Star Wars Dark Side – Half

Our alarm went off at 2:30 am. I remember thinking I could totally understand people who decided to just not go to sleep before this race. We got ready, check that we had everything, and then headed to the bus for the last early morning. Once again I think we missed the first bus. This time, our bus waited for a little bit and then went straight to the start instead of having to go around Port Orleans Riverside as well. When we were getting off, I noticed the bus directly behind us was also from Port Orleans so it was probably from Riverside. I decided to get in the Darth Maul line this time. I have to admit, he was pretty creepy up close and personal.

After I got my picture, the DJ was playing some dance songs. I really love joining in on those. So, I walked up by the DJ and started dancing. I know one was the cupid shuffle. Apparently, the were taking official pictures up there, too.

Next to me is another Princess runner. We chatted for a bit while dancing.

Then, it was time to head to the corrals. It was the same route as the 10k only there were more corrals. So, the group split at one point. I think my corral was the last one that didn’t have to walk all the way around. I was in corral H.

As you can tell from the picture, we were some of the first people there and I did get close to the front again. This was the view from my spot in the corral. You can just make out the starting line in the distance.

The starting fireworks were really spectacular.


Finally, it was our turn at the start line.

I always start my intervals right away. Once again, excuse my blurry pictures. The first thing we came to was a high school band. I really love having these guys on coarse. I hope they add more next time.

We turned on the road to the backstage area. Then we came to this gate.

Just like the other races, R2D2 was just beyond that guard house to the right.

Then came Mile 1.

We ran backstage and entered through China this time.

We turned left this time.

We got to the first water stop after Germany.

They got a good picture of me in Japan.

We ran passed France and turned left to go through the International Gateway. Chewbacca was by the International Gateway again.

This time we continued straight and ran by the Beach Club. We got to Mile 2 in this area.

I ran into my friends, Cindy and Meredith, cheering by the pool area.

Apparently, I had my eyes closed when they got this shot in the boardwalk area.

Soon we were on the path to Hollywood Studios.

There was a water stop while we were still by the resort.

We ran through this tunnel that had mood lighting and appropriate dark side music playing.

Mile 3 was along the path.

We arrived at Hollywood Studios.

We came in through the side again.

This was the view on Hollywood Blvd

We turned left and ran by Echo Lake and then by the stage.

We then ran back toward the entrance where we could see the people coming behind us.

We turned left on Sunset Blvd and ran toward the Tower of Terror.

This time we ran into the Fastasmic area.

A bunch of cosplayers where in this area.

It really was a perfect spot for them.

It was a wide area and they did a great job with the lighting.

The longest line was for Darth Vader.

Then we ran through the backstage area. I think there was a water stop here.

They had a photo op here.

We then turned left onto Buena Vista Drive.

Mile 4 was on this road.

We took the ramp to World Drive.

Eventually, we came to the ramp to Osceola Pkwy

There was a water stop right before we got to this Mile 5 marker. All were on the long ramp.

This is a view of the people ahead of me already on Oceola.

At the end of the ramp was a heavily used medical area. You’ll also notice the parade (Sweeper) buses. This must have been one of the larger sweep points.

Oceola is a big out and back with a tour of Animal Kingdom in the middle. The nice part about out and backs is seeing other runners, even if they are way in front of you.

I will say, this was the most boring part of the course. They tried to keep us going by using these portable screens. This one was at the top of an overpass bridge.

Next came another water stop.

They did have a DJ in the center. He was a nice diversion but I wished I could have heard him for a longer stretch. There was just too much nothingness.

Eventually, we got to Mile 6.

Followed shortly by the 10k speed bump.

This mile stretch was so boring that the sign announcing Animal Kingdom was a welcome sight.

There was a medical tent in this area.

Finally we came to the parking entrance… look at those fees!

There was a photo Op with the Rebels just before the entrance.

Then I tried to get a selfie with the entrance sign.

There was a water stop on the other side of the entrance.

The course makes a sweeping U turn and then takes a loop around the outside of the parking lot. This was the view of the people ahead of us. I believe the cranes are building the Avatar attractions.

Mile 7 was during the sweeping U turn

Next came this picture spot.

I wasn’t sure about it, but after seeing how my friend Nicki’s picture turned out (after flipping it) it seems pretty awesome. I’ll have to catch this one next time.

We got to the Clif Shot area just before entering the true backstage of Animal Kingdom.

Once again we do kind of a sweeping turn in the backstage area. This is a shot of the people in front of me.

