Revenge of the Fifth | Dark Side Challenge Part II
Yesterday I gave an overview of the Dark Side Challenge 10K, and today we'll look at the half marathon, or as I'm calling it, Revenge of the Fifth. Happy Star Wars Days!
As I mentioned, yesterday, there were plenty of great things about this particular runDisney weekend. I thought the Expo was much improved, including the process for purchasing the popular runDisney New Balance shoes. There were lots of great vendors, food and the like. From an event standpoint, everything went really well up until the half marathon and there's a few reasons why.
Not to belabor the point, but I woke up at almost 2 AM in order to get ready and board the bus on time for the corrals. I was one of the last to board at Animal Kingdom Lodge and I had plenty of time to get to my corral; it seemed liked an eternity. By the time we were dropped off in the Epcot parking lot and walked to the corral, the total distance was nearly 1.5 miles.
The pre-race entertainment was great but there were some major spoilers if you had not seen The Force Awakens! What was funny to me was seeing the Star Wars / Disney bandwagon fans. Granted, I'd never been too into Star Wars before Disney acquired them, but one of the announcers asked multiple people which of the movies was their favorite and all of them paused for a moment only to say "the new one." I thought that was funny.
Second, the entertainment on the half marathon course was essentially non-existent. Lots of props around for you to take your own photos beside, and of course running through the parks is always exciting, but there were hardly any characters. I saw Kylo Ren, some Stormtroopers and that was about it. One of the things that attracted me to the runDisney races and that justified their higher than average price, was the on-course entertainment. For that to be advertised as one of the selling points now is just a bit misleading.
Finally, there were so many points in the course that felt overcrowded and unsafe. Mainly, the path running from Boardwalk to Disney's Hollywood Studios and some of the trails behind Wide World of Sports. Again, I understand that many people do runDisney for fun – there was a mile where I hit a wall after Animal Kingdom and walked – but runner courtesy was just nowhere to be found.
Transportation was not a hassle at all during the weekend, even though I saw reports on Twitter that stated otherwise.
I had a great time running the race but there are two big improvements I'd like to see from runDisney. These improvements apply to most future races and have gradually declined from the high standard that I've come to know:
Night Races: I'd like the option for a few night races. runDisney knows the climate and I trust them with planning. 2 AM isn't a great time for a wake-up call. Not every race needs to be at night, but I'd opt for night races if they became available again. I really hope the Tower of Terror 10-miler is reincarnated in some fashion.
On-Course Entertainment: This was the biggest disappointment for me over the entire weekend, and especially during the half where I needed the motivation the most. The back 1/4 of the race was highway. Jedi Mickey would have motivated me. Or at least some techno music.
The next runDisney race we have our eyes set on is the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. Until then, I'm looking forward to a few local races and trips to Disney Parks that don't involve a runDisney event.