Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two Keys to the Kingdom, Please - The Dumbo Double Dare 2014

Two races in a weekend? That's not a problem.

Warm temps at race start? Been there.

A field composed of a lot of first timers with basic race etiquette? We've lived that before too.

Watching some of our favorite stories come to life, mile after mile?  Now THAT'S something we've never seen before.

runDisney is part of THE ultimate entertainment company. The Dumbo Double Dare was our first Disney race and part of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. Shelling out a few hundred bucks for a race is pretty rare for us but since these sell out within hours, there is no discounted price. Disney can command top dollar.

We stayed on the edge of the park thanks to a suggestion from Al, a Disney veteran and legacy runner. The Sheraton Anaheim is just about a mile walk to the expo at the Disneyland Resort Hotel and even closer to the start and finish lines. 

Susan likes to accessorize for races. She was in fine form all weekend!
We arrived Friday afternoon after the 5K, so the expo was already in full swing. Marcie at Sport Hooks told me the three day expo is great for business. She had a lot of custom Disney racks to show off and they were going like hotcakes.

The speaker series had a couple of big names we were looking forward to hearing. Sean Astin (known for parts like Rudy and Samwise from the LOTR), is an avid runner. His mantra is #Run3rd. He runs 1st for himself, 2nd for his family and then 3rd for you (anyone who asks him). He had a line 15 minutes long for autographs after his presentation on Friday. 

We realized how many times we've met amazing people at races. We're starting to ask for autographs, like proper groupies should.
Susan told Sean she was racing her 70th half marathon. He didn't think he had any advice to give. He actually wanted to know if we'd heard about the half marathon on Antarctica. After telling him about the White Continent/Punta Arenas trip with Marathon Adventures, I think he may be signing up for 2015!

Legendary run/walker and official runDisney coach Jeff Galloway was up next with the nutritionist. Jeff is a fan of walking, though he stresses that racewalking, when improperly practiced, can be as much a source of injury as running. He has been running for 37 years without an injury and still is close to Boston Qualifying speed. His book "Running Until You're 100" may be in need of a sequel ("Running Forever").

We took a quick walk through Downtown Disney to check out dinner places and some of the shops. My friends know I'm not a fan of the whole Princess and old school Disney stories, but the newer Pixar films are among my favorites. Add a Lego statue, and everything is awesome.

We had pre-10K dinner at Rufino's. After an early bed time and a 3:45 wake up call, we took the short stroll to the 10K start. 

in the category of 'train with what you will wear on race day', we failed miserably

The logistics were incredibly well managed. Foot traffic from all directions funneled well into each of the corrals. Here they actually did check bibs so very few if any people were able to start into the incorrect corrals. The Dumbo racers also had different bibs than the 10K and Half-only participants. There seemed to be a lot of us.

Race announcers Rudy Novotny and Carissa and a parade of characters kept people entertained before the gun. The light show at the start was really a nice touch. The jumbotron, the countdowns on the pylons and the huge lighted balls indicating corrals were a sure sign this is was a race put on by an entertainment company. Having complete control over the location really has its advantages. 

Around mile 2, we meet up with Al in Radiator Springs. This year's theme was Lilo and Stitch so he was in full Hawaiian garb. Kamika would be so proud. Somehow I missed taking a picture of Al. I'm glad he was able to come down and take a break from the chaos caused at work by the Napa earthquake. 

For this weekend, we decided to take it easy on the 10K and get any training speed during the half marathon after we left the park. Since both courses spend a lot of time in the park with several characters available for pictures, it's typically not a set up for fast races on both days. Unless you're going to spend a lot of time in the park after the races, why not have some fun? 

This was my first 10K. Susan ran Rock N Roll Brooklyn a few years back which is why she is one RNR race ahead of me. I set a really relaxed PR in the mid 1:20's including about 28 pictures. Sadly, the hat-cam froze a few minutes into the race and the only video I got was of Susan yawning at the starting line with some guy videobombing behind her. 

Disney does a really nice job with the finish line area, funneling everyone through medals, wrist band pick up (to indicate the first race of the Dumbo), a snack box tent and then gear check before sending you on your way. 

It was never really crowded, even with the over 9500 participants. Kudos on day 1 for the organization!

We met Al and Caryn for shopkicking and dinner at TuTu Tango. Those that know us may get the significance.

Half marathon morning was going to be warm - low 70's by 4 AM. I checked my Facebook feed, I saw that our friends racing Rock n Roll Virginia Beach that day were going to have temps in the mid 70's. By mid-race RNR VB had a recorded heat index of 107, the highest ever on the RNR circuit. We reminded ourselves why we've done VB twice and probably never again. All that said, we took several years of experience and geared up like a serious race.

Or not...
Score one for connections on Facebook. Our friend from the Santa Cruz Track club (Diana) and her son Jason were in town for the Dumbo also. Jason finished 4th overall in the 10K the day before and 26th overall in the half. Diana was nursing a knee injury, but at her best she is a low 2:10's race walker. Speed, it seems, runs in the family.

The low light in the first few miles of the course made for blurry pictures. The army men from Toy Story, Mater and Lightning McQueen from Cars and a few floats from Toy Story and The Incredibles are in my phone, but hardly identifiable.  I did try to wait in line to take a picture with Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers, but Darth had to take a break when I was 8 people away, proving how thoroughly evil he is.  I complained. Apparently too loudly for their taste.

Once we left the park there was a lot less Disney. Caryn was waiting for us near our hotel at mile 4, Stephanie was at mile 4 and 11 and the cheer squads on the course seemed to be stationed every half mile or so. Even though it was pretty early, it was rarely quiet. Two photo highlights of the race are the row of classic cars:

..and the stretch through Angel's stadium. They actually call everyone out by name if there's enough space between you and the folks around you.

The final loops back into the park were a bit of a fog. We finished in reasonable times (2:35 ish). We got the Half medal, picked up the Dumbo medal and went for the same smooth exit as we did the previous day. As an added perk, they gave out reusable cooling towels to fend off the heat. I had some reservations about the high price tag for the race, but I think it was definitely worth it.

Is it just me, or does Susan look even younger than usual with the ears?
These were the first Disney races for us. We'll be back at Disneyland in November for the Avenger's Half Marathon and again in January for Star Wars Half Marathon weekend.  I plan to wait in line for Darth for that one, even if he has to take a break.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy some really cool bling and a bunch of pictures that makes me feel like I did when we visited Disneyland decades ago. 

The Kingdom still has some Magic left in it.


Disney has nine race weekends that offer multiple distances over the weekend. A few have opportunities for bonus medals for finishing two or more races. The Goofy Challenge (half and full marathons) and Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, Half and Full) both take place in January during the Disneyworld Marathon Weekend. The Pixie Dust Challenge takes place at the Tinkerbell Weekend for those completing the 10K and the Half. The new Rebel Challenge takes place at the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend in January.

The Dumbo Double Dare had 9606 finishers in the 10K and 15,984 in the Half. About 6000 finished both races for the Dumbo medal. Median times are significantly slower than most of the other races judging by the fact that we placed in the low 7000's for the half. There's a lot to see and it's a good idea to take your time.

The course is flat. Even the 'hill' at mile 4 is barely a freeway over pass. With good weather conditions, it's a PR worthy course, but I think I'd have to have done it a few times and gotten bored with the scenery to try to push it.  I don't know that we'll get to that point for the price tag, but I know never to say never.

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