Friday, August 29, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Expo and packet pickup

Anyone else remember what they were doing back on January 22nd at 9am? I do. I was signing myself and Theresa up for the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon. It's pretty insane how popular this event has become. Back when this event was just beginning, registration took months to sell out. Lately though it's been selling out faster and faster, even though the price has increased dramatically.
In the inaugural year of 2006, the race took 5.5 months to sell out and cost $95.
In 2013, the event sold out in just over 1 day and registration now cost $175.
So what happened in 2014? Prices went up another $20 to $195 and still registration sold out in 9.5 hours. You've got to be on top of your game if you want to run in a Disney race.

Fast forward to August 29th, 2014. It's race weekend and today is the day to pick up our race bibs.

After braving the LA freeways the Friday before Labor Day and all the traffic that goes with it, we arrived at the Disneyland Resort. We're only here to pick up our race packets so instead of parking in the long term Mickey & Friends structure, we parked in the Downtown Disney lot with 3 hour free parking. At least we tried to. There were so many cars circling the lot looking for empty spots, I thought we were going to be there a while. I drove to the back of the lot though and lucked into a spot that someone had just vacated. I grabbed Tigger Ian and off we went towards the Disneyland Hotel.

Along the way we passed the finish line for the race. Currently it's set up for the 5k finish, but come Sunday it will be the Half Marathon finish line.

I was happy to see some changes made to the way RunDisney directs you to pick up your race packet. In past years, you went down the entrance ramp to the lower parking garage while the people who had already picked up their packet came up the exit ramp. This caused a crossover point where two people were trying to go in different directions causing congestion. This year, they've cleaned it up and racers go down the exit ramp to get their packet.

Crossing over the Half Marathon logo.

And this is exactly why I come on Friday at 3:30pm. There is rarely a crowd so the lines are minimal.

See! You can walk right up and get your bib (provided you have photo ID and your waiver signed).

Upon exiting, you now walk in a backdoor into the race expo floor. No longer do you have to enter through the Disneyland Hotel, passing by cast members who guard exit doors telling you you can't take a shortcut to get inside.

Inside, it's very clear where to go to pick up your running shirt and race guide.

And there seem to be more sponsors than ever.

Throughout the day, there are various inspirational and educational speakers. Looks like we just missed the half hour talk by Sean Astin, known for playing Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, and also Rudy Ruettiger from the movie Rudy. Pretty awesome that he's sticking around for photos afterwards.

Lastly we went to the official merchandise area, just in case there was something we couldn't live without. There wasn't, but it's great that it looks like it has much more space and much more stock than previous years.

Since the line was short, I got a picture in front of the cool half marathon castle display they have set up.

Then the three of us all got our picture together.

My race bib. Don't be put off that it says Michael. That's me.

One thing that was a little concerning though was what they did for Legacy Runners. I've ran in every single Disneyland Half Marathon race since it began back in 2006. In the past, when picking up your bib, when the volunteer saw you were a Legacy Runner, they'd announce it and you'd get a clap from anyone within earshot.
Also, when they were first beginning if you were a legacy runner, you got a sticker on your bib that said Legacy. As the years went by, those improved to be large letters printed on the bib that said Legacy, and in the last few years even the bib itself was a different color. This year all we got was a small Legacy Runner printed in the upper corner. Definitely a step backwards. 

Compare that to Theresa's bib.

Well it's been a busy Friday already and there still more to do. Stay tuned for what we do next!

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