Disney. I have wanted to run with Disney for a few years now, ever since I heard of the races held in the American parks. Since I won’t be going to America any time soon (until a certain President isn’t there any longer) I was thrilled when Disneyland Paris also starting hosting them. This year was the second year they did and the first I decided to go to.
Of all the races they had, I decided to sign up for the 10k and the half marathon. Both of these races made up the 31k Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Challenge and that meant that if everything went to plan, I would be leaving with three glorious medals.
I arrived in Paris a couple of days early and the first thing I did was head to the Expo. It was the first day and the queue was MASSIVE. I think I was waiting for about an hour before I was allowed in. After talking to other people and checking social media, I was definitely in the minority: maybe because it was the first day of the expo it was so busy? People who went the next day were allowed in so much quicker.
The only reason I wanted to go on the first day was because Paula Radciffe was going to be there. She is one of the coolest people I have ever interviewed and I really wanted to meet her again. She was an official ambassador for the weekend. However as the time passed and I was still in the queue I started to doubt if I would make it in time. Eventually I managed to make it in. The expo is set up in such a way that you have to get your race park and shirts first before going to the rest of the expo. I grabbed mine as fast as I could before running to where Paula Radcliffe was giving her talk.
I missed the talk sadly but she was still there so I was able to grab a photo! After that the queue and the wait didn’t seem to matter at all. I had my race pack, I had met Paula Radcliffe and that weekend I would be running in Disneyland Paris!
The 10k was the first race. And it was also an early one. I’d decided not to stay in the Park itself (something I regretted and will talk about later) but in the nearby town about 20 minutes walk away. Initially the plan was to walk there in the morning but when the alarm went off at pre-crack-of-dawn-o’clock I wanted to punch someone in the face.
So instead I decided to take the train. It was only one stop and I got there nice and early. Six-fifteen in the morning early. I am not a pleasant person that early in the morning but being right at the front of corral B (there were only three corrals) and dancing to a live DJ’s music soon got me feeling the running spirit. It was also very difficult to not feel excited when the people around you were also so very happy.
As we waited for the race to begin the entertainment began and apart from seeing my new bestie Paula again, I also found out that for the first time the 10k and the half marathon would be finishing in the parks themselves! Last time I remember seeing people complaining about the finish being outside of the parks so knowing the organisers had listened and changed things was brilliant.
Pretty soon it was time to run and after a ‘TROIS…DEUX…UN’ I found myself swept up in a sea of runners, in the Disney Park running a 10k!
At the expo I had bought a Disney Photo Pass which meant that I had pre-bought all my race photos. So I decided to take both the 10k and the half marathon as ‘fun’ races and stop at every single character I saw for a photo. This was a big reason why I wanted to run the race – I wanted to have photos with all the characters!
The course was amazing and we only left the park after about 6 or 7 kilometers. The surrounding area is beautiful French countryside and after running through there for a few kilometres I then found myself back in the park and heading to the finish line. I have to say running through the park was amazing. We started when it was dark and finished when the sun had risen. There weren’t any people there and instead staff members were cheering us on.
It was incredible. Quiet and eerie and all kinds of brilliant because it’s Disney! Have a look at some more of the pictures from the race.
You can see how much I was enjoying myself from the size of my grin!
When that medal was put around my neck I was on top of the world, actually floating on air. It may have only been a 10k but it was by far the most enjoyable 10k ever and the medal was by far the most incredible. I couldn’t wait for the half marathon the next day.
The Half Marathon
After the 10k I got back to my apartment and did half an hour of stretching. This is probably the most adult thing I have ever done in my life. I am usually a lot more cavalier with my post-running routine. Oops…
The next morning was another bright and early start. I was still on a little bit of a high so wasn’t in as foul a mood. However I still don’t think I was fit to be around other people. Like the morning before the music and the crowd really helped to lift my mood. And also like the morning before I was soon running through the Disney parks.
With this race the first 8k were in the parks, the next 8k in the surrounding countryside, and the last kilometres back in the parks, with the finish in the same place as the 10k. And as with the 10k I decided to stop for photos with every single character I saw. That meant I completed the first 8km in about 90 minutes!
At one point I wondered if I should just skip some and carry on running but I had promised myself that I would take this race easy and take advantage of seeing all the characters. So I stopped and queued. Some of the queues were extraordinarily long but everyone around me was so, so excited and the photos were most definitely worth it!
The second 8k, once I left the park was very, very different to the first. Not everyone had queued for photos so I found myself further and further at the back of the running field. I don’t think I have ever run a race where there were so few people around me. After a while I started to love it. I could go at the speed I wanted and be in my own thoughts without getting distracted by other people.
The weather was amazing and I knew that soon enough I would be back in the parks. What I didn’t realise was that by the time I reached the park again they would be open. The crowds were h-u-u-g-e compared to earlier which had just been staff. I thought there would be more character stops but maybe because the parks were full of people this wasn’t the case which was such a shame!
The half marathon medal was amazing but when I finished all I wanted was the third medal, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo one.
It was as glorious as I had imagined. I think I fell in love with it almost instantly. When I got back to the apartment seeing all three of them together was just brilliant.
What I would change
I can’t tell you how much I loved this weekend. It was all I wanted and more but there are some things I would want to do differently / want them to do differently:
- Change the expo entry system. I missed Paula Radcliffe talking!
- Work on the photo pass – It took almost two weeks’ to get my photos and even now I am missing a few. This was so, so frustrating – I was on such a high but had no photos to show for it.
- Stay in the Disney parks. I saved money by not staying the parks, however the FOMO of having to leave while so many people stayed was intense. I never want to feel that again.
- Run in a costume. I definitely need to run in a costume! There were so many people who did this and they looked so fabulous.
- Also run the 5k the night before the 10k. I wish I’d thought of this before so I could have left with four medals.
I want to do this whole race weekend again. And next time I am staying in the park, taking my sister with me and making it into the best holiday weekend ever! If you are thinking about doing it, I really, really recommend it. It’s brilliant and so, so much fun and absolutely full of Disney characters.