Magic Run Weekend – 36k Challenge Race Recap

Hi all.

The first race weekend of my current RunDisney training plan has come to an end, if you’ve been following along on social media you will have seen some great highlights from my weekend.

If you haven’t followed my Running thus far please check out my post here.

THURSDAY

I left my house on Thursday morning around 7am and got to St Pancras at half past, where I met Emma & Leah. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed through security and passport control. We had booked our trip through Runtothemagic (greatdays holidays). When we scanned through to the Eurostar our seats were changed as they had changed the train operating this service, so our seats were slightly separated on our journey to Lille. When we changed on to the next train to Disneyland Paris we were once again separated but thankfully on both trains we moved around with other passengers, who were also sitting separately from their party.

When we arrived we checked into the Newport Bay Club hotel, we had a separate check in desk as we were doing RunDisney, and were given our park tickets and breakfast vouchers but unfortunately our room wasn’t ready. We dropped off our luggage and headed out for a coffee and some shopping before heading to the expo.

Around half past 2, we started queueing for the Health & Wellness expo. We got in around 3:20pm and we pleasantly surprised how easy it was to navigate. Previous years it had been a little complicated with collecting bibs from several booths and tshirts from various different stalls. We managed to grab our bibs, tshirts, photopass, do a quick tshirt exchange and check out the merch and wall of runners within half an hour and just like that we were done.

The selection of merchandise was poor, having now done the races at Walt Disney World, it’s so disappointing to see that for the third year running the selection was very minimal even more so than the previous two years. I wish they would bring some of the generic RunDisney Merchandise over to Paris.

There was also a lack of stalls selling other bits. There used to be vendors for trainers, headwear, medal holder etc but this year there was only one or two stalls. It was a little disappointing.

After that we headed back to the hotel to unpack, chill out before getting some food and having a drink in cafe Fantasia.

FRIDAY

After an early morning getting caught in the horrendous rain and sheltering from the storm by riding all the rides in Walt Disney Studios Park we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the 5k.

We headed out around 5pm and there were already people queuing. We managed to get to the front of corral C and were joined by our friends who were also in C – David, Lucy & Sophie. The organisation of the start was more alike to Florida, we were queued up in corrals next to each other and were walked to the start line one corral at a time and separated into waves.

I had no interest in the Marvel theming of this race and was given a heads up about the characters on the course, because of this I decided to just run. I managed to over take many runners from A who were walkers (not sure at all how they assigned corrals this year) and those who’d got in line for characters: I’d passed the Star Lord and Gamora, Black Panther, Thor & Loki, and captain America.

I made it to the finish line in just under 29 minutes and my Garmin was reading a little short on distance. I left it as it wasn’t worth trying to run around in circles trying to correct it.

Aside from the terrible corral assignments, the course was a little more organised, better lit and better supervised. The cast members in the park were great and a lot of fun. As I didn’t stop I spent a lot of time running into photopass pictures.

After the race I waited for my friends to finish before grabbing some snack boxes and heading for a late night Starbucks with Emma & Leah before heading to bed ready for tomorrow’s 10k.

SATURDAY

We woke up about 4:45 to get ready for the races. This was a struggle after the late night before. We made tea and took it with us in disposable cups and wrapped ourselves in foil blankets to keep warm. It really wasn’t too cold but not very comfortable to wait around in still. Once again we were joined by our friends David, Lucy & Sophie at the front of Corral C, we were lead to the start line about 20 minutes after the first wave went off. Pain, Panic & Meg from Hercules were warming everyone up and sending them off to run. A Great start to the race.

Once again my plan was to only stop for characters I really wanted, turns out there isn’t many characters I am fussed about and I ended up only stopping for a few minutes to have a photo in front of the castle. I enjoyed the run, everyone seemed in good spirits and I was quite happy to just run it. I crossed the finish line with a moving time of 55 minutes but my elapsed time was about 57 minutes with the castle stop.

Hades was on the finisher stage to take photos of. So I tried my best to get a photo with him in the background! The medal & theming of this race were my favourite, I wish they’d have had characters from Hercules on the actual course though!

After the race I headed back to the hotel to shower etc whilst I waited for Leah & Emma to finish and then met them for breakfast! They had a great time and met loads of characters along the course.

We tried to spend time in the parks for the rest of the day but it was so busy and we were incredibly tired. After watching the parade we headed back to the hotel and got an early night.

SUNDAY

After a long nights sleep, we woke again at 4:45 for our last day of running. Today felt like more of a struggle especially with the weather forecast for rain. Fortunately it wasn’t raining when we left our hotel. We wore extra jumpers and took bags to sit on as the ground was wet. This morning we were joined to by Alex & Mel at the start as well as David, Lucy & Sophie. Whilst we waited in Corral C, it did begin to rain and was very windy, there was a yellow warning flag up due to the conditions.

We didn’t get started till at least half past, as usual I headed off in a speedy run! I had my eye on a character meet I wanted and knew that they would swap characters at certain times, so I would either catch them on their first meet or miss them and have to wait. After speeding through the first mile and a bit I found the stop for Pain, Panic & Hades from Hercules. This was honestly the only characters I have actually wanted to meet so I bit the bullet and waited. They swapped out a few minutes after I got in the queue. Emma, Leah & David caught up and joined me, we all met Kronk & Yzma from the Emperors New Groove, Leah’s favourite film, and I then got back in the queue for the Hercules characters!

After 40 ish minutes start to finish at this meet I carried on with David with the balloon ladies not far behind us. At this point the queues were relatively quick for characters and we met Dr Facilier from the princess and the frog and Flotsam & Jetsam from the little Mermaid.

