Last year, when I ran the Rebel Challenge, it was a strange race. I was supposed to run it with my wife. However, she got really sick the night before the race and couldn’t run. As a result, I didn’t get a lot of sleep on the night before the race and my whole strategy of running slow and fun with my wife, while running the half marathon a little more seriously went out the window. This year, I was running both races solo. I had decided to let the race dictate how I would run. If I didn’t get off to a great start, then, it would be another fun 10K. If I was feeling it, go for the PR.
I should mention before getting to the race that my race day started off in a panic. My phone alarm went off at 2:30am just like I had planned. However, when I went to turn off the alarm, my phone would not turn on. So, I couldn’t turn the alarm off. It just kept buzzing and buzzing. I couldn’t get the phone to turn on at all. For a run/blogger, this is time to panic. No pictures? Are you kidding me? No music to run with? Really? I started getting ready and kept trying to get the phone to work. My poor wife had to hear my panic and got up to ask what was going on. All I have to say is that I have an amazing wife who gets me. She offered to let me use her phone. She even deleted 50 photos to make sure I had room to take pictures of my own. I’m seriously blessed! My panic didn’t end with the phone situation (it still wasn’t turning on when I left for the race), on the way to Disneyland, I came across not one, but two accidents. As the traffic had come to a standstill, I quickly checked Waze to see if an alternate would be better. No luck. Fortunately, I got through quick enough and made it to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure a little after 4am.
After a quick stop in the restroom at the parking structure, I was off to my corral. It was freezing cold for this Southern Californian. I was shivering a little while I waited. The start of the race could not come soon enough for me. There was the usual pre-race banter between Rudy and Carissa. Nothing as special as last year. There as no pre-race scroll which was a huge bummer for me. Last year, I was in corral D and couldn’t read the scroll. This year, I was close enough to read it. Oh well.
The corrals were massive for this race. By the time Corral B was going, Carissa had to make her way to the finish line. So, when Corral C arrived, Rudy was all by himself. That’s okay. Rudy’s a pro.
I was so excited when it was our turn. As I started, I kept reminding myself that it would feel much better to run. The plan was run 30 seconds, walk 60 seconds. However, it was so crowded at the start that I walked most of the first 4 minutes. As we got closer to Ball Road, there was some opening that allowed me to try and find a rhythm. My run 30 seconds, walk 60 had turned into walk 90 seconds because running was futile.
Unlike last year, we turned into the backstage area of Disneyland right away. No overpasses on this route! Although, as I think this race afterwards, I kind of wished we followed the same route as last year. The time on the city streets helps break up the runners a little better. The first character photo stop was somewhere in the last half of the first mile.
It was for Boba Fett! The line looked way too long for my liking. So, I just passed by and took a quick photo.
The route continued back stage and so did the crowd. At times, I felt like my run intervals were going the same pace as my walk breaks. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a race to have fun with and not go for a great finish time.
We stayed backstage all the way past the mile 1 marker. My time was over 12 minutes for mile 1. That pretty much confirmed that I would be not running this race for a great finish time.
Not too far past the mile 1 marker, we were heading down the tunnel that connects backstage Disneyland with backstage Disney California Adventure. Again, look how crowded this is. They restricted us to one lane of the two lanes available going through this part. Why? I have no idea. After all, no one was coming the other way. There were several Disney cast members to push us to the desired lane when us runners tried to run in the other lane. It was very frustrating.
As much as the Disney cast members tried, runners will always try and find a way around. Even with all of that, this tunnel was crazy crowded.
On the other side of the tunnel, we stayed backstage Disney California Adventure (DCA) and made our way to the Esplanade.
It was a quick trip across the Esplanade because we stayed to the right side and entered Disneyland on the far right side. We didn’t get into Disneyland very long before we were turning backstage again.
As we turned, you could see the runners who were heading out of Disneyland.
Once backstage, we made it to our first water stop. I always make sure to get some of the last people handing out the cups. We turned down an area I’m very familiar with. The building on the left is the back of the former Captain EO building.
A little bit up the road, we came across a fun Star Wars themed guy…
Even though I was in a run interval, I had to stop for a quick pic with Yoda. Who could blame me?
