Like most children of the 90’s, I spent my days memorizing every word to every Disney movie, perfecting every Disney song, and dreaming of ways to get my parents to take me to Disneyland. Again. My wedding father/daughter dance? When You Wish Upon a Star (the actual Pinocchio version). My sister’s college graduation trip? An adult family vacation to Disney World this last December.
Despite the Disney obsession, I’ve never participated in a Disney race (they have 9 dispersed between Disney World and Disneyland). The two big deterring factors have been the price (more expensive for HALF marathons than I’ve paid for either the Chicago Marathon or Boston), and the apparent lack of competitiveness. And by that, I mean that most people either spend the race weaving between people (or walking when they give up), or waiting in 25+ minute lines to take pictures with characters along the course. I love Mickey, but not that much.
Also, up until recently, most of the Disney race themes (Tinkerbell, and Princess for example) have been female-centered (men literally are not allowed to win). A big part of the appeal for me is beating the boys, and I also don’t deal very well with women yelling at me for bumping their fairy wings, so I just haven’t been interested to the point of actually signing up. The inaugural Avengers Half (held this fall at Disneyland) ALMOST got me, but come registration day, I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.
But then…the blog world exploded about a month ago when all of the Run Disney ambassador bloggers announced a new themed race at Disneyland: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (hash tag #letthewookieewin).
I wouldn’t say I’m a complete Star Was geek. I’ve seen all of the movies, I know the general story line, and I can quote some lines. But, I can’t name all of the planets and their significances, nor do I know all of the names of all of the creatures. BUT, the thought of this race thrilled me so much more than any princess or fairy race to the point that I immediately shared this news with my incredibly geeky family (my sister has an actual R2D2 robot), and everyone was on board. Even Aaron.
I learned fast that Run Disney is a sub-culture of its own. There are different terms for things, privileged early registration, and more race options than I would ever know what to do with. And these people DO ALL THE RACES. On both coasts. But they don’t seem to do other non-Disney races. So, just like we might talk about our experiences at Chicago or Grandma’s or Santa Rosa or whatever, they talk about Princess, Tink, Tower of Terror, and Wine and Dine.
Run Disney Terminology:
Challenge: Incorporates running multiple races in the same weekend. For example, the Goofy Challenge (part of the Walt Disney World Marathon) involves a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. They also charge more for the challenge option than you would pay for registering for these events individually which kind of makes me scratch my head. The Challenge is also always the 1st event to sell out (within 25 minutes for Star Wars), which also makes me scratch my head. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10K and Half) was $320 + fees for a 19.3 mile weekend.
Coast to Coast: A special medal you get for running a half marathon distance or more at both parks within the same year. This is the crowning achievement for Run Disney folks and what they all aspire to accomplish.
ChEAR Squad: For $100, you can cheer on your runners (this is actually the most expensive “Platinum” option out of several including one free one…comes with Mickey clappers, rest rooms, a comfortable place to sit, and breakfast…I actually think this might be totally worth the price).
Annual Pass Holders: Special people who get to register early. They make me totes jealous not only for this reason, but also because they presumably get to visit Disney Parks multiple times per year.
Ass-crack of Dawn: Official race start time. On the upside, I should be done, fed, showered, and ready to go when the park opens.
“Fun Race”: How Run Disney runners explain Run Disney races to other runners. What they mean is, don’t expect to run a PR here.
People from Florida: People who complain every time Disneyland gets a new race. Because it isn’t fair to host events where they don’t live.
Theme Costume: Requirement, otherwise, no Mickey high-fives for you (just kidding, but it seems like this isn’t entirely untrue).
Park Admission: What you DON’T get with your race entry
Welcome Party: $100 bucks gets you dessert, pictures with characters, and access to select Tomorrowland rides.
Diaper Dash: Races for babies and toddlers. Start them young! Also known as: let’s figure out a way to make money off of babies since they aren’t old enough to run the regular races. All baby racers get a medal obviously.
As you can see, this is a lot to get used to. I had to employ the help of Jac, my resident Run Disney expert (who has earned her Coast to Coast!), and I’ve joined the Star Wars Half facebook group because I’m still kind of intimidated by the Disney runner people.
When registration opened up last week, we got 6 people registered at light speed before everything filled up within 2 hours (it was stressful and we even accidentally registered one sister twice, but thankfully we were issued a refund).
So, in January, Aaron, one sister and her fiance, my dad, and I are running the half, and the other sister is running the 10K at the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. Mom is ChEAR Squading in Platinum Style.
All sarcasm and disbelief over the prices of things (and the sheer number of people…now including myself…willing to pay those prices) aside though, I’m excited to blend my love of running, Disney, and Star Wars into what will hopefully be a fabulously nerdy event. We already made our hotel reservations, and I’m already trying to determine if I want to go the traditional (and easy) Princess Leia route, or if I want to do something crazy. I told Aaron I was going to wear a shirt that says “Nice Buns” with a picture of Princess Leia’s hair, but he didn’t seem too amused.
I’m also hopeful that since this is the inaugural race, and since new Episodes are in production and in need of promotion, that the original (human) cast will be sending runners off. A girl can dream.
Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! May the Force be with you!