Brother and I arrived to the Superhero Avenger Half Marathon weekend on Thursday and headed straight to the expo. Immediately, we saw some good differences. More Marvel characters on the banners and an overall better vibe.
After the lackluster Dumbo weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Dumbo was suppose to be the crown jewel of the Disneyland races and they fell short in so many ways. The first two years of Avengers (this being the third) were managed wonderfully but a lot of details were missing. It was evident that Avengers has the lowest production budget but it did not hinder the experience.
We quickly got our packet and headed upstairs to the expo. While the Disney expo’s are always well organized, the main problem is they are identical every year. Nothing different, same old, same old. While I love structure, it would be nice to have a different look to it or even different set up. Their expo speaker was downright annoying. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard. Disney may want to consider pre-recording with a voice actor and pipe in the feed in the future. When we arrived to pick up our shirts the volunteers were already going nuts with the expo announcers voice and “announcing”. That was the only real downer about the expo, that I saw.
We headed over to the merchandise area so I could buy my traditional pin and I found one of my cast member friends, Robyn! I love that gal and real bummed I accidentally deleted our picture from my phone. Ugh!
After all said and done, we headed to the hotel to unpack and get ready for the big weekend. Brother was running the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10k and Half) and I was running the Half. I plan to keep my Avenger Legacy going as long as I am able.
Just like Dumbo, I set out for my AM shake out run while the 5k was happening. It’s always so much fun to see all the runners walking around Downtown Disney with their medals. I try my best to congratulate as many as possible. I remember when a 5k seemed like an impossible dream to me.
After a quick shower, I headed back to the Expo for my runDisney Volunteer shift. I have never volunteered with rD before, so I was excited. Historically, I go to the park on Friday but this year, I opted out so I could volunteer.
I volunteered at the 10k booth and met so many first-time runners! It was so much fun and I hope to do it again. Maybe work the actual race sometime.
Up at 3am so we could be walking towards DL for my brother’s 10k. I decided I wanted to do another shake out while they were running. My foot and toe was not feeling so good, and I needed to see how it was feeling. Once my brother and friends started towards the corrals, I started my run. First, through DTD and then onto the DL/DCA courtyard. That was so surreal! No one around but the Cast Members. Lights were on and Superhero music was playing. I could of run in circles all day like that. I took a quick photo at the DL gates. I started to feel regrets about not going into the park this weekend when I saw the gates. #HeavySigh. Headed back through DTD to the Finish Line and wait for Kirk and a few friends.
After the Male OV runner broke the tape, my dear friend, Joe Spatafore came through in his hand cycle. Let me tell you about this man. He is injured and instead of sitting on the sidelines and pouting he found a way to compete. He is using a hand cycle. I have never seen this man happier than when he is on the course. I love him and his family dearly, they are family to us! (see picture below).
Not too much longer after that, bro came through. He was 11th OV, won his AG and the Military. Mission accomplished! He has earned an award at every Disney race he has run in.
Half Marathon Day! After hearing from the runners how much they enjoyed the 10k and the improvements (vs last year and Dumbo) I was eager to see what the Half Marathon would bring. First, I knew the course was different. I had zero issues with the previous courses, but I know many hated the part by the River near the Anaheim Stadium. This year’s course was avoiding that area entirely.
Brother and I were dressed as Quick Silver and Scarlet Witch. They are siblings in the Marvel comic books and movies. I spent a long time searching out exact replicas of some of her accessories like the jewelry and arm bracers. I was excited, but also feeling “oh geez” I felt completely out of shape and wondered what would happen. My foot was not feeling so hot and overall, I knew I was not in the racing form I needed to be.
Race began and we quickly ran into the park. During that hour it is PITCH BLACK. Disney really needed more lightening, a few of us almost tripped and fell.
First, we were in the DCA area and the regret of not going into the park was sinking in. Then, we ran into DL. I looked up to see Walt’s apartment and then it hit me as we turned the corner on Main Street. The castle. Yep, I had officially regretted not going to the park. I loved volunteering but no park time did throw me out of my zone. I couldn’t stay focused while running in the park, not at all. The worst? Seeing It’s a Small World with the Christmas lights. I could of easily just stopped the race at that moment and sat there for hours.
Made our way outside of the park and I did my best to regroup, but never quite got there. Foot was aching, but not hindering me. As we climbed the freeway overpass to get into the Stadium area, I felt the toe “pop”. That did not feel good at all. I didn’t tell my brother as I know he would of made me stop. Until I was limping, I felt there was no reason to stop. This was around Mile 7. I wanted to finish and get as many pictures as I could with my brother on the course.
Coming out of the Stadium, we were met with a long line of performers in Marvel outfits. I saw the comic book version of Scarlet Witch, but not the movie version (what I was wearing). I did get a few shout outs, too. That was fun.
