So it’s been over two weeks since I caped up and ran the first ever Avengers Half marathon – and I haven’t told you about it yet. What is wrong with me? Well a combination of really needing a holiday and whopping jetlag to be honest, the last week I’ve been lucky if I can type work – except at 1am. At 1am I’m remarkably chirpy. But here I am now – and it’s time for my race report.
As ever, the race started at ridiculous o’clock – 5.30am, with instructions to be at the start line in plenty of time. Used to the madness of the Walt Disney World races I take that to heart and so, with jetlag on my side, I left the Candy Cane Inn at about 4.00am aiming to get to the staging area by 4.15. Unlike last year when I had lots of WISHers to walk with, this year I was on my own. I went to the 7-11 to pick up a cup of tea and then headed toward the start – I was the only person walking towards Disneyland which was a bit strange. The good news is, it’s a really wide path and nicely lit and so I felt pretty safe (although I admit, I had the top off the tea in case I needed it to throw it at someone and make a run for it) and in less than 10 minutes I arrived at the transportation centre and more people started to appear.
I got to the start and sat down to eat my breakfast. In the middle of the floor. It was odd, there was loads of space. Compared to past Disney races it seemed really, really empty – to prove my point, I didn’t have to queue for the loo! When they called us to the corrals, I headed toward my assigned pen – Corral E. I didn’t want to get to the front, instead I wanted to be at the side so I could sit down for the next 45 minutes. No worries there – I think there were 20 other people in there when I arrived.
Things filled up a bit and, lines for the loos closest to the corrals showed me things were filling up, but still we had plenty of room to move. I’m not complaining, it just seemed really strange. And then I looked behind me – I’d heard that the corrals further back had more people in them than the ‘first corrals’ and from what I could see, they had ALL the people. I haven’t read many race reports from people in the further back corrals but they did look busy.
After lots of announcer stuff, one wedding proposal (not me I hasten to add), a few selfies in my cape and endless tying and retying of my shoelaces we were off – and the limited amount of people around me meant I managed to get into a rhythm straight away which was lovely. The course starts going through backstage at California Adventure, then goes through the park, then goes through Disneyland – about the first three miles were in the parks. Now, I know it wasn’t a Disney themed race but I was a little disappointed with how little there was to look at en route. That’s why I run these things and I like that they have the floats out and that you run past costuming and stuff – this literally was the backlot (though props to the Custodians who were out in force). I felt a bit let down.
This was however all forgotten when I spotted Mickey and Minnie just past Cinderella’s castle. Normally I’ve only ever seen Mickey at the finish line so I had to stop for a pic. Up until now I hadn’t really bothered with pics (except a small selfie with a dwarf in front the carousel and the castle. Gotta get a pic with the castle) I wasn’t interested in any of the ‘Avengers’ themselves – the only one I like is Tony Stark, okay, I like Robert Downey Jnr, but a combination of him being a major Hollywood star and a tiny Ironman/exercise copyright issue, meant I didn’t get RDJ to pose next to.
Mile Four saw us hit Harbour Blvd and the race proper began. As did the wind. I thought it was odd when the mile 4 mile marker was on the floor. At mile 5 when we turned into a head wind, I was smiling and thinking ‘ah, lovely warm wind – at least it’s not snowing and pelting with ice cold rain I can deal with this wind,’ At mile 7 though we hit the Santa Ana trail – the dusty, unpaved Santa Ana trail. At this point the wind was now a sandstorm and I was eating dirt. This is not a euphemism. I was literally chewing dust. I was so thankful that I had sunglasses on or my contact lenses would have been destroyed by this point. Mile 7-8 were brutal – there was an amazing group of Cosplayers that appeared en route and kind of registered in my side vision – but all I could think was ‘I’ve really had enough now’ so I couldnt really appreciate the effort they’d gone to (sorry guys). All around me people looked the same. It was like a scene from a disaster movies as we trudged along, there were even tumbleweeds rolling past for heaven’s sake.
The best bit about running through a sandstorm though is how bloody great you feel when you’re not in one! I’d been very nervous about what was going to happen to me after I came out of Angel Stadium (around mile 9) as I’d not trained the way I should. Turns out, I was virtually skipping as, I COULD BREATHE. Okay, we now had a tailwind which was blowing my cape the wrong way and causing it to nearly garott me (that never happens to Superman) but I COULD BREATHE WITHOUT INHALING HALF OF CALIFORNIA. I kept running until mile 11 (admittedly, the mile 10 mile marker had blown to Kansas or something so I didn’t actually spot it), walked from 11-12 and then ran in the last mile with a sprint finish….get me.
So, overall – I’m glad I did the race, but it did teach me that I need to be behind the theme to truly enjoy it. As normal the people of Anaheim did their city proud – there were heaps of school bands, cheerleaders, veterans, and my favourite, as we went up an overpass, a school class of about 20 kids all of whom were wearing various superhero/Marvel themed t-shirts. Such a simple little touch but for some reason I loved it. The medal is great though.
Here’s my pros and cons….
It’s later in the year than the Disneyland half so much cooler
It didn’t seem as a busy as the DL half – at least toward the front/middle of the pack. I reckon I could have stayed in bed at least another half an hour.
It coincided with the launch of the Xmas decorations so I got to see the park in Crimbo mode
It’s a different course from DL which makes a nice change
Lots of costumes – don’t know if this was because it was a first race or because tights are easy to run it but everyone made a real effort.
The crowds in the park were very bad on Friday night – a combination of marathoners and those wanting to see the decorations I think. I lasted an hour before I headed out.
There’s not as much to look at backstage in the parks – and while there were a lot of Avengers en route, if you’re not into the theme you may be disappointed.
The dusty part of the Santa Ana trail may need a rethink – my eyes stung the whole day and I had to take an antihistamine to stop myself wheezing.
The old cars werent there. They are my favourite part of the DL half. I like the revving.
Personally I wont run it again. I just didnt like the theme enough to fly all that way but if you are an Avengers fan its fun. Just watch out for the dust. Although now I think about….duststorm, exhausted unhappy looking people crying out for water (and Clif shots) , trudging past people dressed like Loki and Captain America, random tumbleweeds and dystopian tent villages worthy of a film set…..hang on maybe they may have just filmed the new Avengers film with us in it! Mr Whedon, oh Mr Whedon……