The Casual Runner

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k – Inaugural

Event: 2016 runDisney Star Wars 10k & Dark Side Challenge 
Event Date: April 16, 2016
Event Location: Walt Disney World resort , Florida

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The Dark Side Challenge is a 2-race challenge – The Star Wars 10k and the Star Wars Half Marathon – that takes place at runDisney’s Star Wars (Dark Side) Weekend at Walt Disney WorldSince this is an inaugural event with huge appeal in running, Disney, and pop culture – communities, we are bringing you extensive bi-coastal coverage:
Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Weekend Recap & Overview
Star Wars Dark Side 10k: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, All Along the Course Video, & Event/Course Preview
Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, All Along the Course Video, & Event/Course Preview
Star Wars Dark Side 5k: Event/Course Preview
– Star Wars CosRunning Concepts: Tangled Up, Beauty & The Bounty Hunter, Admiral Piett

The first half of the Kessel Run Challenge took place during the Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in California:
Star Wars Light Side 10k: Race Recap & All Along the Course Video
Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon & Rebel Challenge: Race Recap & All Along the Course Video

IMG_3694Why I Decided to Run This Race

The moment that runDisney announced they were bringing Star Wars to Walt Disney World I instantly wanted in on this race.  The only thing that upset me about their announcement was that the announcement was made after the Star Wars races at Disneyland were already sold out.  This was upsetting because in the announcement they announced that, if you run both Star Wars half marathons, you would complete the Kessel Challenge.  As Mike mentioned in his event review, the Kessel Challenge medal was pretty impressive and it will definitely be a challenge we will be pursuing in our futures.

Getting There/The Lead-up to the Race

The race started at 5:30 a.m. so my plan was to get there by 3:30 a.m. so that we would have plenty of time to get photos with characters.  This was a big must do for me because I put a lot of work into mine and Mike’s outfits for the race (mission: must find BB-8)!  We left our hotel by 3 a.m. and easily boarded the event transportation with no waiting and made our way to the pre-race area.

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The Race Expo and Swag Review

Please see Mike’s event review for thoughts on the expo and swag, but I will add a quick shout out: kudos to runDisney for having BB-8 there!

The gear

I wore a white dri-fit tank top that I had decorated to look like BB-8’s bottom half, a white hat I had decorated to look like BB-8’s upper half, a white tutu, and white compression shorts. (Coming Soon: I wills share with  you how I put together my BB-8 costume in a future installment of Cosrunning!).

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My running gear also included VSX Incredible sports bra, Swiftwick running socks, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 running shoes, Garmin Running watch, iPhone with headphones, running belt, and 2 salted caramel GU’s.

The pre-race

Our friends Laura and Jason were already at the race when we arrived and we joined them in line for Boba Fett (which was the first character you walked up to) who was posing for pictures with his ultimate trophy: Hans Solo frozen in carbonite!  We then made our way down the line of characters to Jabba the Hut. However, as we were waiting in line for him the character photos shut down (a little before 4:30 a.m.). Fortunately as he was am elaborate prop (who doesn’t need bathroom breaks), we could still take our pictures with him, but that was the last character we could get a picture with despite having gotten to race very early.

IMG_3671 The race DJ strongly suggested that we begin getting in our corrals at this time, but we felt it was a little ridiculous to get in line an hour early, so we decided to hang around with our friends and make necessary bathroom stops. Mike had decided to run this race with me so we could get some great pictures along the course in our matching droid outfits.

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Along the course

I was excited to run a 10K course that I had never run at Disney before.  Mike and I had decided that we were going to stop for lots of pictures along the way and for this to work best he would probably run ahead of me and wait for me to catch up once he was in line.  We started off by heading towards Epcot and came up to the Mile 1 marker right before entering and I was so fascinated by how cool the mile marker looked I did not even notice that I had missed the R2D2 photo op.  The line appeared to be very long so we made an executive decision to continue on, especially since we were keeping a decent pace.

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We entered Epcot in World Showcase and turned an immediate right, missing out on most of the loop around World Showcase Lagoon.  I was disappointed and surprised by this, course feature, but then Mike informed me had I read his Event/Course Preview a little more closely I would have known we were going right (oops, my bad…). Race Icon. Well, at least we were treated to a gorgeous view of Spaceship Earth in the early morning hours. We kept turning left around World Showcase Lagoon and made our way past Canada and the UK and headed toward the boardwalk.  Upon exiting the International Gateway point we had to make a decision whether we were going to stop and take a picture with Chewie. Once again we decided against it due to excessively the long line.  

Unexpected Magic. Upon entering the Boardwalk a giant TV screen was playing clips from the Star Wars movies and, just as Mike and I were coming upon the screen, it showed a clip from The Empire Strikes Back where Leia says, “I Love You,” and Hans Solo responds, “I Know.” The timing was absolutely perfect! (I’ll give you a minute to wipe the tears from your face).  

