I have been a fan of Disney for as long as I can remember. I love all things Disney. I love visiting their theme parks – a good chunk of my wardrobe features the image of a certain mouse – and I eagerly await each new Disney film’s arrival in theaters. Some people call me a big kid at heart. Others just call me crazy. But there’s something about this world that has always called to me. No matter how old I get, I will always believe in the magical world of Walt Disney.
Three years ago, I discovered that Disney hosts several racing events every year, and it was this discovery that led me to start running. 36 races, 35 medals, and four Disney race weekends later, you could say I’m just a bit hooked on running, especially races that let me run through the Disney parks. Of all the Disney events I’ve run so far, one stands out as my favorite: the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon weekend.
I was actually a bit hesitant to enter this race originally because this was the inaugural event — meaning that while it was special in being the first, it also meant that this would be the event from which all future problems and glitches would be discovered or figured out. With this in mind, I entered anyway, resolving myself to keep an open mind and go into the weekend with patience and humor to spare. Turns out, I didn’t need either.
Now, I have heard reports of inefficiency at bib pick up and miscommunications about how spectators could access the finish line area, but personally I didn’t experience a single hiccup in my weekend from start to finish. Throw into the mix the fact that my incredibly amazing family decided to fly out to Paris to surprise me, as the half marathon weekend happened to fall on my birthday, and, let’s just say, this was the race weekend to beat all others.
Disney race events typically encompass several different races, and Disneyland Paris was no exception. On the Saturday morning of the weekend, fellow INSPIRELLE writer Chloe Martin joined me for the 5K race, and we both had a blast from start to finish. We dressed up as Nick and Judy from Zootopia, and the energy in the parks for the race was simply incredible. All of the cast members were out in full force cheering us along, and there were over a dozen different photo opportunities with Disney characters along the route, including Remy, Linguini, and Emile from Ratatouille, the theme of the 5K race.
The next morning, I ventured out bright and early to tackle the half marathon. Although the start was delayed a couple of minutes for course security measures and the announcers’ mikes cut out for awhile, the race was still a huge success. Once again, the energy inside the parks was electric, and once we were outside the parks, the picturesque route kept the kilometers flying by. In fact, I’ve run half marathons at both Disney World and Disneyland, and the route here in Paris was by far my favorite of all the Disney half marathon routes. So much so that I must have had an extra spring in my step, because when I crossed the finish line and looked down at my watch, I discovered that I had set a personal best, shaving a full 10 minutes off of my time from the last half marathon I had run only three weeks earlier. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.
…the energy inside the parks was electric, and once we were outside the parks, the picturesque route kept the kilometers flying by…
I said many times before this race that Disneyland Paris would be my last Disney race, but after my amazing weekend, I’m pretty sure my resolve is not going to last long. If nothing else, I know I will definitely be back at Disneyland Paris next year for the second annual Disneyland Paris Half Marathon weekend, because next year is the 25th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland Paris. I imagine the energy and excitement will be through the roof. You always hear about legacy runners at races, people who have run every edition of the race since the beginning, and 10 years down the line I’m hoping that will be me.
Every time I run a Disney race, I marvel at the sight of people from all over the world dressing up in costumes, having a great time, and accomplishing a physical feat most people would never dare try.
I guess there’s just something about Disney that brings out the kid in all of us. Some call it entertainment. Others call it the power of imagination. Me? I call it “magique”.