A magical place to run
On Thursday 21st September 2017 a team of us headed out to France to complete the Disneyland Paris Bibbidi-bopidi-boo challenge. The challenge is a series of runs including a 5k, 10k and half marathon over just three days. People who know me, I am not a natural runner and spent most my school days avoiding the cross country field.
In May 2017 I thought I best get the running shoes on and try a few runs, well it was a complete disaster and I couldn’t run a mile without stopping, actually it was within first 20 seconds and I was walking. My initial goal was to run 3 miles. Running in the evenings and weekends was a real challenge and I found myself going for a walk around the block instead. Wanting to achieve the first 3 mile goal and then go onto train for the Bibbidi-bopidi-boo, I looked for help and it was the best decision! I joined RunVerity a local coach and running group. Running with the group taught me running techniques, built my confidence as a runner and I have support from a great group of people who keep me going (on the days when a walk around the block is very tempting!)
As part of my Dopey training I have been doing some half marathons, 5ks and 10ks. This weekend was my first taster of what the Dopey will be like and I ran the three races over 3 days.
Day 1 Race 2! 5k!
When we arrived in Paris we headed straight to the hotel, dropped our bags and went straight to Disney village to pick up our runner numbers at the Expo. This was my first experience of Disneyland I wasn’t sure what to expect, I love the old classics as a child growing up, but being an adult I was a bit apprehensive and thought – is Disneyland just commercial? How very wrong I was!
This is when it sunk in what I have actually got myself in to (thanks Boss! Martin :-/) and the nerves kicked in. On Friday we spent the day in the Walt Disney park where we went on some rides (and screamed a lot, especially being dropped 13 floors in the infamous Tower of Terror with nothing more than a lap belt to hold you in!!!!) and wondered around, in the late afternoon we headed back to the hotel to get changed for the first race of the weekend, the 5k.
As we headed to the start line I was watching the thousands of runners and their Disney costumes, there was a fantastic atmosphere. As we crossed the start line it was dark, but the sky was lit up from all the buildings and lights. As we made our way around the Walt Disney park we saw loads of characters and Micky, Minnie, Donald and Daisy Duck waved us over the finish line where we picked up the first of 4 medals. After the race it was a quick trip back to hotel, a cheeky Pina colada and bed as we had to get up at 5am for the 10k!
As my alarm went off at 5am, again I thought to myself what on earth am I doing I’m not a runner and I felt really tired from the previous day, I started hoping my legs would still work and not get the dreaded stiffness.
Day 2 Race 2! 10k!
We got to the start line just after 6am, it was freezing! As I made my way around the course the sun was starting to rise, today we were running in Disneyland, having never experienced this park I was truly taken by surprise. As I turned in to the park, on to Main Street, I saw the Princess Castle for the first time which took me back to my childhood instantly.
The 10k took us around the park, through the castle and on to all other parts of the park, this was an incredible experience and the staff and characters were fantastic support. I crossed the finish line in an hour where I got medal number 2! I waited a short time and the rest of the team crossed the line, they stopped at characters, if I stopped I don’t think I would have started again! After a quick hot drink to warm up we went back to the hotel to get freshened up for a day in Disneyland.
We arrived back to the park and what a difference from the morning. During the 10k the park was empty, but now there was people everywhere. Mr Disney himself, Martin Neal (Fundraising Manager at Dreams Come True) gave us the tour and history of the Disney parks while going on the rides and yet again, more screaming! At 4 we headed on to Main Street to secure our front row spot for the parade while fuelling our self with some ice cream well, after all we were running a half marathon in the morning!
The parade was incredible and we saw loads of characters from all the classic Disney films and most importantly Tigger, my favourite! When it finished we headed out to the German bar where we were having a meet up with all the Dreams Come True runners. This was a great opportunity to meet not only our UK supporters but also our American runners. It was amazing to see us all coming together in these runs to support children and young people whose lives are affected by illness and may never have the chance to experience Disney without a dream.
Day 3 Race 3! The Half marathon
Once again the alarm went off at 5am and we got ready for the half marathon, thankfully the legs were feeling okay but I was feeling tired. After a quick breakfast and a banana we went to the start line. For the first few miles we ran through both parks then headed out to the surrounding village, I ran with Sarah and Allison for the first 6 miles, I found the first half tiring and really felt the little inclines. The girls started to do 9 min run on 1 minute of walking to keep their energy up for the second half of the race. However, deciding I still had the energy to keep running I headed off on my own. It was lovely to see outside Disney, the atmosphere and other runners were fantastic and encouraged each other. As the last few miles approached I was still running and determined to not walk any of the race, as we entered the parks again the crowds of staff and supporters were fantastic at cheering. As I crossed the finish line I was extremely happy and proud to have run my first half marathon without stopping or walking. I picked up another two medals, one for the half marathon and another for completing the Bibbidi-bopidi-boo challenge.
The Run Disney Paris weekend was a fantastic experience and one that I was extremely proud of. In January 2018 I have signed up for the Dopey challenge, a 4 day running event in Disney World Florida, exactly the same as this challenge but with a marathon on the 4th day! I will continue to run with my running club, who are a fantastic team of people who support each other and have really made a difference to my running ability. Before Run Verity I couldn’t run a mile, now I can complete a half marathon without stopping with every race getting quicker and stronger. Running with a group also makes the training more fun, you meet new people share their experience and motivate each other. I think the next few months will be challenging in training, especially as the winter nights draw in and increasing my miles, I know that physically and mentally this will be a tiring few months but I am looking forward to the challenge…..and encourage you to join me.
Run Disney was a challenging but truly magical experience, fancy the challenge in 2018? Why not join the dream team!
Claire is aiming to raise £5000.00 for Dreams, if you would like to sponsor her you can donate here.