Hello there my brunchers – I just got back from a short trip to Walt Disney World to run the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon. So naturally another race another recap! This will be a long one since it was an inaugural year, so bear with me…
I got into Orlando at 5am on Thursday morning after a red-eye flight on Wednesday night. We should go ahead and rename this trip the early morning trip. On Thursday we started our day at Universal Studios (which I will write more about in another post), then went to the Expo on Thursday afternoon.
After checking into All Star Sports we made our way over the World Wide of Sports via the race weekend transportation to check out the expo and for bib pick up. Picking up our bibs was very simple and quick and so was the expo transportation. Juli and Chris forgot they pre-ordered a commemorative jacket so we had to go pick those up. In the pre-order area there was a second official merchandise booth, so we looked around for a bit but decided to head to the Josten center for the main expo. We ended up purchasing the official jackets and Sweaty Bands for the Dark Side Half. I find the longer you run these races the less official merchandise you need. We also picked up some Good Sense (which we always get) and KT Tape, before heading to Epcot to check out Flower and Garden festival.
On Saturday we had a very early (2:50pm) “dinner” reservation at Mama Melrose in Disney Studio’s to carb load. We decided to eat so early since we had to go to bed even earlier than we normally do. This race was starting at 5am for the earliest runDisney start time ever. We also knew that the walk to the corrals would be a long walk so we had to add more time that what we would normally do (similar to Princess). Just before 6pm we were back at our hotel. I picked up a runners box from the dining hall which had a bagel, peanut butter, banana, granola bar and water. This was a great box to have for the morning!
Then we were back to the room to prep for race day. I had decided to not wear a costume and rep the 501st again with our Imperial Ground Pounder shirt, red Sparkle Athletic skirt, and red Pro-Compression socks. I also wore my Sparkle Skirt Mudbuster Shorts under my sparkle skirt and the new C9 at Target sports bra line that I got to try thanks to Influenster. We rolled, taped up, and hydrated more while watching Dear John – perks of an all girl room. Sometime before 9pm we fell asleep…
We woke up at a miserable 2:45am and got ready for the race. We always lay everything out and pack our gear bags the night before. I was sure to have my Garmin Vivoactive and Gym Boss Timer, and totally forgot my sunglasses. By 3:15am we were out the door and headed to the busses. We saw our line was non-existence that we were planning for so we popped into the dinning hall and toasted our bagels and got some Powerade to take with us. I have to say the All Star Sports dinning hall was much more runner friendly than when I stay at the Grand Floridian (but I will take Grand Flo any day).
We got to the race start pretty quickly and went to meet up with the costume group Juli was running with, the Princess Slave Leia mash ups. After a a few pics we made our way to the corrals and with a quick prayer Juli and I separated to our corrals. Juli was in C and I was in H. Naturally, H was were the corrals split for entry – so I had to walk all the way down to the L corral entry to walk back up to H (which is were Juli came in).
The race started at 5am and crossed the start line a little over 30 minutes later. We ran a small bit through the back lot before we entered Epcot’s World Showcase. The bathroom lines were a bit crazy here but I ran onto American Pavillon (where they have 2 restrooms) and waited for only about 3 mins to use the restroom. We kept running through World Showcase with no character stops. We exited out to the Boardwalk where the bottle neck everyone will talk about happened. It didn’t bother me too much – I have come to accept a few bottle necks in a runDisney race. I took a deep breathe and made it through. I did pass the character opps with R2D2 and Chewy because the lines were so long and well I have a lot of photos with them, but wish they were in the actual park… I like to soak up the magic.
The next park we were running through was Studios. Kylo Ren was on a stage with a few first order troopers for a quick photo opp. I snapped a selfie and moved on. This was my first time running through Studios and I felt like we were there for such a short time. The 501st were positioned at various places and once again were the highlight of the race for so many runners. They brought out the most characters and had accessible photo stops for everyone. Way to go guys. Oh and I had run into some friends from the 501st boards that live in Florida and got a hug from a First Order Stormtrooper I know – which made me look super cool (at least in my mind).
After leaving Studios we headed out for a long run down Osceola Parkway. This was long, hot and frankly boring. I stopped for the Vader’s Chair picture just to break it up. They had one screen playing a scene from Star Wars but that was it for entertainment. The Princess Half had a lot more road running entertainment. After that long stretch we entered Animal Kingdom, which was another running first for me. I stopped to take a picture with the Tree of Life to commemorate. We kept running on and I stopped for my kind of entertainment watching the monkeys. I could have stayed but after about a minute and a half I decided I needed to move on. Those monkeys are seriously my kryptonite at Animal Kingdom.
After we left Animal Kingdom we were back on Osceola Parkway to start heading into the finish. They had a few photo opps that we had in California at Light Side (the Wampa Cave and the Trash Compactor) but no characters for another long stretch. We turned onto the the trail (#TRAILRUNNER) to make it back to World of Sports. The speeder bikes I took at picture with at Light Side were on the trail but I was over it. Once we were in World of Sports I knew we were pretty much done. I ran onto the finish. We did have a lot of crowd support at the finish which was nice. I finished with a smile on my face and decent runDisney time – 3:16:24.
I got my Half medal and my Kessel Runner Medal for running both the Light Side Half in California and the Dark Side. I waited at the finish area to see more of my Ground Pounder friends and 2 that got engaged at the finish! Seriously the cutest thing ever!
Overall, this was not my favorite runDisney race and I much prefer the energy of light side. Most runners were not in costume which was very unique to a runDisney race. The roads had a lot of slanting which was hard on my twitchy right ankle and a lot of it just felt like a quiet road race. It was definitely lacking the energy you are accustomed to with runDisney races. On a positive note using the Disney photo pass system worked really well!! I mean I look super cute! But lets be real how could I pass up the chance at the Inagural Kessel Runner Medal!
Did you run the Dark Side Half? What were your thoughts?