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  • Jakob Irwin

Running Around the Most Magical Place on Earth

Growing up in Northern California, One thing I looked forward to every single summer was our annual family vacation to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. It was roughly a 6 hour drive for us and we often stayed for 5 days. These were some of my favorite days of the entire year.


I remember how huge Disneyland was! How we couldn't get through the entire park in a day. In fact sometimes, it took us three days to finally make our way through the entire park! There was simply so much to see and so little time to see it. From pictures with Mickey and Minnie, to riding all the rides, to visiting all the different food stops, The place just seemed too big to be real!


I am 38 now, and for the first time in a long time I had an opportunity to go back to Anaheim. While I wasn't able to actually go into the park, I wasn't going to pass an opportunity to run laps around the outside of the park. The weather was basically begging for me to do it anyways.


I was scheduled to run 12 miles that day. My hotel was roughly 1.5 miles away from the entrance of the park. So I threw on my running clothes and headed out the lobby door of my hotel and started running to my favorite place in the world.


I got to the corner of the park and turned to head down the path of Palm trees that bordered the wall of the park. As I ran along the path I could hear the screams and cheers of the families inside on the rides. I could hear the joyful Disney Music, and part of me wanted to believe I could hear Mickey Mouse himself. Then I turned the next corner.


Now I was on the backside of the park, On one side of me was a neighborhood of houses and on the other side of me were all of the employee entrances and delivery gates for the parks. This was the part of the park that you never even think exists as a kid. So naturally i was excited to see such settle sites of Disney, almost as if I was getting a behind the scenes tour. Then I turned the next corner


This was a busier street now, lots of traffic and you wouldn't even know that I was running next to a giant theme park at this point in time. I was passing gas stations and Chinese restaurants. I had to wait at crosswalks, and toward the end of this stretch, I even crossed over a freeway. Where did Disneyland go? Then I made the next turn


A few minutes later I was in front of the main entrance again and shortly after I was back at the corner of the park that I started at. I looked down at my watch and was in complete disbelief. I had just done a complete lap around the entire park in about 20 minutes! The park that seemed bigger than the planet itself when I was a child, I just ran around in 20 minutes! This just couldn't be! I double and triple checked my watch and was almost slightly disappointed that my watch was not broken. It was giving me accurate data. The Disneyland that I remember, wasn't actually as big as I had thought.


Now I am not sure what I thought was going to happen. I suppose a part of me just assumed that my 12 miles would be spent on running essentially run lap around the park. However I ended up running just over 4 laps instead. With that said, I wasn't the only runner running these loops and I took please in the sounds I got to hear as I ran next to the Palm trees each loop. A couple of times I even got to see some of the "cast members" likely walking back to their house that was near by or just simply taking a break.


In the end I got my 12 miles in and I checked an item off my list, running laps around the happiest place on earth. I saw hundreds of kids as they watched me run past them, and I even got a couple of high fives from some of them. The weather was perfect and I ran more down hill than flat. I was back to breathing thin air again and it felt good running in the climate I was rooted from.


Being that my trip to Anaheim will likely be an annual one, I look forward to being able to make this 12 mile bundle of loops a tradition.


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