Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

Star Wars Half East

So, the big news in the runDisney universe on Tuesday morning was the announcement that runDisney will host a SECOND Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. This one comes to Walt Disney World. My initial reaction was…seriously? This is the first time that runDisney has replicated a theme of their race on both coasts. When the race is run, comparisons will follow. That’s why I’m not 100% thrilled. Here’s the announcement.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – runDisney is summoning the Force today to announce another Star Wars-inspired intergalactic journey, this time to the dark side.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side” enters the galaxy April 14-17, 2016, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This new race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort, which will return in January as the “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side”.

“Ever since we launched the Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort, runners have been clamoring for more, so we’re thrilled to bring the Star Wars franchise together with the runDisney brand to Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “If the inaugural Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort is any indication, this new running adventure to the dark side is sure to be the out-of-this-world experience that runners have come to expect at runDisney events.’’

The new Star Wars race at Walt Disney World Resort will be a journey of personal achievement all its own, involving kids’ races, a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half marathon, plus a variety of Star Wars experiences, medals, events and merchandise inspired by a galaxy far, far away. Among its many features will be a unique 13.1-mile course that propels runners through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There will also be a Star Wars Dark Side Challenge — running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days – that offers each finisher a Death Star-themed medal.

Jedi and Sith Lords who dare to experience both Star Wars races will have the chance to take on the Kessel Run Challenge — completing the Star Wars half marathon missions on both coasts. Kessel Run Challenge runners can earn a commemorative “Coast to Coast” medal inspired by the Millennium Falcon starship. Race registration opens Sept. 22 at www.runDisney.com.

The addition of this second Star Wars race continues the recent wave of significant growth and popularity of runDisney events domestically and internationally. This is the second new runDisney race announced for 2016, joining the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25 at Disneyland Paris), and the fourth addition to the runDisney series in the last two years (Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Jan. 2015 and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Nov. 2014).

Each year more than 200,000 runners sign up for runDisney events, which often sell out in record time.

“We are committed to creating extraordinary experiences and events that appeal to runners of all ages and attract even more fans of our various brands and franchises to the sport of running, creating opportunities for them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle,’’ said Bisienere.

– See more at: http://disneysportsnews.com/releases/2015/08/25/the-force-is-even-stronger-second-rundisney-star-wars-half-marathon-event-sprinting-toward-walt-disney-world-resort-in-2016/#sthash.a8GmUFHi.dpuf

Let’s look at what will be happening this April at Walt Disney World. Since having a merely copycat kind of race would be rather dull, runDisney has decided to make the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend focused on the rebels (or the good side of the force) and Walt Disney World’s Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend focused on the dark side of the force.

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When I learned that the official name of the race was Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side, I had to laugh. It’s totally appropriate that Walt Disney World would get the Dark Side of the force and Disneyland would have the good side of the force. As a west coast guy, it bums me out a lot when Walt Disney World takes an attraction to their parks and is able to do something a little better because they have the size do do so. Then, the Walt Disney World homers start touting their version as the better version. Part of why I’m glad there is no current plans for a Cars Land at Walt Disney World is that the Disneyland Resort finally has something superior to Walt Disney World. It’s okay that we have something like that. I think all the Disney theme parks around the world have something cool about their park(s) that other Disney parks don’t.

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The good of this new race is a new challenge (or two). Like seemingly every other runDisney race, there is a challenge. If you run the 10K and Half Marathon on back to back days, you’ll be finishing the Dark Side Challenge with a Death Star Medal. Okay, I’m totally jealous about that.

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A Death Star Medal sounds much cooler than the Rebel Challenge medal I earned this past January. Hopefully, runDisney will up their game with the Rebel Challenge medal this year.

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Another new addition will be the Kessel Run Challenge is a special Coast to Coast challenge medal. If you run the Star Wars Half Marathons on both coasts in the same calendar year, you can earn a special Millennium Falcon themed Coast to Coast Medal.

