2014 Never Land Family Fun Run 5K

Perfect Goofy Gail and I in front of Disneyland

Perfect Goofy Gail and I in front of Disneyland

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend was finally here. I was very excited to run this event. I had never registered for this series of races before because they were either scheduled on my daughter’s birthday or the weekend following Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Even though they were following the WDW Marathon weekend this year, I decided to register anyway and run back-to-back race weekends.

I had just completed the Dopey Challenge

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

and was registered to run the NeverLand 5K, Inaugural Tinker Bell 10K and Half Marathon with my pal, Perfect Goofy Gail. I’m one of those people who never looks at the course map until the night prior. To my surprise I saw that the NeverLand 5K begins in Disneyland Park at the central hub (I think I knew that, but it hadn’t registered with my brain)!

The crowd waiting to begin...

The crowd waiting to begin…

Gail and I were staying at the Disneyland Hotel for the weekend. We leisurely set the alarm for 4:30 am for a race start of 5:45am. The best part about the Disneyland races is that you can walk to the corrals without having to take a bus. We soon made our way through Downtown Disney and security into the park. There we strolled up Main Street U.S.A. to the central hub. A DJ got the crowd moving and pumped for the 5K. Rudy and Carissa then warmed up the crowd and introduced the trumpeter who performed the Star Spangled Banner from Sleeping Beauty Castle. Then I saw her – she was positioned on the Matterhorn and down she came – Tinker Bell herself. She flew back and forth over the castle while fireworks went off (see above video). It was amazing and the best start of a runDisney event EVER!!!!

Mile 3's stage

Mile 3’s stage

The race started in waves on the walkway to the Matterhorn. The course took us through Fantasyland, past It’s a Small World (with its’ Holiday Overlay) and backstage. There we saw holiday floats, animals and ran through a cool tunnel that took us to the back of Big Thunder Railroad and Mile Marker #1. Right around that corner was Smee with Captain Hook. From there we passed Rivers of America and the Lost Boys in canoes. From there we went backstage again until we found our way out and in the front of Disneyland Park only to wind our way backstage again and into Disney’s California Adventure through an access tunnel. We ran through Bugs Land, Cars Land, past World of Color and onto Paradise Pier. There we crossed the finish line which was still located IN THE PARK!!!

Finishers of the Neverland 5K

Finishers of the Neverland 5K

I’ve run every current runDisney race with the exception of Expedition Everest and it was by far the best runDisney 5K EVER! I would give it a Straight A and would rank the current 5K’s in this order (noting that I have not yet participated in Expedition Everest Challenge Weekend):

  1. Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend – NeverLand Family Fun Run 5K: given top ranking because of the start in Disneyland’s central hub with Tinker Bell and fireworks!
  2. Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – Disneyland Family Fun Run 5K: 2nd only to Neverland – great course in both Disneyland Parks; highlight is running through Cars Land lit up in the morning light.
  3. Wine & Dine Weekend – Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K: Magical snow at the start with a holiday theme! Course runs through Animal Kingdom park and backstage!
  4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Weekend – Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run: The Headless Horseman starts the show! Run on a trail course that is a challenge. Runs through ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
  5. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Disney Royal Family 5K: Same exact course as WDW weekend, but with more characters! Get to run around World Showcase and through Epcot Park.
  6. WDW Marathon Weekend – WDW Family Fun Run 5K: Same exact course as Princess, but with less characters. It’s fun to watch the sun rise over Spaceship Earth!

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