by Zack | Aug 28, 2018 | Disney World 10Ks, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge, Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend
I love Star Wars. I would do movie marathons as a kid and watch all three of the originals back to back during summer days. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I don’t know if I had unrealistic expectations for this series, with all of its potential, but after doing it for the last three years, I’m not as disappointed anymore. I really don’t expect much from there series.
I think there are a few key things to manage on your expectations when doing this series.
- You won’t get to meet a ton of Disney owned characters. Typically the race will bring in different characters for each race. With Star Wars Weekends being previously held at Hollywood Studios, you’d think they’d take advantage of their depth of options. You’ll see the exact same characters regardless if you do the 5K, 10K or Half marathon. They do let the 501st come out for the 10K and the Half. While neat, it’s not quite the same.
- The medals for some reason aren’t as inspired and certainly not as original as other series. Case in point, I found the medal design from last year’s Half taken from the logo on my son’s coloring book. No joke!
- It’s always been the hottest race of all the WDW races. Its seems to be much more brutal on the Half.
I will say after three the last three series fo transitioning to the new building, they’ve got the expo figured out and it so much better. You no longer wait out in the elements for hours on end. There is plenty of room to shop, the checkout line moves quicker and the whole experience is better. They took the success at Disneyland and scaled it up. The room also has given them the space to really showcase some displays and show off the exclusive merch. Ive throughly enjoyed the changes that Run Disney have made.
At this point the statues have become a thing. It was first introduced for the 25th anniversary of the Marathon in January. Then a 10th anniversary statue came out for the Princess weekend in February. These were pretty cool, but I had to pass so I wouldn’t turn into a collector of them.
As always, it was great to see Jeff and Barb. We talked about Boston and planned to getting together to run the Half together.
In the past the Photopass people had an exclusive booth set up to do a nice shot of you. They recently moved away from this and have replaced it with either characters or special backdrops. Be sure to get your pic. Its the only time that you will see it!
I was excited to run with Nick, who was completing his first 10K. Its fun and rewarding to see the younger members of our team grow and do more and longer races. They are certainly braver than I was at that age! It was also great to see Frank out running again. He had been recovering from a knee injury and this was the first one where he was fully back to running.
I’m not sure why i’m the only one soaking wet. It was out hot out there!
Congrats to Nick on his first 10K and to Frank for getting back healthy!
Next Up: Star Wars Half Marathon
by Zack | Mar 7, 2018 | Disney World 10Ks, Disney World 5Ks, Disney World Marathon Weekend, Dopey Challenge
I wasn’t supposed to be here.
It’s well known that I will step up to just about any challenge, accomplish it and then I’m off to the next thing. So why am I dumb enough to do the Dopey Challenge twice? It really came down to three things.
- It was the 5th anniversary of Dopey and the 25th of the Marathon. Guaranteed that the medals were going to be top notch.
- I still felt there was a period to put at the end of the sentence to this challenge. I did it two years ago but came out really ill that cost me a trip to California and nearly put me in the hospital. You can read about that adventure HERE
- My friends. I’ll do just about anything for them….as you’ll see at Princess weekend.
The expo was set up differently this year as it was in transition. They were going for the experience of the DL Expos but scaled up to WDW size. Results were mixed at best this time. People reported waiting hours in the rain and cold to get into merch. My tips still are the same: Get there early on day one. merch, bibs, expo. If you hit the expo first, you are wasting some time. Also, go with friends if possible. They make it so much more fun!
The boys of the running team decided that they were going to dress up as 80’s and early 90’s WWF wrestlers. I got roped in later and although I did watch some wrestling and knew everyone as a kid, I didn’t live and die by it, but……I did love GI Joe. So I went as a Sgt Slaughter. It was fun because we all worked on our costumes separately and would tease them to each other, but no one had seen them all until we were together that day. It was a sight once everyone was assembled.
It was so cold that day that it altered several of our costumes. I was in and out of sleeves, Hulk added a layer and Luke… well he still ran in a jacket and shorty shorts.
We had a great time out on the course and became an impromptu photo stop while people waited in lines for the real characters.
