Race Recap: 2017 Star Wars Half Marathon (The Light Side) -Disneyland, CA

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I spent months looking forward to the Star Wars Half… planning costumes, discussing the race with friends, getting caught up in the Rogue One excitement and more! On top of it, it was Kelly’s first half marathon and first RunDisney race! It’s always fun to share the experience with others.

After Taylor and I ran the Star Wars 10K on Saturday and then spent the whole day at Disneyland, I knew the 13.1 miles would feel a little longer than normal. On the other hand, our costumes were so awesome, I knew they would carry me the entire distance!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Since we ran as Imperial Officers during the 10K, Taylor and I decided to defect to the Rebellion. Nothing like running as Rebel Pilots!

This was the first time I’ve stayed at a place close to the resort, and it was so nice to be able to walk to the start line on both Saturday and Sunday. Jason was in A corral, but Taylor, Kelly and I were back in G corral. We were too far away to see the stage, but unlike at the Disneyland Half, we could at least hear the audio. Jason tried to FaceTime with us and although the connection was spotty, he showed us his vantage point in A corral of Darth Vader coming on stage to make ominous pronouncements to the runners.

Finally, we were off! The start led us straight up a hill, but this actually gave the crowd a chance to thin out before entering backstage DCA.

Loved seeing Ezra &a Sabine on course! #StarWarsHalf #RunDisney #StarWarsRebels #rebelpilot

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Lines were much better at the character stops than in the 10K, and since I finally started watching Rebels, I was ecstatic to see Sabine and Ezra on course. I had just finished season one, but I love Star Wars Rebels, which is way more amazing than I ever imagined. Next year, maybe I’ll run as Hera.

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Running past the World of Color fountains is fantastic at dawn!

The wide paths of California Adventure are perfect for running and the lights were beautiful. World of Color is a particular favorite, and since we weren’t visiting California Adventure this trip, it made the run even more special.

The RunDisney races wind in and out of backstage areas, which is really fun. In one of the backstage tunnels, they had flashing lights and the sounds of an x-wing/tie fighter dogfight. Dressed as Rebel Pilots, we really took advantage of this part, zooming down the incline together.

fter bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

After bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

I love backstage, but the best part was going from backstage into Toon Town. For some reason, more than other transitions, it feels like you burst out of mundane buildings of backstage into the magical world of Disneyland.

I'm so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I’m so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I loved the course through the parks. We got to run through Tomorrowland, of course, which is still decked out as a kind-of temporary Star Wars Land (when Star Wars Land actually opens, this course will be bonkers), and through the castle and down Main Street. In two different areas, they had Jedi, probably from the training academy, fighting Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, respectively.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

Complete with audio, it added a really fun kinetic element of theatre to the race. Plus, unlike the static character stops, all the runners were able to enjoy the scenes as we ran by!

Once we left the park, the race became more difficult. I was sad to see that the change in corrals meant that Jason finished his race practically before we left the park. We weren’t going to repeat our meeting on the median from last year.

The sun came up and Taylor and I started feeling the miles from the previous day. However, the groups cheering, the bands and fans were all in full force, and they definitely kept our spirit up.

I also stayed focused on two things that I knew would be later in the race: Redvines from the Mouse Planet tent and the Rebel Pilot cosplayers. The 501st and Rebel cosplayer groups are always a highlight, but this year, I really wanted a picture because of our costumes!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

Later in the race, Taylor started really feeling the miles and said it just felt harder, than his previous three half marathons. Maybe the novelty wore off, maybe he was undertrained, but I had a different answer. Two days of running is just hard. “That is why they call it the Rebel Challenge,” I said. “Because it’s a challenge.” You may be trained up for the half marathon distance, but the challenge is different. I’m not sure he appreciated hearing this from me at that movement, but I’ve done this before and finally felt vindicated, like someone understood that the difficulty increased as well as the fun. At some point, your feet just ask you “Whyyyyyyy…”

To be fair, my feet feel like that after mile 18 of a marathon too, but I definitely recover faster after the 19.3 two-day challenge. This is perfect for a RunDisney vacation. After each of my two marathons, I’ve been trashed for a week and spending a day at Disneyland would be hard to stomach (not saying I wouldn’t do it…).

