Day Two of the RunDisney Star Wars First Order Challenge brings the Dark Side Half Marathon. On Day One, I did the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge 10K. On Sunday, April 22, 2018, I ran in the RunDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon.
We stayed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort for this trip.
When we arrived on Friday, our first stop was the Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports. They were ready for us!
Since I was doing the Kessel Run Challenge of half marathons for both the Light & Dark Side, I got the coveted wrist band.
At the expo I got to meet up with my “running mentor” Jeff Galloway. He even signed my race bib!
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. The first two years I ran as a storm trooper (2016) and Boba Fett (2017). This year my wife had a coworker make me a “different” Star Wars shirt, as you will see in the Flat David shot.
The alarm clock went off at 3 AM on Sunday morning, and by 3:30 AM I was ready for day two and heading toward the bus at the resort.
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.
Here is the map of the course. It was a new route for the third year in as many races. 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). The new portion was that through Epcot, they had us run through the new Pandora section of the park.
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. There were no character stops in the first mile.
Just after Mile 1, we run into Lord Palpatine’s thrown.
Darth Vader welcomes you to Mile 2.
Mile 2 was mostly through the woods of Bear Creek Road from Magic Kingdom over to Animal Kingdom. They had a flight scene with lasers (simulated with specialized lighting rigs) for a portion of this section, then we came upon the Ewoks.
Count Dooku welcomes you to Mile 3.
We then come upon our first role play scene, the trash compactor!
General Grievous welcomes you to Mile 4.
The Phantom Menace welcomed us by sign and in person to Mile 5. We were now into the Animal Kingdom park.
We then hit a section of 501st Legion characters, which is always so awesome.
We then came across our 2nd role play opportunity. No, they rotated the picture, I was not spry enough to hang upside down!
The legend, Boba Fett then welcomed us out of Animal Kingdom and to Mile 6 and probably the most frustrating section of the course, Osceola Parkway. Say Osceola Parkway to any RunDisney veterans and they will cringe.
It then happened, I caught up with another legend, Jeff Galloway! We have met up on the course each of the past 3 years and he is such an awesome man.
Here we are last year…
Fittingly, they put big nasty Jabba Hutt on Osceola Parkway for Mile 7.
There were no stops in the next mile, so we rolled into Mile 8. That is Cad Baine there (props to my friend Jared E. for a mind refresh).
In this mile was one of the most fantastic sites of the entire course, the building of Star Wars Land, sent to open next year!!!!
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. As we turned into the Studios, there was the Phantom Menace. Don’t we look menacing?
Before we hit Mile 10, we ran into another group of the 501st Legion.
We are now at Mile 10. 5k to go, but oh so many more character stops to make! Hello Kylo!
Just past the 10 Mile marker were more 501st Legion.
Up next near the Hollywood Tower of Terror, 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 for their photo. Hey, no one gets left out during this race! Here is this year and last year!
Just past the Tower were another set of Storm Troopers.
Here are a few Photopass photos coming down Hollywood Blvd. in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
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 General Huck & Mile 11.
Cruising along through the Beach Club Resort.
As we went over the bridge and into the International Gateway towards Epcot, there he was….. CHEWY!!!!
Captain Phasma then greeted us at Mile 12 as we circled the World Showcase at Epcot.
Here are a few shots as we run through the World Showcase at Epcot.
Hello Spaceship Earth…. Home stretch!
In the last section of the course were two group photos.
Our attack on Starkiller Base has arrived at Mile 13. A tenth of a mile to go!!!
Here comes the finish.
At the finish I got to meet up with my friend Jason.
I stuck around and got a few character pictures at the end.
After 19.3 miles in 2 days, it was another good medal and wardrobe haul.
There was an additional medal this year. The Millennium Falcon. I was able to acquire this beauty by running the Virtual Light Side Half Marathon (because Disneyland races in CA have been postponed, supposedly for construction) and the Dark Side Half Marathon. We will be able to do this again in 2019 because of the same situation.
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 have took these exact photos after last year’s Star Wars Half Marathon.
Here we are in 2017.
Here we are in 2016 for the Inaugural.
Props to my wife for having these cool shirts made for us to wear after the races. They were fitting to wear at Epcot. If you cannot read it, “When You Wish Upon A Death Star”.
After a day in Epcot, we went over to Disney Springs to have dinner at Chef Art’s Homecoming & bowling at Splitsville with all our friends. What an awesome way to finish out the third year of the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge (First Order).
Another awesome Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon race weekend comes to an end. I cannot wait until next year. The 2019 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend will be April 6-7. We have already been advised that there will be both a Light & Dark Side (You Choose When You Register) since the races at Disneyland are on hold. You can count on me being there and of course for the Dark Side.