Trip Reports

Star Wars 5K (The Dark Side) Report

Sorry for the slow last week or two here on the blog.  I’ve been traveling and my laptop crashed so that ended most of my writing efforts.  On that note, the photos in this post aren’t edited to the usual degree (my laptop is in the shop) and they’re taken with my iPhone while walking (instead of my camera) so sorry for the poor quality in those.

The main reason behind our travel is Melissa and I took part in our first half marathon, doing the Dark Side Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.  More on that later in the week, as well as the whole trip.  In addition to the half marathon, we walked the 5K a couple of days before.  My parents joined us for this trip and my mom wanted to walk the 5K so the three of us did it together (my dad might be the smartest between the four of us as he decided to stay in bed).  This post will cover our experience doing the 5K and some thoughts on the RunDisney 5K’s in general.


As with any RunDisney event, the actual experience started the day before our 5K at the Expo.  I’ll write more about the Expo when we get to the actual trip report but I will mention how it applies to the 5K.

I think most RunDisney Expo’s are run efficiently and should be praised for the most part.  For runners just doing the 5K, that may be a slight exception.  All of the 5K’s are on Friday’s (or Thursday’s for the Disney World Marathon).  That means people have to go the Expo on the prior day no matter what.  For those making a week trip, that’s not a problem.  But if you’re flying in that Thursday then I could see that being pretty inconvenient.

We spent some time at the Expo and has absolutely no trouble getting our bibs, shirts and souvenirs.  The rest of the day was spent at Animal Kingdom, which may have been a slight mistake as we stayed pretty late, checked in to Old Key West, and got to bed around midnight.


The next morning came with a 4 AM wake up call.  We’d never done any RunDisney events at Disney World before so we weren’t sure of when to catch the bus.  The 5K started at 6 AM.  The event guide told us to be on the bus by 4:30, even though it ran until 5:30.  After some compromising we decided to catch the bus at about 4:45.  We did and we were so early.  Not quite as early as most everyone else but still an hour early.  The motto of this particular story is use common sense when deciding when to catch the bus for you races.  If you will stress about when to catch the bus all morning, get there when the guide says to.  If not, sleep a little longer and get there a little later than everyone else.

We got into corral C and waited for a while.  The MC’s are always entertaining, if not a little boisterous at 5 in the morning.  I also enjoy people watching and seeing all the costumes around.  There weren’t as many people at the 5K race as there would be at the half marathon, but a higher percentage of them were dressed up.  As I mentioned, these were Star Wars themed races and some of the costumes were pretty impressive.  There were more Reys than you could imagine and a few people dressed as very obscure characters.  To my disappointment, I didn’t see any Nien Nunb‘s but maybe that burden fell to me and I didn’t pick it up.


The race got going before too long.  They broke down the corrals into smaller waves to help spread out the runners.  This seemed to work pretty well, even if the course was only a 5K and there were close to 10,000 runners.  We got started with a our race at about 6:30.  Each corral was sent off with a burst of fireworks.


The race was mostly through Epcot and started (and ended) in that parking lot.  The first mile was mostly backstage though and making our way into the park.  While I typically enjoy these sections, I didn’t find this one particularly interesting.  There was a little structure here.


There were also Ewoks that I couldn’t get a good picture of, since I didn’t want to wait in the huge line.  They were undoubtedly the highlight of the first mile.


One mile done!  Congratulations to this nice couple, who were complete strangers.  I’m just in this for the mile markers!  Runners/walkers are supposed to keep a 16 minute/mile pace.  We were slightly under that but it wasn’t an issue because we didn’t start at the back of the corrals.  There were plenty of people slower than us too.  If you are afraid to do a 5K because you think your speed is an issue, I really wouldn’t worry about that.  We even stopped a few times for photos or restrooms and had no issues with pacing.

After the first mile, we passed Test Track and I took this terrible photo.


