2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Race Recap

Last month, Melanie and I went to Walt Disney World for an out of this world weekend at the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon. This race was the second Star Wars themed race for this year us as we participated in the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon in Disneyland in January.  We decided to participate in both of the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathons this year because they are part of a special challenge race series called the Kessel Run Challenge. If you complete the Star Wars Light Side Half and Dark Side Half Marathons in the same year, you get a special Millennium Falcon medal! We love extra bling, so we did not hesitate to register for both events!

To make things even more exciting, Melanie ran a 10k and a Half Marathon on the Dark Side. She earned an epic Death Star medal for completing both of those races. Here is a breakdown of how the weekend on the Dark Side went:

Expo:

We went to the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.  We always try to time our trips to the runDisney expos so that we avoid crowds and lines of non-runners who are there only to pillage the merch to re-sell on eBay. We’ve found in the past that the expos are less crowded in the middle of the day, so we timed our visit for early afternoon on the second day of the race expo.

No crowds at the expo! We picked out each other’s outfits =)

We were pleasantly surprised to find that this race expo had very low crowds. We had no trouble walking around the expo, taking pictures, and browsing race merchandise. Almost 100% of the race merchandise was still available when we were there, so we took the opportunity to finally snag some race themed merchandise. It’s been a couple of races since we had a full selection of race merchandise when shopping at a runDisney expo. It was quite a treat! We also had the chance to stop by the Raw Threads booth to pick up our patch for participating in the race as a Raw Threads Club Member. The race themed patches are such a fun perk of the Raw Threads Club.

Raw Threads Club race patch!

Yes! The Dark Side has sweat pants!

The expo was very Star Wars themed with Stormtroopers patrolling the expo area. There were Star Wars quotes up on the walls of the Joesten center, and some awesome wall art in the exit area from bib pick-up.  Our favorite part of the expo was the Cantina area complete with photo opportunities. We got the chance to hang out with our friend John Biel from the Not Real Runners podcast and snap a few fun pictures at the Cantina. The only thing missing was the Cantina band.

Stormtroopers on patrol at the expo!

Hanging at the Cantina with John Biel.

 

10K Race Day:

Hi! Melanie here with my recap of the Dark Side 10K.

Costume: For the 10k I wanted a fun and simple tutu due to the amount of time I needed to spend on my half marathon costume. I printed out images of TIE fighters, used mod podge to stabilize the print-outs on some craft foam, and glued the tie fighters and star confetti to a black tutu I had made for a previous race. I wore a plain black tank top and a Galaxy Sparkly Soul headband that I purchased from Sparkly Soul at the race expo.

TIE Fighter tutu for the 10k.

 

Pre-Race: I walked into the pre-race area and saw there was photo opportunities with Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, Darth Vader…. and then I stopped and saw the wait to get a picture with Darth Vader was 40 minutes. I REALLY wanted a picture with Darth Vader, but after waking up at 2:30 AM to get to the race, doing the math on how much time I had to take the picture was not going well.  I basically stood in the same spot for several minutes by myself trying to figure out what I should do… BUT luckily standing out in the open aimlessly allowed me to find some friends! I ran into Christine (@disneymom05) and Jess (@jbullski) and got to chat for a few minutes and take some selfies. Running into them really helped me wake up and get excited to start the race, and I decided to head over to my corral.

Look who I found 💗✨🖤#runsintutus #starwars #starwarshalf #rundisney #disneyrunner

A post shared by @disneymom05 on

Corral area:  The set up for the 10k corral area was a set up I had not seen before. The corrals were set up to where you were facing the side of the start line and could see the race announcers. It made waiting for your corral to start a much better experience. I felt excited for each corral to start because I could actually see it! The corrals were also set up in waves with a shorter time in between the start of each corral and wave. I felt like I didn’t wait long at all for my start.

Race course: As far as I know, this was a new course for a runDisney 10k. The race started in the parking lot of Magic Kingdom, and we began running down the road out of the entrance to Magic Kingdom. I didn’t find this portion to be very entertaining, but that was overshadowed by my excitement to experience a completely different course. At about the halfway point, we entered into Hollywood Studios where I found Darth Maul!

Darth Maul!!

Hollywood Studios had a lot of Stormtroopers out, and this is where I felt the course got really fun. We exited out of Hollywood Studios down a walkway to Epcot. The walkway was a little narrow which made this section fill a little crowded, but it was short and we were able to quickly spread out once we entered the World Showcase. We approached Spaceship Earth where there was a fun photo opportunity with Stormtroopers and Spaceship Earth in the background!

Race Finish: There were Stormtroopers guarding the finish line to watch all who completed what the Stormtroopers called at the beginning of the race “training” for the First Order. They warned us not to disappoint Captain Phasma, so I crossed the finish line and made Captain Phasma proud! I received my medal, banana, and box of snacks and headed back to our hotel to get ready for some Disney World park time. Overall, I really enjoyed the course entertainment and all the costumes at the 10k!

Now, back to Christine for a recap of the Half Marathon!

Half Marathon Race Day:

Costumes: Melanie and I were pretty excited about our race costumes for this event. A few months prior to the race, Melanie and I teamed up with a group of other runners who wanted to dress as Boba Fett/Disney character mash-ups.  I was a little nervous about the mash-ups because I am far more of a Disney expert than I am a Star Wars expert. Thankfully Melanie is a pretty big Star Wars buff, so she helped me make sure that my costume was as true to Boba as possible. Melanie dressed as a mash-up between warrior Mulan and Boba Fett, and I dressed as a mash-up of Mary Poppins and Boba Fett. Melanie chose Mulan because she is a super strong warrior capable of saving a nation. I chose Mary Poppins because she is practically perfect in every way, and because I really feel like the Dark Side needs more sparkle and lace.  Here are some pictures of our costumes and our group of Boba mash-ups.

