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The Disneyland Half Marathon crowd started arriving bright and early this morning, as 15,000 runners made their way to the park for the 6 AM start time. For it being so early, though, there clearly was no lack of energy! These dedicated athletes carried an overwhelming buzz of excitement with them — and why wouldn’t they be excited? They would soon be running a 13.1 mile path through California Adventure, Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium, and finally, Downtown Disney, some of the best marathon-running scenery one could ask for!

You know, one of my favorite things about Disney fans is their pride. There were SO many people dressed up as a wide variety of characters, including (but not limited to): Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and friends, the Princesses, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Nemo, The Incredibles, Buzz Lightyear, and Tinkerbell. My personal favorites were a trio that dressed up in Mrs. Potts, Chip, and Lumiere costumes – their suits were impractical, but they didn’t seem to mind!

Even just as a stander-by, it was really easy to feel the good vibes as the race was about to start. The charismatic MC and loud music made me forget that the sun hadn’t even risen yet. My excitement reached it’s peak, though, when Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the “chairpersons” of the event, came out a few minutes before 6 to pump everyone up even more. After a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by an American soldier (complete with fireworks, naturally), the countdown began, leaving only a few final moments of anticipation.

Congratulations to Paul Ngeny, 31, of Auburn, CA, who led a record field of more than 14,000 registered runners Sunday at the fifth annual Disneyland Half Marathon, by crossing the finish line first with a time of 1:07:24, beating the fastest Disneyland Half Marathon time by 41 seconds.

“The course was very nice and comfortable,” Ngeny said. “I liked running through the parks and all the music. I could keep on going for a hundred miles.”

Finishing just behind Ngeny was Eric Marenburg, 27, of San Diego, CA, with a time of 1:12:10. Kevin Broady, 48, of Brea, CA, finished third with a time of 1:12:43.

Rachel Booth, 29, of Mountain View, CA, claimed the title of 2010 women’s champion with a time of 1:15:19, beating the fastest women’s finisher time in the history of the Disneyland Half Marathon by 00:04:04. Booth, who performed better than she expected, finished just 18 seconds off of an Olympic trial qualifier time.

“It was great. Magical,” Booth said. “It’s in Disneyland and it’s just a happy day. Always enjoyable. Everyone was so loud and cheering.”

The women’s second-place finisher was Theresa Lowry, 36, of San Diego, CA, with a time of 1:19:05. Susan Loken, 47, of Phoenix, AZ, took third place with a time of 1:19:13.

Other notable finishers of the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon are Jon Megeff, 47, of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, who won the men’s Master’s Division (age 40+) with a time of 1:16:57, Merryt Jackman, 41, of San Diego, CA, who topped the women’s Master’s Division (1:28:16) and Scott Parson, 51 of San Jose, CA,(00:56:45), and Sandi Rush, 49, of Oceanside, CA, (1:17:06), winners of the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions.

DLHM_alicegroup2009

Participants in the fourth annual Disneyland Half Marathon wound through the Disneyland Resort area and out into Anaheim itself. Some wore costumes and even paused for character interaction along the way.

Jaeyung Hyung, 38, of Las Cruces, N.M., (see below) celebrated his first-place finish Sunday, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:10:44 to lead the estimated field of nearly 12,000 participants.

DLHM_MENS_WINNER2009

“I really enjoyed running the race here,” Hyung said. “There were so many people, and Disney made it a lot of fun.”

The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend has reached capacity for its 4th consecutive year. That’s 18,000 participants taking place in various events around the Sept 4-6 weekend. Something to keep in mind if you’re going to be at the park that weekend. If you are running, I’m looking for a corespondent to report on the experience for The Disney Blog.

The full press release is after the jump: