Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tinker Bell weekend part 2 - Never Land 5k

The Never Land Family Fun Run 5k started at 10:30pm on Friday night, and they started letting runners into the park at 9:30pm. I arrived around 9:40pm which initially I thought was a little early, but turned out to be very good timing. I stopped for a photo on Main Street, and you can see all the runners behind me already making their way up toward the castle.

At the Disney fun run 5ks I've done in the past, they don't give you specific corrals but will ask runners to line up near signs indicating the approximate pace you expect to run. It doesn't work that well, but at least they made an effort. For the Never Land 5k it was just first come, first served. As people arrived, they herded us into place and there was no option for faster runners to move to the front and slower runners to move to the back. I felt really bad for the people who arrived later because there had been no advance notice given that this was how it would work at the start. I know it's an untimed fun run, but still it's not fun when the course is too crowded to even be able to run.

I ended up in about the second or third corral which was actually an optimal spot for taking photos and seeing the entertainment. In the photos below you can sort of see the stage at the front left of the castle where the MCs would speak. Among their spiel, they gave us some numbers about the weekend. From what I can remember, there were 3,000-4,000 people doing the 5k. For the half, there were about 900 men registered and 10,000 women. There were runners from 48 states. Not surprisingly, California was the state with the most runners and Canada was the country (aside from the US of course) with the most runners.

For the national anthem, instead of a singer they brought out a royal trumpeter. He's standing on the castle where the spotlights are shining.

Before the start of the race, Tinker Bell appeared to wish us all a good run. (Actually this might have been before the national anthem; I can't remember anymore.) I didn't get any photos, but you can go to Brightroom to see their video of Tinker Bell. It was definitely a highlight of the evening.

So finally the race started. As expected, the first couple minutes consisted of a slow shuffle and a lot of dodging and weaving until I was able to break away from the pack. But after that I had started early enough and was fast enough to not experience any course congestion the rest of the race. Right away we saw Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto out on the course cheering us on. There was quite a crowd surrounding them so this was the only time I didn't stop to get a photo with the characters.

From there the course went backstage and there were some parade floats out to add some interest as we ran through.

Then we went back into Disneyland park where there were a couple of photo ops as we headed toward Frontierland. I loved the Lost Boys. They were so enthusiastic when they saw I wanted to take a photo with them and scrambled to get in place for the photo just the way I'd expect the Lost Boys to act.

After this there was about a mile of non in-park running, but there were still things to look at and plenty of cast members out to watch and cheer us on. The race logo was shone on the side of a backstage building.

I think all of the mile markers were themed, but the only one I really noticed was mile 2.

Most of the last mile of the race was inside California Adventure. Here I am running past the Monsters, Inc. ride.

I don't think this was meant to be a photo op, but I saw a Cast Member there and didn't give him much choice. I just handed him my camera and ducked under the rope.

The pirates stayed very much in character all night. The one on the right was wearing a microphone and shouting piratey words of encouragement to the runners.

The race ended on the other side of Mickey's Fun Wheel. I wish all races had such a gorgeous view coming into the finish line.

There was one last photo op with Peter Pan and Wendy...

And then a short run to the finish. (Why am I always heel striking in photos?)

I wasn't wearing my Garmin so I tried to snap a photo of the finish line clock but I had my camera on the wrong setting or something. Instead the Brightroom photographer got a funny photo of me taking a photo.

I'm pretty sure that the clock read 27-something when I finished, which is a great time considering that it took a few minutes to start and I stopped for all the photos. It helped that I never had to wait in line for any of the character photos. I also think it didn't feel like that much of an effort because I was taking breaks rather than running continuously for the entire 5k. It was more like a series of sprints.

In case you couldn't tell by all the photos, I had a ton of fun during this race. I probably would have felt differently if I had arrived later and got stuck in the crowd, but based on my experience it completely met my expectations for a Disney race and definitely got me excited for the half marathon on Sunday morning. And how can anyone not be happy seeing all the colorful lights and Mickey's smiling face?

Of course I had to get a few last photos with my finisher's medallion.

And then it was finally time to rest up for a morning run and another day at the parks.


  1. Looks like you had a great time!

  2. ah what a GORGEOUS back drop Mickey's fun wheel and all those lights make. I've only been to disney WORLD out of the theme parks and that was once last year for princess 1/2. I need to head to west coast to check out disney land