Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Hey Mickey!

After an arduous week, we found ourselves at Disneyland Paris prepared for a weekend of fun at the House of Mouse.  It is amazing how  much more fun Disneyland is without small children in tow!  In lieu of small children we met up with friends who we had convinced that running at Disney was 'a good thing' for at least long enough for them to sign up to the races, book accommodation and hand over the money.  We arrived at the Expo to collect our race numbers late on Friday afternoon, the Expo was small, and the shop lacked such essentials as fridge magnets and mugs, but I still managed to spend an unreasonable amount of Husbando's money for him!  We signed up for a photopass - which I managed to lose within minutes and, despite having all the paperwork, was unable to cancel it...ho hum...that will teach me to try to multi task.  T-shirts were collected.  Quite a haul of t-shirts as we had entered all three races and this qualified us for two extra challenges, the 31k and the 36k challenge.  Learning from last year, when the 2XL ladies shirt was smaller than my SMALL Paris marathon shirt I had ordered XL - slightly roomy, but considering I normally wear a small they still haven't got their sizes right.  They don't seem to have sorted their starting pens out yet either - a friend of ours, who runs a 1.31 half - was put in pen D.  He was told that there was no way of changing pens, yet we later found out that other runners had been told a different story and had managed to change their pen allocation.

We had a quick dash to our room in the Newport Bay to change, put on Mickey Mouse ears (OK that was just me) and make out way to the starting pen.  We'd been told that the pens closed at 7.30, and as we made our way to pen A we saw some amazing costumes, my ears and my Kent Road Runner vest didn't really feel as though I had made enough effort.  We huddled in the pen, trying to keep warm and trying to get as close to the front as possible.  Our aim was to get away quickly and then slow down, so that we could avoid queues for photos with characters.  Paula Radcliffe was on the start line with her children, and as we moved forwards I realised we were going to start about 5 or 6 rows behind her.

First to leave, however, were the wheelchair athletes and runners with various other physical disabilities.  This is a good strategy in theory, if the athletes were all in racing chairs and propelling themselves faster than most runners can dream of running, but a lot of these chairs were being pushed by helpers and they went off at such a short time interval before the rest of the runners that it could have been dangerous - especially as there was a sharp right hand bend on a downhill slope immediately after the start!

Awesome costumes!
There was the usual 'rousing' pre race performance...I think it was Thor/Thanos based - but Friday is a long time ago and my memory is shot...and then we were off.  We set off as fast as we could, running out  through the Village and in through the Studios.  After a couple of days without running my legs were eager to go fast, so I let them, Husbando is much faster than me, so he let me set the pace.  Quite soon I spotted Paula just ahead of me, looking like she was taking a stroll in the park with her super speedy children!  I thought I could overtake her, so I did.  After all it isn't every day that you can say you overtook a World Champion!

My triumph lasted for a few minutes, possibly as many as 5, but probably less.  I was running as fast as I could, while still retaining the ability to talk!  We stopped for several character photos (Paula and her children weren't pulling *that* far away from us) and still managed to finish the 5k in 23mins 6 seconds.  Here we were lucky enough to grab a photo with Paula Radcliffe before collecting our medals and heading off to wait for our friends and enjoy a nice cold beer or two.  Because a cold beer or two is the perfect way to fuel for a 10k early the next morning....

The combination of beer, being every so slightly pumped at running my fastest 5k in a very long time, not enough food and getting properly cold meant that I found it hard to fall asleep.... so was not best pleased when the alarm went off just before 5am...

Taking it easy during the 10k
But one of the good things about an early morning race at Disney is that you get TWO breakfasts.  One before the race and another when you get back.  As we huddled in the cold in the starting pen we (again) decided that we would run fast at the start and then ease off so that we could get as many photos as possible while avoiding the queues. Well, the best laid plans and all that... after nearly wiping out a group of people walking around the corner at the start, we ended up running fast (for me) the whole way, stopping for photos with characters, a loo stop for Husbando and (most importantly) a photo with the pompiers.  All this, and we managed to finish in 50mins 10seconds - collecting another awesome medal in the process.

