Your Hero’s Journey with runDisney

Follow your Jedi destiny to the finish line.

The Star Wars story follows the mythical hero’s journey, a familiar storytelling structure that bridges cultures across time. The hero’s journey follows many familiar steps, where the protagonist takes up the call for action and grows to be a great hero. In many ways, taking part in one of the upcoming runDisney Star Wars races follows a similar path. From the call to adventure to the return with the prize, here are the ways that joining the race will make a hero out of anyone!

Call to Adventure
For Luke Skywalker to become a hero, he had to leave the comfort of his moisture farm. To become a hero with runDisney, you’ll have to sign up for the adventure! The runDisney Star Wars races are a huge celebration of fandom, from fan-made running costumes to Force-filled events the entire weekend. Thousands of Star Wars fans have already accepted the call to adventure. The January race in Anaheim is sold out and few spots remain for the Orlando race in April. If you want to join up, you’ll want to act fast.

Refusal of the Call
If you’re like me, refusing the call to exercise is a recurring trial. It’s easier to sleep in than go for a run. When given a choice, I’ll pick an extra donut rather than an extra mile jogging. But Luke Skywalker didn’t immediately answer the call either. It took some convincing to learn the ways of the Force and leave Tatooine.
If you’ve never participated in a runDisney event before, talk of running and racing can seem overwhelming. But don’t be discouraged! I discovered that these races are perfect for people of all fitness levels. Whether you want to briskly walk the entire event or post a top running time, there will be plenty of people on the course just like you!

Meeting the Mentor
Even the bravest heroes can’t do it alone. After all, Luke had Obi-Wan to show him the way off of that moisture farm. For someone embarking on a runDisney adventure, there are also plenty of mentors. Jeff Galloway has helped thousands of runners to the finish line with 10k and Half Marathon plans that make training easy and virtually injury free. Following his plan, only three weekly training days are needed: 30-45 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday, and a longer session on the weekend.

Crossing the Threshold
In the hero’s journey, there is always a moment where the hero must commit to change. In Star Wars, this is when Luke sets out with Obi-Wan to find Princess Leia. If you are committing to your first runDisney race, you are taking your first step into a much larger world. Not only are you making the choice to be healthier, but you are also joining the huge runDisney fan community. They share running tips, costume help, and cheer you on during the race. The experienced runDisney runners are always willing to lend a hand!

runDisney Star Wars fan

The Ordeal
A hero doesn’t complete their journey until they face an ordeal. Thankfully for you, race day is much easier than blowing up a Death Star. People are decked out in their favorite running gear or costume. The music is playing, the fireworks are going off, and the adrenaline is high as you’re running through a Disney park. You’ll find that many participants are taking time to really enjoy the experience, stopping at all of the photo ops and famous Disney park locations. After all of your preparation for this moment, it’s hard not to feel like a hero as you run towards the finish line.

Return with the Prize
We’re all Star Wars fans and we love a good Star Wars collectible. As you reach the finish line at a runDisney race, you not only get the great feeling of accomplishment, but they hand you one of the most rare and hard-earned Star Wars collectibles ever. The runDisney medals are the kind of prize you will display proudly alongside your collection for a long, long time.

Are you ready to set out on your own hero’s journey? You can still be part of the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon — The Dark Side and Star Wars 5k in Florida. The event is April 14-17, 2016. You can find more information at

Cole Horton is a historian and co-author of the new book, Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know from DK Publishing. You can follow his training on Twitter @ColeHorton.