Day 2 of the Star Wars Rebel Challenge brought on the Star Wars Half Marathon! With the wife spending Saturday night in Pasadena, I was all by myself getting ready at the Annabella Hotel Sunday morning. I got up a little later (like 15 minutes) than the morning before because I knew how long it would take to get to the various areas I had to be at in the early morning. Before I knew it, I was off and ready to take on the newest runDisney half marathon…the Star Wars Half Marathon! As you can see, there was a little smaller crowd for the Team #runDisney Facebook group meet up on the half marathon day. However, we were all ready for this new course. We all chatted a bit about previous runDisney races before getting our picture. Since Juliana and Devin made it out for the Team #runDisney picture, we chatted as we walked to the pre-race staging area/post-race family reunion area. One thing that should be noted about the Star Wars races. This area is NOT close to the starting corrals like it is for the Disneyland Half Marathon and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. So, if you need to check a bag, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to walk to this area and back to the corrals. Just sayin’. I also ran into AJ back here as well. He was running as Darth Goofy! Clever costume! I think that I first met AJ at the OC Half Marathon last year. He’s another really cool person in this running community. (I haven’t met any people who aren’t cool in the running community. I know they exist. I just haven’t met them.) After chatting a bit with AJ, I walked over to the corrals with Juliana and Devin. Since they were in different corrals than myself, we parted and made our way to our corrals. Here I am in my corral and ready to go. Honestly, with how crazy Saturday turned out, I was surprised I felt so good. This time, I didn’t pay very much attention to the pre-race banter of our race announcers. So, I’m not sure how it compared with the 10K’s pre-race script. Once the National Anthem was sung, we got fireworks! It was quite the display for a pre-race! One thing I love about being in corral C? We start moving right away after corral A starts. When you’re in corral G, the first corrals go and you are still standing in the same place. Not so in corral C. OK, this was really cool to this Star Wars fan. The screens over the start line went from “May the Force Be With You” To Light Speed… To Run! And we were off! Bye Carissa! No 3-3PO or R2-D2 this time. That’s okay. We learned that Joey Fatone was also in Corral C somewhere towards the front. I briefly thought of trying to catch up with him. However, I was a little too far back in the corral. It was pretty crowded at the beginning. However, I spotted my WDW Marthon pacer, Erica towards the start and ran with her for a little bit. She did something really smart that I jumped in with. She got off to the sidewalks next to the race course. Brilliant move! I stayed on the side walks all the way to Ball Road where we turned right. At this point, my run intervals were kind of all over the place. I think a few of them went a little longer than a minute. As I mentioned in my course preview, this race made a turn off of Ball Road into the parking lot that leads to the Team Disney Anaheim building that had never been run by before. I was pretty stoked running through here. When I sing in the Candlelight Processional, we park in the parking structure you see on the right for the dress rehearsal night. Then, we headed backstage. It was a new backstage part for runDisney and where I was used to walking for Candlelight dress rehearsal. So much fun! They even had a Tie Fighter up on the building! Here’s a little better view of the Tie-Fighter. We made a quick turn down by the parade building and the Magic Music Days building. Those that have run the Disneyland races before have been here. I love the Magic Music Days building because it brings back memories of rehearsals for Candlelight. Before we knew it, were passing the Mile 1 marker backstage. This was our first view of what all the signs would look like. They all had those light sabers bursting out of the mile numbers! Later, backstage, we ran by the Death Star! Oh no! Whew! Made it out of the backstage part of Disneyland and on our way to the front entrance! It’s always exciting to get to run up Main Street U.S.A.! I know that the Walt Disney World lovers out there sometimes say that it’s not the same as running up Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom and they’re right. The ChEAR Squad at Disneyland requires a paid membership in order to be inside and on Main Street U.S.A. for the Disneyland races. Whereas, at the Magic Kingdom, you don’t need to pay to be on Main Street U.S.A. while the runners come running in. I do wish Disneyland would reverse that. Until then, we are cheered on by the Disneyland Cast Members, mostly. The Marathonfoto guys were lined up down Main Street U.S.A. and, as usual, they were not taking any photos as I ran by. So, it