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Okay, now runDisney has gone too far. Can someone please tell me where I can find that money tree to help me get this new Coast to Coast Medal? I seriously want one. Even though it’s not mentioned in the press release, I’m pretty sure this new Coast to Coast challenge will operate like the Coast to Coast medal they have for folks who run the Princess Half Marathon and Tinker Bell Half Marathon in the same calendar year.

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One thing that made the Star Wars Half Marathon 2015 my absolute favorite half marathon ever was the presence of the Cos Players in Miles 8 and 9. Since the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side will run through three theme parks, I doubt they will have that going for it. Instead, you’ll be left with lots of really long lines to get pics with your favorite Star Wars characters at Walt Disney World. For me, this will be a plus on the Disneyland Race. After all, I never waited more than 2 minutes for any of the pictures I got with the Cos Players. Conversely, lines for the Star Wars characters in the theme parks were ridiculous. When I ran by Darth Vader, they were using the Star Tours queue line. It looked like it was at least a 20 minute wait. Some people I met who did wait confirmed that.  Pluses and minuses.

Running through 3 theme parks sounds amazing! I’m pretty confident that the half marathon course will run by Star Tours and the giant At-At in Endor. I’d be surprised if they didn’t have Spaceship Earth dressed up as the Death Star for the race. So, I’m confident it will be a very fun weekend. After all, it’s Star Wars. What could go wrong?

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So, will you be running the Dark Side of the Star Wars Half Marathon? The Light Side of the Star Wars Half Marathon? Both? What do you guys think about runDisney having a similar themed race on BOTH coasts?

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14 comments on “Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side
  1. They had me at Kessel. I was hoping for a Star Wars theme in WDW and having what we have been dubbing the “Intergalactic Challenge”. Now with the Kessel challenge medal being based on the Millennium Falcon, I cannot pass that up. Yes, runDisney, here is my credit card and my right arm.

    • gloucks7 says:

      It’s the Millennium Falcon Coast to Coast medal that has me really wanting to make the trip out east. It’s the money it takes to travel out to Walt Disney World from the West Coast that would cause me to pass. These two factors will be doing battle for the next month. If I can find a way to pay, I’ll be there. After all, I ran the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland. It would be cool to do the same at Walt Disney World. Time will tell if I sign up or not.

  2. runningsec says:

    Why is runDisney doing this to me! Now I gotta figure out how to register for the West Coast since they are sold out as well as dealing with registering for the East Coast.

  3. marywdw says:

    I am considering it! But since I will be trying to figure out a way to run the Disneyland Paris half when I am abroad and then the Walt Disney World half on my 21st birthday….I don’t think this one will happen unless I win the lottery.

    • gloucks7 says:

      I may need to win the lottery to make it out east for this race as well. It’s soooooo tempting! I won’t be heading to Paris because I just don’t have the money for that trip. Good luck deciding on what to do. These decisions are tough.

  4. healthehelen says:

    I’m a bit peeved that entry is a few days before Paris. I need to focus on trying to get a place for Paris…..but if I’d got in for that, then I’d have entered this too just to get the Castle To Chateau. I wont tempt fate the other way round though.

    • gloucks7 says:

      I hear ya! Run Disney doesn’t make our decisions any easier. Good luck getting in for Paris!

      • healthehelen says:

        Yes, i’m actually away on a seriously werid timezone at entry time so, no computer – I can see it might be stressful (and require a 2am wake up call depending on what time it opens). But what will be will be.

  5. I am so excited and totally all in for all 3 races. and yes I am still in for Paris too. I got a delta credit card last year when i flew for wine and dine and was able to get the bonus of 50,000 points and have been earning points since then. I am hoping to fly to Paris for free and get a great deal for Star Wars since it will make it more affordable.

    • gloucks7 says:

      I think I need to get a rewards credit card for one of the airlines I like to build up frequent flyer points. It may be the only way I can do all the races I want to do. You’re gonna have a blast in Paris. That one is out of my price range. So, I’ll live vicariously through those that are running. The Star Wars at Walt Disney World is one that will be tugging at my heart over the next month.

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