runDisney Race Recap: Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to introduce myself as the newest runDisney correspondent for Walt Disney World for Grown-ups! I have been running and racing since high school and in the past year have discovered the joy of running Disney races. I can't wait to share my experiences with you, answer any questions you might have, and hopefully inspire you to join in the fun!

This is me, in my happy place, after my happy race!This is me, in my happy place, after my happy race!

I recently returned from my first California runDisney event: Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. This race, like my Florida races, was nothing but amazing from start to finish. This was the third year of the half marathon and the inaugural year of the 10K and from all accounts, Disney has listened to its runners and made changes that have made this weekend outstanding. The half marathon sold out only days after general registration opened, and 15,000 runners were registered to run. The weekend also featured a family 5K, but no official "challenge" for multi-race runners, something not common for a Disney race. I participated in the 10K race on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday for my first multi-even weekend and an awesome experience!

The health and fitness expo was held in the Conference Center area of the Disneyland Hotel. I will be writing more specifically in the future about the Disney expo experience, but want to share that this expo was definitely full of energy. The smaller space creates a strong sense of excitement, and even people in lines were happy to be there. Like every expo, I picked up my bibs, race shirts, and swag bag and was happy with what I received.

Race Bibs Are Picked Up At the Health & Fitness ExpoRace Bibs Are Picked Up At the Health & Fitness Expo

For their women-focused races, Disney provides women's sizing for their shirts, which has made lots of women racers who are used to baggy shirts happy.

Although I didn't run the 5K race on Friday, I saw lots of visitors wearing their medals in the parks and hotels. The 5K course was strictly in the Disneyland Park. It is an untimed event, with no corrals, and a focus on family and fun! There were people of all ages participating.

I was lucky enough to be staying at the Paradise Pier, so I was able to walk out of my hotel right into a corral for the start. California has got Florida races beat on that! The 10K race on Saturday took place mostly in the parks. The corral/staging area is the same for the 10K and half marathon, and the two races use the same start line (it's way up there, promise!)

Lining The Streets Before the Race at Disney's Paradise Pier HotelLining The Streets Before the Race at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

The 10K goes right into Disneyland Park, and goes for about 2 miles before heading over to California Adventure. Runners spend the next 1.5 miles in CA before heading out to the streets of Anaheim. They then finish by running west down the palm-lined Katella Avenue, before finishing in the parking lot just south of Paradise Pier. Just like every Disney race, your medal is put around your neck by a wonderful volunteer, and you are sent for your official finish photo. It was a bit chilly the morning of the 10K - well, according to my race-mates, it was. This Colorado girl thought it was perfect! The chill meant that runDisney provided mylar blankets at the finish line! They also provided a snack box, water, Powerade, and a banana - perfect post-race food!

Inaugural Tinker Bell 10K BlingInaugural Tinker Bell 10K Bling

The half marathon on Sunday included another jaunt through the parks. Runners are on the streets outside the parks until about 1.5 miles, then they enter California Adventure first and are greeted with the gorgeous World of Color:

Running Through Disney's California AdventureRunning Through Disney's California Adventure

After about a mile in CA, they head across to Disneyland for two miles, including an inspiring run up Main Street, USA.

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty CastleDisneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

The course then winds through Downtown Disney toward the Disneyland Hotel, where they find the most amazing cheer group ever assembled: the Red Hat Ladies. Hundreds of women line the lane out to Anaheim with constant cheering and clapping right before the halfway point of the race, a huge boost of energy and confidence before the second half of the race! The rest of the race is through quiet Anaheim neighborhoods to old town Anaheim and then south to the backstage area of California Adventure. The last mile of the race is backstage before turning into the finish line area.

A couple of general observations: there were so many costumes!; lines for character photos get long quickly, so you must think about that in your pacing; there seemed to be many more characters out than in other Disney races (or maybe I was just stopping for more) - I counted at least 10 in the half and 5 in the 10K, but they are early in the races; and the Disney Cast Members cheer so hard behind the scenes! If you're thinking about this race, I'd love for you to think about these things as you make your decision!


  • running in the parks, awesome character photo opportunities, a well-organized event, amazing medals, crowd support in the parks and in some street areas, fairly easy course, excellent on-course support (more than enough, and well-staffed, water stations), running in a costume


  • sells out quickly (need to commit to registration early) , very crowded at times during the race, strict cutoff times (they will pull runners), cost

I hope you've enjoyed this brief glimpse into the weekend.
If you have any questions, please shoot them my way! I look forward to chatting with you about running and runDisney!

Thanks so much to our new runDisney blogger Tara O. who will be sharing with us her adventures throughout the year. She has 5 Disney races on her schedule! If you'd like to read more from Tara, head on over to our member forums.

JanJ wrote on Fri, 02/14/2014 - 01:10:

JanJ's picture

Great job Tara! Looking forward to reading about your upcoming races.

JoAnn C wrote on Sun, 02/16/2014 - 17:56:

JoAnn C's picture

Good job Tara. See you soon.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 12:01:

Kristen K.'s picture

Fantastic job Tara, I'm so glad to have you on board as our runDisney blogger. I can't wait to hear all about the Princess.

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