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Keri's RunWay

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In Health and Happiness,


As a certified personal fitness trainer, Keri Bonk has been coaching runners to attain their healthy fit lifestyle for over 15 years.

Star Wars race in Disneyland!

Sunday, January 24, 2016
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... I was looking at races for my 2016 schedule and I had received an email from RunDisney regarding their 2016 Star Wars race in Disneyland. Once, I mentioned to my husband (who is a big fan of Star Wars) we were on a mission to get us registered and book our trip for January 17, 2016 to a couple of places I love, Disney parks and California.

We visited the RunDisney expo on Friday to pick up our packet and check out their Star Wars merchandise store. The expo was well organized and the Star Wars store had some great shirts but with our CAD$ being so... low we could not justify our cost for the shirts. The Race shirt that we received is great in design, fit and color so we were happy to have that as a souvenir. We did take some pictures and spent some time in Disneyland before heading back to our hotel to rest before a very long day in the park.

We spent the entire day on Saturday in Disneyland and I was surprised by how small and crowded it is compared to Disneyworld. Jason and I have visited Disneyworld and Universal many times and I think you could fit 3 Disneylands inside Disneyworld. Once, I saw the tighter space and walking areas I knew the running portion in the park was going to have some tight squeezes. We enjoyed our day in the park and the Star Wars rides in Tomorrowland. We left the park late and settled in for a few hours of sleep before awaking at 3:30 am to get ready for our race.

I have always loved the ride "it's a small world!"

It is Disneyland's 60th Anniversary!

The hotel provided shuttles to and from the Park for the race so we caught our shuttle at 4:30 am and we arrived with just enough time to get some pictures, washroom (which I will mention were the shortest lines I have ever experienced for porta potties pre race.) We then proceeded to our assigned coral which was A. I saw many runners in our pack and I knew that there were 1000's who had not placed themselves into their assigned corrals and just like many other races I have ran people want to put themselves as close to the front as they can no matter what their current or goal running pace is.

This are the 1000's of runners behind me with many more that loop under the bridge to the other side.

Waiting for the race to start!

The elites were off and we crossed the start line around 5:37 am and I can say that is one of the slowest starts I have ever had. The first 2-3 km. were so congested and many people were walking or walker/runners that most of the time I was walking or running a 7 minute km. After a few km's. some things I did notice was that it was very dark, the ground was slippery in spots, it was congested and I could not see much because I was trying very hard to not run into someone or many times we were stopped completely.  Some things I did enjoy was the music, lights, and just the overall feeling of "Disney" and knowing I was running through the park.

There were many opportunities for photos throughout the park as well with many different characters that showed up. We never stopped for any pictures with characters because there were long lineups of people waiting for pictures. 
The run starts with taking you through the back of Disneyland and then I got very confused as to where I was. I think the darkness and the fact that I could not see much in front of me except for other runners had me disorientated. I noticed that you do not run through the entire park but it is mixed between back lots and some of the park. I did enjoy running through Frontierland, Disney castle and Downtown Disney. 
I am going to mention some things I noticed that would improve the experience for many of us so I hope other runners will be aware of. I have noticed in the last few years that many of the races I have ran (especially if they are big) many runners are not placing themselves into their assigned corrals or waves. I realize that they may think it does or should not matter if I am walking or walking/running at a slower pace than the coral requires. When thousands are doing this it can become a problem. I literally ran into two people who had decided to stop right in the middle of the path with no concern of the thousands moving behind them. This could have been a major injury for all of us if I had not been running slow. I was not there to "race" this course but I also did not appreciate having to walk in many places or run much slower because of people not in their correct corals. I would never consider running in a much faster coral or with the front of the pack. I know I cannot run that pace and I also respect that they do not need the extra km's weaving around slower runners. This is a safety concern for all runners as well as the energy it takes to bob and weave and never find your "pace" group or wave that you can just settle into and run. In the last few years I have ran significant extra mileage from trying to get around walkers and slower paced runners than my pace and I am sure many runners can relate. I hope that races will start to have a much stricter policy and enforcement of correct coral/pace placing. Unfortunately Disneyland did not enforce this and it is very evident in the park. It is great that many people have embraced running or walking and want to participate, I just hope that everyone will learn and respect proper race etiquette and stick to their pace group.

Once we entered Disney California adventure the paths got wider and the runners started thinning out so I finally had some room to relax, run and check out the scenery. I really enjoyed this part of the park and I think it finally set in that I am running in Disneyland - yahoo!
We left the parks at 8 km. and hit the streets full out or at least running full out for 2 km. I think my legs and brain were itching to be free and finally run under a 6 minute km. It was still dark and chilly but a great temperature for running. Once on the streets there are some spectators which I give major kudos for coming out in the dark at 5:30 am to cheer us on. This is one thing I have noticed and love about California races, the spectators are always full of smiles, energy and cheering at any time of the morning. 
There were some Disney and Star Wars characters along the course but again the line of spectators and runners waiting to take pictures was long so we just kept running. There were many aid stations and they looked well stocked (I carry my own fuel.) I also enjoyed the various bands and musical entertainment which played all types of music throughout the course.

I loved these Storm Troopers and all of their high fives!

The course is flat, and I guess you could say fast once you are out of the park, although if you run too fast you may miss some great photo ops and experiences. You can see by this picture that in our pace the pack of runners did thin out. We passed runners from the beginning to the end and at least it made me think I was getting faster which was fun! 
Once we ran past our hotel I knew we were almost at the finish line to which I was happy to finish but sad the experience was over. I wished and hoped for more photo ops with Disney and Star Wars characters at the finish but they never appeared while we were there. We finished in a parking lot and we were immediately given our medals which are amazing. Then you are handed a box of snacks, water, and other food before proceeding to a very large parking lot to gather your bearings, eat, washroom, get more pictures and celebrate! We did not stick around for very long as we had to get back to our hotel to catch our plane home. I would recommend you stay and enjoy the park post race as I think it would be a fun way to celebrate and still wear your costume or medal.

I really enjoyed the overall experience of running the Star Wars race in Disneyland. It is well organized from start to finish which you would expect from Disney and there are some great photo ops if you take the time. There were many runners in costumes and I loved looking at them which varied from Disney characters to Star Wars and tutus. Along the course I saw some great outfits that I am not sure how people ran in them but they must have had fun! I am not a costume gal as I like to run in clothing that is super comfortable and functional as I need all the help I can get to run my decent race.

 I would recommend you put this race on your bucket list and remember to stay in the moment and run for the experience rather that racing the clock. I am very happy that we were relaxed about our overall pace and we took the time in the park to enjoy the scenery and once we hit the pavement we settled into our steady state and just enjoyed the rest of the course. 

I hope to someday run the DisneyWorld full marathon in Florida and perhaps I will think about wearing a tutu or wings which may help give me more speed.

 I always feel blessed when I can run and participate in a race and experience the many different lessons that many "runners who race" can relate to. Running has given me the opportunity to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

I have mentioned before that I am a true California girl in my heart and when I leave sunny and beautiful California a part of my heart always stays there.
May you keep dreaming, and seeking out places or galaxies far, far away....

Always in health and happiness, Keri