Once we made it to the ball we had to stop and fight it out to see who was going to cross the finish line first….
After the brawl, it was a quick distance to the finish line.
I like how it looks like Im getting clocked in the face as we cross the finish. Fitting.
So no costumes today. Just a plain old run. There is typically one good rare character stop at the 10k. Donnie and I decided we would start out up front and get some characters. We see Darkwing and Launchpad which was the rare one from last year. My hopes were dashed that we were going to get anything good for this race. As we are closing in on our second mile, I notice a running cadence of someone and know immediately that it’s my good friend Jeff. We pull alongside of him and we run the rest of the race together. This was such a treat because we haven’t run a race together in about 8 months. Donnie played hopscotch the rest of the race around Jeff and I as he stopped for characters.
I can usually get us some good pockets for pictures and today was no exception. We had a great time catching up and enjoying each others company on the course. He typically gets stopped several times for pics, but not today. I think it was because it was so cold and he was harder to recognize all bundled up.
Jeff is a machine. About the only time I can get him to stop is when the WDW Radio Running cheer team is out. The only other times are for bathroom breaks and that’s mine and Barbs chance to get a character while he catches up.
After seeing the team, it’s a quick stroll around the boardwalk which is my favorite section. I love the scenery. I love the people out cheering. I even love the sound the runners make as they run across the boardwalk. It’s basically perfect.
Before you know, it’s the finish line!
I love that guy.
I find my family after the race and see that Ben is over the very cold temps and is sleeping in his mommy made cocoon.
He would eventually wake up and have a blast at the kids races.
The Disney Half Marathon and Marathon!
by Zack | Apr 25, 2017 | Disney World 10Ks, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge, Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend
Star Wars Darkside 10K Recap 2017
I was looking forward to this race for quite a while. I knew there was a very low likelihood that I needed any of the characters on the course, so that opened up a new option. Start dead last and see how many people you can pass.
The Dead Last Challenge is played in several running circuits. The idea is to see how many “roadkills” you can rack up during the race. The term roadkill came from ultra distance relay races, where runners would clock their “kills” against each other as a friendly team competition. The term made it’s way in to the main stream running community and even elite runners will get in on the act from time to time.
I was still teetering on doing it or not because I was recovering from running a 24HR race two weeks before with very little training and a messed up hip. Not exactly conditions you want to be dealing with when taking on a speed challenge!
I decided the day of the expo and told Barb about it as a way to keep me accountable to actually doing it. She was very encouraging and told me that her and Jeff had actually done that a couple of times at their past races. I was officially committed to it now!
I got there super early and was actually a little bit anxious about a race for the first time in a long time. Usually it’s the excited feeling after the wake up. After completing 34 other Disney races, I found something that I had lost at these races: the fear of the unknown.
I link up with my team, we do some of the characters and then it’s off to the corrals. The volunteer checking bibs in F really didn’t want to let me in and thought I was wasting my bib. I assured her that I knew I was in the “incorrect” coral, and that it was going to be a fun race this morning.
The empty space is my corral. All those people are the edge of E coral.
It was spacious and quiet which was real nice. I was still trying to get mentally prepared for the run and I was seriously concerned for my hip. I knew it would make it through this race, but I also had the half marathon to run the next day.
Soon the ballon ladies showed up. We immediately hit it off. They were so much fun! I became the impromptu photopass guy and hype man for people wanting to get a picture with them. It was fun to encourage the ones that were worried and others that were excited for their first Disney race.
I also learned some things about the ladies. I didn’t know if it was a volunteer thing, runDisney picked, or cast members that get to be the balloon people. It turns out these ladies have been doing it consistently for many years on the east coast and are involved in training with the organization that helps put on the event for runDisney. Mystery solved!
I was also surprised by how many people showed up at the last minute. Dozens of people were literally running down the corral to make it out as the back of the last group was getting going. Now that would be stressful!
Before we parted, the ladies asked what my goal was for the day.
“You’ll get that easy.” One said. I wasn’t as confident.
I let the ladies go out and I got shout outs from the podium…..that no one heard.
