That is how I came to find myself in the starting corrals of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland in the early morning hours of May 10, 2015, along with my two sisters and 13,000 other runners (primarily women, and a few brilliant men!). The half marathon started on Disney property near the resort hotels, and kicked off in true Disney-style with a fireworks display and Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck at the starting line.
The route winded through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, as well as through the city of Anaheim. Along the way there were several Disney characters rooting on runners (and many runners stopped for pictures), bands and cheerleaders, as well as tons of Disney employees and others who lined the streets to cheer runners on. Being able to run through Disneyland before it opened for the day and seeing some of the backstage areas that are off-limits to most visitors was amazing! It was almost sensory overload with so much to take in—new rides and attractions like Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park, as well as nostalgic favorites like Cinderella’s castle and the spinning teacups that brought me right back to my childhood. I was so engaged that I hardly even noticed the 13.1 miles! It was truly a magical experience!
I know that many serious runners are thinking that running through Disneyland dressed as Donald Duck hardly qualifies as a competitive athletic event. They are correct—it is something more than that. Instead of focusing solely on PRs and time goals, the Tinkerbell Half Marathon is an opportunity to be totally immersed in the experience and to feel like a kid again. There is a reason it is called the happiest place on earth!