The last few miles is identical to the Disneyland Half Marathon and I was ready to get back into the park (Mile 12) and be done. My foot was hurting and I couldn’t get the vision of the park out of my head.
We finished in 2:08:02. (Last year, I finished in 1:53 and an AG award) Funny, the course was the same distance and my race time was much longer but this year’s course went by much quicker. If I had to choose, I would say this year’s course was the best of the 3. I hope they keep this one!
We immediately headed to the medic area so we could ice. My brother is having ongoing achilles issues and of course my foot needed ice. It was there, when I told him about my foot. Yeah, he wasn’t happy I hid that from him, but oh well. I think having compression socks on was a godsend to me. Kept my foot stabilized until I could get off it.
After icing and a few quick photos we needed to get on the road so my brother could run the RnRLV Half marathon that night.
Overall, this event was the best of the 3 years (and I enjoyed them all) and MUCH better managed than Dumbo. What a relief! I knew RunDisney could pull it off for us.
Medal: B – I love Disney medals but they do need to change them every year. Unfortunately, they took away our spinner medal from the previous years.
Shirt: A – Always love their shirts. They are the only shirts I keep. Long sleeve, to!
Course: A – Loved this course layout. Please keep it! I heard many other runners rave about it too. It’s a winner, folks!
Mile Markers: C – way off. Some were off as much as 1/10th of a mile. Not good.
RunDisney Cast Members: A – Kind, smiling and always helpful.
Characters on the course: A – (At Dumbo, they put the Characters behind fences, railing and completely out of reach. huh?) At Avengers, they had the Characters with great backdrops. BTW, bring Black Widow a bit closer to the course not stuck back in a nook. She was easily missed at DCA.
Post race food: A – bravo! (Dumbo post race food boxes were AWFUL. Greasy cheese, recycled boxes from Princess and Tinkerbell.) Avengers – much better (see photo)
Post race photos: A – (Another Dumbo fail.) We had generic RunDisney backdrops, nothing race specific. Avengers – love the backdrops! Bonus – they created a special photo area with the Disney photographers were you could bring your family for photos. What a fantastic idea!
Announcers: B – (That was a BIG Dumbo fail. It was like watching a WWE (wrestling) match on that stage.) Avengers, they had the ladies (Carissa and Andrea) on the stage and Quami “on the Street”. Quami was on point and found his place vs being on the stage. Carissa and Andrea on the main stage are okay. Andrea stepped up her game and seemed more confident. Carissa did fine on the 5k and 10k (as I am told) but once she got to the Finish Line for both races and during the Half Marathon pre-race she was her typical screaming in the mic person. She really needs to take a chill pill and let the mic do the work. I still think a male/female combo is best for this venue, not a fan of the two female announcing team (even though Andrea is one of my good friends). Surely, RunDisney can find a male to compliment a female (and yes, my vote is on Andrea because she did a great job, not because she is my friend). Keep Quami on the street, it was a lot of fun to watch him! BTW, grateful beyond words that RunDisney did not have the announcers dance on the small stage. That was a total embarrassment at Dumbo. Let them announce, don’t make them dance. Please.
Race Vibe: A – I give it an A because I saw so many happy and smiling faces during the weekend. (Unlike Dumbo where everyone was walking around disappointed and unmotivated).
OVERALL grade: B+/A-: Fix the announcing team line-up, the mile markers and repetitive medal design, they will have an A race. I hope that rD realizes the importance of the Start & Finish Line announcers. It’s not just a bunch of people on mic’s, they set the tone for our event.
Despite my lackluster race performance and I didn’t go into the park, I love this race weekend. Why? It’s a different demographic. Not about Princesses or sparkles. It’s about Superhero’s. It was a lot of fun to watch all the CosPlay and see runners become their favorite Superhero. I will be keeping my Half Marathon Legacy going for sure.
Dear RunDisney: if you happen to read this. Request for Dumbo weekend: Be sure to recognize the 5 year Legacy runners of the Dumbo Challenge. Even a special bib would be great, but please do something.
- My thanks to RunDisney for upping their game and making the necessary improvements since the Dumbo weekend. It was wonderful to walk away from a Disney race with good feelings vs “what just happened?”. See you at Tinkerbell!
- My utmost thanks to my husband, kids and dogs who continually see me out the door and welcome me home with hugs, smiles and licks (the dogs, not the husband and kids).
- My brother who convinced me to wear Scarlet Witch and run along side of me despite your weird jokes. I am now emotionally attached to this character.
- To Joe and MJ – seeing you was a highlight and I am so glad we can share our Disney experiences
- To Emil – Dude! You wore a cotton shirt. J/k – I always love seeing you at races.
- To Andrea – thank you for your enthusiasm and lunch! It was great to see you again!
My Race Day Essentials
Fueling: Glukos Energy Tablets – Fruit Punch
Extra Kick: RunGum – Cinnamon
Support: KT Tape – Pro Extreme