Sadly, the Casual Runner Team will not be attending runDisney’s Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend this year (I know, we will all be suffering from serious cases of FOMO), but for people who have never run this race weekend before (or those who are just getting excited to run it again) we wanted to share our tips for the weekend. As you read this please keep in mind that this is based on what I have experienced running the Pixie Dust Challenge in 2015, and as runDisney is always looking to change things up, new surprises will surely await you!
What is the Pixie Dust Challenge?
Depending on how many races you are running, make sure you have everything ready to go for your outfits: tops, bottoms (tutus and running skirts included), undergarments, socks, running shoes and all Tinkerbell accessories (you can wear wings)!
Speaking from personal experience it’s always best to pack an extra running outfit in case something goes wrong. Maybe even pack that extra outfit in your carry-on if you are flying to California. If you are running multiple races, it is a good idea to bring extra shoes as well in case it rains (yes it rains at Disney…Disney does not control the weather, as many seem to believe, ahem, anyone remember the 2014 Splash & Dash and the 2015 Wine & Dine??). I know it’s not typical for it to rain in California, but if it rains, your shoes may not dry out before your next race, and no one likes starting off a race in wet shoes.
Other “must haves” whiles running include headphones, music playing device, charger for music playing device, GPS running device, charger for your GPS, ponytail holders (yes multiple, they break easily), and a running belt or something to hold all of your energy food/music playing device.
You may have noticed I left a water bottle off of this list. If it makes you comfortable to run with water, then definitely bring one. However, runDisney does an amazing job of placing water and sport drink along the course. I won’t bore you of telling you what to pack for the rest of your vacation but I will leave you with two pieces of advice for that. First: comfortable shoes to wear to the parks. Second: non chaffing bottoms. We Casual Runners HATE the chafe.
The RunDisney Health and Fitness Expo
While we have an entire article with tips for Surviving a RunDisney expo, I wanted to share some Tinkerbell-specific ones.
The Expo begins on Thursday morning and goes thru early Saturday evening at the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall. From past experience, runDisney expos tend to be the most busy on the first day of the expo (especially when the expo first opens). However if you want official race merchandise I suggest that you make it to the expo on the first day, preferably at opening.
Also, another tip for getting official race merchandise is to go to the merchandise booth before you go to pick up your bib. Your bib will be there no matter when you go, the merchandise may not. The only people that absolutely have to go to the expo on Thursday are the 5K runners. That being said, all 10K and Tinkerbell Challenge runners have to go to the expo on Friday. Saturday will have the lowest crowd levels because the only people left to pick up bibs that day are the remaining Half Marathon runners.
Side note (in case you are completely looking to skip the expo): runDisney announced Packet Pick-Up Services for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World. Nothing has been said (yet) in regards to Tinkerbell if they will also offer this service, but I feel that it is worth mentioning in case they do, so be sure to check the runDisney website if this service interests you. What is being offered at Star Wars Dark Side is race morning packet pickup for $39 or you can have your packet delivered to the front desk of your hotel for $54.
You should never run race a race without trying out your race gear before. It can be very tempting to buy new things at the expo to wear for the race, but I advise you not do this. That being said, if you’ve ran in something before, you can always get a new version. I like to check out the Sweaty Band booth to see if I can find a new one to run in for the race or just for training runs at home. I also tend to stock up on gels when I’m at the expo.
Take the time and check out the booths. Some booths give out samples and freebies, so it’s a great time to taste test running gels, blocks, and energy bars. Or maybe you want to find a cool way to display your SMOs there are multiple booths there selling racks and frames to do so. Just have fun, this is all part of enjoying the weekend.
Make sure to check out more tips on Surviving a RunDisney expo.
New Balance & Special runDisney Running Shoes
Wondering what you should check out at the expo? My first priority at every runDisney expo is to head on over to the New Balance booth so I can check in to collect points on the MyNB app.
In case you’re not familiar with this program you can collect points on the app to get rewards such as, runDisney race bibs! (Yes this is amazing, go ahead go sign up…just don’t forget to come back and finish reading this article!) I also enjoy perusing their booth to check out the runDisney shoes. However, if you want to get your hands on these shoes you need to sign up for a virtual spot in line the day before you go. The only pair of runDisney New Balance shoes that I have are the Tinkerbell ones that I purchased at this expo last year! And yes, they even glow in the dark, which comes in handy on many of those cool Disney attractions.
