Having never run an official race before, I was excited at the thought of training for and participating in one early last year when rumors of a Star Wars
themed weekend began. It wasn't until last May when the official announcement came, but by then, my training had already begun. I used runDisney's Jeff Galloway training guide which had me very prepared for running this event. If you are contemplating running, I highly recommend it. Entry to run sold out extremely quick with more than 23,000 people signing up, but I managed to secure a spot in the 5k and the Rebel Challenge (10k and Half Marathon) races which meant a total of four Star Wars
medals upon completion.
The entrance to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo had a red carpet with some beautiful signs signifying each race that were perfect for photo ops. The registration and packet pickup was incredibly well organized. Each race had a separate booth separated by last name and the pre-purchased merchandise had it's own separate booths as well. You can see images of all these things here
Once my wife and I finished picking up the various race packets, we headed up to the Expo which included an event merchandise area. The lines reminded me of a Star Wars
Celebration, but after being wrist banded and placed in a large holding room with Star Wars
films playing on a giant movie screen, the 45 minute wait was really not bad. Once inside the store, we were given a shopping bag that I quickly filled with just about one of everything offered. Disney really knocked the merchandise out of the park with this event! The shirts, jackets, magnets and pins were outstanding along with all the other offerings you can see right here
. Many items sold out before the first day had ended as is usually the case with Star Wars
Technically, the "weekend" got started off with the Wookiee Welcome Party which took place the night before the races began in Tomorrowland after Disneyland had closed. It was a dessert party that allowed attendees to get photos with a few Star Wars
characters, snack on cookies, cupcakes & rumballs, and of course, ride Star Tours - The Adventures Continue
, Space Mountain
, Astro Orbitor
and Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlaster
. Here's a small gallery
to give you an idea of how things went down.
The 5k (3.1 miles) began at 5:30am on Friday and was both the shortest and smallest race of the weekend. I decided to take this and the following race easy in preparation for the big one on Sunday. The course winded throughout Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney with lots of participants in costume for this "fun run" and many finished before the sun came up. I crossed the finish line with a time of 00:32:24 to receive my C-3PO medal and the standard food box that runDisney gives out after each event. This one was special though as it included the hands holding a lightsaber symbol on one end. The same box would be given out after the 10k and Half Marathon races too. Here's a small gallery
from this run.
The 10k (6.2 miles) began at 5:30am on Saturday and marked the beginning of the Rebel Challenge for those that accepted it. This race was twice as long as the previous day with the course going behind the scenes of the parks where typically only employees have access to. I finished this one with a time of 01:10:06 to grab the chrome Stormtrooper medal and was able to shoot another small gallery here
The Half Marathon (13.1 miles) began at 5:30am on Sunday and signified the second half of the Rebel Challenge for those who specifically signed up for it. Having never posted an official time, I started back in Coral "E" which began the race a good 30 minutes behind Coral "A". This helps to spread out the field and let runners with more experience and previous times start first. The course started in the parks just like the previous races, but nearly 7 miles of it were run on main roads and neighborhood streets that were shut down for the event. Family, friends, fans, 501st and Rebel Legion members, and entire cheerleading squads & school bands lined the streets to cheer the runners on. I have to say that this really helps when you are out there giving it your all and starting to feel fatigued. The encouragement both verbally and visually by way of the great signs that many were holding really helped. The runDisney staff and volunteers were also amazing at each water stop and all along the course. My total time for this one was 02:32:06 which is literally just one second shy of an 00:11:38 average mile. I suppose I should have slowed down slightly for the perfect Star Wars
time! After a runner crosses the finish line, they are directed to an area where medals are given out. For this one, the beautiful Medal of Yavin was awarded to each finisher which included a very fitting Chewbacca lanyard, but for those running the Rebel Challenge, a second medal was awarded in a separate area that consisted of a spinning Darth Vader and Yoda, a most coveted piece. As with the previous two days, I was able to shoot some photos which have been collected here
After the finish, a few Rebelscum forum members got together for a quick group photo! Left to right - Elling Haug (DarthElling), Gus Lopez (gus), Chris Wyman and Michael McLain (TheSithCalls).
If you missed this year's event, don't fret. The next Star Wars
Half Marathon Weekend has already been announced for January 14-17, 2016. If you've never run and want to attempt this, I encourage you to start training now! The trip, experience and medals are totally worth the effort. Registration begins on June 16, 2015. Personally, I can't wait to see everyone out there again for the next one.