2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend – Part 1


2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

It’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland again. This time around we decided to run the 5K and the half marathon rather than doing the 10K/Half Marathon Challenge. Many people have told us that it’s the best 5K Disney offers, and we wanted to try it for ourselves. And I was very disappointed in the Pixie Dust Challenge medal – I think it’s ugly. No change to it this year, unfortunately.

This year is the 5th anniversary of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, so we hoped there would be something special (like a new medal) in recognition of that. In addition, this is the first Disney race that we have been “perfect” in for any length of time, and since this was #5 we hoped there would be some recognition of that, as there has been for other Disney races at the 5 year mark.

Thursday, May 5 – Expo

Since we were running the Never Land 5K on Friday morning, we arrived late Thursday afternoon instead of Friday afternoon as we usually do. Our first stop, as always, was the Expo. It was held in the usual place in the Disneyland Hotel’s Convention Center garage.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

There are about 950 Legacy Runners in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. There were two large banners in the bib pick-up area with the names of all of the Legacy Runners.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Legacy Runners

Lee’s name was easy to find. 🙂

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

And we found my name, too.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

Bib pickup was fast. As Legacy Runners, that is noted on our bib, and we also were told to go to another booth to pickup our “Legacy Gift”. I wasn’t really expecting much – but I should be grateful that there was anything at all, right? 🙂 So…what we received were these Tinker Bell compacts. Just a couple of mirrors inside – no space to hold anything. And it is very hard to open!

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Legacy Runner Compact

It makes Lee feel pretty, though. 😉

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Legacy compact

The Dooney and Burke bags and the special Tinker Bell Pandora charms were also on sale in the bib pick-up area.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Dooney and Burke bags

We went upstairs to the Expo area, where we felt “fairy” special as we walked the green carpet to enter.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

It was a little odd not to be doing the Challenge, and to have two different bibs and two different shirt pick ups. I liked the 5K shirt. This one is made of cotton.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Never Land 5K shirt

The half marathon shirt is a very nice shade of green – it’s the usual tech shirt fabric. I liked the designs of all of the race shirts this year. No pink ones. 🙂

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Never Land 5K shirt

There was still a line (at 5:20 p.m.) to enter the Official Merchandise area, but it moved quickly.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo Merchandise Line

At that point, it seemed like most of the race merchandise was still available. There was one aisle that was almost exclusively generic runDisney items, but I don’t know if it had started that way or not. I guess that might be the difference between arriving on the first day of the Expo and the second day, which is when we usually arrive, since we had a similar experience at Star Wars – The Dark Side, where we also went to the Expo in the late afternoon of the first day.

There were lots of different women’s shirts, many with designs on the front and the back.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Croc shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Tink shorts

The jacket was still available – I also thought this one was nicely designed.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon jacket

There was also this jacket, which I thought was an awful shade of pink…but people will certainly see it coming!

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

The race weekend shirt was the only unisex shirt we saw.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

There were “I Did It” shirts for all of the race distances.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

It looked like all of the race pins and mini-medal pins were still available. I picked up the Never Land 5K mini medal, since that was going to be a new race for me.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon mini medals and pins

Race weekend magnets were also available in what looked to be all of the styles. I didn’t get one this time, though.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon magnet

There were even some temporary tattoos.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon tattoo

In one corner there were two different styles of shirts that must have been left over from the Star Wars – The Dark Side weekend.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Star Wars shirt

Water bottles have been very popular items, and there were several different styles.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon water bottle

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon water bottle

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon water bottle

And mugs. I didn’t see any Tinker Bell-specific wine glasses – just the generic “Every Mile is Magic” version.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon shirt

I liked the hat – but I don’t wear hats.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon hat

So we got out of there very inexpensively – I bought the 5K mini medal and that was all.

