A Pledge to the Dark Side – Part II

We last left Brian as he finished the Star Wars 5K and was getting ready to start the Dark Side Challenge.  Let’s see where the Force takes him…

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A Pledge to the Dark Side-2

Star Wars 10k (Dark Side)

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Woke up with a little Vader in me, ready to officially start the Dark Side Challenge with the 10k. Arrived at the buses around 3:30, and again the buses arrived efficiently. Before we knew it, we were at the race staging area very early.

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One of the strangest things we encountered the whole weekend was, the Dark Side Characters (Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Lord Vader, Captain Phasma, and First Order Troopers) lines were closed when we arrived. At 3:55am the Character lines were closed, more then an hour and half before the race started the lines were closed. We were on the first bus over, we didn’t even have a chance to part take that morning. Very shocked and disappointed in this situation.

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About 4:20am the DJ announced that everyone was to report to their respecting corrals. We walked over to the corral staging area, and it was insanely crowed, almost over crowed. The runners then started down this cramped paved path to the corral area.

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Almost a quarter mile in back to back runner traffic, and it took us almost 25 mins to get back there.

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Almost there.

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Corral A Starts off the Star Wars 10k with Sith fashion.

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Got to run with my favorite person in the world my wife, Jenny. Rudy and John did a great job with announcing again for the 10k. Before we knew it, he called out 30 seconds, and we were off.

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Boba and the Boardwalk greets us at mile 2.

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Running into the Studios, we were meet by the 501st Legion. What an exceptional job by these gals and guys.

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Mandalorian members of the 501st.

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Jenny looking all Princess Sith’d out coming down Hollywood Blvd. She hand made these, and they outshine 99% of them on the course, great job babe!

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How could would we resist this photo opportunity; furthermore, I would like to congratulate Disney on a great job with the new photo pass system they have in place for these races. So much more convenient than before.

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Heading towards the finish line, the 501st was present giving out high fives, where else are you going to give high fives to 40-50 imperials?

The 10k was really nice, and felt much more challenging then the Princess/Marathon 10k. Heading from Epcot World Showcase you went by the Yacht and Beach Club Resort in the little path that leads to the studios, this part of the course was extremely narrow, which resulted in some frustration. All in all, the course was a really nice run, with ample water stops.

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Finishing with my wife is always great, she has inspired me to take up running as hobby (A hobby, not a punishment, not running from an ax murder, an actual hobby which I have started to love)

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Got to meet a man who has inspired me to run, and run better, The Great Rudy Novotny. He came off the stage to take this pic, what a great runDisney ambassador. (More to come about Rudy after the Half)

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After the medals – we exited into the ESPN WWoS complex’s parking lot. This parking lot had been retrofitted into a bus depot for the weekend. We didn’t have that bad of line waiting for Art of Animation, but the runners who had parked at Epcot, that line was a completely different story, it was massive.

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Thanks for a great 10k race runDisney team. Second Storm Trooper test done, on to the Half Marathon..

Star Wars Half Marathon (Dark Side)

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Alarm went of exactly at 2:30am… Bursted out of bed with excitement, this was the day I had been waiting for close to a half a year, Star Wars Half Marathon, the Dark Side. Above is a shirt I made for this race, some people didn’t get, but the fanboys like myself, loved it.

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I was at the bus stop for the first bus, which was half full at best. Listening to a few people, most people forgot that this race started at 5:00am instead of the usual 5:30am. Arriving in a very timely fashion at the race start, all the veterans from the previous day, headed right to the corral waiting area, smart idea, the same thing happened at the Half Marathon that had happened at the 10k, bottle necked. I was at the front of the madness.

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Smiling because its 3:45am, and its almost one hour till the launch for corral A and the start of the Dark Side.

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Exactly at 5:00am, the Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side – had started. Fireworks were amazing and completely up lifting. Corrals moved very fast to the start line.

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The start line, still gives me goosebumps. We were moved up so quickly vs other races, that before we knew it. Rudy gave out the “30 seconds” call, and then “Runnnnnnnners…. SET…… G0000000oooooo) And I was officially running past the start line on my way to finish the last leg of the Dark Side Challenge.

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As I stated in the 10k review, I start the race, something gets turned on, and I am in the zone, I didn’t stop for many pictures, probably should of, but the nerves of this being my second half marathon, I just didn’t want to test fate. Next year I promise I will be more proactive in photo chasing. This picture was taking coming down Hollywood Blvd and turning left towards Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. I never ran that way ever, nice change.

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Kylo Ren was out displaying his ‘Dark Side’ and had a temper tantrum as I ran past, ohhhh Kylo,,, see you later for a four medal picture.

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Heading into Animal Kingdom, I still had an amazing amount of energy left, I felt better than I did for my previous half marathon. Turning towards the parking lot of AK, yikes, we had to run the full outside loop of the lot.

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Approaching mile 9, I still had energy but It was quickly dissipating, the sun had begun to hit us straight on, and the wind seemed to end, Florida heat started to descend on us. Right around the 15k sign, Jenny said she was waiting for me at mile 12.4, this put a spring in my step. Miles 9.5-12 were tough, hard, and hot. (Sun was right in our faces)

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Hit mile 12.0 and was hit with so many great supporters that really recharged the fuel tanks for a final push. I saw Jenny,,,, Stopped and she gave me a hug, I started to tear up, she said ‘Go – see you at the finish’ Off I went, started to run hard, using every bit of energy I had, its amazing how quickly it disappears. As the last drop started to be used, MILE MARKER 13 was there, and the finish line was just in sight.

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Approaching the finish line, you could hear the roars and cheers from the gallery as you enter the final bend. Rudy, Carrisa, and John were welcoming runners to the finish line, and something happened to me that has never happened in over 12 runDisney races. Passing by the announcers, Rudy let out a big “Here is our good friend Brian Meljac, Congratulations” The smile on my face went from happy to breaming, and I pumped my fists up as I past them.  Rudy came down, pointed to me and said “you make me so proud” as I crossed the finish line, this made me tear up then, (and a little as I am writing this). What an amazing feeling. Thanks for all the support from the cheering crowd, Rudy Novotny, John Pelkey, my beautiful wife, and of course all of the amazing volunteers.

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I am officially a Dark Side Challenger, having done 22.4 miles in three mornings that morning, I never would have imagined in years past that I would be able to complete such a thing. The running bug has hit me hard, all I can think about is the next race and the training to achieve more distance and better timing. I look forward to a great many things this year, and next year where I continue my legacy as a Star Wars Dark Side Legacy runner. See you all on the pavement.

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Visit Brian Meljac’s personal blog, Dark Side Challenger, where a true star wars geek takes on 22.4 miles of Star Wars Races..  You can also follow Brian on Instagram and on Periscope (@LiveatDisney).



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