Just past Yoda, we turned to the left and made our way onstage in Tomorroland right by the Star Wars Launch Bay/Marvel Super Hero HQ. Sadly, the course didn’t bend the right way for me to get a pic with the Launch Bay in the background. However, this marked the end of mile 2. This mile was slower than the first. Course crowding was seriously to blame. By this point, I was out to have fun. Run 30 seconds, walk 90 seconds was what I got into. It’s an easy pattern because you’re running on every even number minute. If I missed a run interval. That was okay. I’d just get the next one. It was fun running up Tomorrowland which is all decked out with Star Wars: Seasons of the Force. Running a Star Wars Race in such an environment is totally fun!
As we exited Tomorrowland, we turned to the right and made our way through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I thought briefly about getting in the line for the Disney cast members to take a photo of me in front of the castle. However, I was on a slow time. Running through Tomorrowland helped me get into a little bit of a groove. So, I passed.
The course went up through Fantasyland up to the Tea Cups and then turned right. We made our way around the Matterhorn going along the parade route at first and then back towards Tomorrowland again. The lagoon with the Nemo Subs looked amazing all lit up. So, I made my way over to grab a quick picture.
The route then made its way towards It’s A Small World all lit up for it’s Holiday version. This was pure Disney magic at its best!
So, I had to stop for a quick selfie. The route headed to the left and was backstage at Disneyland again. That meant more crowding. By this point, I was over the time thing. Also, it was backstage that I came across my friends AJ and Ivie. So, I ran with them for a little while. AJ’s son was running his first race at the Star Wars 10K and was in Corral A. How that happened remains a mystery. AJ told me that his son was up and in line for BB-8 in DCA. So, the plan for them was to run as much as possible and meet up with him in the line. That sounded good to me. So, I tagged along.
We came out of backstage around the Big Thunder trail. That area is not the best for running. The ground is uneven and the course is pretty narrow. I was now running on the intervals of AJ and Ivie. Whatever that was. I didn’t try and figure it out. We wrapped around the trail to the Rivers of America. Just past Pirates of the Caribbean, we turned around and went up and over where the Pirates line starts.
That lead us through Adventureland. I can’t remember running through Adventureland before. It wasn’t the best area for crowds. We were able to run some, though. I just followed and chatted with the group on our walk breaks.
At the end of Adventureland, we turned right and headed down Main Street U.S.A.!
On the way out, these First Order Troops were looking for members of the Resistance. Leaving Disneyland, we made our way across the Esplanade into DCA. One of AJ’s friends made the run across the Esplanade so much fun. He was playing to the crowd to get them to cheer for us. Too funny!
Once in DCA, we headed up Buena Vista Street to the Carthay Circle Restaurant. Then, we turned to the left and made our way down Hollywood Land. At the end of the street is where the line for BB-8 was. I hung with them for several minutes. I wasn’t really keeping track. We were among the last people before they cut the line for the race. As we chatted, I looked around and realized this line could take another 20-30 minutes. That was just too much. I know I could have made it to the finish without getting swept. But, still. Even in a slow race, I didn’t want it to be that slow. So, I bid my friends adieu…
BB-8 was seriously cool and his head even moved around.
However, with such a long line, I opted for the selfie and hoped that, if he was out for the half marathon, the line would be shorter. Plus, it was still dark enough to possibly get a really cool picture with the World of Color fountains if I hurried.
I had no idea how long of a route I had left before getting back on stage. The course headed towards the Tower of Terror and then went backstage at DCA again. We wound backstage all the way back out to where the buses drop people off for the parks. Then, it went back where we came from. I’m not a big fan of the out and backs on a course. So, I wasn’t too happy with this. I did switch up my run/walk intervals to 30/60 for the rest of the race (mostly). The course was finally not too crowded. So, I cold use these intervals really well. I was making up a little bit of time along the way. We came back onstage at the back side of Cars Land. I always love running through here. Especially, as the sun is starting to come up!
Yeah, I missed a run interval to get this pic. I don’t even care. When you’re on a bad finish time, a few extra seconds isn’t too bad for fun pictures.
We kept going past the Radiator Springs Racers and the new ride at Luigi’s….
And on through It’s A Bug’s Land. In this land, I needed to make a restroom stop. Hey. My time was already bad. So, why not? If I was on a good finish time, I would have just waited. I didn’t have to use the restroom that badly.
I can’t remember running through It’s A Bug’s Land before. It was kind of fun. The course wasn’t as crowded as I thought. So, I was a happy camper!
