Thursday, April 21, 2016

Star Wars 10k: The Dark Side

It's is no surprise I love runDisney races while they can be expensive, the race experience is one of a kind. Now, the Star Wars race series is fairly new with the Light Side option being held in the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and the all new Dark Side option at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. If you do both races (half-marathon and challenge distances you receive the special Kessel Challenge Coast to Coast medal!) and with Star Wars being the hot commodity these races sell out fast but I was pleasantly surprised with the Dark Side!

It all started late Friday afternoon when we boarded the plane to Orlando (thanks Southwest!), one of the first times I've flown in a while that there wasn't a delay and we even arrived safely in Florida earlier than expected. It was after 8pm when we arrived so after we checked into the lovely Disney's Boardwalk Inn, I love this hotel! A major plus for me is that you not only have the fun Boardwalk area with food, shopping and entertainment but you also have the easy option of walking to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

This resort is also in the same vicinity of the Yacht and Beach Club resorts so we walked over to the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, they have simple food choices you would find at the beach, we got cheeseburgers and they were delicious! They are also known for having a dessert called "The Kitchen Sink" yes, it's a giant ice cream sundae in an actual kitchen sink. This is a thing. You can look it up. We didn't want the spectacle of ordering the giant sundae so we decided on individual desserts. I did get the mini Kitchen Sink!

After walking around the Boardwalk for a bit, I realized I had to be up in like three hours so we went back to the hotel and I took a short nap before long my alarm went off and my favorite race past time of getting ready in the dark while other people slept happened. The races start EARLY like 5:30am early, the bus to the start was pulling in as I made my way down to the pick-up area at the resort around 4am. There was some traffic and a normal 8 min bus ride was about 15-20 so not too bad. I arrived and picked up my bib (eeek! I actually forgot my license as a form of ID so I had to answer a ton of questions but I passed my life and got my bib!) and looked for my running bestie from LA.

The waiting area was very nice! As I looked for my friend (who was getting a picture with BB-8) I noticed Disney had tons of photo opps before the race, there were at least 7 options! This is great for those who don't like stopping during the actual race or someone who may be in one of the last corrals and fear waiting 20 minutes for a photo then ends up getting "swept" off the course for not keeping pace. Here are a few you could choose from including Jaba the Hutt, Darth Maul and Darth Vader!

I found my friend and we were off to the corrals! The weather was pretty humid but I mean it is central Florida in April so that was to be expected. While waiting in line the race announcers kept the crowd energized and even showed clips from all the Star Wars films (yes, even Episode 1). Soon enough we were off! The course starts in Epcot where you run though parts of the park then you make your way to the Boardwalk District followed by Hollywood Studios and finally finishing the course at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

 I actually really enjoyed this course, it was scenic plus there were a good amount of photo opportunities. The only section I didn't care for was the trail portion as you make your way into the Wide World of Sports. There were a few bottlenecks but remember this is a Disney race, there are LOTS of people, relax, have fun, and don't worry about time. You are in Disney!

Soon we were finished and my only big complaint of the entire race weekend...the busses. Wow. The line to take everyone back to the Boardwalk area hotels was completely backed up. I also didn't really care for the fact that you ended up in a different location than the start. It's just a bit of a headache to get back. However, Disney seemed to learn from the bus ordeal since the next day at the half there were plenty of busses back for the more congested hotels. So they did notice the problem and were quick to alleviate some of the issue!

How about this 10k bling!? Love!!

Arriving back at the hotel, it was so fun to see the colorful Boardwalk! I took a quick shower and new clothes then I felt like a new person. We were ready for the parks! I love the Magic Kingdom and my all-time favorite dessert is the Ooey Gooey Toffe Cake from Liberty Tree Tavern. You have to try it.

I mean look at it. After a few hours it was time for a much needed nap. An hour turned into like three hours but hey it's vacation!

The rest of the night was spent having dinner at Epcot, walking around the Flower and Garden Festival , then capping off the day at Magic Kingdom! 

All fun and games until I realize I have to be up in three hours to run 13.1 miles. See how that turned out here!

Happy running and traveling!

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