May the force be with you was most likely the mantra of the 43, 000 plus runners as they participated in the runDisney Star Wars 5K, 10K and Half Marathon – The Dark Side weekend on April 14th – 17th weekend at Walt Disney World Resort.
The runDisney Star Wars 5K, 10K and Half Marathon – The Dark Side started when runners arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to pick up their race packet that contained their race packet, bib, and tech shirt. The amazing thing about the runDisney events is that they sell out weeks before race day. Along with runners picking up their race packet, runner supporters and family who were registered as members of the ChEAR Squad came to pick up their ChEAR Squad seating identification badges which gave them a front row seat at the finish line to watch runners finish the race. In addition to registration stations, the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo drew a large crowd. Click HERE for a video clip of the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex runDisney Health & Fitness Expo. There are other videos on YouTube from this great race weekend.
All runners that completed the 5K, 10K, and the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side by crossing the finish line received Commemorative Finisher Medal. If you completed the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side earlier in the year and the Dark Side, you received a special “Kessel Run” Commemorative Finisher Medal for finishing both races. See slide show for photos of the medals.
This was a special weekend for a group of four National Guard runners, who came from Arizona, Virginia, and Maryland, to run the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side. The three Army National Guard and one Air National Guard officers have been friends since they were all stationed at the National Guard Bureau in Alexandria, Virginia. They like to meet up from time to time at runDisney events. LTC Thomas Wiebel and Major Hayes Preston ran the Disneyland Half Marathon last year and Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side this year and were really excited to have two half marathons under their belt taking home Kessel Run Medal for finishing both half marathons. LTC James Hildreth and Major Jennifer Thompson completed the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side. See slide show.
On Friday LTc Wiebel ran in the 5K race with his sister, Rebecca Lance from Davenport, Florida. Becky is a 1st grade school teacher at Avon Elementary School in Avon park, Florida. This is her first runDisney 5K run and hopes to return next year with her husband Nigel where they cross the line together. See slide show for a photo of Becky with her 5K Commemorative Finisher Medal.
The first place male runner was Jason Ryf with a time of 1:13:37 and the top female runner was Katie McGrath with a time of 1:24:03. Darrell Fry, Disney Sports Media Director, along with the Disney film crew, was there at the end to greet each runner as they crossed the finish line. See the slide show for a photo of them crossing the finish line.
To give you an idea of how fast these times were, according to the IAAF “the official world record for men is 58:23, set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea on March 21, 2010 at the Lisbon half marathon in Portugal, and for women is 1:05:09, set by Florence Kiplagat of Kenya on February 15, 2015, in Barcelona, Spain.” That is a 4:27 minutes per mile for Zersenay and 4:58 minutes per mile for Florence. Those times are really fast when you think about running a sub five minute mile for 13.1 miles.
Another great aspect of the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side was the interesting Star
Wars costumes runners were wearing. See the slide show for a sampling of the great garb runners were running in. The women runners who were dressed like Princess Leia in the Jabba the Hutt slave scene from the Return of the Jedi drew a lot of attention. Click HERE for a video of runners and their costumes at the end of the race. If you ran in the 5K, 10K, and/or the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side, you can find photos by visiting the Marathon Photo web site. It takes more than a week before the photos from this weekend are posted. Click HERE to see if you have any photos from the race weekend.
All and all this was a great race weekend. The entire runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, 5K, 10K, and the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side team and all the volunteers worked hard to make this a memorable experience for all the participants and spectators. Click HERE for more information on all runDisney events. Here are a few dates to remember.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Start: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Walt Disney World® Marathon presented by Cigna
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Star Wars Half Marathon
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Start Time 5:30 a.m.
Start/Finish: Disneyland® Resort
If you missed this great running weekend, it is never too late to start training for next year. Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.