Event: 2016 runDisney Rebel Challenge & Star Wars 10k
Event Date: January 16, 2016
Event Location: Disneyland Resort, California
The Rebel Challenge is a 2-race challenge that takes place at runDisney’s Star Wars (Light Side) Weekend at the Disneyland Resort. We will have full coverage of both events that make up this Challenge: The Star Wars 10k and the Star Wars Half Marathon.
Check out our Event Highlight Video Now!!!
Why I decided to run this race
My husband and I ran the inaugural 2015 Disneyland Star Wars half marathon, but we were disappointed that we hadn’t signed up for the Rebel Challenge. So, even though we were not planning on doing any more Disney races after completing our Year of runDisney, we felt called to do Star Wars again so we could get that coveted Rebel Challenge medal. (And as it turned out that was a lucky decision since it will allow us to get the special Kessel Run challenge medal when we do the Star Wars Dark Side challenge at Disney World in April.)
Getting there/the lead-up to the race
After the Avengers Half Marathon I took a break from racing for a while. I still needed to keep up my endurance for the Half Marathon distance, but it was nice to not have the pressure to perform. Instead, I took advantage of the time to test out some new hydration packs (I found a new one I really like), fueling strategies (which seem to be working for now, though I’m curious if they will sustain me in the heat of the summer), and shoes (why, oh why, did they have to discontinue my beloved Brooks Adrenaline 14s???).
Things were going pretty well leading up to the race weekend until runDisney announced new costume rules just a week before we were scheduled to fly out to Disneyland. We faced a dilemma: continue with the costumes we had planned and hope they would pass the checkpoints, or scrap everything and give up? We ultimately decided to make a few minor alterations to our original costume plans (some of which were also motivated by the fact we were running out of time) and hope for the best. Like we always say: Accept. Adjust. Advance!
The day before the 10K we ended up waking up early. Since we couldn’t go back to sleep we decided to bundle up and walk over to spectate the Star Wars 5K. This not only gave us an opportunity to see how they had set up the security checkpoints and get a feel for how strict they were going to be with the costumes, but we also got to cheer for the 5K runners.
While sipping coffee on the Starbucks patio, we watched everyone from the winners to the back of the pack. Unexpected Magic. There were a ton of families and my favorite was this little boy and his mom who were making pretty good time until the boy saw a life-size Kylo Ren with a glowing light saber in the window of the World of Disney store (which is right next door to the Starbucks on Downtown Disney). His eyes locked on, he pointed, and he darted across the course yelling “Mom! Mom! This is awesome!” They probably has less than half a mile left to the finish line and this little boy would not be moved from the window. His poor mom kept trying to talk him back into the race and he just stood there with his eyes wide and pointing. Those of us watching couldn’t help but laugh because he was just so cute.
The race Expo
We hadn’t intended to be one of “those people” who get in line for the expo hours before it opens. But we woke up early Thursday morning, ate breakfast, hadn’t planned on going to the park that day, and didn’t have anything better to do than get in the expo merchandise line. We arrived at the holding area that was being staged in one of the ballrooms at the Disneyland Hotel sometime in the 8 o’clock hour and the line was already about 12 rows deep. Like last year they were showing the original Star Wars trilogy on a huge screen to entertain the people waiting in line. So we grabbed our place in line, made friends with the people around us, took turns getting coffee and going to the bathroom, and planned to hang out until the expo opened at 10:00. I may have even recalled some of my own advice about surviving a runDisney race expo to put into action.
The expo opened a bit early, and I think the first rows of people were let in shortly after 9:30. By the time our row was taken down to the merchandise and we started browsing all the fun stuff to buy it was almost exactly 10:00. From what I heard, the merchandise line continued to grow for several hours that day and was apparently just as long on the second day of the expo. The official merchandise itself was kind of a throw-back to 1970s designs, which was kind of fun but not really my style. Even so I bought some pins and found a jacket that I liked.