The Tinkerbell Half Marathon Course
I’m going to give you a quick breakdown of the half marathon course. If you want to know even more about the course, make sure you check out the reviews from the 2015 Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Disclaimer: This is subject to change and is based off of the 2015 course. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon course has changed multiple times since the inaugural run. Also with construction going on for Star Wars Land at Disneyland this could affect the course.
The Half Marathon course begins in the same place as the 10K the day before on Disneyland Drive. The first mile is spent going around the perimeter of Disneyland by turning right onto Ball Road then right onto S Harbor Blvd. After passing the mile one marker you will soon come on mile 12. I know, complete mind trick! Don’t worry you will come back to this part of the course later (pixie dust does not make it so that you get to run 13 miles by running a little over 2!). Shortly after passing this mile marker you will take a back entrance into Disneyland where you will pass thru a tunnel and come in a side entrance to California Adventure. This is the only Disneyland race weekend I have run, and everyone I have talked to claims this is the best course for in-park time that Disneyland has to offer. I will definitely agree that you feel like you spend the first half of the course in the parks!
You will travel thru “a bug’s land” and on into “Cars Land” where you will have a beautiful view of Radiator Springs on Route 66. Next be ready to travel around Paradise Pier and check out Mickey’s Fun Wheel (or wheel of death as Mike likes to call it)! You will then head toward the entrance of the park passing the mile 3 marker on your way.
As you leave California Adventure it’s time to enter Disneyland! First you will head right down Main Street USA straight toward Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, then turn right to head into Tomorrowland. Time to head past the Matterhorn and on to Toontown where you will find the mile 4 marker in a backstage area of the park. You will come back into the park via Fantasyland. A great bathroom I found to use was in Fantasyland by the Mad Tea Party ride as it was not crowded whatsoever. You will come along the back side of the castle and head toward Frontierland where you will come upon the mile 5 marker. It is time to head out of the park and run thru Downtown Disney.
It is important to know that all character pictures take place inside of the parks, so if you want to snap a picture make sure you do it before you come upon the Mile 5 marker because you will not see any other character stops past this point. From my recollection, the 2015 character lineup on the course featured Tinkerbell and her friends of Pixie Hollow.
As you go through Downtown Disney there was tons of on course support! Especially at Mickey’s Sorcerer hat, where you have the support of Anaheim’s Red Hat Society. You leave Downtown Disney shortly after you pass the mile 6 marker and just like that you are halfway done, having spent half of the course in the parks.
It’s now time to head out onto the streets of Anaheim. I know that many find this a boring part of the course, which don’t get me wrong it is, however I definitely picked up speed during this part. Maybe because I wanted to hurry and get this part over with it helped, but I remember looking at my splits after finishing the race and I cut approximately 10 minutes off of my finish time from the 10K marker prediction time. The on course entertainment in Anaheim is local high school bands and they are great as in pull out your headphones when you run by and enjoy.
So remember that mile 12 marker you ran by 10.5 miles ago? Well, you have now run 6 miles through the streets of Anaheim and it is almost time to finish the race! You will go thru the tunnel again and head around the perimeter of California Adventure. This is an identical finish to the 10K from the previous day. After the 13 mile marker it’s just a quick tenth of mile sprint thru the parking lot to the finish line!
After crossing the finish line make sure you collect your medal! A first-aid tent is available if needed, if not, its time to collect your goodies. Last year they handed out a mesh drawstring bag to collect your goodies. You’ll get your water and Powerade. And it is also time to stop for a finisher photo!
It is important that if you earned your Pixie Dust Challenge or Coast to Coast medal you head through the appropriate tent to do so. Volunteers will verify your bib with the photo you took at the expo for the Pixie Dust Challenge or your wristband for the Coast to Coast medal. Don’t forget if you are getting your Coast to Coast medal because you ran Walt Disney World’s Princess Half Marathon you get the pink medal! Also new this year. If you already received a blue Coast to Coast medal from running Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon at Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Princess Half Marathon race this year you can also get a pink Coast to Coast medal for Disney World’s Princess Half Marathon and Tinkerbell’s Half Marathon.
Next, make sure you pick up your banana and runDisney snack pack. You have officially made your way through the finish line at this point and it is time to spend time with your family and friends or hurry back to your hotel to shower and spend times in the park! Don’t forget if you’re going out to the park to celebrate wear your medal(s)!
We hope you all have a magical race weekend.
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