Sunday, 1 mi warm-up + 30 mins elliptical
Hey guys! I have always wanted to run a Disney race and I am so curious about them. This is my college roomie Hanna and her review of the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Enjoy!
I’ve ran a half marathon before and wanted to do another one, but was finding it hard to find the time/energy/reason to train for another one. So, unbeknownst to me, my fiancé signed us up to run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. How could I say no to running through the happiest place on Earth?! Living in Michigan, I was a little scared about running a “destination half marathon”, if you will. How would it be training in Michigan and then after one plane flight be in Florida weather and run 13.1 miles? Luckily, this race was November 10th and it started at 10pm. That means even though I would be training in colder weather towards the end, I would be running in Florida at night (60 degrees) and while I was running and getting warmer, the temperature would be decreasing. It was perfect!!
Next, we needed to think about logistics of our visit. We ended up staying at one of the Disney Resorts (All-Star Movies). We normally wouldn’t do this, but by staying at the resort, they were able to shuttle us to the expo, start line, pick us up at the finish line, and take us to all of the parks that we wanted to visit afterwards. This was not only convenient, but nice when our legs were hurting and not wanting to operate a rented vehicle 🙂
So after all of our training, we were finally off! We flew down late Friday night. We woke up Saturday (race day), where I had a farmer’s omelet for breakfast. We then headed off to the expo (which I believe was open from 9am-4pm.) It was very easy to pick up all of your stuff and they had a lot of vendors selling everything from shoes to energy bars to sparkly headbands for the “princess effect.” After that, we headed down to Downtown Disney where we wanted to walk around and stretch out our legs before that night. We visited stores, bought souvenirs, and ended up eating a sandwich for a late lunch/early dinner. We then headed back to the hotel to get in a quick nap before the race. We got up, got our running costumes on (oh yes, Adam went as Mr. Incredible and I wore a pink tutu and tiara) and headed down to grab our shuttle at 7pm. It was game time!
When we got there, they had people who would take your bag who would have it waiting for you at the finish line. They had a DJ getting people up and dancing and energizing everyone for the night run. We ended up waiting in an extremely long line to get a picture with Mickey (about an hour and a half wait.) By the time we were done, they were getting people into their corrals at 9:15. This was one of my grips, the fact that we had to wait in our corral for 45 minutes before the race started. I understand that there are lots of people, but 45 minutes was a long time to stand before running 13.1 miles.
Finally, it was time. They let off the first corral at 10pm and every corral gets let off 5 minutes after the previous one. For each start, they light off fireworks, have music pumping, and have people cheering you on. I felt so pumped up! During the race, they have every mile marker lit up (so you can see it a ways away) and every mile is a different country (going along with wine and food festival at Epcot.) The race went as follows: Mile 1-3 Highway, Mile 3-5 Animal Kingdom, Mile 5-9 Highway, Mile 9-11 Hollywood Studios, Mile 11-12 Highway, Mile 12-13 Epcot.
Along the way there were a lot of different bands playing music, staff members cheering you on, amazing scenery (including the Osbourne Lights at Hollywood Studios), and characters for photo ops (including Chip and Dale, Rafiki, Toy Story Soldier, Wreck-It Ralph, Buzz Lightyear, Darth Vader, Fantasia Hippos, Genie, just to name a few.) The only complaint I have about the course would be the banked highways. At mile 9, the last thing I wanted to be doing was running on a slanted course. They didn’t last long, but at the time seemed like a big deal. The did have plenty of water/powerade stations and even had a “fuel station” at mile 8 with gu and powerbars. We ended the race by running under the big Epcot ball and finishing just outside of the park.
At the finish, they give you a big heavy medal, powerade, water, banana, and a power pack filled with protein bars, trail mix, granola, etc. It is very easy to pick up your bag filled with your dry clothes and plenty of room to sit down and stretch. The only place that was crowded was the changing area. Basically you just have to walk in, find a spot where you can stand and change. But at that point, you don’t care, you just want to get out of your race clothes! After that, you head out, grab your free beer, and are able to head into Epcot for the after party.
This is by far the best part and why I feel like this race might be one of the best Disney races. You get the whole park to yourself!!!! Of course your family and friends can buy a ticket to enter the park for the after party, but for the most part it is filled with other people who just got done running 13.1 miles. The park is open until 4am. The wait times for the rides are at most 10 minutes and you are able to walk around the park and enjoy great food and drinks from the food and wine festival, which is great for your legs right after the race. My last half marathon, right after the race I got in a car and drove home for 2.5 hours. My legs killed afterwards! This allowed you to stretch them out while having an amazing time in Disney! We were able to do the whole park in one night.
In a nutshell, I had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t know if any half will be able to top this one 🙂
Who is in for next year!?