Overview: The Angels' official 5K returned for another strong year. Special props to Angels' starting pitcher Hector Santiago, who not only got up at the crack of dawn for a Q&A before the race, but stuck around for over an hour afterward to give out medals and pose for photos with fans. Hector's wonderful! The Angels traded him to the Twins over the summer (BOOOOOO) and I'm sure I am not the only fan who thinks that his gracious, kind spirit will be sorely missed around Angels Stadium.

When: April 9, 2016

Where:
In and around Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

Course access: Was a bit wonky this year. Technically, the Amtrak/Metrolink station is right at the edge of the Angels Stadium parking lot, so it should have conceivably been easy to access the 5K, as it was in 2014 and 2015. Alas, Metrolink decided to do track work this weekend, and as a result, there were no trains at all to or from Anaheim. Amtrak did not replace the 6:15 am train with a shuttle bus, so if one didn't have access to a car or rideshare, they were not going to get to the race. I ended up taking an Uber.

Why: The race provides funds for the Angels Baseball Foundation, which does community outreach.
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Number of Participants: 3677 finishers.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on either Friday or on Saturday morning before the race. It was painless; the issues they had with rude staff last year were nonexistent this time around.

Course: The course was flat and fast, winding through the streets around the stadium. There were some cutouts of current Angels players around the parking lot for photo ops. The big draw with this race was that the course also went into the stadium and onto the field. Runners got to go all the way around the warning track from the 3rd base line, past home plate and the dugouts, and out again through the 1st base side.

What made this better than last year is that the ushers did not try to rush or shoo participants out of the stadium, as they did in 2015. That's important. Most people are not going to have many chances to walk on the warning track and past home plate in a Major League Baseball stadium...that moment is important.



Chip timing: Yes, with chips on the bib.

Shirt: The 5K shirt has not varied from year to year, for the most part. It's still an awesome tech fabric t-shirt with the race logo in the upper left.

Swag: A voucher for a ticket for a future Angels game (participants could choose among several dates) and a wonderful medal. For the second year in a row, the medal was a spinner! This time, the spinning component was an Angels baseball jersey that had the team name on the front, as per usual, and "5K" on the back.

Expo: Once again, the Angels 5K has a pretty sweet expo, with lots of stuff. :) 

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! I am glad they worked out the issues from 2015.


Overview:  A race themed to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim major league baseball team, endorsed by the Angels.

When: March 29, 2014

Where:
In and around Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

Course access: Luckily, the Amtrak/Metrolink station for Anaheim is in the stadium parking lot. Just as luckily, Amtrak ran a 6:15 train from Union Station, and I believe there was a very early train from the San Diego direction, too.

Why: The race provides funds for the Angels Baseball Foundation, which does community outreach.
_____________

Number of Participants: 3712.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on either Friday or on Saturday morning before the race; it was well staffed and seamless.

Course: The course was flat and fast, winding through the streets around the stadium. There were some cutouts of current Angels players around the parking lot for photo ops. The big draw with this race was that the course also went into the stadium and onto the field. Runners got to go all the way around the warning track from the 3rd base line, past home plate and the dugouts, and out again through the 1st base side.



Chip timing: Yes, with chips on the bib.

Shirt: The Angels 5K had one of the nicest race shirts I've ever received. It was red tech fabric, it fit well and it had the Angels logo on one side.

Swag: A voucher for an upper deck ticket for a future Angels game and an awesome medal.

Expo: Large, with a lot of swag. As the photo above shows, items brought home from the expo include snacks, fruit, a pinata, wristbands and keychains, a reusable bag, a softball stress squeeze ball, pencils, toothbrush and paste, and more. They also had OC Slush handing out free ices - yum!

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! It was well organized and lots of fun.
Overview: The Disneyland 5K is the kick-off event for Disneyland Half-Marathon Weekend. This year's race was themed to Alice in Wonderland.

If you're curious about Disney races, you want to try a 5K for the first time or you simply love Disneyland, there isn't a better option than the Disneyland 5K. It's billed as a "fun run," is untimed, and is very low-key.

When: August 31, 2013. The race started at 5:30 am.

Where: The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Orange County.

Why: Well...I didn't see any beneficiaries listed on the RunDisney website for this race.

Course Access: There's a lot of mass transit to Disneyland (the OCTA bus 43, Metro 460, etc.) but unfortunately none of it is going to get you to Disneyland at 5:30 am (and runners were asked to be in the corral by 5). The only way to work this was to drive or to come in the night before and stay over.
______
Pre-Race: The packet pickup was at the Expo at the Disneyland hotel. Unfortunately, you had to do this on Friday, since there was no day-of packet pickup.

