On May 27, word was released of a great disturbance in the Force...
...in the world of Disney running events.
So. Disney announces a Star Wars Half Marathon. Crazy! And this, just three months after announcing another new running event at Disneyland for their Marvel Comics property, the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon.
Since 1994, Disney has hosted running events in Florida over at Walt Disney World. They now include the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend every January, the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend every February, the Expedition Everest Challenge every May, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend every October, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend every November.
It wasn't until 2005 that the west coast would finally host their own runDisney event when the "Happiest Race on Earth" would take place during the inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in mid-September 2006 (before moving up a couple of weeks to Labor Day Weekend thereafter). Eight years later, the west coast is now also home to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend (originally a January event, the next one is scheduled for May) and the aforementioned Avengers (November) and Star Wars (January) runs. Disneyland is quickly catching up to Walt Disney World!
I'm not a runner. Not a fan of it at all. And the idea of paying to go running, especially to run just over 13 fricken miles, sounded stupid!
But by then, I'd been visiting Disneyland using my annual pass for seven straight years and in that time, I'd become a bonafide Disney geek. So when the idea of earning a hunk of medal with "Disneyland" stamped on it came up, "stupid" quickly evolved into "sucker"! I registered for the first year and then, followed up doing the next four.
The first one was truly magical. The first eight miles was work, and I didn't enjoy it. But as I headed back towards the park from Angel Stadium and finally saw the back entrance of DCA on Harbor Boulevard, tears of joy welled up in my eyes. "Damn, I'm actually going to finish this!"
The four half marathons that followed became routine affairs. Like the first, I'd only be able to run during the first six to seven miles before my calves would cramp up. I'd have to walk the rest of the distance, but I always completed the runs within the required 16-minute mile pace.
After earning my fifth straight Disneyland Half Marathon medal - which I did by refusing to run at all and walking the entire distance and still within the required pace, I was DONE with running. I proclaimed to myself and my friends, "No more running for me!" Another motivating factor was that the fee to register increased every year. $90 for the first one was fine. Approaching $140 by the fifth one, and for me, this was no longer worth it after this.
When the Tinker Bell event was announced in 2011, I felt a little hook to do the run, since Tink is one of my favorite Disney characters. But the distaste for running half marathons was still fresh on my mind, so I quickly brushed off that desire. And as a comic book fan, I'm more a DC Comics guy than Marvel. So when the Avengers event was announced earlier this year in March, that was an easy one to ignore. By the time this Star Wars one popped up, I was like, "Meh."
But then a bunch of my friends registered during the early Annual Passholder sign up period. And I started to feel a little envious. I mean, I've designed Star Wars toys and even been to Skywalker Ranch more than a few times. Could I really let this Star Wars event, happening in my own backyard, pass by without being involved in it?
Flash forward to a week ago Monday. I was reading MousePlanet's weekly Disneyland Update which shared tips on getting signed up for the different Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend events - 200m dash, 5k, 10k, Half, and Rebel Challenge - to make registering for any one of them easier when registration opened the next morning. They also claimed it would sell out very quickly, which sounded totally legitimate. Reading over their strategies, I started "role-playing" in my mind, mulling over "What if I did...?" scenarios. I looked up the event page. And studied.
Before going to bed Monday night I talked myself into wanting a medal with "Star Wars" on it, dagnabbit! But I decided to cut myself a break and do the light and easy 5k. However, by Tuesday morning, I decided I'd rather have cold hard metal rather than the plastic medallion normally handed out for Disney 5k events. So by 8:59a, a minute before registration opened worldwide, I firmly decided it was the 10k for me!
At 9:00a, after some bizarre-ness reaching the proper page of race options (thousands of Jedi and Sith hitting the website at the same time might've had something to do with that), I finally got in...AND THERE WAS NO 10K OPTION LISTED.
Considering how I'd only worked out wanting to register for one of the running events in just the last twelve hours and decided on registering specifically for the 10k in only the last thirty minutes, I thought the omission was hilarious! For the next few minutes, I went back to the home page and clicked the proper link several times, only to continue getting options for all the other races but the 10k.
I went to runDisney's Facebook page and was relieved to find others couldn't see it either. Several minutes after 9, someone posted that runDisney was looking into the 10k dilemna.
With nothing else to do, back to the event website I went and continued to click the 10k option. Finally, by 9:18a the 10k race was finally added to the options. Ready, set, GO!
So, eventually...and eventfully, I'm in, and before all slots for the weekend sold out in the first two hours. Happy Ending. Cue Return of the Jedi celebratory music here. Not the new age-y stuff from the 1997 Special Edition, the "yub nub" chant from the original 1983 release.
I took pictures before, during and after each of my Disneyland Half Marathons. I posted the ones from three of the events on Flickr. The set from 2006 is posted here, the set from 2008 is here and for 2009 here. But of course, the 10k course won't need to take me as far as Angel Stadium. Instead it sounds like, after running through the parks, I'm heading north up Anaheim Boulevard for a short spell before making my way back to the parks to finish the run. Snapping a new set of shots during the 10k - which I plan to mostly walk the entire time - will be fun.
And for those of you who successfully registered for the weekend as well, may the Force be with us all...
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!