We turned left to head towards the Boardwalk Resort and followed the path towards Jellyrolls (which I was reminded once again that I really need to go there) and turned left to follow the path to Hollywood Studios while passing the Mile 2 marker.

Regardless of the race, there can be a lot of congestion when it comes to running along this part of the course as we had learned from Wine and Dine and the Marathon.  Fortunately the runners we were running with were all keeping roughly the same pace and we were easily able to run this part of the course without getting bottlenecked.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for everyone as we heard from other runs who experienced significant congestion during this part of the course.

As we made our way to the entrance to Hollywood Studios we were met with an amplitude of cosplayers! I may have had to stop for a photo op with a Stormtrooper. It is questionable if there was an official Darth Vader in this area because quite a line had formed for pictures with him, but he did look pretty sweet.

Missed Race Icon? Upon entering Hollywood Studios the Chinese Theater was not lit up, which was a little disappointing, and, frankly, a little strange.  Perhaps a planned special effect wasn’t working as we passed by, so we turned right to head towards Tower of Terror.  The mile 3 marker was now in our sight.  We made the decision to stop for a photo op with Tower of Terror in the background because for once there was no line.  We then turned right toward Fantasmic to leave Hollywood Studios.

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The next two miles of the course were quite boring, unremarkable, and had no entertainment on them on our way to Wide World of Sports.  We found this strange as it definitely could have used a sprinkle of pixie dust. 

Mike and I decided to just continue to run together at this point because it didn’t seem likely we would stop for characters given how infrequent they were and how long the lines were on the few stops.  Right before the mile 5 marker we had turned onto an unpaved, wooded trail that would lead us into the heart of Wide World of Sports.  On this trail there was a photo op set up for pictures with the speeders from Return of the Jedi, but by this point I was ready to be done, so no photo ops for us.

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At one point I remember we looked at our running watches and it said 5.5 miles and we could not believe that we still had 0.7 miles to go.  There is nothing exciting about finishing a race at the Wide World of Sports. This was the part of the course I did not enjoy.  It is definitely way more exciting to finish in Epcot.  Maybe for future races they may run the race in the opposite direction so that the ending is mainly thru Epcot.  One can hope.

We made our way around the various athletic fields, did a loop around the Atlanta Braves spring training stadium, past the mile 6 marker, and then entered the finisher’s chute.  While runDisney had the customary spectator stands, they were surprisingly empty. Additionally, there weren’t that many people lining the fence leading up to the finish line. There would be no high 5 from Mickey Mouse or any other characters, just a last sprint to the finish line. 

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The SMOpinion

I loved all of the SMOs from this weekend. The medal was basically a Tie Fighter along with a Dark Side emblem on it. Describing it just does not give it the justice it deserves so feel free to analyze the picture.  

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The post-race experience

It was the typical runDisney race ending.  Pick up your medal, and then water, Powerade, finish photo with medals, runDisney snack pack, and get your banana.  I did not check a bag, but if I had I would pick that up next before leaving the runners only area.  

Upon leaving if you wanted to get more pictures with characters (they were the same ones that had been at the pre-race area) they were to the left (with a lot of walking) and to the right were buses waiting to take us back to our hotels.  I decided that we ABSOLUTELY needed a picture with BB-8 and this was the best way to get it.  Fortunately our friend Tim runs fast and he was able to save us a place in line.

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Playlist Peak

I had made the decision to make my playlist alternate, going from a Disney song to a non-Disney song, and so on.  I really enjoyed my playlist.  My first song was the Star Wars Theme which was just amazing to start my race running to this with fireworks going off over my head. Next year I will definitely add more Star Wars music to my playlist.  

Looking back now

To be honest, the only way I would run this race again would be as part of the Dark Side Challenge.  Living outside of Florida to me it does not make sense to travel to Disney to run a 10k.  However, I do love runDisney challenges, so I’m sure I will be doing this race again.

The Dark Side Challenge is a 2-race challenge – The Star Wars 10k and the Star Wars Half Marathon – that takes place at runDisney’s Star Wars (Dark Side) Weekend at Walt Disney WorldSince this is an inaugural event with huge appeal in running, Disney, and pop culture – communities, we are bringing you extensive bi-coastal coverage:
Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Weekend Recap & Overview
Star Wars Dark Side 10k: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, All Along the Course Video, & Event/Course Preview
Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon: Candace’s Race Recap, Jennifer’s Race Recap, All Along the Course Video, & Event/Course Preview
Star Wars Dark Side 5k: Event/Course Preview
– Star Wars CosRunning Concepts: Tangled Up, Beauty & The Bounty Hunter, Admiral Piett

The first half of the Kessel Run Challenge took place during the Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in California:
Star Wars Light Side 10k: Race Recap & All Along the Course Video
Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon & Rebel Challenge: Race Recap & All Along the Course Video

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