Time to do this.
I plug in the music and start getting after it. I had no real plan as far as pacing, I thought I would go faster at the beginning to buy me some time when the course tightens later on.
The first half was almost all in the grass on the side of the road. There were a couple of points where I was forced up on the road by a guardrail or other obstacle but it was pretty much like a trail 5k for the most part. You would think that there would be a high amount of running into people, but it was actually pretty calm. I only ran into two people. One where a guy dead stopped in a water stop and another where someone went to a sudden walk break without signaling. Both were likely new, so I don’t blame them for the run-in.
I was pretty determined, but I still hit some good pockets for some pictures. Want to make sure you get some great shots at your Disney race? Check out this Proven Strategy on how to get some. I love how pocketing is becoming a thing at these races now.
This is the look on your face when you realize you now have to dodge planters, benches and trees in addition to people……
It got tough after Hollywood Studios. You travel through a very small paved trail from the park to the Boardwalk area. It squeezes and rails replace the margin on the side of the course. I know I hit my slowest time through this area. I could tell I was running into people that were tiring out, so I turned up the encouraging factor to those around me.
Once on the other side, and on to the boardwalk, I see a bunch of people with different bibs running right at me! Turns out one of the hotels put on a 5K and did’t communicate it with runDisney. Communication issues happen to the best of us.
I was glad to be on the boardwalk. It was a little cooler and I knew my cheer team was up ahead. I was wearing down quickly at this point. I connect with the group and see some of my team members up ahead….and a photographer. If I hustle I can pull a photobomb…..
Nailed it. They didn’t realize I was right beside them although they look great and I’m covered in skin tears.
We are finally in Epcot proper and it’s time to turn out what energy I have left. The course is nice and wide here so it was real easy to maneuver around. I was able to find a couple of other small pockets and grab some more shots.
On the Outside: This is a great race! On the Inside: Release all the sweat. Hip: I hate you. I want a new owner.
I slowed down at the end to get the announcers attention that I had made it. They were super excited and supportive!
Well I ended up doing much better than I expected:
- 6,929 Roadkill Count. (Physically passed on the course. Thanks David!)
- 2912 Virtual Passes. (I beat their time, but they started too far ahead to catch)
- 9,841 total
There were 10,892 total runners.
I added almost half a mile in distance from all the weaving.
- You can’t run in the back.
- You can’t have fun in the back.
- The experience is not as good the further back you go. (F is actually no different in experience than C)
It turned out to be a really fun run and challenged me in a new way. I was thankful to have met so many great people before and after the event who wanted to connect about the challenge. In the end we were all out there doing the same thing; experiencing a race together and enjoying those around us.
For those interested in doing this at a Disney race, you can join the runDisneyrun group on facebook where David keeps track of your score. Search for the dead last start game. He does a great job!
If you are slower be encouraged. You are not missing out on anything from C coral and back. The only advantage in A & B is that there is more space and the character lines are shorter. Keep doing what you are doing. It’s more than most Americans are doing and we all hold the same medal in the end.
NEXT UP: The Darkside Half Recap (back with friends)
by Zack | Mar 8, 2017 | Disney World 10Ks, Disney World Marathon Weekend
Another great year at the 10K!
Luke and I dressed as the characters from the Brave Little Toaster. Donnie joined us for the first rare character stop and then we road killed over 1000 people to catch back up to our group right before the end. A great race as always!
by Zack | Nov 26, 2016 | Disney World 10Ks, Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Wine and Dine 10K Recap
The race that transformed a weekend into a series.
This was the first year for the Wine and Dine 10K. Historically the 5k was in the morning and the half marathon was the same night. This made the Wine and Dine event unique in that it was the only Disney night race, there was an after party immediately following and you complete all the races in one day.
The 10k changed things.
First with the 10K, it brought to life a new Challenge: The Lumiere 2 Course Challenge. I actually love the theme of the challenge and how it ties back into the festival. This also pushed the format to a more traditional format with a race each day for three days. The after party is still there, but you have to come back the night of the half marathon.