As for the rest of the expo, it was pretty much the same as usual. Most of the lines for packet pick-up weren’t that bad though somehow my pick-up window was the only one that managed to have 20 people in it and a volunteer who was really slow at giving out the bibs. After getting our bibs and taking our photo for the Rebel Challenge, we headed back over to the expo hall to get our shirts and browse through the rest of the vendors. I did notice that this expo seemed to have fewer vendors. I couldn’t really pick out what vendors were missing since most of my favorite booths were there (Sparkle Skirts, Raw Threads, Fit 2 Run, etc). I think what was missing were some non-specialty vendors. But in any case, there seemed to be more room to maneuver through the expo hall and I appreciated it.
All in all, we finished everything we needed to do by 11:00. So we departed the expo and headed to Downtown Disney to stay off our feet by re-watching the newest Star Wars movie.
I thought runDisney did a good job with the shirts for this race. Some might describe the colors as “masculine”, but since I wear maroon, grey, and dark blue all the time I thought they were great. I also thought the logo designs were fun without being too busy. As seems to be the norm, I preferred the 10K shirt over the other two event shirts (for some reason runDisney just seems to put the best design elements into their 10K shirts and medals). The rest of the swag was just the normal tiny Clif bar and the clear plastic gear check bag.
Months prior to this race Jake came up with a vision of our costumes for the 10K, and I pretty much let him run with it. We went with mash-ups of Beauty and the Beast as Mandalorian bounty hunters: Belle-ba Fett and Beast Vizsla
Jake handcrafted armor for us out of EVA foam and craft foam, which was lightweight and not too bulky to run afoul of the new costume rules. He also hand-painted visors to mimic helmets and created a light-up jet pack for me with a glowing rose. He really did a nice job.
The costume: White BMC arm sleeves, rhinestone-studded tiara comb mounted on a cheap yellow sequined visor I found on Amazon, yellow/gold tie dyed asymmetric shirt by Thanth (another cheap find on Amazon), white Sparkle Skirt with built-in shorts, and custom-made foam armor.
The rest of the gear: White Adidas sports bra, white Bondi Band headband, Injinji socks, Saucony Guide 9 shoes, and Garmin Forerunner 620.
Sidebar about the new runDisney costume rules
Here are my thoughts about the new costume rules: Several of the “new” rules aren’t new.
The no masks rule and the fact that adults can’t wear costumes in the parks have been rules as long as I can remember. The real problem with the new rules, in my opinion, were as follows: 1) they were announced so late that many people didn’t have time to plan new costumes that could comply with the rules; 2) they were so vague that if you took some of the rules literally (like “no layers”) then even normal clothing items like coats, sweatshirts, and running skirts technically no longer complied; and 3) determining what did and did not comply was left up to individual opinions and there was a great deal of inconsistency.
I want to give Disney the benefit of the doubt and assume that they didn’t deliberately wait until the last minute to put out the new guidance; I want to believe that they were negotiating with security authorities to achieve the most latitude that they could and those negotiations just took a little bit of time. And I also want to believe that over time the implementation of the rules will become more consistent.
But I still fail to understand what runDisney has achieved by implementing these new rules when they don’t apply to spectators (so weapons and other contraband really aren’t being prevented if someone wanted to do harm to others) and poor runner etiquette has nothing to do with what people are wearing (I was still physically shoved out of the way at the finish line by 10 people who decided that they all had to cross together holding hands). In the end, I don’t think these rules will really affect my future costume plans all that much—I’ve never been interested in wearing a huge contraption while running—but until they figure things out it does add stress to an activity that used to be fun.
We spent most of our time pre-race walking all the way up Disneyland Drive to the security checkpoint near ESPN Zone on Downtown Disney, and then walking all the way back down Disneyland Drive on the “secure” side of the fence to our corrals. In all we probably walked 1.5 miles just to end up a few hundred yards away from our hotel. Sure, we didn’t have to arrive as early or walk as far as we have to at Disney World, but it was frustrating to spend so much time backtracking when we used to have an easy 5 minute walk.
