In case you missed it, be sure to check out my post on Day 1 of the runDisney Dark Side Weekend, too.
Day 2: Running the Star Wars 5k
You have probably heard horror stories about the ridiculous hours that runDisney races force runners to keep. You have to be in your corral by 5:00 am (I think), which means boarding a bus no later than 3:30-4:00 am (the half-marathon has 30-minute-earlier call times than the 5k/10k. So I was up between 2 and 2:30 am for three days in a row, making sure I didn’t miss my bus.
We made sure to stay in a Disney World resort so that we would have access to their transportation and buses. I highly recommend that. While I’ve never read about anyone having real issues with traffic or anything, I was up at freaking 2 o’clock in the morning, about to run a half-marathon.
I will take that bus seat, thank you very much.
If you’re going to do any of these races, I highly suggest that you bring your own caffeine. Yes, there is a coffee truck just outside the corrals. But the line is insane. In. Sane.
Expecting this kind of thing from a large group of people at Disney, I made sure to get a 4-pack of Starbucks Frappuccino (the lite ones that were about 100 calories each). Our room had a fridge, so grabbing a frap and a Lenny & Larry’s protein cookie for a good 3:00 am breakfast was pretty nice.
The bus ride was actually pretty nice. People talked to each other, and we were all just jittery with excitement. Some people were long-time runDisney veterans, while some folks were newbies like us.
Just talking to them made the atmosphere so much fun, and it felt like there really was a community and culture around these races. You have that feeling from the moment you get on the bus until way after you cross the finish line.
Before you get to the corrals, you get the opportunity to get pictures with whatever characters you want. This is pretty standard for runDisney races, and since this was the Dark Side, we got the likes of Jabba, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Boba Fett…and BB-8. Because everyone loves BB-8.
The lines were pretty long already when we got there, so we made sure to hit up Phasma and BB-8 before moving to our corrals. I figured that since I would be back for two more days, I’d get the others at some point, and since Jennifer was there only that one day, she got first choice.
After that, it was selfie time, and we made sure to make the most of it.
As you can see, the crowd in the corrals is pretty large. (The half-marathon was the largest, though, but the 5k is second, I think.)
The time in the corral is cold, and you have people bumping into you a lot. I mean, you’re in a cordoned off section of parking lot. There’s no where to stand, but you do have access to port-a-potties off in the distance. You can be like me and use the walk to and from as a warm-up and time to stretch before the race starts.
We waited like this for maybe 2 to 2.5 hours, and we laughed and had a great time. We hung out, there was a DJ and host doing weird DJ and host things. They would go out into the crowd and talk to people in costume, do Star Wars trivia, and all sorts of stuff.
While the couple hours in the dark, on a parking lot, being a bit cold could have been terrible, it was actually really awesome. (But does it hold up as being fun for the other two races? You’ll just have to see in those posts, too, won’t you! Hah!)
Running the Star Wars 5k
Eventually, our corral got called, we got to start lining up, and eventually made our way to the starting line.
I forgot to mention before now that you get placed in corrals based on estimated time for this one, and you don’t have to require proof. For the others, you have to provide proof within (I think) 18 months of that time. I was placed in corral A, while Jennifer got placed into C. She couldn’t move up to A, but I could move down to C. So we hung out together in C because, well, we were in this together.
That was the whole point.
Most people take the 5k very casually at runDisney events. The race isn’t even timed. The reason you’re in corrals is mainly to get people to the photo ops sooner and quicker and to keep lines down.
So as we ran, saw a bunch of lines that we thought were cool, but didn’t want to wait in. Being in corral C meant that we had to pick and choose. While having our pictures made with Ewoks would have been cool, our main targets were Chewbacca and Artoo.
We found R2-D2 in Germany once we made it into Epcot proper. (Which is, coincidentally, not the first experience I have running through Germany at Disney World. The first one wasn’t even a race!)
Because of the memory I have of running through Epcot with my dad back in 2005 (read the story), I told Jennifer I was gonna relive it as much as possible so that I could be with him again. It was just past 6 years since he had died when we were there. It just felt appropriate.
So I sprinted as far as I could, making it to the approximate spot that he and I had raced to 13 years before. I stopped to take these pictures, catch my breath, and wait on Jennifer.
Somehow, I had totally missed her pass by, and she had found Artoo first. She had saved us a spot in line, and the wait wasn’t that bad actually. Especially not for being able to give R2-D2 a hug.
After that, we moved on and took the obligatory selfies by topiaries and the lake as the sun was coming up. In Orlando, when the sun decides to rise, it rises fast. It was crazy.
After that, as we made our way through the rest of Epcot, we ran across a truly gigantic line. What else would you expect when there’s a photo-op and chance for a hug from the galaxy’s most wonderful Wookiee.
So of course, we paused GPS and stood in line.
There were some fantastic kids in line, and the parents looked worn down. I mean, there were so many people wrangling kids 10 and under. Since 2:00 am. It was probably a little overwhelming to have them bouncing around one second, then being tired and cranky the next.
For Jennifer and me, though, it was hilarious.
That said, we got our Chewbacca pictures soon after, and they were glorious. Truly one of the highlights of the trip. More than anything because when I walked up, Chewie grabbed me by the hand and bro-hugged me.
You know, the one-handed, pull you in and pat your back a couple times. Yeah, Chewie and me…we’re tight. Bros, even.
After that, it was pretty smooth sailing to the finish line. We walked and ran and just enjoyed each other’s company. That was all the photos we took with characters, though. The lines were getting pretty long by that point.
And just before the finish line, there were these First Order Stormtroopers guarding it.
Rather than get pew pew pew‘d, Jennifer and I decided we needed selfies. The Stormtroopers were more than accommodating.
In fact, this moment resulted in my favorite picture of the entire trip. For some reason, this picture just makes me so unbelievably happy, and I can’t describe why. But you’ll see it everywhere I am online at some point or another:
After we had annoyed the Stormtroopers enough and cleared the way for a few runners to cross the finish line in one piece (just doing our good deed for the galaxy, after all), we crossed ourselves and got some swanky Stormtrooper medals.
That we…umm…were really into.
Since the 5k was pretty chill, that was the day we went to Hollywood Studios and engrossed ourselves in Star Wars stuff. You know, riding Star Tours, watching Padawans fight Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The normal stuff one does on vacation.
In fact, here’s a cool video of those Padawans in training.
After that, it was just chilling, eating, and having a good time around Disney World.
At one point, I slept on the stairs of the Frozen show, and the attendants must have seen the medal I was wearing (because yes, tons of us were wearing them) because they let me sleep there even with people coming in for the show.
They really know how to treat a person, ya know? (And no, that wasn’t the last time I’d take a quick cat nap in the park that weekend.)
But the day wore on, we had fun, and it was soon time to get back to the room, shower and clean up and set out my clothes, food, and accessories for the 10k the next day. After all, 2:00 am comes mighty early.