I started running in January of 2010 as a way to lose weight. Shortly after, some friends talked me into doing my first 1/2 Marathon, the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon. At a cost of $125 it was a big commitment, one that I felt the need to be prepared for. Over the next 9 months I began a training program that would completely change my life.
Since that first race in September of 2010, I have run 2 additional Disneyland 1/2 Marathons, the Inaugural Tinkerbell Half Marathon, 2 Los Angeles Marathons and 9 other Half Marathons. These events have ranged from large corporate races (Rock N Roll Series), non-corporate Races (Hollywood 1/2 Marathon, New Years Race Los Angeles) and smaller Local Races.
This article is to give a comparison of different types of races and is in no way a promotion for any particular race or race series. The sole purpose is to help you decide if a Disney or Non-Disney race is right for you and if the fees Disney charges for races is worth it compared to other running events. For the purposes of this article we will be comparing three races I’ve had the privilege to run; the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon, The Asics Los Angeles Marathon and the Hollywood Half Marathon.
*Note: The pictures of the Los Angeles Marathon were taken during the 2012 event
For any fan of Disney and Disneyland who also happens to enjoy running, the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon is a no brainer. Below is a picture from the start of the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon.
However, in the last few years, the fees for the Disneyland races have increased at an extraordinary rate. What cost $125 in 2010 now costs $175 for the 2013 race. By comparison, the Los Angeles Marathon that goes through the cities of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica costs $145. The Hollywood Half Marathon that travels down Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd has various fees starting at $50 and increasing to $100 depending on when you register.
The Los Angeles Marathon begins at Dodger Stadium
When looking at the Disneyland Half Marathon the obvious advantage it has over most other races is running through Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Angel Stadium. However, when one looks at the course map for the 2012 race only about 2 1/2 miles are actually in or backstage at the parks.
Running through the parks is a tremendous experience
Parade floats backstage
Cars Land at 6am
Running under the train tunnel backstage at Disneyland
Stopping to take pictures with the characters is also a highlight
Matterhorn at Sunrise
However, once you leave Disneyland most of the race is on the streets of Anaheim.
Entering the back-side of Honda Center on your way to Angel Stadium
Running through Angel Stadium is another highlight of the Disneyland Half Marathon
By Comparison, other than the first 1/4 mile, the entirety of the The Los Angeles Marathon is run on city streets. However the race features many historical landmarks for you to enjoy.
Leaving Dodger Stadium after the start of the Los Angeles Marathon
Los Angeles City Hall
One thing most races share are amazing spectators with even more amazing signs
Both the Los Angeles Marathon and Hollywood Half Marathon allow you to run along the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame
Rodeo Drive is another highlight
And finally down to Santa Monica
So now the question must be asked, is the Disneyland Half Marathon worth the cost? Is any race worth the cost for that matter? That is for each person to decide. It’s important to remember that all of these races make money, it’s also important to remember that most races (Disney included) have some kind of charitable component. So you can always feel good knowing that you are supporting a worthy cause.
The Hollywood Half Marathon proudly supports the Los Angeles Youth Network and has already raised almost $50k for worthy causes.
The course map for the upcoming Hollywood Half Marathon
The other thing to consider is logistics. When you factor in the Disney races, their pre-race Expo is on Disney property, the portions of the race on Disney property do not require any police to close streets or any city clean up crews to clean up after.
In the case of the Los Angeles Marathon they must rent space at the Convention Center, it requires police to close 26.2 miles of major streets from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica and the clean up crews afterwards. Not to mention cups, water, snacks for that 26.2 miles for 24,000 participants.
And for the Hollywood Half, their expo is at the Universal Hilton and requires street closures of Hollywood Blvd, Sunset and Silver Lake Blvd.
In the case of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Half Marathon you can see where your entrance fees are going. For Disney, due to the increase in price it’s becoming harder to see what the increased fees are going towards given that there haven’t really been any upgrades since my first race in 2010. Also, sadly, in 2012 the post-race snacks took a definite downturn as most race participants would tell you. Instead of the traditional bananas, bagels and other snacks given to you by happy volunteers, finishers were offered a pre-made box of snacks that were left sitting on a table.
One thing that’s universal among races is the joy you feel when you cross the finish line.
In the end, it’s up to each individual person to determine which races are worth it. As a Disney fan I won’t discourage anybody from running a Disney race. But there isn’t as big of a gap between the quality of these races as one might think. There are great local races out there for you to enjoy, great charities for you to support and an entire running community for you to become a part of.
Unfortunately, the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon sold out completely in it’s first day. Registration for the 2014 Tinkerbell Half Marathon will begin in July. In addition there are more races in Florida including the opportunity to go for the Coast to Coast medal. For more information about Disney races you can check the RunDisney website.
In Florida news, the new Dopey Challenge has been announced. The challenge includes a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, 1/2 Marathon on Saturday and Full Marathon on Sunday. Cost for the challenge is $495 if you register by June 18. You can see all the information on the WDW Marathon Site.
If you are interested in running the 2nd Annual Hollywood Half Marathon, 10k or 5k, registration is still available on the Hollywood Half Marathon website. The event is on April 6 so hurry!!
Have you participated in a great running event? We’d love to hear your stories and advice below.