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon. No matter how my race is going, I've hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon.
No matter how my race is going, I’ve hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

Taylor and Kelly must have turned on mindless runner mode, because at one point, I had to adjust my shoe. I felt like a painful blister was forming. I had my shoe partially off when I looked up and they were way in front of me. At my speed and level of tiredness, I knew catching up would be hard. I jammed my shoe back on as quickly as possible and sprinted through a couple of intervals until finally catching them.

That was really rough, but it just proves that even when I’m really tired, I always have more energy than expected.

Soon we were turning onto Disney Property for our final stretch. “S-Foils in attack formation,” I called to Kelly and Taylor. The best part of the end of the race is running past the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney with the course lined with cheering spectators. They really carry us to the finish line.

Rebel Runners do it again!

Rebel Runners do it again!

We took the rest of Sunday easy– enjoyed the hot tub, ate pizza, and went to the theatre to see Moana. Sunday, we celebrated by going to Disneyland!

Time: 3:09:18
Ran With: Taylor, Kelly
Best Costume: One impressive gal ran as a cosplay-perfect Jyn Erso– vest, boots, everything… even had the Death Star plans in her hand!
Rebel Redux: For the first time, RunDisney offered us Star Wars runners a chance to sign up early for next year (with a tiny discount). In 2018, Jason will run the half for a fourth time and I will return to the Rebel Challenge, joined once more by Taylor with the addition of Kelly, who couldn’t resist the lure of the extra 10K!

Planning for a Third Year at the Star Wars Half Marathon

That’s right! I’ve signed up, yet again, for the Star Wars Half Marathon Rebel Challenge. I’ll be running both the 10K and the Half Marathon in January, 2017.

After last year’s injury really slowed me down, I’m excited to have another shot at the race. It’s also cool to reflect that since I ran Tinker Bell in 2014, Star Wars weekend 2017 will be my fourth time in a row running a half marathon during that weekend!

Star Wars Rebel Challenge finisher in 2015 and 2016! For 2017, the race has been rebranded as "The Light Side."

Star Wars Rebel Challenge finisher in 2015 and 2016! For 2017, the race has been rebranded as “The Light Side.”

Better yet, I’ve got even more running buddies! Taylor, having had a great time at Tinker Bell Half in May, has also signed up for the Rebel Challenge. Kelly, having had such a great time spectating Tinker Bell, has taken the plunge as well— the Star Wars Half Marathon will be her first half marathon ever!

Jason is also running the half again (although skipping the challenge this year), so maybe I’ll see him again at the halfway point again! That was a highlight of last year’s race.

Until then, I have another runDisney race to look forward to! The Disneyland Half is coming up fast!

Related:

Race Recap: 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon
Race Recap: 2016 Star Wars 10K
2016 Star Wars Half Marathon Expo & Packet Pick Up

Medals Revealed for the 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend!

RunDisney posted a picture of the 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon weekend medals today!

Aside from the strap, the medals for the Rebel Challenge and the Half Marathon are the same as last year. However, take a look at that 10K medal!

2016 Star Wars 10K Medal

2016 Star Wars 10K Medal

I absolutely love the x-wing fighter design and I love it much more than the stormtroopers from last year’s medal.

It looks like RunDisney keeps the same medal design for the long distance races for around 5 years before switching to give runners time to earn the medal design.

I love this idea (especially because it gave me the opportunity to earn my Tinker Bell Half medal, which I love), but I’m also glad that one out of the three medals I’ll earn in January will be different.

Just over 2 months until Jason and I run the Rebel Challenge!

…We better start thinking about our costumes…

Edit: I didn’t look too closely, but it looks like the spinner changed for the Rebel Challenge medal. Last year it was Yoda/Vader and this year it is the Rebel Alliance insignia and… something else unknown. This change makes sense, what with RunDisney hosting the Star Wars: The Dark Side half marathon weekend in Florida at Walt Disney World in the spring. They’re bound re-brand the Star Wars Half Marathon as “Star Wars: The Light Side” or something similar for next year.

Edit: StarWars.com posted some beautiful photos of the 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon weekend medals, revealing that the other side of the Rebel Challenge medal spinner features R2-D2.

Related: What is the Image on the Star Wars Half Marathon Medal?
Inaugural Star Wars 10K Recap: Rebel Challenge Part 1
Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Recap: Rebel Challenge Part 2