The Expo was a bit of a diaster this year. About 10,000 runners from the 5K , 10K and Kids' Races needed to pick up their bibs and t-shirts on Friday, and by some reports, lines were as long as three hours. In addition, there was disappointment when race-related Disney merchandise sold out by the end of the day on Friday - only to appear promptly on eBay. It appears that many eBayers and other secondary market sellers hit up the Expo and got to the merch before the runners did.

The pre-race festivities on race morning included a DJ and commentary from the White Rabbit. It was a very hot day and Disney ensured that water was available before the run.

Course: The course began near the Mickey and Friends parking structure, went backstge and then onstage at Disney California Adventure, crossed the esplanade, went down Main Street and near the Castle in Disneyland, wove through Disneyland and Downtown Disney, and made its way to the Disneyland Hotel.

The course itself was almost entirely flat, but had a lot of corners and winding paths. There were announcements made over the PA to warn runners any time the course changed directions or narrowed.

What made the course special this year were the spectators at Downtown Disney (including the famous and beloved Peggy, who shows up to every race on both coasts to cheer on the runners!), the cast members who lined the course to cheer the runners on, and the large number of character photo ops.

Runners: At a Disney 5K you will find runners who run the gamut from serious athletes (some use the 5K as a warmup for the half-marathon) to first-time participants. Some wore costumes; some didn't. The course was so crowded that it was more of a power walk than a race, but almost everyone was polite. After the serious runners broke away at the beginning of the first wave, most people just meandered along.

Chip Timing: None. This was strictly a fun run.Technically, a 16-minute mile pace was required, whether you were running or walking. However, given the huge numbers of people at the race, given that the pace requirement didn't start until the last runner had crossed the start line, and given that the last wave started almost a half hour after the first, I think that one would have needed to fall way, way behind to get swept. I wouldn't have pushed it, though...getting swept from a race at the Happiest Place on Earth would have been a bummer, to say the very least.

Shirt: A lovely baby-blue t-shirt with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Swag: Everyone received a gorgeous finisher medal: a full color vinyl medallion made to look like a pocket watch on a blue satin ribbon with the race name and date. Some people complained because the Disney 5K races get these vinyl "medallions" instead of medals made out of metal, but I was not in that camp. I thought the medallion was beautiful, well crafted and a wonderful finishing prize.


Disney unfortunately uses those useless "virtual gift bags" so the only thing in the gear check sack was a Clif bar.

Post-Race: The post-race process was very organized - I wouldn't expect less from Disney. Runners were given water, Powerade, bananas and a cardboard lunch box filled with a variety of snacks. Some people kvetched about the boxes; I personally liked them.

Would I Do This Race Again: YES!

OC Fair 5K

Aug. 28th, 2013 10:56 pm
Overview: The OC Fair 5K is a fun run through the fairgrounds.

When: August 4, 2013.

Where: The O.C. Fair, located in Costa Mesa, Orange County.

Why:  I don't think this race benefitted anyone but the O.C. Fair or the O.C. Marathon. I could be wrong, though.

Course access: It's Orange County, and mass transit isn't really their bag. The transit that is provided for the fair doesn't run in the mornings, either. While a few OCTA buses run through the area, for the most part, if you didn't have a car, have a friend with a car or stay in the area, you were SOL with this one.

_________
Number of Participants: 1676 recorded finishers.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on race morning, and was quick and painless. More bathrooms for the runners would have been nice - not all of the bathrooms were unlocked.

Runners: More serious runners than I anticipated, but a lot of folks who were truly there for a fun run.

Course: The course started in the parking lot, but most of the race took place inside the OC Fair. It's a very different experience to see the fair when it's completely deserted. The highlights of the race were several "Detours to Fun." Runners could play two midway games, go on the giant EuroSlide and take a photo onstage at the Pacific Amphitheater - all for free.

There was a 1:30 time limit on the course, which seems like a lot - but when you're stopping for 15 - 30 minutes for each detour (there wasn't any line for the EuroSlide; there was a VERY long one for the Pacific Amphitheater)  that adds up. Late runners discovered that there wasn't any water for them at the finish line.

Chip Timing: Yes, with a shoe tag that was yours to keep.

Shirt: A very soft, distressed blue t-shirt without any advertising logos. I didn't like the cartoon on the back that slammed overweight people, which will mean that this otherwise lovely shirt will be relegated to the pajama drawer unless I can find a way to doctor it out. No, it's not about being "politically correct." It's about having respect for ALL people, including those who are heavy.

Swag: A very nice, very heavy medal on a beautiful satin ribbon. The goodie bag contained a free ticket to the O.C. Fair, some samples of sports gels and Advil, and a lot of snacks. I was very excited that several of the snacks were soy-free, so I could actually eat them.



