It’s 4:30am when I meet up with some of my fellow teammates right outside the gates of Disney California Adventure. As we enter the park, the energy is palpable. In the distance, I can hear music at the starting line and cheers from the crowd. As we turn the corner to go down Hollywood Land, we are met with the massive crowd we heard a few seconds ago. Near the end of the street is an announcer getting ready to release the first wave; my team members and I are part of wave four.
After a couple minutes, our 5k wave makes its way to the starting line. With an enthusiastic countdown from the announcer and a blast of confetti, we are off! I strategically find an open pocket to start running and speed off. I make my way backstage past Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! One of the most exciting parts of these races is getting a glimpse at the magic that goes on behind the scenes in Disney Parks; I take it all in as I run by the attraction buildings.
A little bit later I get to Pixar Pier—it’s absolutely gorgeous to see it lit up. This is probably the only time I will ever see the park so empty as well! There’s so much room to run!
As I leave Disney California Adventure, I am routed backstage into Disneyland. As I round the corner, a group of Disneyland cast members are cheering on the runners. “Come on, keep it up!” they enthusiastically shout, “Don’t give up, you’re almost there.” I push on and get a burst of speed. I make my way by Thunder Mountain and see something in the distance—it’s a group of Storm Troopers! There have been a few awesome photo opportunities so far, but this definitely is the coolest one. But honestly, I’m more of a Resistance guy, so I keep on pace to my goal.
As I run past the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and around Walt’s statue, I can see the finish line with the backdrop of Main Street. With an extra burst of energy I sprint towards the end. It’s over! I’ve made it all the way through both parks! As I look down at my running app it congratulates me with my record 5k time: 28:42! I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
As I look up I notice the faces of all the other participants and I can see that same joy as well. For a lot of these people, today was their first commitment to their new self, their New Year’s resolution. I am proud that I could have shared this same magical moment with them.
Formerly authored by Iain C. at Partners