another CO runner to shame running straight up hills at altitude in SLC when she had just come in from sea level.

  5. Oh my goodness, Sean Astin is my hero. How were you able to be part of the meetup? Is it something additional that you pay for? P.S. – saw you in the RunDisney video with Joey wearing your awesome Sulley outfit!!

    • Hi, Kelly! Haha, yeah, it just so happened that I was standing around the castle when they were going to shoot that video! I got into the meet-up by stalking runDisney’s Twitter/blog, and they post an announcement asking for RSVPs…so you basically have to send in an e-mail within 4.6 seconds of the announcement. Still have no idea how I managed to get in!

  6. It all looks like so much fun. As I learned yesterday, I could very well have benefited from that NB running clinic.

    • Definitely a lot of fun, with some great information! I definitely need to change a thing or two about the way I run, as well!

  7. How FUN!! Love Sean Astin’s photo-taking trick. I will definitely try that for TOT (nothing worse than going through your camera and seeing a bunch of blurry photos lol)!

    FOUR NEW RACES?! So.excited.can’t.contain.myself. I really hope they announce more details soon :) I really want to do an inaugural race someday!

    • EXACTLY! I try to keep my hand as still as possible, but I tried his trick after the meet-up, and no lie…it really did work! Who know? Haha.

      YES, me too! Can’t wait to hear the details…the wouldn’t tell us ANYTHING!

  8. Great Recap! The meet up seemed like so much fun. I will definitley have to try to get in to the one for Marathon Weekend.

    I see your doing the Dopey Challenge for your first marathon, I did the Goofy Challenge this year for my frist and had a BLAST!

    • Thanks so much! It definitely was a lot of fun.

      That is AWESOME, congrats! I needed to hear that…I keep wondering if I’m making a HORRIBLE mistake by attempting Dopey as my first, so I’m always so happy to hear that it CAN be done! :)

  9. Looks like you had a blast! So bummed to have missed it.

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] so my post on the expo may not be quite as warm and fuzzy as my previous recap of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Meet-Up. It was…an experience, to say the [...]

  2. [...] a look at the 10K! Just in case you missed my previous recaps, you can find my look at the meet-up here, and the expo [...]

  3. [...] to see up close and in person during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Meet-Up (recap here!) a few weeks [...]

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