Jake and I planned to walk the 10K together and we both had to drop back to my corral (D), which was the second to last corral. And once again we noticed that the sound in the back corrals is awful. Normally I don’t really need to hear the announcers happily chatting as we wait to be released. But the 10K was on my birthday and, as silly as it may be, I really wanted to hear them wish me a happy birthday. And I know they did give me a birthday shout-out because my friend texted from her corral that she heard it and cheered for me (yay!), but I really would have liked to hear it myself.
Along the course
Going in to the weekend I was really excited to run the 10K course. Last year the Disneyland 10K courses were among my favorite races, and the 2015 Star Wars 10K course looked to be pretty similar to the 2015 Tinkerbell 10K course that I’d really liked. However, the 2016 Star Wars 10K WAS NOT the same course as 2015. Go ahead, do a Google Images search for the 2015 course and compare it to the 2016 course, I’ll wait.
The bottom line: I did not like this course. I think this is just the beginning of the changes we’ll be seeing due to the planned construction at Disneyland, and in my opinion it negatively affected this race course. For the first 3 miles it seemed like runDisney deliberately routed us away from all the bathrooms, so we saw looooooooong lines waiting for the few cast member bathrooms in the backstage area that we did pass, and if you decided to hit one of the bathrooms in Disneyland Park you generally had to go pretty far off the course (we did run past more bathrooms in California Adventure in the second half of the race). There were a lot of narrow portions and a lot of boring switchbacks. Overall, I was not pleased with this course and it was a bit of a bummer to start off the weekend.
There were things I did like: There were a lot of character photos, and they did a great job of giving the runners advance notice of where the stop would be and who was there so you could either move away from the photo stop to avoid the congestion or you could maneuver over to it without making sudden and dangerous changes to your direction and speed at the last minute. Characters included Boba Fett, BB-8, R2D2, some Jedi from Star Wars Rebels, Chewbacca, Storm Troopers, and there were some non-character photo op scenes like the trash compactor from Episode 4 and the speeder bikes on the forest moon of Endor. I would have loved to have stopped for a few photos (especially Boba Fett since we were dressed as Mandalorians) but since we were walking and had started so far back, we didn’t feel that we had the time.
I also really enjoyed ending the race with a run down Downtown Disney. I always really enjoy this portion and it didn’t disappoint this time. It makes me giggle to hear people yelling out their Starbucks order as they run by their friends waiting in line. And there’s always great crowd support since it’s convenient to many hotels and there are shops and other things to keep people occupied while they wait for the runners to come by.
When they released the medals for the Disneyland Star Wars race weekend, I knew I wanted the one for the 10K. I love, love, love the design. It was definitely my favorite one I earned this weekend. I appreciate that it’s not a standard round or square medal with just a design stamped on it; I like that the medal itself is the shape of X-Wing fighter. It’s fun and unique, and I love it.
The post-race experience
My husband and I were starving when we finished, so we met up with our friend and planned to go straight to breakfast at the restaurant near our hotel. We made a quick pit stop at the Lego store on Downtown Disney so we could take a picture in front of the Lego Beauty and the Beast, and then headed to breakfast. On our way we ran into a fellow member from our race costumes Facebook group, so we took some pictures with her and chatted about some crafting techniques as we walked.
I did not carry my iPod for this race since I was walking with my husband. But I liked that runDisney was playing a lot of music from the Star Wars movies through most of the course.
Looking back now
There were a lot of elements I really enjoyed about this race, but there were also things I really didn’t like. Overall I was happy I ran it but if this race is a preview of upcoming changes to the Disneyland 10Ks, then I think I’m glad I don’t have any concrete plans to run any more races at Disneyland in the coming year.
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