At Nearly 90 Years Old, Ellen Lem Finishes Disneyland 5K During Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

For proof that runDisney races are for everyone, look no further than Ellen Lem, a nearly 90-year-old woman from Anaheim, Calif., who participated last week in her first-ever 5K race at the 11th Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. Lem is one of the oldest runners in runDisney history and crossed the finish line arm-in-arm with her daughters in a time of 1:13:05.

Her participation in a runDisney race is just the beginning of what makes her an inspiration to us all.

At Nearly 90 Years Old, Ellen Lem Finishes Disneyland 5K During Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Lem, who turns 90 this November, grew up in Asia during World War II. She and her family fled their native Burma and lived as refugees in China. There, she served as a volunteer translator for the American Red Cross and would meet her eventual husband, an American soldier. After years of communicating via letters – and briefly losing touch when she moved to Hong Kong – Lem would eventually reunite with her prince, get married and move to the United States. She even went on to become a Disneyland Resort cast member in the 1970s.

For the past 40 years, Lem and her family have called Southern California home. While she has outlived her husband and friends, she is motivated to stay healthy and active so she can experience the joy of her grandchildren completing college.

At Nearly 90 Years Old, Ellen Lem Finishes Disneyland 5K During Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Lem walks 10 laps a day around Juarez Park near her home with her two adult daughters, Caroline and Bella – past runDisney participants. When she started outpacing her daughters, they signed her up for the 5K. After her turbulent early life in Asia, Lem viewed the upcoming race not as a challenge, but as something she can finally be in control of and do for herself.

Check out the video of Lem’s experience preparing for and participating in the Disneyland 5K during Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.


  • Mom is so excited to be registered for 2017 Disneyland 10K with her daughters and grandkids!!

  • Hunkering down now for Hurricane Mathew, but so looking forward to the Lumineers Challenge.
    I was diagnosed about three months after my daughter was born with metastic melanoma. She will be four years old next week.
    Metastic melanoma is a stage four cancer that when metastasized becomes a chronic disease which can recur at any time. With three surgeries and chemo, I achieved NED (No Evidence of Disease) on my scans last December 23rd. During these three years my wife, children and I have participated in many RunDisney events, but this will be my first 10k & 1/2 marathon. Training has been brutal between the Florida summer and side effects from chemo, but my wife, Wendy, has been my princess, my happiness, my greatest support.
    My latest scans have shown that the cancer has spread to my leg, chest, arm and both sides of my brain. Two weeks ago we did the Castaway Cay 5k and had a blast!
    We love all things Disney and I want those medals!
    Not expecting a quick race but will finish with a great big Mickey Smile on my face!
    Next years goal: A Coast to Coast! 😉


  • It amazes me what people can do when they set their mind to it. Great job, Ellen Lem!!

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