It was fun to walk under that attraction.  We came into Epcot right in between the Mexico and Norway Pavilion.  The sun had just risen and the light was really beautiful for the majority of the morning.  Since there isn’t a lot to update you on walking, there will be a lot of photos for a while.



We started our walk around World Showcase.  I had yet to see Epcot on our trip so this was my first look at the Flower and Garden Festival.  That was a special treat to see all the topiaries and flowers for the first time.


R2D2 was out for meet & greets and had quite the line.  I thought they fit in a good amount of characters into a relatively small amount of space.  R2 was definitely one of the funnest characters out.  Here’s a terrible photo to prove it.


As I said the morning light was beautiful.  We hit the western side of World Showcase at the perfect time to see the sun rise above the China Pavilion.


I do like that PhotoPass is out at all of the races and the photos they take are readily available.  With our annual passes, we get the photos for free.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t post this photo of me walking and looking at something.



Mile 2!  And some more strangers.

We crossed the bridge after the France Pavilion and exited out towards the Boardwalk.  There waited Chewbacca and about a hundred people waiting in line to see him.  Hence no photo of him.  Instead you get a picture of this weird building that sits behind the UK Pavilion!


You can Google a photo of Chewbacca but I’m guessing only a few of you knew that there was an L-shaped building back here!  That’s what you get here at Wandering in Disney.  Photos of buildings that you truly have no connection to and do not care about.

We came back into Epcot after the weird shaped building.  We walked past Canada and into Future World.  where the flowers were especially beautiful.


Flowers on the left and intimidating Storm Troopers on the right!


We headed to the left, walking towards the Imagination Pavilion.  The sun was up at this point and it was getting pretty warm.  Otherwise there was nothing to complain about.  Everyone was in good spirits, which is one of the best parts of these events.  People are proud of their accomplishments and are proud of you, as well.  The events are just a big celebration of people achieving their goals.  It was a beautiful morning and everything felt right, even on 4 hours of sleep.


A photo to prove our happiness.  Although, anyone would be happy if they were walking next to a lady dressed as Chewbacca.


We circled around the west side of Future World, walking past Imagination, The Land and The Seas.  We ended up walking past Spaceship Earth and exiting just to the east of that.


We were on the homestretch at this point and really kicked it into gear.  That was a joke.  We walked the whole thing and were happy to do so.  I don’t think the 5K may be a good warm up for those running a half marathon later in the weekend, but many people just walked the whole race.  There were others who ran/walked with their young kids. I’ll touch more on that in a bit.


Mile 3 and no strangers!  Just the top half of my mom’s head… The last tenth of a mile was through the Epcot parking lot where they had set up bleachers and there were people cheering us on.

We reached the finish line and were ushered through the medal and refreshments line.  As always, this was well-organized and easy to get through.  I was proud to finish and even prouder to do it with my wife and mom.  I know it meant a lot to my mom and she worked hard to accomplish the 5K.  Walking across that finish line was an accomplishment and a fun moment for the three of us.


As for the whole experience, I enjoyed it.  Doing it with family was a good move and really fun.  I’m not sure that I would do another RunDisney 5K alone or even just with Melissa due to the relatively high cost and lower amount of actual time spent doing the race.

With that being said, I think a 5K would be a perfect introduction to RunDisney for families or for someone who’s really apprehensive about the whole long-distance running thing.  The Dark Side 5K would be especially fun for young boys and their parents, as it’s a little more action themed than the other races.


Once the race ended, we sat down for a bit and then headed to breakfast.  I had a cold for the early part of the weekend so I was more than ready for a nap.  Still, we had the glow that these events give you all through breakfast.  We wore our medals proudly and then I promptly went back to bed for a few hours.  Nearly a perfect morning.

If you have any RunDisney questions, please let me know in the comments.  I’m no expert, but I’d love to help as much as possible.  Thank you for reading, we’ll be back with a half marathon and trip report soon!

– Andrew

2 replies »

Leave a Reply