We took a tour through the rest of the Expo exhibitors, also. Pandora had a HUGE booth – which I suppose makes sense, as they are the main sponsor.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo Pandora Booth

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo Pandora Wings

Otherwise, it seemed as though the usual exhibitors were there. The show floor was not very busy that evening, which was nice for us.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo

Even the New Balance show booth was not very busy – it looked like they were taking anyone who walked up.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo New Balance shoes

The New Balance booth had some pixie-themed attire as well as shoes.

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon New Balance shirts

2016Tinker Bell Half Marathon New Balance outfit

I was hoping that the runDisney booth would have the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend medals, but I asked, and they haven’t been released yet. But that’s where we learned that after we finish the race on Sunday we will also receive a special Legacy Runner ribbon for our medal.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon ribbon

There was a nice photo backdrop in the lobby outside the show floor, and only a couple of people in front of us.

2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon photo op

Friday, May 6 – Never Land 5K

As I mentioned earlier, we had never run the 5K before, but everyone who had said that it was Disney’s best 5K. The main reason being that it starts inside Disneyland!!!.

But it started at 5:00 a.m. – even earlier than the 10K and half, which started at 5:30. We headed over to Disneyland at about 4:10. We had to go through the regular security check as we entered the Esplanade, but we didn’t have any bags, and that was quick.

At the Disneyland gates they were carefully checking to make sure that everyone had a bib. There weren’t very many people in the park yet, and Main Street was still pretty empty! We stopped to watch the Peter Pan Enchanted Window at the Emporium – that seemed like an appropriate thing to do. 🙂

2016 Disneyland Peter Pan Enchanted Window

Disney’s PhotoPass was the official race photographer for this race weekend, also, just like they were for Star Wars – The Dark Side. There’s a code on the back of the bibs and you add your bib number to that, then link it to your PhotoPass account to get your photos. Free downloads for Annual Passholders! I’m really enjoying this – we had pictures taken several places where I didn’t bother with getting them to take one with my phone because I knew I would get much better ones from the PhotoPass people.

2016 Never Land 5K

There weren’t formal corrals with this one – they were gathering the runners on either side of the hub in front of the castle. Those who arrived earlier were in Corral A on the right side, and those who arrived later were in Corral B on the left side. We made it into the A Corral with just a couple of minutes to spare.

2016 Never Land 5K

There was a pre-show on a stage in front of the castle but we couldn’t see it. No big screens or any other visual aids.

Just before the race started, Tinker Bell flew around the castle! Very cool.

The start line was actually on Matterhorn Way, near the exit of Pixie Hollow, so after Tink flew Corral A moved in that direction. I was surprised that there really wasn’t a starting line – no archway or anything. The race was not officially timed – we didn’t have timing chips on our bibs. I wasn’t really sure where the start line was, so I just started my watch when I passed Carissa Bealert, one of the race announcers.

2016 Never Land 5K

(This was the first runDisney race that I’d ever done where long-time announcer Rudy Novotny wasn’t there. Many runDisney participants were very disappointed when we heard that his contract had not been renewed, and we would not see him for Tinker Bell weekend. It really was different not hearing his voice at the start line. I missed him.)

The course took us toward “it’s a small world” and into Toontown. We couldn’t run at all for the first tenth of a mile or so because it was so crowded and there were so many walkers, and I was pretty concerned that it was going to be like that, but fortunately once we went backstage at Toontown it started to clear out.

In previous years this race has started in Disneyland and ended in Disney California Adventure, but this year, because of all of the construction, we had very limited time in Disneyland. Most of the race was in California Adventure until we ran through Downtown Disney and finished at the Disneyland Hotel – at the usual finish line used by all of the other race weekends.

So, once we ran through Toontown, that was it for Disneyland. We ran backstage, under the bus area, then backstage behind DCA. That’s where the mile 1 sign was. I should also mention the music…we had music for just about all of the race. A loop featuring “A Pirate’s Life is a Wonderful Life” and “Follow the Leader”, from Peter Pan. I enjoyed it, though I felt a little sorry for the cast members who were having to listen to it over and over and over and over again.