was time for a selfie. Who needs Marathofoto anyways? So, look down at the ground as I come running by Marathofoto. I can get this picture for free! Just like the 10K, we turned into Frontierland and made our way towards the Rivers of America. This time, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia herself were holding court for the runners. Like was the case with Chewbacca the day before, the line was insane. So, it was selfie time. We wrapped around the Big Thunder Trail like we did the day before into Fantasyland, just like the day before. This time, we found Storm Troopers patrolling King Arthur’s Carousel. Just like we saw with Boba Fett the day before, the Disney cast members were trying their best to keep us runners from stopping for pictures. It got a little annoying. I mean, if you don’t want us to stop, don’t put characters along the course. This is why we pay so much money for the races. I stopped anyways. We made our way into Tomorrowland, like the day before. This time, Darth Vader was holding court in front of Star Tours. This was rather brilliant on the part of runDisney. After all, they had the queue line all set up already. It looked like the line lasted at least 20 minutes, or maybe even 30 minutes. No thanks! I stopped for this selfie and left a little bummed. (all would be forgiven later in the race, though.) After getting past Lord Vader and his Storm Trooper guards, we went through Tomorrowland and into some more uncharted runDisney territory backstage at Disneyland! I know it’s strange, but I was really giddy about running through this part of backstage Disneyland. This is where I get to spend time around the Candlelight performances. Of course, we can’t take pictures backstage on those occasions. So, I wanted to grab a few pics here.
It was a quick trip backstage before we were back on Main Street U.S.A.! When we arrived, there were still other half marathoners entering the onstage of Disneyland for the first time.
We made our way to the front entrances and bid Disneyland goodbye!
I love running inside Disneyland. So, this part is kind of sad. But, the race goes on.
More backstage Disneyland.
The mile 3 marker!
Then, the tunnel. Going down is fun, but can be treacherous.
During the 10K, I didn’t expect the fun they had added to the tunnel. For the half, I was ready to capture it on video. So cool!
On the other side, we went up our only “hill” of the entire race course. Because it was the only “hill” I ran up the whole thing. It’s really not that bad. Especially when it’s not in mile 12. We would get onstage at Disney California Adventure pretty quickly and onto Hollywood Land!
Since those Marathonfoto guys weren’t capturing me in all my glory, I had to resort to the selfies.
Up the street, there was a character line that looked manageable. I was so wanting a character picture by this point of the race. If Boba Fett was in the same place as he was during the 10K with the same line, I would have stopped. While I waited, I got to meet another run blogger…she writes the souzapaloozablog. It’s a pretty fun blog to check out. Here is her recap of the Star Wars Half Marathon. We had been tweeting during the weekend. If I hadn’t stopped for this photo-op, we might not have run into each other. Race weekends can bring random moments.
After waiting a minute or two, I opted to leave the line. Here’s the guy I was waiting for. A Gamorrean Guard! All the way from Jaba’s Palace!
As we rounded up towards It’s A Bug’s Land, there was not one, but two spots that were inhabited by 2 Storm Troopers each! Bingo! A perfect spot for my first character picture. While we waited, one of the runners noticed this sign. How fitting!
Finally! With only a couple of minute wait, I got a picture with two Storm Troopers! I was a happy camper!
We kept running up past Cars Land and towards the Paradise Pier area.
Look! Mickey’s Fun Wheel again.
Time for another selfie!
We headed towards the Garden area of DCA. If you’ve never taken the time to visit here, you should. It’s a great place to relax.
As we approached backstage DCA, some of the Jedi’s that run the Jedi Training Academy were present. Another short line. So, I stopped. The wait was less than a minute after all.
As I was backstage, the sun was starting to come up. Beautiful! Isn’t it?
Shortly before going back onstage at DCA, we crossed the 4 mile marker!
Another new part of the course!
I had to capture the newness! There was just something cool about running new ground!
This road was a quick turn into this entrance to Cars Land. I think we all wanted a picture! There were Cast Members present to move us along and encourage us to step to the side of the path.
Can’t pass up some good photo ops!
As we got into this part of Cars Land, I noticed one of the cars from the Radiator Springs Racers slowly making its way through the speedy part of the attraction. It was kind of weird to see the car moving so slowly here!
One last picture with Radiator Springs in the background and I was off running again.