We got to Mile 8 here. It’s hard to see Darth Maul due to the sun rise.

Also hard to see due to the sunrise was this water stop.

We made a turn towards the park.

We entered into DinoLand USA

We headed towards the Finding Nemo show.

They had Stormtroopers just before the theater. Since I was a stormtrooper, I had to stop for a picture.

There was also a little used bathroom back behind here which I was going to use, but they passed my phone back in such a way that I would have had to back track. So, I kept moving forward.

I really couldn’t hold it much longer so I was glad when I spotted this sign.

Coming out of the bathroom, I saw this picture spot. I’m so glad I stopped because the sunrise makes it look even better!

Then we made our way back to the Discovery Island part.

I stopped and got a picture with the Tree of Life. There really wasn’t much of a line.

Then I followed the cone path to the exit.

I started noticing more crowding and lines and found these guys by the Rainforest Cafe entrance.

I also saw Darth Vader and Darth Maul.

That’s when it hit me that we had found another section of cosplayers.

I love them, but I really think this was a poor placement.

The course already narrows because of the exit.

Even though there weren’t any lines when I came through, it still caused issues.

There was even a person trying to tell us to keep running through here. She must have been crazy. We are going to stop for pictures with cosplayers.

I really think they would have been better placed in the boring section of road. I realize that may have led to more course cutting, but you can mediate that by looking at the 15k timing mat in the Animal Kingdom area.

Mile 9 was as we were leaving the park by the bus drop off area.

This volunteer was being awesome and super encouraging. There were also a few spectators with him.

Back in the parking lots came this photo op. Once again, something I will probably stop for next time.

Then came another water stop. I’m pretty sure those buses in the background are sweeper buses.

We got to the 15k speed bump just before reaching those buses.

And here is a close up of the buses. Luckily, I was well ahead of pace to worry about them.

Mile 10 was back on the boring stretch of road. I kindly offered to take someone’s picture so she wanted to do the same for me.

A very heavily used medical area was just after Mile 10. I think this is where I stopped to get some vaseline for my arms. They did not like the tank top.

Then we got to the mobile screen. Unfortunately, you can’t see anything due to the sun’s position.

Somewhere in this section I ran with Patty Holiday and her friends for a while. They were great company. I think it started right after the medical area.

I loved this sign.

He was conveniently located by this McDonald’s. I’m pretty sure we could smell the food from the road.

We finally passed the DJ again.

He did have a pretty cool vehicle.

Soon we got to Mile 11.

Another water stop was just on the other side of the mile marker.

And another screen that we couldn’t see at the top of the bridge hill.

Eventually we came to an extremely popular medical tent. It seems the farther into the race, the more popular the medical area.

Then we entered my beloved dirt path. My feet were a little sore from all the pavement running. They were very happy with the dirt, too.

The AT-AT leg was here.

I think this is a nice area to run.

Mile 12 was along the path.

Then came the Endor vehicles.

Finally we got to the sidewalk of Wide World of Sports and an immediate water stop.

There were a lot of spectators in this area.

We did have another very brief section of dirt between fields.

Mile 13 was just before entering the parking lot area.

They got a picture of me doing my finish line video.

And here is the video

I did get one finish line picture.

One finished, I got my medal. Next came water and Powerade. Then I got in the line for the challenge medal. I did carry my 10k medal in my side pocket during the race. So, once I got my Dark Side Challenge medal, I pulled it out and put it on for the picture. Here is the official picture.

I really need to learn how to stop pulling my chin back. It makes me look like I have multiple chins when I don’t.

I then got my snack box and banana. I knew the bus lines to the resort would be bad, so I went ahead and got in line. I sent Jamie a message to join me. I was getting close and a lady was counting for the next bus. I asked her to move me back one bus so Jamie would get there. I walked with her while she counted. She inserted me as the first person on the next bus. Jamie got there just as I was getting inserted in the line. So, she had a very short wait. Once on the bus, I got a medal selfie.

Overall, this was a great race. I loved the course even though there were a few very boring stretches. I really think Disney could make them work better in the future. I suggest moving the second set of cosplayers to the area between Miles 6 & 7 and 10 & 11. You get more bang since you see them on both sides. Also, they wouldn’t be contributing to course crowding since those roads are very wide. My official time was 3:35:51. Given the amount of stops I made, I think that’s a pretty respectable time. I will definitely be back to run this race again!

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About kristincooke

I am a mother of 2 that started running in 2012. I also enjoy baking and some crafts.
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