To say that I had low expectations is an understatement. This is not because Disney races are bad. It’s because the Disney races are always a bit…. extreme. Lots of people wearing tutus, lots of glitter, lots of strobe light and neon covered runners, and lots of dancing runners for some reason. Disney does sell most of its other races as the ultimate party. Their advertisements have Mickey, Minny, Goofey, Dopey, Tinker Bell, that duck, and random other winged creatures I don’t know, holding hands and running alongside the racers. If you saw any of the ads, you know what you’re getting yourself into. But the Star Wars race was different.
We changed it up this year and went to the Expo the first thing on Friday morning, before it even opened. Won’t be doing that again. We had to wait outside in a line that wrapped around itself with a ton of runners who had the same idea. Once inside everything went quickly, but if you time it even an hour after the expo opens it would be so much faster and less wait time.
Typical RunDisney expo with good gear for sale but there are these beer and champagne kiosks around with special Star Wars beers on tap. They looked great and we wanted to try one but it was the middle of the morning, so no. We were kind of bummed about it but then found out later that they had all of that at the finish line of each race too.
I got the pin for the course too, which I haven’t done before in any of the Disney races. I started collected pins and now I’m bummed that I didn’t get any for the past 4 or so RunDisney races I ran. Oh well.
With the Star Wars Half Marathon, it was almost billed as race-meets-comicon event. It was far more serious and, um, adult than the other Disney races. Again, this is not to knock the other races! RunDisney events are meant to be fun and not serious. Who wants to be serious all the time?! But that doesn’t mean everybody’s idea of a good time is a glitter bomb and tutus. That is where the Star Wars Half comes in. I barely saw a tutu through the whole event. Even the most “outrageous” runners were actually pretty cool in their costume choices, like this runner dressed like Luke Skywalker in his workout sequence with a stuffed Yoda on his back. There were also quite a few people wearing tights that looked like the exoskeleton of the storm troopers.
There definitely seemed to be a lot more guys in attendance than other Disney races. Normally it’s a sea of women and a sprinkling of guys, or at least it seems that way. This race felt like at least half the runners were guys, if not more. This is just another observation, neither here nor there, but interesting to note. It also might be a selling point if you’re trying to get your husband or boyfriend or guy friend to run a race with you. My run partner back home is not a Star Wars fan and asked if you had to be one to go to this race. Nope. I barely know these characters’ names and I thought it was a fun race. It’s not that serious. Like I said, most people are just dressed in normal race attire. I’m not a huge Disney fan either and I run the Disney Marathon every year too. You don’t have to be a mega fan to do any of these RunDisney races. But if you’re a fan of super efficient race planning then you’ll love all of these.
We stayed at a Disney resort for the race weekend because they are simply the easiest places to stay when you need to get to the race at 3am. This time we rented a cabin at Fort Wilderness Resort. It was the first time we ever stayed there and it was pretty amazing. I am not a camping sort of person but it was fantastic and then some. There is something nice about going on vacation and getting your own mini house. Plus, I live on the beach so being in a house in the woods was really refreshing and different and made it feel like a real vacation. (will post more about the cabins & race day transportation later)
When we got to the start, there were already lines of people waiting to take pictures with the characters. We jumped into the first line we saw, which was BB-8, even though we hadn’t planned to take character photos. But, hey, there’s nothing else to do at 330am when the race doesn’t start for another 2 hours. Soon we saw that there were lines for Kylo Ren, Phasma, Darth Vader, Jaba the Hut, and others I couldn’t see. There’s really no way you’ll get through them all before the race start so they remind people they can line up at the finish line too. We got to two of the characters before we headed to the corrals. Side note – these characters are AWESOME! I’m not even a hard core Star Wars fan but oh my god, that Kylo Ren character…. I was scared. He freaked me out…. and yet in my picture I’m grinning like an idiot. I couldn’t help it…. straight embarrassing (no I will not be posting that picture on here).
Throughout our wait in the lines they had MCs entertaining the runners from the stage by talking about Star Wars stuff and showing movie clips and bringing people onstage to answer trivia. I’m probably making it sound lame here but it wasn’t. Whoever the pair were with the microphones were really energetic and funny, calling out everybody is random costumes like a runner dressed up like Peter Pan and another like Captain Kirk from Star Trek. Eventually they told the runners to make their way to their corrals and we all did. I was surprised at how big the corrals were and it made me realize that this was quite a big race. I didn’t know that beforehand but they say it’s the 2nd biggest RunDisney Half Marathon. It felt like it. There were a lot more runners than I expected but it was fine, especially if you were at least in corrals A through D (which we weren’t).
Read Part II of the race HERE!