One last photo before leaving the theme parks. For most runDisney races, this would be a very sad moment. Not so with this one!
Backstage again, we saw more runners coming in where we had just run through. It’s always comforting to see there are still more runners behind you!
As we made our way onto Harbor Blvd., I got a shout out from someone in the crowd. I loved that! It got me running in the middle of a walk break, though. By this point, I was happy because there were no dry heaves. I made it farther than I did with the 10K!
Look! A little Chewbacca! There was so much awesomeness on the sides of the roads!
A little further up Harbor Blvd., we came to our first marching band! I’ve got to admit that, at this point, I started feeling like some dry heaves were coming. So, I abandoned running altogether and tried to recover. After all, I was successful at this the day before. Here is something that I learned on this race that I hope will benefit me in the future. The feeling of the dry heaves coming turned out to be my body’s way of saying it needed fuel. A little past this band, on a whim, I decided to take some of the sport beans I had with me. It worked like magic. Within minutes of eating several beans, I was back to being in a very good place again and able to get back to running my intervals! This happened a little while later as well. I did the same thing with the same results. I learned that I need to take them around every 40 minutes. So, in my next race and next long run, I’ll be taking them based on minutes, rather than miles covered. It could be a life saver and time saver!
The Race Director for the Hollywood Half Marathon was out giving free hugs to the runners again! If you follow the Hollywood Half Marathon or Super Hero Events, you’ll see that he likes to travel to a lot of races and do this. So cool that he dressed as Chewbacca!
We turned up Garden Grove Blvd., and got to the end of mile 7. By this point, I was feeling great again!
In mile 8, we got to the Cliff Shots area. This is where the party of the Star Wars Half Marathon started! The next mile and a half or so was simply magical.
Just past the Cliff area, the Cos Players were out in force again. Just like the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, these guys were out to provide some extra magic on the streets outside of the theme parks. When I saw Obi Wan Kenobi, I had to stop.
The Cos Players were simply awesome! There were so many great costumes and they were all so encouraging…cheering us on loudly! The cool thing is that there were very small lines for pictures. Tomorrow, I’m planning on a Wordless Wednesday tribute to the Cos Players. So, there will be more photos then.
Past the Cos Players, we turned onto Main Street (the second Main Street of the course) in Garden Grove! On the turn, we saw runners who were a little further along than us.
Not quite the Main Street of Disneyland, but still fun!
So, I needed a selfie on this Main Street as well.
There was an Elvis on Main Street! It was a little “off theme” but fun!
As we ran by a Home Depot, we saw this fun onlooker. Who knew Taun Taun’s love runners?
Running back on Main Street in the opposite direction, magic struck….a second helping of Cos Players! I was not expecting this at all and it brought an instant smile to my face!
In this round of Cos Players, I finally got my picture with Darth Vader! Hooray! And…I didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes to get this picture! The runners around me got a good chuckle at the thought of how those that waited so long at Disneyland might have felt with how easy this picture op was in comparison. They could have shaved like 20 minutes off their finish time! The funny part about this spot is that the Imperial Guards were not too happy with my “rebel propaganda.” As I left, one asked me if I knew how many people died on the Death Star. Too funny! If I didn’t have a race to finish, I might have asked back…Do you know how many people died on Alderan when the Death Star blew it up? Perspective Dark Side…Perspective.
I got several more character pictures with the Cos Players that I’ll share tomorrow. It was sad to leave them behind. But, I was literally, grinning from ear to ear from this amazing, magical time. On a walk break, I had to post to Instagram and Twitter my picture with Vader and exlaim…Best Half Marathon Ever! It really was.
Sadly, the race had to continue on. When we passed the Mile 9 marker, I realized that my watch was off in a really different way. Normally, my watch is ahead of the course. This time, it was behind the course and stayed that way all the way to the finish. Kind of crazy.
The Mile 11 marker meant we were back on Harbor Blvd., As we ran the other direction on Harbor Blvd., some folks were posting pictures with the Mile 11 and Mile 12 markers commenting on how fast they were. Pretty funny idea. This time, it meant that were only a few miles from the finish. I knew I wasn’t going to have a sub 3 hour half marathon at this point and was completely satisfied with that. I had so much fun and I wasn’t going to let my finish time destroy the fun. However, by this point, I was playing the game of trying to figure out how long until I finished.
