As the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend kicks off, I’m pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by Star Wars everywhere I turn. Running through the 5K today, the speakers play my favorite Star Wars music, fans take pictures with characters from across the saga, and people are dressing in creative Star Wars-inspired clothing. While the running events are surely the focus, there is a ton to do outside of the race that also makes this runDisney weekend a can’t-miss event for any Star Wars fan. Here is just a taste of what I did in the first two days of the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.
The Health & Fitness Expo
Happening Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the event weekend, the Heath & Fitness expo is like a fitness convention with a Star Wars flare. This is where runners come to pick up their race packets and goody bags, plus they can check out multiple fitness vendors offering the latest in running gear and apparel. The expo is the only place to pick up the exclusive 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend merchandise, too. From running clothes to exclusive pins, these runDisney Star Wars collectables are highly sought after. I couldn’t pass on the runDisney Star Wars wine glasses, which I will surely use to celebrate with after I run all of my races!
The expo isn’t just about merchandise though. Throughout the event weekend, the speaker series stage features celebrity runners, fitness experts, entertainment, and even Star Wars speakers. This year, I joined Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin on stage for our new presentation, “Running Through the Galaxy.”
Our talk covers the basics of the entire Star Wars saga at lightspeed, getting new and old fans up to speed with the galaxy far, far away. And since this is a running event, we have some brand new running-related Star Wars facts to share, as well. Have you ever wondered how long it would take to run a lap around the Death Star from Return of the Jedi? If you run at my modest pace, it would take you two and a half days, assuming you never stop to take a break. A more manageable distance might be to run in an Imperial Star Destroyer: At just one mile long, a few laps would make a great 5k race.
If you are in the area, you can find Matt and I at the speaker series one final time on Saturday (January 16) at 11:00 a.m. The speaker series takes place at the Health & Fitness Expo at Disneyland Hotel and is open to anyone (whether running in the event or not).
Fans and Friends
Season of the Force is in full swing in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, bringing special events and experiences to this futuristic corner of the park. Matt from Lucasfilm, Aubrey from runDisney, and I took full advantage of the parks at this special time, heading to Tomorrowland in our Star Wars inspired looks thanks to New Balance and Champion.
We aren’t the only ones in the park marking the occasion. Fans, often wearing their newly acquired race medals, are all over the resort. Kids — and kids at heart — are talking about their favorite characters or discussing the finer points of The Force Awakens. Thanks to all of the Star Wars fans visiting this weekend, the whole resort feels like a big Star Wars family reunion.
The Star Wars 5K
The first running event of the weekend is the Star Wars 5K fun run that takes place on Friday morning. At just over three miles long, the course winds through Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. As the shortest race of the weekend, the 5K is a great starting point for new runners and a fun warmup for more experienced athletes. Character photo ops dot the entire course and you never know who will come next. Even BB-8 made his runDisney Star Wars debut this morning.
I completed the 5K on a solid pace this morning and look forward to Saturday’s 10K. On Sunday, I face my true test as I run my very first half marathon. All of my training has led up to this: Stay tuned to StarWars.com for updates on my running adventures and a recap of the entire weekend.
If you want to get in on the runDisney Star Wars action and join me in 2016, there are still limited half marathon spots available at April’s Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
To all of the other runners out there, may the course be with you!
Cole Horton is a full-time Star Wars fan and a small-time athlete. He is the co-author of Star Wars Absolutely Everything You Need to Know and also makes games at EA. You can follow him on Twitter @ColeHorton.