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Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend, April 2017 - A Report
DisneyDan  Friday, May 19, 2017 2:31:39 PM
Hello everyone,

Last month (April 2017), Jon and I took part in our second runDisney weekend, the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World. Followers of my blog will know that in February we participated in our very first ever runDisney event at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Well, here we were, two months later, ready to do it all over again for the Empire!

I won't repeat everything I said in my first Princess blog about our impressions of runDisney, training, organisation of the event, impressions, etc, as many of those aspects were very similar this time, but needless to say, we were exceptionally proud of ourselves for being able to achieve not just one half marathon weekend, but now two in the space of two months!

As per the usual setup with the runDisney events, we went along on the Thursday before the race weekend to collect our bibs and merchandise at the health expo, at ESPN. The setup was virtually identical to the Princess Half expo, down to the bib collection areas, the vendor booths and show area, and the official race store.

The official store this time was even busier than last time, I feel, and I am glad we got there early to get what we wanted. People were going wild over just about everything! I was actually glad to see that there was a full line of menswear this time, including "I Did It!" shirts, which the Princess Half did not have.

The following day we were up before the crack of dawn to be at Epcot for the 5K. At the start line area there were several special backdrops, and some character greetings. You could get your photo with backdrops that included Rogue One and Jabba the Hutt, and character photos with Captain Phasma, Boba Fett (with a Han frozen in carbonite!), BB-8, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The characters at start line were the same all three mornings. Lines were super long before the races, and immediately after, but fizzled out nearer the official end time of the events.

The 5K's route started in the Epcot parking lot, travelling backstage into World Showcase, out through the International Gateway, and then backstage into World Showcase, before taking a lap around the area in front of The Land, and exiting the park and finishing in the parking lot again.

The characters on the course were Ewoks, R2-D2, Stormtroopers, Chewbacca, Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren. Lines for most of them were quite long and I only stopped for the Ewoks on this course. I did try to capture some (extremely bad) photos on my way past of all the characters, though. At each of the three races, the 501st and the Rebel Legion were along the courses, cheering people on and posing for photos. I didn't bother to stop for any of them at any of the races, but they did add some atmosphere to the courses.

The next day was the 10K, and our fifth-ever runDisney race. For the first time in five races, the start line setup was different. For the 10K and the Half the following day, you started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and ended in the Epcot parking lot. If you were coming from anywhere except the walkable Magic Kingdom resorts, you had to park at Epcot and take a bus to the start line at the Magic Kingdom. I have to admit, it seemed like a huge hassle at first, especially since we already had to be there at such an unsociable hour of the night, but actually, it wasn't as bad as it initially seemed. There were literally hundreds of busses coming and going, and so we walked straight onto a bus that left almost immediately for the Magic Kingdom. Once at the Magic Kingdom parking lot, the start line area was virtually the same as it always had been at the Epcot start line.

Characters on the 10K course were identical as the day before, with one exception - instead of the Ewoks there was Darth Maul. I didn't stop for any characters on the 10K course. The course itself travelled down World Drive, entered backstage at Disney's Hollywood Studios behind the Tower of Terror, went down Sunset Boulevard and exited the park on Hollywood Boulevard. It then went along the walkway from the Studios, through the Boardwalk to Epcot, through Future World and ended in the Epcot parking lot. It's actually surprising how far 10K is!

Finally, we come to the day of the half marathon. As I said above, parking was at Epcot, and we had to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom. Characters on this course were identical to the previous two days, but instead of switching the Ewoks for Darth Maul, they were both present. I have to say, I was definitely expecting more character wise, and it was a little disappointing to see the same exact characters at all three races. The course for the half marathon started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, travelled for a long way down a backstage lane and entered Animal Kingdom near Rafiki's Planet Watch. It then continued through Asia, exited backstage behind Everest into the Animal Kingdom parking lot, headed towards World Drive, entered the Studios near Fantasmic, went along the Boardwalk (the same as how the 10K went), around World Showcase, and ended in the Epcot parking lot. Phew!

As with all the runDisney events, there were PhotoPass photographers inside the parks taking photos along the course. I'll share with you below one from each race of myself. If you're interested to know, my 10K time was 1 hour, 1 minute and 14 seconds, and my half marathon time was 2 hours, 14 minutes and 26 seconds.

Over all we did have a great weekend. The merchandise was neat this time, and we did enjoy meeting Captain Phasma, the Ewoks and the Rebels. We do feel that the character selection did let the whole weekend down, though.

Our next runDisney event will be the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend at the end of August.

Have a great day everyone,

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