The turn onto Katella Avenue brought us into the last full mile of the race. This is where you hear the crowd yelling out that we only have a mile to go! Happy times for sure!
Katella Avenue is a wonderful street to run down. I’m really glad that we got to run this at the end of the race for a change. I prefer all the palm trees to the backstage area of DCA.
When we got to the parking lot next to the Paradise Pier Hotel, I noticed that they did a bit of a cruel thing. We wouldn’t be running straight up the side of the hotel like at the Disneyland Half Marathon and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. Nope, we’d swing around part of the parking lot first.
It wasn’t really all that bad. Just different. They even had a few marching band and cheer squads to keep our energy high for the finish. I kept to my run/walk intervals as I had from the time we left the Cos Players. It’s pretty cool to be able to keep them going in the 13th mile! Even though I’m sure the folks cheering us on would have like to see me run when they cheered, I wasn’t going to kill myself this close to the finish.
Once I reached the 13 mile marker, I had to stop. After all, time was irrelevant to me on this race. I wanted to enjoy it for all it’s worth!
Then, it was time to run again. The finish line was calling.
As I approached the finish line, I got a shout out from Star Wars.com Blogger, Cole Horton. You can check out his Star Wars weekend blog post here. Also, if you wish to follow Cole on Twitter, click here. During the race, I didn’t know it was him. It was another shout out from a person who actually reads my blog. However, Cole Tweeted me this picture he got of me coming down the finishing stretch. Thanks Cole for the photo and the shout out! I’m now a fan of your blog as well!
I high-fived Darth Goofy, said “Hey there” to Jedi Mickey. Before I knew it, the Star Wars Half Marathon and Rebel Challenge were in the books. Some half marathons, I’m so ready for the race to be over by mile 10. On this day, I was sad to see it end.
Then, it was time to head over to get my new bling. First, the Star Wars Half Marathon medal…
Then, I headed over to the area where they were giving out the Rebel Challenge Medals and the Coast to Coast Medals. Unlike the Dumbo Double Dare, there were no wrist bands to signify that you finished both races in the challenge. At the Expo, they took your picture with your bib number. I’m guessing that when you crossed the 10K finish line, it showed up in their computer that you finished. The same happened when you finished the half marathon. So, all they had to do was look up your bib number and your picture would come up with your verified finishes to confirm you earned the medal. They guy taking the picture at the Expo said that they changed the policy so that runners doing the challenge wouldn’t be stuck with a wrist band they had to wear for a few days. I like the new system a lot!
Since I got my picture with Luke Skywalker after the 10K, it was time for Princess Leia after the half marathon.
Can’t leave Han Solo out!
As I made my way back to my hotel room, I saw the end of the race.
Assuming she finished, the woman pictured here walking would be the last finisher for this race. A lot of us who were heading back to your hotels, took the time to wait and encourage her to keep going. Pretty powerful stuff! I’ve never seen the end of a race before.
After getting cleaned up and checked out of my hotel, I headed to Disneyland to hang out with some friends and get the typical runDisney runner picture with the medals in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Since it was a Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, some of non-traditional locations became fun picture spots. The medals in front of Star Tours…
The Jedi Training Academy…this Jedi’s Training is not Complete!
We finished our day over at Disney California Adventure. So, I had to stop by for this picture with the Storyteller’s Statue. To say that this race weekend was legendary is a huge understatement. I didn’t get a new half marathon PR. Nor, did I get a runDisney half marathon PR. As a matter of fact, I finished a few minutes slower than the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. However, I consider this race weekend a huge success in fun! I finished the Star Wars Half Marathon in around 3 minutes slower time than the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. Yet, I took a whole lot more photos. I stood in line for more character pictures. If I had taken the same amount of pictures as I did at the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, I might have set a new runDisney Half Marathon PR for me. However, I couldn’t resist taking this race in for all it was. This Star Wars fan had a blast! I will most definitely be back next year for this race. Every runDisney fan has their favorite runDisney race. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge is mine. I hope to do this challenge for years to come. Thank you runDisney for putting on such an amazing race weekend!