Expo: Small, but included some nice stuff, like free Hubert's Lemonade.

Would I Run this Race Again?
Sure.
http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/rundisney/tinker-bell-half-marathon/

Overview: The Never Land 5K, a night race through the theme park, was the first event in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, operated by RunDisney. It was an exciting, whimsical event, with typical Disney "magical moments."

The one major drawback to this race was the price: at $100, the Never Land 5K was more expensive than many half-marathons. It was also double the price of the Disneyland Family 5K, held in September. The reason for this was likely to be the "Twilight Ticket" that was included with the registration, which allowed admission to one Disney theme park after 4pm during the Half-Marathon weekend. I'd seen complaints about this online: for Annual Passport holders, the Twilight Ticket was a bit of a waste. I also have an AP, so in 2013, I'd appreciate it if the Twilight Ticket was optional.

When: January 27, 2012. This was a night race, and the first wave started at 10:30 pm.

Where: The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Orange County.

Why: Disneyland's races benefit the Anaheim Community Foundation, which helps families, seniors, children and and adults with many issues; and the City of Anaheim. I really liked that the beneficiaries of the 5K were local residents.

Course access: The race was held at Disneyland, so it was accessible by Metro bus 460, the Disneyland Express from LAX, OCTA bus 43, various shuttles and more. After the race, transportation was a problem. The last 460 bus of the evening went back to Downtown LA at about 12:20, but some of the connecting buses and trains shut down before then. The Disneyland Express stopped running at 10:30. During the other events of the Half-Marathon weekend, Disney offered free shuttles to and from various pickup points at hotels around Anaheim.
______
Pre-race: The packet pickup was at the Expo at the Disneyland hotel. Fortunately, one could go to the Expo on the same night as the race, so two separate trips to Disneyland were not required.

Disney's pre-race festivities included an appearance by Tinker Bell, who flew over the Castle. Fireworks were also on the schedule, but had to be cancelled due to high winds.

There were several corrals/waves, which were self-assigned. Each wave was treated royally, with confetti canons and a special sendoff from the Emcee.

Course: The course started in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, wound through most of Disneyland, crossed over to California Adventure, and ended at Paradise Pier. There were several forays backstage, through areas that are normally verboten to visitors. There were also photo ops with Disney characters, floats from the Soundsational parade, and whimsical mile markers. It would have been very tempting to just meander through the course and spend a few hours taking pictures! At the end of the race, Paradise Pier was awash in color.

The course itself was almost entirely flat, but had a lot of corners and winding paths. There were announcements made over the PA to warn runners any time the course changed directions.

Runners: The Tinker Bell races were geared toward female runners, and women of all ages, shapes and sizes were well represented. There were also men of both serious and casual running styles, families, and older people. Many runners of both genders opted to wear costumes. It went without saying that there were numerous runners dressed as Tinker Bell or Peter Pan. There were also many who chose to wear costume pieces, such as glittery wings and tutus. Many children participated, but not as many as I expected. I'm guessing that this was due to the late hour, the price, and the fact that Disney also held a full contingent of (much less expensive!) Kids' Races later that weekend.

The course was so crowded that it was more of a power walk than a race, but almost everyone was polite. After the serious runners broke away at the beginning of the first wave, most people just meandered along.

Chip timing: None. This was strictly a fun run. RunDisney did give split times, however, so you could check your own pace. Technically, a 16-minute mile pace was required, whether you were running or walking. However, given the huge numbers of people at the race, given that the pace requirement didn't start until the last runner had crossed the start line, and given that the last wave started almost a half hour after the first, I think that one would have needed to fall way, way behind to get swept. I wouldn't have pushed it, though...getting swept from a race at the Happiest Place on Earth would have been a bummer, to say the very least.

Shirt: White short-sleeved T-shirt with the Never Land 5K logo in vibrant color.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Swag: Everyone received a gorgeous finisher medal: a full color vinyl medallion on a midnight-blue satin ribbon with the race name and date. Some people complained because the Disney 5K races get these vinyl "medallions" instead of medals made out of metal, but I was not in that camp. I thought the medallion was beautiful, well crafted and a wonderful finishing prize.

I also want to mention the bib, which was a work of art in itself: the same midnight blue with stars and personalization. For the goody bags: there wasn't much, in all honesty. There was a big race program, but the GEAR bag only included an energy bar. About two weeks before the race Disney sent a link to an "online i-gift bag" with promotional offers; this would seem to be the wave of the future.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Expo: Lots of vendors offered running gear, from shoes to iPod holders, and reasonable prices. There were also free lectures throughout the weekend with RunDisney experts, including Olympian Jeff Galloway.

Would I Do this Race Again: Yes. Without question.

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