Well, my whole premise on this one is going to be different than I thought. That’s a good thing, I think.
Let me explain.
I was planning on this race and the half to have some, oh, shall we say, suggestions for improvement? But apparently, runDisney has already received that memo and has started tweaking this race weekend. To which I say: GOOD.
Yesterday there was news of a course change for this race. This sounds to me like the biggest issue with both the 10K and half marathon is going to be addressed: the transportation from the races was a nightmare. And I don’t mean just inconvenient, I mean a true nightmare. This is coming from my perspective as a back of the packer, so keep that in mind. People finishing sooner may not have had the same issues, but those of us hanging around at the back certainly noticed the issues.
Alright- jumping ahead. Let me start with what was great about this race.
Just like the 5K, we had those awesome characters out in the pre-race staging area. We also had entertainment from Disney Cast Member Mark Daniel, who was hilarious.
I think he was there for all three mornings, but not 100% on that.
This time, I made sure I got my Captain Phasma picture. This was my only real “must-do” because she isn’t around for meet and greets in the parks at this time.
And she’s AWESOME.
I’m sure the smile on my face says it all. I couldn’t stop! She was a great interaction at 4 am.
This race was pretty cool as I met up with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in for-ever. Like 20+ years forever in one case. A high school friend ran into me, and we got a chance to catch up. I also found an old Florida friend who I talk to every day but hadn’t seen in 10 years.
runDisney: the ultimate meet-up!
The walk to the corrals was pretty dumb. We thought Princess was bad? This felt worse. It was longer, and it was also darker. And very congested.
The corrals themselves were in an entirely different place. The set up made finding a portapotty a lot easier. So that was nice. But that’s about all I’ve got to say positively about this part.
Before the race, we didn’t get much as far as entertainment on stage. Some scenes from the movies and I think a couple of Storm Troopers showed up. But it felt like it was phoned in that morning. And much of the same feeling the next day.
The race itself sent us through the back of Epcot again. We entered at the same place as we had for the 5K the day before.
If you’ve run the other Walt Disney World 10Ks, we started around mile 2.5, just to give you a visual of where this is.
This time, after the R2D2 photo stop, we made a right and headed toward Mexico.
No early margaritas for sale, sadly.
Or so I thought… more on that in a minute.
I was curious to see what happened with congestion on the course and at this point, things were moving along fine. The real test would be after the Boardwalk section as we moved to Hollywood Studios.
As we exited Epcot, we had a chance to stand in line for Chewy again. I passed as you can meet him in the park.
We ran around the Boardwalk. I saw a castmember at Boardwalk Joe’s Marvelous Margarita stand and almost stopped to ask for a picture pretending to buy a drink. Because: epic, right?
What a great picture for a blog formerly called Margaritas, Miles & the Mouse.
It seems my friends not only had the same idea as me but had the chutzpah to follow through. And to spot the photographers at the perfect moment.
After the Boardwalk there was some congestion happening. It wasn’t terrible where I was, but I could see that in another corral, the backup would start.
When we hit the Studios, we found a ton of cosplayers hanging around the entrance.
The problem here: they were not super organized. I couldn’t tell where the lines started or stopped. I finally found the end of the lines: you had to run past them and double back to get in line for some of the official lines.
I’m too slow for all that! Ha!
After experiencing the great cosplayers at Light Side, I was disappointed in this situation.
Instead, I grabbed a few pictures when someone turned toward the runners long enough to take one, though, and kept running.
Inside we had a Tower of Terror picture opp (okay, cool, but not fitting the theme).
There was also a prop set up of the Emperor’s Chair, which had a long line, so I passed it up.
We exited past the Fantasmic theater and were out on the highway for the final miles. There was one decent hill that I remember, a small out and back portion as we turned toward Wide World of Sports, and then the infamous dirt path that no one seems to like.
This was my first time on it, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I think because much of this race felt different to me, I was in the honeymoon phase and kinda enjoyed the course!
There were two props on this section. One was an AT-AT leg, and the other was the speeder bikes.
But… no official characters since Chewy and R2D2. Hmmmm, maybe at the end?
We did get some more cosplayers, and they were great! And these guys were easier to get to.
I found my pal Laura and stopped with her for a few picture taking opps.
The finish was in the Wide World of Sports Parking lot.
Bing, bang, boom…I had finished, I got my drinks, food, and of course, this medal.
I think this one lands in my top 5.
Here’s where things went south. I mean, if you were looking for characters then you were already feeling pretty ripped off. But I was just seeking a way back to Epcot- I thought my needs were pretty easy to meet.
Guys, no, no they were not. I have heard various reasons why the bus situation was so bad but have no confirmation on what went wrong. What I can tell you is that it took me almost 2 1/2 hours to get back to my hotel after the race.
Honestly, I could have walked back faster.
The line for the Epcot buses wrapped around the parking lot. THREE TIMES.
So I thought I’d be smart: get on whatever resort bus with a small line, and transfer to Epcot. I ended up on the Caribean Beach Resort bus. Once we loaded, we had to wait for a long time before we were allowed to leave. That was kinda ok. I was able to drink and eat on the bus so it could have been worse. And we had AC.
When we got to the resort, I jumped off at the first stop and waited with fellow like-minded runners for the Epcot bus.
That never came.
Multiple buses for other locations came and left; no Epcot. There was even a nifty sign updating arrivals behind us: Epcot bus was listed but showed no arrival time.
I gave up and ultimately got on a bus to Hollywood Studios and then took my resort bus back.
Seriously. The travel time was longer than my 6.2-mile race, and I’m slow as heck.
I was pretty cranky when it was all said and done, and couldn’t imagine how bad I would feel after a race that was twice as far the next day!
But I finally got to Port Orleans Riverside, took my shower, and dressed for Dapper Day. I suppose it could have been worse, but it was a frustrating end to an early morning.
Did you have any issues with the 2016 Star Wars Dark Side 10K? Do you think course changes will solve those problems?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)