I carried on as I was worried about my time, I ran up and down main street which was a great new route adjustment on the course and was lovely to see Sophie cheering us all on and stopped for another castle picture.

I passed a few more characters like Shan Yu from Mulan and Maleficent who was just kind of decorative on the castle stage yet had a massive queue for a pic in front of her which I didn’t stop for. Once I’d passed all the character stops and was out of the parks I felt ok that I was far from being swept and thought maybe I would have caught up to Leah and Emma who left me after the Emperors New Groove characters, I rang them and they were actually behind me as they’d stopped for a few characters so I waited around 9km for them to catch up. Whilst I waited I found a few more running friends, Saskia, Lucy & Mel and we all walked together for a moment. Eventually we split up again as we tackled the long stretches outside the parks but we ran/walked and chatted a lot and it made the miles go a lot quicker.

Around 9 miles in we passed our good friend Alex who was Run/walking and looking strong, we walked with her a moment before carrying on to get back onto property!

We arrived back onto Disney property with 2 miles to go and was cheered on by the lovely Sophie again.

Mel & I stuck together which was great, we’d never met before this weekend but had followed each other on Instagram for a while so it was great to finally meet up and spend this race with her! We tried running a bit more towards the end but our legs were very heavy.

I was so happy I caught up with friends on this race. I knew I’d pushed the past two days quite hard and the first couple of miles of this race. I really didn’t need to especially this morning as I had to wait anyways and it set me back a lot and meant I caught up with everyone who was Run/walking or meeting a lot of characters.

After 13.1 miles I finally arrived at the finish line, where someone decided to stop dead in front of me and jump, so I doubt I have a finish line photo as the photographers there didn’t even seem like they were taking photos either!

I collected my medal and took a few photos of sorcerer Mickey on the stage. I loved that they had characters out on the stage at the end but would have loved if they had an organised post race meet and greet.

I finished at a moving time of 2:40 but an elapsed time of 3:30 including the characters stops and I was actually super happy about that. My first year at Run Disney was a fluke, I met most characters and ran it in 2:27 and have never been able to recreate that since due to the popularity of the races.

Post race we had to head back to the expo (luckily on our way back to the hotel) and grabbed our 31k & 36k challenge medals!

The medal collection organisation was much better than last year and glad it took us back to the expo to find all the t-shirts they were selling at half price, so we all grabbed a t-shirts.

Sore legs and tiredness meant we spent the rest of the day laying in bed and filling ourselves with food! We still had all of Monday in the Parks to enjoy before heading home so was in no rush to do anything. Staying in did mean I got to bump into my favourite RunDisney youtuber RezRuns in our hotel. Check out his channel for really useful videos on the RunDisney experience.

This weekend was a good reality check for me, I love how much my running had progressed recently but I need to remember it’s not all about time. I’m training for Dopey challenge and I sure as hell won’t manage to run it all at a 9 min mile and meet characters in that time too so I need to work on a game plan for Run/walking Dopey!

Aside from the races I had a fun weekend with my girls and quite a relaxed Disney trip. We’ve all been to the parks before and didn’t have much we desperately wanted to see or do, so we didn’t actually spend much time in the parks but a lot of time was spent relaxing, eating and drinking at the Disneyland Hotel and the time spent in the parks was less rushed and chaotic.

A few issues I had with this weekend and the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend:

  • The Corral placement was a mess. They only ask for proof of time if you can run under 1:30, and as they thought too many people lied about their time they randomised the rest.
  • Due to the above they were letting a lot of people change corrals, meaning people who hadn’t trained and were put in E being bumped up to A/B by complaining/lying.
  • Rather then advising groups who wanted to stay together RunDisney France were moving people up Corrals to be together, or giving people stickers to move them down. Those stickers were then used to move people up instead of their given use and a lot of people were using the corral letters on the bibs from those only doing the 5k/10k and sticking them to their Bibs to bump up their letter.
  • Character stops – the lines were too long, they swap characters out for different ones every 30 mins which means that you end up getting stuck in a queue for a long time if you are looking to meet certain characters. They should have the same characters out throughout like the Florida races.
  • None of the themed characters were out on the course. It was very disappointing that on a Hercules themed race you could not meet any of the characters, hence why the line was so long the next day at the Half.
  • The photopass system of scanning your bibs this year made the character lines take even longer, and I bet this year we will still won’t get our photos any quicker. The course photopass people didn’t seem to be taking many pictures or paying attention half the time and again they weren’t very many of them.

Overall I find the organisation of the Paris races horrendous. I would love to carry on doing these every single year but I may have to forgo doing the challenge next year (depending on the theming) as it is a lot for one weekend and a lot of money to spend to be disappointed once again. I feel like we’ve all given constructive feedback the past two years on these races and they aren’t really listening to us.

I am very much looking forward to doing the Dopey Challenge now, I can’t wait to be over in Florida where the races are far more organised and fun. We have 100 Days to go until our next Florida holiday and 15 more weeks of my training plan to Dopey.

The medals have been released for Dopey this week and are so encouraging after this weekend in Paris.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and if you are thinking about doing a RunDisney race I hope this insight to the experience is helpful. If you have any more questions I am happy to answer them in the comments or over on Instagram or Twitter.

Here’s the links to all those mentioned in today blog post!

Leah

Emma

David

Mel

Lucy

Alex

Saskia

Sophie

And an extra special shout-out to all I met along the way and those who worked hard to make Disney magic this weekend! ✨

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