Mary Fett/Boba Poppins mash-up costume. Lacy and sparkly armor was so much fun to make! Also loved the tiny umbrella and carousel horse details!

Mulan Fett. Melanie hand painted the Mushu detail on the armor!

Boba Fett mash-up group!

Our friend Sam was also in our group. She had an amazing Tink Fett mash-up!

 

Pre-race fun: We stayed at the Pop Century resort and had no problems catching a bus to the pre-race village for some fun.  There were a lot of photo opportunities before the race, but we chose to sleep a little later and forego the pre-race photo ops. We did have the chance to snap a quick picture with our Boba mash-up group and see their amazing costumes. We also had the chance to see our friends John Biel and Autumn Ziegler. They had some amazing costumes at this race. John dressed as kyber crystals which are the power source for light sabers. Autumn dressed as a sparkly 40th Anniversary edition Millennium Falcon.  After talking with Autumn and John for a couple of minutes, the most magical thing happened us. We were interviewed by THE Star Wars Show!!! As in the one on starwars.com.  The same show that interviewed CHEWBACCA MOM!  Squeeeeee! It. Was. Epic! We loved getting the chance to share a little more about our costumes and talk with a crew who really appreciated the costumes we made. Thank you, Star Wars show, for interviewing us (even though there wasn’t time to include us in the webisode)!

Pre-race with Autumn and John.

Corral area:  As was the case with the Princess Half Marathon, the Star Wars Dark Side corrals started in waves.  Each corral was divided into separate waves so that there wasn’t as much crowding at the race start. We really like this change and felt like it helped cut down on course crowding at the beginning. We were very happy to see that runDisney provided a full fireworks show at the start of each corral that was very substantial compared to what we saw at Princess Half.

Melanie and I ran in separate corrals for this race because we both weren’t feeling 100% at the start of the race. We didn’t want to hold each other back during the race. I had a cold the week leading up to the race, so I was a little concerned about how I would fare in the heat. Melanie has been battling a flare up of her autoimmune disease as well as a knee injury.

Race course: The race course for this race was a brand new course! We were very excited to have the opportunity to check it out.  The course started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, ran towards and through Animal Kingdom, then through Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk area, and then finished in Epcot. This was by far our favorite race course in WDW to date! We loved that the stretch of the race that was on the highway was in the middle of the race vs. at the end of the race as is the case at other runDisney events at Walt Disney World. The first part of the race course had beautiful tree scenery and the race directors took full advantage of the scenery to add a little bit of Star Wars flair to the course. At about mile 3 the Ewoks were out in the wooded area and there was fog, lasers, and the music from the battle at Endor from the movie!! This was such a cool touch, and made for great on course entertainment during the portion of the course that was outside of the parks.  We also loved that this race ran through 3 of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks. It was very motivating to have some of the best park scenery at the end of the race as the sun was coming up and when we were getting tired.

Finish area and medals:  We loved the finish area for this race because of the awesome scenery complete with Stormtroopers and music. I was pleased that I made it to the end of the course with all my costume pieces still intact. That was a personal win for me. The most amazing part of the race finish had to be Melanie’s experience on the course! She has been working very hard on her fitness and running over the past few years, and her improvement has been unbelievable!! She has transformed into one strong warrior, and been such an inspiration to Amanda and me! Just when we thought Melanie couldn’t level-up anymore in her beast mode game, she proved us all wrong by getting a PR at Dark Side Half Marathon!!! This wasn’t just a small PR, this was THIRTY MINUTES FASTER than her fastest half marathon!! What makes this PR even more impressive is that she achieved this victory while battling an autoimmune disease flare up and a knee injury on the day after running the Star Wars 10k!! Way to go, Melanie!

Melanie after her epic PR!!

After crossing the finish line, it was time to enjoy some sweet Star Wars bling! Here is a picture of all the bling we earned over the weekend.  Melanie and I both earned the Kylo Ren medal for completing the half marathon, and the Millennium Falcon medal for completing the Kessel run challenge (the Light Side Half in Disneyland and the Dark Side Half in Disney World). Melanie also earned the Death Star medal for completing the Dark Side Challenge (the 10k and half marathon in the same weekend). The Stormtrooper medal is the medal Melanie earned for the 10k the day prior.

 

Allllll the bling!

Postrace fun: Melanie and I used the weekend as an opportunity to have a “Treat yo’self” weekend. We went to Epcot and enjoyed the topiaries and outdoor kitchens and the Flower and Garden Festival on Saturday. On Sunday, we had brunch at Ohana and went to the Magic Kingdom and watched the new Happily Ever After castle projection show. We also couldn’t pass up the chance to take the PhotoPass picture with the floating lantern from Tangled! We were sad that Amanda couldn’t join us, but she decided to stay behind in Disneyland so that she could attend Dapper Day with our friend Kirsten from Crowned Athletics. We think Amanda looked adorable at Dapper Day and had a great time that weekend, too.  All in all, it was a magical weekend!

Enjoying the Flower and Garden Festival.

We had some yummy snacks!

Breakfast at Ohana

Watching the floating lanterns gleeeeeam.

Amanda at Dapper Day in Disneyland!

That’s all we have for now!  Up next for us is a trip back to Walt Disney World to preview Pandora at Animal Kingdom.  Amanda will  also be posting her recap from the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend later this week. She represented Runs in Tutus at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland last weekend. Did you run the Dark Side Half Marathon events? If so, let us know your favorite part in the comments below.

-Christine and Melanie

 

 

 

 

Speak Your Mind

*