After exiting It’s A Bugs Land, we turned left and made our way towards the Paradise Pier. On the way C-3PO and R2-D2 were holding court. The line was really short. So, I thought about stopping. However, the Disney cast members were waiving us along. They had already cut the line for these guys. One thing that annoys me is when the Disney cast members won’t let us runners stop, off the course, for a quick selfie or picture. So, as I was trying to at least get a picture of these guys, I was also in a hurry. So, R2-D2 remains largely hidden in my pic. Oh well.
Just past the other end of Cars Land, we saw more First Order Troopers. They were everywhere!
Just past the Troopers, we headed up towards Paradise Pier. On the way, I saw a run blogger I follow named Jindy. You can read her recap here. We chatted a little bit before we got here. I took a pic of her (which you will see in her recap), and she took mine here. Running bloggers help each other out!
A little further up the route, I got a pic of the fountains. If only I had been here a little earlier when it was darker out, you could see the colors better. But, the fountains were all lit up. After the pics, I said goodbye to Jindy and kept on running. I did miss a run interval here to get these pics. You’ve got to have some fun. You know what I mean?
As we ran around Paradise Pier, Mr. Potato head was out. So, I had to stop for a quick pic.
Running the Paradise Pier is another fun place to run.
On the other side of the Paradise Pier area, right near the Little Mermaid, I stopped in one of my favorite places to grab a picture with Mickey’s Fun Wheel in the background for races. Another run interval missed. Darn! Time was still running and I really wanted to finish ahead of 1 hour, 30 minutes.
The course wrapped around The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and onto the Grizzly River Run. It wrapped up towards the Condor Flatts Area. However, before going in front of Soarin’ Over California, we turned to go out of the park. On the way out, I noticed they had a photo opp with some speeder bikes. My time was not going well. So, I made the difficult decision to skip it and keep on going. After all I wanted to finish strong. Run 30, walk 60. That’s what I did all the way down Downtown Disney. There was a cool Star Wars display on one of the buildings that I briefly thought about stopping to grab a picture with. However, I wanted to beat 1 hour, 30 minutes. So, I couldn’t.
Bu the time, I got to the finishing straight, I knew I’d be over that 1 hour, 30 minute mark I was shooting for in DCA. It was kind of a bummer.
However, even this last First Order Trooper couldn’t stop me from having fun at the finish!
All finished with part 1 of the Rebel Challenge!
After finishing, it was off to get my finisher’s medal.
There were some great costumes as always! I loved Dark Helmet from Spaceballs! I would have grabbed more pictures. However, I was on my wife’s phone and didn’t know how much room I had.
Here’s what the Disneyland part of the course looked like on my Nike GPS.
And the DCA part. I thought you guys, who didn’t run, might appreciate seeing exactly where the course runs with the satellite map.
This is a glimpse of the Pace/Elevation of the course. As you can see, it’s not an entirely flat course. You also see my finish time…1 hour, 32 minutes, 1 second.
Although, here is my official time from runDisney….1 hour 31 minutes, 56 seconds. It was a slow 10K for me.
My splits tell an interesting story. In mile 1, I didn’t stop for photos much. Mile 2 had some crowding issues. However, in mile 3, I stopped for pics with It’s A Small World and ran a different interval than planned. Mile 4 is where I stopped to see if I could wait for a photo with BB-8. Mile 5 was pretty much pure running and a decent time. Mile 6 is where I stopped for the photo at Paradise Pier and C-3PO. So, where I stopped for the most photos is where I had the slowest times.
Even with the slow time, it’s hard not to have fun at a runDisney Star Wars race.
Plus, the medal is tight!
If you want a race course that stays mostly in the parks, this 10K is the race for you. We were not on the streets for more than half a mile and that’s all. There was a lot of backstage to this race and a lot of twists and turns. For me, the course crowding was the thing I didn’t like most about this race. I know many people want to run the runDisney races entirely in the theme parks. However, by giving us some time on the streets at the start of the race, race organizers help thin the crowd out a little bit. That makes running more enjoyable and means you can actually run for a great finish time. If you want to run a 10K race for a good finish time, I would suggest running a different race. The Disneyland 10K and Captain America 10K routes are the same and offer you the best opportunity for a fast finish time.
If you ran in the Star Wars 10K, what did you think?