It’s Half Marathon Time!!!! After doing the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge 10K the day prior, it was now time for the half marathon. On Sunday, April 23, 2017, I ran in the RunDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon.
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House for this trip. I always enjoy this view from our balcony!
Because RunDisney races start so early in the morning, 5:30 AM, it was again an early night on Saturday night as well. However, this was no ordinary half marathon for me. I was not running for time, but for pictures! In the end, it will have been my slowest half marathon, but my most fun, because I went overload on Star Wars character stops!
For this race, I try to dress up in costume as a Star Wars character. Last year I ran as a storm trooper, and this year I went with Boba Fett, the Bounty Hunter. So, here is flat Boba Fett. We got the Boba Fett hat from the Disney Store. The Boba Fett running shirt off Amazon. The arm sleeves are volleyball sleeves which my wife dyed burgundy and drew all the weapons on. The knee braces were dyed yellow to match Boba Fett’s knee plates. It was finally topped off with my grey shorts, and Orange/Black Hokas (which do not match or go with the costume in the least).
The alarm clock went off at 3 AM on Sunday morning, and by 3:30 AM Boba Fett was ready for the hunt and heading toward the bus at the resort.
The crowds were much bigger for the half marathon than for the 10K the day prior.
Because we had all got the pre- & post race character pictures done at the 10K, we did not spend any time waiting in character lines. So we just found some pavement in sat, relaxed, and socialized.
At about 5:00 AM we started making our way to the porta-potties & corrals. We were all spread out for this race. Becky was in Corral A, I was in Corral B, and Matt & Kira were in Corral E. So we all did our goodbyes and ducked into our respective corrals.
Here is the map of the course. It was a new route this year. I was a great route as it started in the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot (aka Transportation & Ticket Center) and finished in the Epcot Parking Lot. The beauty of this route was that we spent far less time on Osceola Parkway, and did not run through the ESPN Wide World of Sports (way too many turns in there).
With the race starting at 5:30 AM it was pretty dark for the first six to seven miles. So we had to run carefully so as to not step on each other. My plan going out was to just have fun with this race and take every photo opportunity. So before we even reached Mile 1, there was R2-D2 awaiting us. Since it was the first character stop, the line was long, so I waited like 10 minutes for this picture.
Then we were at Mile 1. There wasn’t anything of interest in the second mile, so we now progress to Mile 2.
After Mile 2, we were now on Bear Island Road headed toward the Animal Kingdom. This gave me flood of memories back to my Marathon days when I did 3 Walt Disney World Marathons & 2 Goofy Challenges. This was a very dark run through here. However, during it, they had laser lights doing light saber fights. This was really cool.
Up next was the Ewoks. They are so cute, aren’t they.
Then we were at Mile 3 with good ole Count Dooku.
Next up was the trash compactor escape from Episode IV.
Now we are up to Mile 4 and we are running through the Animal Kingdom. (Notice the clock is wrong on the Mile 4 sign [ look back at the other signs], it messed us up there for a minute).
Look how happy I look when I am not trying to kill it!
As we are circling through the Animal Kingdom, we run across our first of many storm troopers along the course.
The Phantom Menace then welcomes us to Mile 5.
As we are exiting out of the Animal Kingdom and into the parking lot area, we ran into our first batch of characters from the 501st Legion. They are always such a cool group.
Mile 6 was in the Animal Kingdom Parking Lot, and Boba Fett, my running namesake welcomed us.
Then we were on the doomed and always boring Osceola Parkway. At least Darth Vader decided to leave his command chair out for us for a little breather.
At least they gave us Jabba the Hutt for Mile 7, because this section of the course is as bad as he looks!
Then, we I was already having a magical Star Wars day and didn’t think it could get any better… I meet up with my running hero, Jeff Galloway. I ran up on him and made our greetings (he and I have run before in Disney races and special events), he invited me to run with him and his wife for a little while and cycle through one of their Run-Walk-Run intervals. He is such an amazing & kind man, and is probably the sole reason why am I am still running today. He running method helped me as I learned to run properly in 2010. After a little piece, I said farewell and was back on my way.
Then we were up to Mile 8 & Lord Palpatine.
Next up for character stops was some of the characters from the children’s series. Couldn’t tell you who they are, but they are always so cool for photos.
Wow, Mile 9 already….
Now we are starting to enter into Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We ran past the construction site of the future Star Wars Land to open in 2019. As we turned into the Studios, there was the Phantom Menace. Don’t we look menacing?
Guess what… We are now at Mile 10. 5k to go, but oh so many more character stops to make!
Up next near the Hollywood Tower of Terror was our next set of Storm Troopers. I have no clue what I was doing with my hands here???
As we continued up Sunset Boulevard in the Studios heading toward the entrance, there was a cast member from the Tower of Terror, and no one was stopping with her for photos. Hey, no one gets left out during this race!
As we exited out of the Studios we were on our way to the Boardwalk. Man I am having so much fun!
So, if you have run many races at Disney, you know the path from the Studios to the Boardwalk is very narrow. So this took some time to navigate as it was still pretty crowded. Then we came up to Mile 11, see how narrow the path is.
Then, unlike any other Disney race I have done, we ran through the Boardwalk Resort as opposed to running around by the Yacht & Beach Club Resort. This was neat and different as it felt like the boards gave us a little more spring in our steps.
As we came to the end of the Boardwalk, near the ESPN Zone, there was another group from the 501st Legion. Again, these guys are so awesome. Check out the beard on that guy?!?!?!
As we went over the bridge and into the International Gateway towards Epcot, there he was….. CHEWY!!!!
Captain Phasma then greeted us as we circled the World Showcase at Epcot.
Look at me, I am still having so much fun… time… pace… who cares????
As I made my way to the backside of World Showcase, a couple offered to take my picture with Spaceship Earth in the background. If you have seen my previous race recaps and training blogs, I am still working on this whole “selfie” thing.
As we branched out of World Showcase and into Future World, there was the first appearance of the Flower & Garden Festival. My wife always coming at this time of year. Donald welcomed us…
As we turned by Spaceship Earth and make our final approach to the finish line, there was one last set of characters from the 501st Legion. They couldn’t be left out. Especially since most of them were bounty hunters, as Boba Fett, my running character, was. They greeted me as their own.
As I turned the corner, there was mile 13. I couldn’t believe it was already about over. This was such a fun race for me.
If I can say, I think this may be my best finish line photo ever. I look so relaxed…. 19.3 miles in 2 days….
So my time was not the greatest, in fact it was my slowest of the previous 36 half marathons, but I did not care. I enjoyed myself, and set a PR the day before in the 10K.
After it was over, I decided I was not going to hit all the character photo stops this time, but then I had to have one taken with Boba Fett.
After 19.3 miles in 2 days, it was another good medal and wardrobe haul.
I got on the bus and headed back to the resort. Once I freshened up, my wife and I headed to Epcot to meet up with our friends Matt & Kira for some park fun. We took these exact photos after last year’s Star Wars Half Marathon. You can click here for a comparison.
Another awesome Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon race weekend comes to an end. I cannot wait until next year. The 2018 Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend will be April 19-22, 2018. You can count on me being there.