The rest of the day was spent in the parks, doing a few rides and a bit of shopping.  And a lot of walking!  We were woken in the night by the sound of the wind and rain outside - and were grateful that we had thought to acquire bin liners to wear to the start.  Running in the rain is one thing, but standing waiting in the rain is miserable!  We ate our first breakfast and headed off into the dark of the early morning - it was a lot warmer on Sunday than it had been on Saturday, but there was a persistent drizzle and it was very windy - there were waves on the lake!  Once again we worked out way steadily to the front of pen A, and chatted with people we had bumped into earlier in the weekend.  We repeatedly bumped into the same people over the weekend, and bumped into people who we knew from other races, but a friend from parkrun who I knew was there was proving elusive...

This time it was easier to stick to our plan.  My legs were tired, it was easy to run the first kilometre fairly fast and then slow down because my quads kept complaining!  We didn't have to queue for long to get character photos (I'll add some to the blog when I work out how the PhotoPass thing works), and we took advantage of the loos in the parks before we headed on out into the world beyond Disney.  The atmosphere in the park was lovely - although being smacked in the face by a runner who decided to barge between Husbando and me caused me to have a temporary sense of humour failure and use some very un-Disney friendly language.

Some people don't like the bit of the run outside Disneyland, but I quite like it.  Despite the wind and rain we were cheered on by lots of bands, and I love the section through a housing estate and through a park with a lake.  There were two groups of cheerleaders in the park this year braving the horrible weather to encourage us!  On one of the out and back sections I saw Paula again - looking relaxed and chatting with a group of friends as she went on to finish as first lady!  On another I saw my elusive parkrun friend - I do love an out and back for this very reason!

There seemed to be more aid stations this year, still rather bizarrely offering water first then a dry snack, but that was OK as I was carrying a banana!  There was also a very conveniently placed portaloo.  I was running along, up a slight incline thinking 'Dammit, *now* I need a poo!'  I mentioned this poor timing and Husbando pointed out that we were right next to a block of portaloos!   And they were clean and relatively sweet smelling!  There are some advantages to being near the front of the pack...

Although we were nowhere near as fast as we had been in the previous two races we were having fun, it didn't feel too much like hard work at 18km in I began to really look forward to my second breakfast as my tummy was rumbling.  At 19km (just outside McDonald's) my ham string twinged making me pull up short and do a bit of stretching.  There were loads of spectators here and I felt really daft, but it did the trick and we ran on to the finish.  The finish, as for the other two races, was in the Studios.  As we approached the finish we were closing on a man ahead of us.  We had a brief discussion about whether we should try to overtake him, but decided that we would rather try to get a good finish photo of just the two of us (there was no one else near us at the time) so we slowed down a bit so that we could cross the line together in a few seconds over 2hrs.

Post race re-fuelling
At the end of the race we collected our third medal of the weekend, a space blanket (essential as the weather was grim), water, a banana, snack box and Powerade.  We had some photos taken and made out way back to the Expo to collect our challenge medals.  As we walked into the Expo all the people working there started clapping.  This made me cry!  I have never cried at the end of a race before - but for some reason I got all emotional.

After a massage, school French does not equip one to explain that one cannot remove one's running shorts in a vast hall because one is not wearing underwear - thankfully his English was better than my French, we went back to the hotel for second breakfast (which must be the best meal of the day) before packing up our room, having another wander around the parks and shops, eating lunch, dodging torrential rain and finding out way back to the station for our train home.

We had a fabulous time.  The organisation leaves a lot to be desired, but it is improving year on year.    Yes it is expensive, but it is definitely an experience that you won't forget in a hurry!


  1. Brilliant write up and so proud we made it onto your blog with our picture from Friday night.

  2. Oh fabulous work. My friend Stacey and her husband were there for the half, dressed as the Incredibles - lovely to think people from different bits of my life were there!