2016 Never Land 5K 1 mile sign

We ran down Hollywood Blvd, and stopped for a quick photo with Walt and Mickey.

2016 Never Land 5K Walt and Mickey

I was very surprised that we hadn’t seen any character stops. There were a few pirates in front of Grizzly Peak.

2016 Never Land 5K Pirates

By this time we were among the front runners, and there weren’t very many people running around us. It was great to be on a mostly empty race course! And it meant we got lots of photos taken by the race photographers, because they didn’t have nearly as many subjects.

2016 Never Land 5K

We ran through Flik’s Fun Faire and then backstage behind Cars Land, then into Cars Land from the Pacific Wharf side. The two mile mark was in front of Luigi’s.

2016 Never Land 5K 2 Mile sign

We made a left and ran up Route 66, then left toward Paradise Pier. I expected there might be a character stop there but no – just a couple more generic pirates.

2016 Never Land 5K Pirates

We ran all around Paradise Bay. I was surprised that the World of Color fountains weren’t on. The Lost Boys were at King Triton’s Carousel, but not really available for a photo. The lighting was terrible, too.

2016 Never Land 5K Lost Boys

There was a photo stop with the Fun Wheel in the background.

2016 Never Land 5K

I took a photo looking back just before we turned towards Grizzly Rapids – still not a lot of people back there!

2016 Never Land 5K

FINALLY, just before we left DCA next to Soarin’, there was a character stop!!!

2016 Never Land 5K Peter and Wendy

There were a fair number of people in Downtown Disney who had gotten up very early to cheer us on – it was still really dark. We made a brief stop at the Mile 3 sign.

2016 Never Land 5K 3 Mile Sign

And then it was a dash that last tenth of a mile to the finish line! There were a number of photographers in that area and we had lots of photos of us in our PhotoPass accounts.

2016 Never Land 5K

We got a shout-out from the race announcers for our wings. 🙂

No official time for this one, but by my running watch my time was 32:40. Not bad considering photo stops, and a first mile that was a bit slow.

2016 Never Land 5K Finish Line

We had our finisher photo taken and got our runDisney snack box, etc.

2016 Never Land 5K Finisher Photo

The snack box seemed identical to what we received for Star Wars.

2016 Never Land 5K snack box

There was hardly anyone even in the finishing area! Really no reason to linger at all. So we went back to our room. Let’s see…the race started at 5:00, and we were back in our room at 5:47. I’m really liking this whole 5K thing!

2016 Never Land 5K Stage

We received the rubber medallion rather than a “real” medal. It’s cute, though.

2016 Never Land 5K Medal

There were somewhere between 4000 and 4500 people in this race – so it was very small compared to the races that we usually run. It was so much fun being so far in front of most of the rest of the pack, and having so much running room! Now we know how our fast friends, like Eddie McCoy, feel. It really is quite a different experience.

All those people who told us that it was a really good 5K – I agree with them. Starting inside Disneyland, with Tinker Bell flying overhead, was special. Even at 5:00 in the morning. 🙂 Though it was disappointing that because of the construction we really didn’t get to run through very much of Disneyland.

The thing that most surprised and disappointed me was the character stops – or lack thereof. Peter Pan and Wendy – that was it for us. From other runners’ photos I saw that Captain Hook and Mr. Smee were in Toontown, but we didn’t see them. Still, I thought only two character photo stops in a 5K was a very poor showing.

Next up – the Tinker Bell Half Marathon

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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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2 Replies to “2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend – Part 1”

  1. Thanks for a great recap with lots of pictures!

    Laura replies: You’re welcome, Julie – thanks for reading!

  2. Rudy was just as big and fun a part as Carissa was. Those two have gone hand in hand since my first Disney Endurance Series race, the Inaugural Tower of Terror 13K.

    Laura replies: I agree with you. Carissa without Rudy was like peanut butter without the jelly. I really missed hearing Rudy’s voice.