Star Wars on the Run


The Princess half marathon weekend that runDisney hosts in Walt Disney World every year is near and dear to my heart. The inaugural year of the race, 2009, I ran it — my first half marathon. I haven’t missed a year since, and so long as I’m mobile, I’ll be there. I run other races throughout the year, but Princess weekend always feels like home to me.

For the last two years, I’ve run dressed as Princess Leia (in the classic white), and other runners always seemed to really like it, often yelling, “May the force be with you!” But I only ever saw one or two other Leias on the course. However, since the Star Wars brand is now officially part of the Disney family, I had a feeling that this year would be different. And I’m happy to say, I was not wrong!

I think there was never a moment over the course of the 13.1 miles we covered on February 24 that I didn’t have at least one other Leia in sight. And when Leias would spot each other, there was instant camaraderie. I was dressed as Bespin Leia this time around, and while many runners had no idea who I was, the important ones knew! Star Wars runners meeting on the road were almost like old friends, high-fiving and encouraging each other, even stopping to get photos together. And it wasn’t all Leia — Padmé and R2 were spotted on the course, as well as an X-wing pilot and a few dashing Hans! From the start line corrals to the finisher’s area after the race, fans who had never met before were instantly united through their shared love of the Star Wars universe, and the shared experience of taking on a long race in the Florida heat.

Speaking of the heat, it’s a good time to talk about how these outfits get adapted for running! As any runner will tell you, the longer the run, the more important your clothing choices are. An outfit that might be fine for a 5k can often become really uncomfortable after 5 or 6 miles, let alone 13, so you have to be careful when selecting or making your garments. You want to minimize rub (cotton can really be an enemy when it gets damp) and keep your body temp regulated. I usually scout out wicking fabrics online or through local fabric stores to try to find something to meet my needs.

The great thing about Leia’s A New Hope outfit is that you don’t have to make an exact replica to be recognizable. Many runners opt to simply purchase white running gear and top it off with the signature double-bun look, and believe me, everyone knows who they are. Similarly, Han is easy to pull together with sports apparel for the shirt and pants, and then a boxy vest and a bit of detailing. So long as you remember to focus on function for your base layers, you can accessorize to create the perfect look — and avoid being miserable while you run.

I was so proud of all of us, wearing our Star Wars love as we conquered the challenge of a half marathon. The weather was hot and humid (though thankfully overcast), but it couldn’t dampen the Star Wars spirit! It felt like a family reunion or a con in motion. While we may have been outnumbered by more traditional Disney princesses, I don’t think any other group had such immediate connections to one another.

Now, what are we all wearing next year?

Holly Frey cohosts the PopStuff podcast at She’s an avid costumer, and Star Wars has been an integral part of her life since opening day in 1977.