runDisney brings Star Wars Half Marathon to Walt Disney World

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

A few months ago, a MousePlanet reader reported discovering some interesting code on the runDisney website hinting at a Star Wars race was being planned for the Walt Disney World Resort. Today that rumor became reality when runDisney officially announced an East Coast edition of the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend. As suspected, the Florida offering is themed to the "Dark Side" of the force, where the California race is all about the Rebels.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side” events are scheduled for  April 14–17, 2016, takng the place of the Expedition Everest event, which had its final run this spring.

As expected, the new event will offer a combination (6.2-mile) 10K and 13.1-mile half-marathon challenge division. It was a given that any new event would also feature its own coast-to-coast challenge to encourage runners to sign up for both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Star Wars races. Surprisingly, there was no marathon-length (26.2-mile) race planned for Walt Disney World. runDisney only offers one marathon race each year, but some had hoped the new Star Wars event would provide Disney with a great opportunity to add a second marathon to the schedule, and further differentiate the California and Florida events.

Registration for the Walt DIsney World event opens September 22. If you have already registered for the Disneyland Resort event, you're set for the coast-to-coast medal. If you decided to skip the California event next year but now simply must find an entry, several charity groups still have spaces open for the Star Wars event at Disneyland in January.

If you'd like a recommendation as to which charity to work with, several MousePlanet staff members register for runDisney events through Team Muscle Makers for UCMD, an official runDisney charity partner organized by MousePlanet reader Melissa Mayorgas. We checked with Melissa after this announcement, and she confirmed that the group still has space for the 10K and half-marathon events, but only one spot left for the Rebel Challenge. Visit the team website for more information.

[Editor's note: Runners who were planning to run the Boston Marathon should note that the marathon is scheduled for Monday, April 18, a day after this new half-marathon.]

The press release is below:

runDisney will franchise the popular Star Wars Half Marathon weekend in Walt Disney World. Photo (c) Disney.

The Force is Even Stronger: Second runDisney Star Wars
Half Marathon Event Sprinting Toward
Walt Disney World Resort in 2016
April 14-17 event in Florida joins Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort and features new Kessel Run Challenge and Dark Side Challenge

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – runDisney is summoning the Force today to announce another Star Wars-inspired intergalactic journey, this time to the dark side.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side” enters the galaxy April 14-17, 2016, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This new race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort, which will return in January as the “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side”.

“Ever since we launched the Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort, runners have been clamoring for more, so we’re thrilled to bring the Star Wars franchise together with the runDisney brand to Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “If the inaugural Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort is any indication, this new running adventure to the dark side is sure to be the out-of-this-world experience that runners have come to expect at runDisney events.’’

The new Star Wars race at Walt Disney World Resort will be a journey of personal achievement all its own, involving kids’ races, a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half marathon, plus a variety of Star Wars experiences, medals, events and merchandise inspired by a galaxy far, far away. Among its many features will be a unique 13.1-mile course that propels runners through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There will also be a Star Wars Dark Side Challenge — running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days – that offers each finisher a Death Star-themed medal.

Jedi and Sith Lords who dare to experience both Star Wars races will have the chance to take on the Kessel Run Challenge — completing the Star Wars half marathon missions on both coasts. Kessel Run Challenge runners can earn a commemorative "Coast to Coast'' medal inspired by the Millennium Falcon starship. Race registration opens Sept. 22 at
The addition of this second Star Wars race continues the recent wave of significant growth and popularity of runDisney events domestically and internationally. This is the second new runDisney race announced for 2016, joining the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25 at Disneyland Paris), and the fourth addition to the runDisney series in the last two years (Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Jan. 2015 and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Nov. 2014).

Each year more than 200,000 runners sign up for runDisney events, which often sell out in record time.

 “We are committed to creating extraordinary experiences and events that appeal to runners of all ages and attract even more fans of our various brands and franchises to the sport of running, creating opportunities for them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle,’’ said Bisienere.