The race was your pretty standard Disney World 10K. You complete the race in Epcot and the Boardwalk area. If you follow the map above, the start is at the edge of the parking lot and goes through the front gate before turning around. The loop around mile 5 is the Boardwalk area.
I went for a quicker race, not PR, but enough to get it done and back before the crowd hits breakfast at the hotel.
Don’t know how I’ve missed Chip and Dale in their East Coast RunDisney overlay, but I finally got them.
There really weren’t a bunch of characters out today. I was hoping for some deep rare food themed characters, but no such luck. I did however find my favorite group. The WDW Radio cheer squad!
What I did like about the race that was different was that some of the countries had their cast members out cheering the runners. The best had to be Canada with their flag waving and people yelling. They were awesome!
After that it was just a little longer to the finish.
It was a great race and we did make it back to beat the breakfast crowd. We took a little break and then headed out to the park to catch some unique things going on that day.
We had a great time in the parks after the race was over. The first Marvel Character interaction was quietly started over in Hollywood Studios. Dr Strange was pretty cool. The show made a lot more sense after actually seeing the movie. (Shocker!) Beth got a pendant from Dr Strange for being in the show.
We also got the chance to see some of the Cubs after they had won the World Series! It was neat to see what happens after they say “Now we’re going to Disney World!” There were a ton of people in Cubbie gear in the park that day and there was a bigger turnout for them than a normal parade. We had a great spot to watch them come through. We were also able to catch the two new Muppet shows without having to move.
UP NEXT: The Half Marathon!
by Zack | May 3, 2016 | Disney World 10Ks, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge
Star Wars 10K Recap
Yesterday was a great fun race. I had a hunch that today would be exactly like yesterday character-wise. The backdrops were too elaborate to swap out after just one race. I did have hopes though that I was going to be wrong and just maybe see a ton of characters at Hollywood Studios today. It is the current Star Wars home right now after all.
We spent the whole time before the race with the team. It was great to see folks that were in for the darkside challenge and we had a ton of new people with us this series.
The route for this race was pretty much the reverse of the washed out Wine and Dine half from Nov. Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015 Recap . We took our team picture (Big group!) and headed out to the corrals. This wasn’t the normal way we go to the start line and everything was jammed up big time. I bet that Disney will get this one right next time they run the course this way.
As expected, there was R2 again and Chewbacca on either side of Epcot. It was interesting that they kept the pink lighting up from the recent Princess races in the park. There were no characters on the boardwalk, but our team cheer squad was there. I’m always so happy to see them and very appreciative that they show up to cheer our team on.
I know assume that Angelo (in the back) is part ninja. He was there at the starting area and somehow beat me to the boardwalk! I’m pretty sure the tunnels don’t go that far.
As you entered the Hollywood studio there were a ton of the 501st Star Wars group out which was awesome! They were all lined up and giving out high fives and taking pictures. We turned the corner in to the park and found a bunch of photographers everywhere but no characters.
Sometimes you look like a stud……
…and sometimes you dont.
There were more of the 501st in the back but no official characters in the park at all. They did have the Emperor’s chair that you could get a picture in. Half way through the race, this was my first stop. It’s difficult to look hardcore and evil when you have sweaty legs…..
I promise I didn’t pee my pants. Its hot out there!
The race then headed out to ESPN and took a back road to get there. The dirt road was brightly lit and I thought it was funny that they had an automated message about the transition cranked on the loud speakers. Of course that meant that 2 seconds after transitioning, I rolled an ankle. It was still dark out and the trail was not lit too well once you got in to the woods.
Once in ESPN the crowds started to form all along different parts of the course. The last group of the 501st were here and I finally remembered to catch a picture of them as I was running.
Around the corner and then it was finish-line time!
It was a good race, but more of a regular race than a Disney race in my opinion. At this point I knew without a doubt that they were intentionally leaving characters out of the parks. If Disney was going to change their strategy, then I would as well. Tomorrow I’m trading in running solo for running with my team.
By the way, it’s also Flower and Garden time at Epcot! Definitely one of favorite times of the year for that particular park.