A long time ago… on a racing course far, far, away… a Rebel Challenge was issued and met during the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. As a runner who wakes up humming John Williams’ “Star Wars Theme,” I knew I couldn’t miss the Star Wars Half Marathon. The weekend included three races: 5K, 10K, and half marathon, and runners who complete both the Star Wars 10K and Half Marathon are awarded the Rebel Challenge medal. Oh what an adventure this would be, one to go down in the annals of running and travel history; right there with Pamplona, Spain’s running of the bulls, except with Ewoks, instead of bulls. So, Lightspeed to Neverland! Continue reading for our photoblog recapping all the fun of the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.
Succumbing to the Power of the Dark Side, my 13 year old daughter Evie agreed to join me for the Star Wars 10K, so we could RUN the galaxy TOGETHER as Dad and Daughter. To show there was still some good left in me, we ran for the charity Give Kids The World Village – where children with life-threatening illnesses stay when they have a wish to travel to Central Florida. Friends, family, and supporters, donated over $3,000 to our cause in support of Give Kids The World, and now it was time for our part. We trained together for months for Evie’s first 10K, maxing out our long run at 5 miles. Now we were at runDisney’s Tatooine themed starting line with announcer Rudy Novotny, C-3PO, and R2-D2 hyping us to race. Queue the Star Wars fanfare, roll text on the jumbotron, engage hyperdrive, make the jump to lightspeed, and… RUN!
The mass of cosplay runners pulled us through the first mile. Evie noted the orange X-wing pilot costumes looked good, but from the back bore a striking resemblance to prison jumpsuits – Orange is the New Jedi? Before long we rounded the corner into Disneyland, up Main Street U.S.A. and Mile 2 – a third of the way done already.
Participants lined up for pictures with Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Storm Troopers. We forged ahead, out of Disneyland, across the Esplanade, and into Disney California Adventure where rebels and a certain bounty hunter were spotted.
At this point, Evie had run farther than ever and her hip tightened. Our pace slowed to a walk, but she persevered, never quit, never complained, and earned her Star Wars 10K finisher’s medal. It was enough to turn a Sith Lord away from the Dark Side.
Our favorite part of runDisney’s Star Wars 10K was a course run mostly through the Disneyland parks, looking for costumed participants (Elsa Fett, LEGO Storm Troopers, and a Star Tours transport stood out), and Star Wars film score music all along the way. “Yub Nub is my get-pumped song,” Evie told me.
The Force Awakened early the following day as I was up again at 3 am for the Star Wars Half Marathon, Part 2 of the Rebel Challenge. While Evie slept in and rested from the 10K (and park hopping), I prepared my costumed persona for the day, Mouse Skywalker – an “Empire Strikes Back” Luke Skywalker in Dagobah fatigues, carrying, not Yoda, but Mickey in a pack.
I met up with Richard and Sarah Woloski from Skywalking Through Neverland, made a new friend in Monique Harr, and headed to the starting corrals. Throughout the crowd we saw fantastic costumes, a Death Star parasol, Tie Fighter squadron, and Wampa girl were a few favorites.
Like the previous day’s Star Wars 10K, our race started with the blast of a John Williams’ theme, and away we went.
The first miles flew by like lightspeed… if lightspeed was creeping along at a 32 minute (hey, that doesn’t subtract when we started). There was a strong imperial presence at Disneyland, and long lines formed for photo ops with Chewbacca and Darth Vader. We moved along… move along now…
Three miles down, as we exited Disneyland and on into Disney California Adventure I found Adventures by Daddy contributor Kristen MacWilliams dressed as Princess Leia. Of course we had to pose for the Luke and Leia brother/sister shot.
In Disney California Adventure, the sky around us lit up like the Millennium Falcon making its approach into Cloud City on Bespin.
Through the park, around Cars Land, and out onto Anaheim’s Harbor Boulevard for Miles 5, 6, & 7, we ran past cheerleaders, bands, and even a Hollywood Boulevard Wookie offering free hugs. Then came Garden Grove and its legion of cosplayers – Miles 8 and 9 were filled Jedis, Troopers, Rebels and Mandalorian Mercs. Incredible Star Wars fans out supporting the runners, offering photo ops, and providing much needed energy at this stage of the half marathon.
The crowd support was fantastic through those last miles of the course with great signs and even a little Ewok greeted us along the way – eecha yub nub!
With the finish line in sight, we engaged thrusters, and the Star Wars Half Marathon was complete.
— Cole Horton (@ColeHorton) January 18, 2015
I had such a great time running with Sarah and Richard from Skywalking Through Neverland, and appreciated their humor and energy throughout the course. What better way to run a half marathon than with friends?
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! This was one of the best runDisney experiences I’ve had to date. I’ve completed many runDisney events dating back to 2007, and honestly some of runDisney’s “Magic Every Mile” sparkle had worn off. However, the combination of Disney, Star Wars, and running was a perfect fit, and re-energized me for their events. Sign me up for that Coast-to-Coast Medal! runDisney did a fantastic job with the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, the Expo went smoothly (I encountered no lines and plenty of merchandise), the t-shirt designs fantastic, and the medals inspired. Everything I initially loved about the Disney running events was in place, and my daughter, friends, and I all had a spectacular time – the “Magic” was back! And with the successful completion of the Rebel Challenge there was only one thing left to say. “You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home.” The course was certainly with us… always.
For even more discussion of the Star Wars Half Marathon, be sure to listen to Episode 63 of Skywalking Through Neverland. Richard and Sarah Woloski talk to runners after the race and go behind-the-scenes with runDisney’s event manager at Disneyland Shannon Abeyta.
DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt received two complimentary, one-day park hopper tickets from Disneyland Resort to experience the parks, but all expenses and fees associated with the runDisney races themselves were paid for by the author. All opinions expressed are my own. For more family vacation fun be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.