Here we go – the big one! The whole reason for this trip, 13.1 miles throughout Disneyland Paris and the surrounding countryside… all waiting for me!
I remember the first conversation I had about this race with my team over at runDisney… one of my contacts had just returned from Paris after getting a chance to ride through the course and he could not stop talking about how beautiful it was. Now, I don’t know if there have been many course changes since the first year… but the race I ran… he was right!
Before the Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon
Luckily, I got a lot more sleep before this race than I did the 10K. Not a ton, but enough were I felt like I was at least a human being and not a crazy jet-lagged zombie!
Training for this race was kind of non-existent. Once I start training for the Dopey Challenge … all other races just kind of get squeezed into that schedule. I had recently run a good solid 10-mile training run, so I knew I was good but didn’t know what the end result of this race would be!
The race started in the same place as the others, so the walk from our resort over to the corral was quick and easy. It was almost second nature at this point!
Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon Corrals
I had decided during the 10K that races with friends are absolutely way more fun than races alone… so knew I’d be meeting up with Jen and Pamela again. I, of course, was ridiculously early. I got to the corral and sat down to wait for my friends.
In Orlando, it can be extremely difficult to maneuver yourself up to the front of a corral to find your friends. People get annoyed that you’re even trying since everyone is jammed in there like sardines. In Paris, it’s no big deal. A quick “I’m sitting on the left side by a guy standing in a sorcerer mickey hat” was all she needed to find me in less than 5 minutes.
The corral timing was similar to the times of the 10K – and posted very easily to follow. I never felt too crowded or rushed in our corral, which was a nice change of pace.
They had the same pre-race entertainment, including the warm-up by Genie (which I am 99% sure was the exact same video as the morning before…). By this time, while I was still impressed with the quality of the pre-race stuff… I was kinda over it. Definitely appreciated it, but couldn’t understand what they were saying and had friends to chat with… sooo…
Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon Course
They. Knocked. It. Out. Of. The. Park.
Looking at this map I was dreading pretty much most of everything from Mile 8 on. How lame does that look? It looks so lame. I WAS WRONG – IT IS NOT LAME – IT IS AWESOME.
This race can be broken up into three main sections… the parks, the countryside, and the resorts. You start off with the pretty typical run through the parks with LOADS of characters. Seriously there’s a ton there and it is awesome… I really appreciate how well the course creators keep you in the parks for as long as they do!
The second section is the countryside… now, for people who live in Paris, they’re probably like “we are running through a random neighborhood this sucks…” but for us foreigners, it’s more like “THIS IS THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE. I AM RUNNING THROUGH THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE. LOOK AT THAT LITTLE SUPERMARKET! THOSE LITTLE APARTMENTS ARE ADORABLE!”
Sorry for the shouty capitals but guys I was a little bonkers when we were out there… it was so cool.
Once you get back over towards Disneyland you get to the third section, running through the resorts. This was exceptionally cool for me as I had yet to see these resorts… Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe and Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne hosted the last few miles. They are both adorably themed… and I think one of my favorite parts was running through the Hotel Cheyenne! The very end of the race you run by Disney’s Hotel New York (currently under construction to become The Art of Marvel), Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, and Disney’s Newport Bay Club.
Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon Characters
Again, with the characters. They were awesome.
We did have Pamela and her husband run ahead to get in line, but we did end up waiting a very long time for a lot of the characters. I am not even sure if I am going to be able to remember everyone to list them… there were THAT many!
Here are the characters who were on the course, please let me know if I missed any!
- Hercules and Megara
- Kida and Milo
- Pocahontas and John Smith
- Mulan and Shang
- Naveen and Tiana
- Clarabelle and Horace
- Melanie Ravenswood and the Phantom
- Aladdin and Jasmine
- Tarzan and Jane
- Esmeralda and Phoebus
- Rapunzel and Flynn (again with the bridge!)
- Belle and the Beast
- Kristoff and Anna
- Jessie and Buzz (and Forky)
- Woody and BoPeep (with Forky as well)
- Chip and Dale
Now, I have two notes on characters during this race.
ONE: Disneyland Paris needs to educate their cast members on how this race works. We’re racing. We just spent a ridiculous amount of time in line, and we are ready to go run more. So this is just a VERY QUICK PHOTO. Guys, freakin Jane tried to shake all of our hands and ask about our day. The reason the lines were so long was because the characters were acting like this was a regular meet-and-greet in the park. It is not. Smile, and move to the next runner.
TWO: They were extremely strict about pictures. They would scan ONE bib for photopass, and in some areas would allow “selfie only”… they would not even let the runner behind us take a picture using our phone. It was odd, and honestly, it would take longer for me to pull out my phone to take a selfie than it was for the nice guy behind us to snap a picture at the same time as PhotoPass. I don’t know if this was a money grab move to get us to all buy a package or what… but it sucked.
Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon Finish
Now, this is where it gets different.
We finished the race in the same area, and followed the same procedure, as the 5K and the 10K. We crossed the line (arm in arm, actually, totally being “those people” and loving every minute of it)… and then collected our half marathon medals.
Going through the chute, we got water and snacks… but there was a very different process to collect the challenge medals! They do not have the same process as they do in Orlando – you have to go all the way back to the expo building to get your challenge bling!
The 31K Challenge is a challenge that’s best known to runDisney folk… running the 10K and the Half Marathon in the same weekend.
The 31K Challenge medal features Aladdin and it’s really a pretty cool medal, but it pales in comparison to the 36K challenge!
I’m not sure why runDisney offers this challenge for this race and not for the others… perhaps it’s their own version of the Dopey Challenge? But if you register for the 36K Challenge – you run the 5K, 10K, and Half… and you get the 31K Challenge medal AND a medal for the 36K Challenge! It’s kind of how when you run Dopey you technically run Goofy too…
So I was able to also pick up the Genie-inspired 36K Challenge Medal at the expo as well. This one may be one of my favorites with the stained glass look of the medal… it’s really well done!
So, once you are in the expo you are able to pick up any and all challenge medals that you qualify for. It’s also important to note that you have to register for each of these challenges in order to get the bling. Registering for the 5K, 10K, and Half separately doesn’t mean that you get the challenge bling… so be sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for!
I was also able to pick up the Castle to Chateau medal… which signifies that I ran a Half or Full (in my case… both…) in Florida, and then the half in Paris! I have been wanting to add this medal to my collection for YEARS… and it was quite a moment when I got to put it around my neck!!
It was slightly annoying to have to go to a different place to get the challenge medals – but really with the area available at the finish line, there was no other option. One nice perk to this was being able to see what other little “extras” runDisney Paris had to offer…
Now, I was ready to get back to my room and see my husband, so I chose not to wait in the line… but I very much appreciated the runDisney Recovery Crew and think it’s something that should be brought over to Florida!
Disneyland Paris Run Weekend Half Marathon Final Thoughts
Really, this race lived up to my expectations.
I knew that they weren’t as organized as they are at home, so I kept my patient pants on. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues with our race registration.
They have a little bit of work to do with the characters and pictures… but I feel like I’m going to have a better recap of that once our pictures are loaded (which will take a few weeks… yeah…)
The course was beautiful, the cast members were so encouraging, and the finish line was organized and easy to navigate.
Overall, I really enjoyed my race experience and cannot wait to go back!
If you’d like to run the race in 2020… shoot me an email. I’m putting together packages that include hotel, park tickets, photopasses, AND race registration… it makes it so much easier to have it all put together!