runDisney Dark Side Challenge 10k Recap

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I have heard a lot of interesting stories about inaugural races. Offhand, the only inaugural race I can remember doing is the Nike Women’s Half in DC. That was amazing, but I’ve heard runDisney events in their first year have a steep learning curve. I really enjoyed the races though, honestly, and I thought they were solidly run (albeit with some learning curves).

Important information that shaped my race experience:

  • I attend the expo on Thursday afternoon
  • I was in Corral B for the 10k

IMG_9177The expo was not anything like the Princess one. As far as I know, no one had to be evacuated and I heard no stories of people being assaulted over merchandise. I arrived around 1 pm, picked up my stuff, and waited in a short line for a magnet and a jacket that I was informed later that weekend had sold out by Friday. I also really, really, really wanted a picture with BB-8 who was at the expo but the wait was an hour (I went back on Friday decked out as R2-D2 and waited about 15 minutes). Stormtroopers walked around and they were showing Star Wars clips on the giant screens.

A note on merchandise: If it’s important to you, you have to be there on the first day, ok, just deal with it and get over it. I understand that people like the merchandise and they want to buy it and they get frustrated that it’s all for sale on eBay 5 minutes after the expo opens. Personally, I stopped caring and if I don’t get anything, I don’t get anything. Money saved.

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An overall trend for the weekend: character stops were moved off the course and put at the start/finish lines. I actually thought that this was a great idea, and appreciated being able to do the picture rounds after the race. Disney also committed to doing elaborate (well, by race standards) backgrounds for each character.

IMG_9314The 10k was Saturday morning and I did my usual routine of rolling out of bed, getting dressed, and being at the bus in about 15 minutes. At 3:45 am, the line at Pop Century was really, really long for the bus and growing. I’m not usually worried about making it to the race but when 4:15 rolled around and we still hadn’t moved much I was getting a little nervous. It was all good though and I arrived at the start and just headed straight to my corral. There was definitely a hard time getting to the corrals–it was really congested and slow moving, unlike how the walk to the start usually is. They had moved the start line for the 10k so maybe that was why? I have no idea. 10 minutes after I arrived in B, the race started.

Congestion: It wasn’t terrible for B. I thought overall, the Boardwalk area wasn’t bad but the lines for photos were long. Going into Epcot was R2-D2 and exiting was Chewbacca. I had expected Darth Goofy and Jedi Mickey to be out, but nope, Disney was totally focusing on actual, legit Star Wars characters. The fun thing was that the course was completely different from the other Disney World 10ks. It also was narrower between the Boardwalk to Hollywood Studios stretch and the trail part into Wide World of Sports, there were a lot of places that could easily bottleneck pretty fast.IMG_9384Additional photo stops included backgrounds so you could pretend like you were in a scene. The lines for these weren’t insane like they were for R2-D2 and Chewbacca, so I waited in some. Outside Hollywood Studios and in parts of Wide World of Sports were the “Star Wars Super Fan Cheering Stations” that featured people who were like, “Yeah, that’s right, our costumes are as good if not better than what Disney has out.” I had a really good time at the 10k, I liked the new course, and I liked doing the character photos after the race.IMG_9363It was a solid Disney race. I enjoyed myself, felt entertained for the most part. I didn’t PR, I didn’t crush any running goals, but I did get to meet and be totally freaked out by Darth Maul, so you know, that was pretty awesome.

The bus service back to Pop Century wasn’t terrible, I waited about 20 minutes for a bus to show up but it seemed to be developing into something of a clusterfuck by the time I left. I headed back to the room, showered, changed, and spent the rest of the dark park and resort hopping.

Up next: Dark Side Half Marathon

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