Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Disney World RunDisney Star Wars Dark Side Race Weekend

Disney grabbed us for one more RunDisney race series. In January we participated in another Star Wars themed race weekend - The Light Side. Florida's Disney location offered a companion series in April with the kicker of a bonus medal for doing the half marathons on both coasts. Like January, we were both signed up for the 5K and10K while Holly had the half marathon. The combination of the 10K and half marathon earns a challenge medal.

We arrived Thursday night, the night before the 5K. We did not have a chance to go to the expo so we were hoping our race bibs would be available at the start area. We checked in at the Boardwalk and figured we had enough time for some quick dinner at Epcot's Flower and Garden food booths. We split four booth offerings before meeting up with friends to watch Illuminations (Epcot fireworks). After the show we headed back to Boardwalk, enjoyed some time in BelleVue talking to one of our favorite WDW bartenders, then went to the room and fell asleep around midnight.

At 3:15 the wake-up call arrives the same time our phone alarms go off. Ugh! The race started at 6:00 but Dinsey logistics demands runners to arrive early. We drove to Epcot vs. taking the resort shuttles and arrived early enough at 4:15. We got our bibs no problem. With time to kill we decided to take advantage of the new character photo op setup that was available all three days (before and after the race). There were different Star Wars character/scene sets lining the stage area. You could have photos with Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Captain Phasma, First Order Troopers, BB-8, Jabba, and rattarps. Disney photographers were on-hand to take photos for the runners (posted online and free to download for Annual Passholders and Memory Maker subscribers). Since we were early we could knock a few out with little wait. After that it was hang out with friends, wait on bathroom lines, and then wait in corrals.

The above statements can be applied to the other race mornings except for the race times. Each morning the start was a half hour earlier. The alarm went off around 2:15 on Sunday for the half. Dave stayed in bed that morning and met up with everyone later.


We entered Corral A (first to start the race) about twenty minutes before the race. Almost as soon as we crossed in race staff announced they were closing the corral. So many people were still milling about and using bathrooms. Our corral ended up having less than 500 participants of a 7,500+ person race. As we were starting we noticed the family of a friend waiting at the side of the corral for their left behind family member using the bathroom. The course was the usual Epcot Course 1st mile parking lot, other miles Epcot.

The 5K is the only distance we can do together because of our separate paces and tolerances for intervals. We saw R2-D2 was the first character stop passed mile marker 1. We skipped it. The World Showcase was lit a bit differently for the race and Star Wars music was playing over the speakers. Fun! The characters from Rebels were at the American Pavilion and Chewbacca was by the Friendship dock by the International Gateway. We skipped both. The final character stop were Some New Order Stormtroopers on a platform by the Future World Fountain. Yep, skipped it. We crossed the finish line, collected our drinks and goodie boxes, took a picture with Boba Fett, and left.

Having Photo Pass was a nice touch. By entering a code and your bib number into the My Disney Experience App we had access to the race photos within a few hours - for free (with our pass). This helped to offset the ridiculous cost of RunDisney races.

Overall the 5K was "same race, different overlay". Seeing people in Star Wars outfits was fun, but nothing on course was different than expected. An appearance by Kylo Ren would have been nice. It was humid as expected this time of year.


"Let's wake up earlier than yesterday". The worst part of race weekend is the early start. Being back in the room before the first firework show starts is a miserable feeling. We carpooled over to Epcot with our friends Lee and Laura. We were still pretty early so we killed time with character photo lines. We met up with more friends and eventually shuffled the almost 1/2 mile to the start line. Shuffle is literal. They opened the gates and we all slowly moved our way to corrals. Dave was the lone Corral B member of our group. Since he's slower he decided to take the head start and figured we'd finish around the same time. To make things worse - we were finishing the race at Wide World of Sports which meant we had to rely on busses to take us back to Epcot or the resort's.

Here's the race from Dave's POV:

"Somehow I ended up too far in the front of my corral. Once we crossed the line we were all really packed together for a while. Then came the off-ramp that narrowed to accommodate a single car - going from 4 lanes to one was crowded for me. It was warmer than the day before and I wasn't feeling it. Adding to the fun was I kept burping up the nasty Clif Bar I ate before the race. This was going to be slower pace than yesterday, even though I had a faster first mile (Likely caused by the push of the crowd and search for isolation).

Epcot looked the same as the day before and it was fun to go counterclockwise to UK pavilion. This was a good place for the bathroom. The Boardwalk was fun to go through, but then the narrow path to the Studios was not. At the front of the Studios there were a few members of the 501st out for photo ops. It was nice, but nothing like the California half marathon. I took a few pictures in the Studios and took advantage of the Tower of Terror restrooms. Since the rest of the course was not through parks or resorts I decided to take advantage of the familiar. I'm not one to stop for character photo opportunities, but they had Palpatine's chair at the 1/2 way point. Just had to wait on line.

The rest of the course was not much fun. Concrete and Trees. Right before Mile 5 participants crammed onto a narrow dirt paths for almost a half mile. That was really fun. Near the end of the course a few more members of the 501st were out, including a Darth Vader. Since I had a Darth Vader shirt on I decided to stop for a picture. I knew through text messages Holly and crew were nearby. I stood off to the side before crossing the finish to see if they were coming into sight, but then figured they may be stopping for pictures with the characters and moved on. I got some poor finish line photos because I was chatting with Rudy, the greatest race announcer in the world, as I crossed. He asked if Holly was close by. So much fun to know a race announcer.

I'm in the minority of my friends when I say I wish it was the race was on the traditional 10K course of Epcot-Boardwalk-Yacht-Beach-Epcot. There was not enough to engage me on this course passed the half way point. I really hated the fact that we had to wait on line 30 minutes for a bus back to Epcot. Apparently the wait was up to 70+ minutes later that day

Half Marathon (Holly's Report)

This is now the third morning wake up in a row for me. It was the earliest one yet at 2:15 am! Lee and Laura were driving this morning and I knocked on their door at 3 am. We made it to Epcot in no time at all and we now just had to wait two hours until we would actually start running. This was when it finally sunk in that I was done with runDisney. I love seeing and running with my friends but we are all so tired from getting up so early, that I would like to pick another race weekend that doesn’t require such early alarms, or just go to Disney with everyone and not run.

We once again had a long slow shuffle to the corrals and waited around for our turn to go. It was the same entertainment as the previous two days. The course would be a new one again so I was excited for that. We started in Epcot and ran along the Beach Club today to get to the Studios (Dave came out to see us along the Boardwalk path). Ran through the Studios and then out to Osceola Parkway to Animal Kingdom and back on Osceola to finish again at Wide World of Sports. It was a cooler morning this morning and we had a group of nine of us running together today. We all had fun and I think we were running a bit faster because it was cooler. We did slow down at the half way point because we were getting tired after three days of running! As with the first two days the characters on course were lacking. The 501st did save the day and I enjoyed running through three parks.

The medals were great, especially the Kessel Run medal that I got because I did the half marathon in January at Disneyland. We were all disappointed to learn that there was no beer available after the race due to the fact that the race ended in Osceola County and you can’t sell beer in the morning in that county. Something tells me that they will be changing the course next year or getting a special permit. They left too much money on the table, which is something that Disney does not do.


My overall feelings on the race weekend are that they are a fun weekend if you like Star Wars. They are way overcrowded however and the magic of running at Disney is over for me due to the overcrowding and the overall process of getting to the races so early to sit around and wait to start.



No comments:

Post a Comment