Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Race Recap: Disney Wine & Dine

Runners rave and rave about Disney races. Of course, I was intrigued. So there was never any doubt to where I'd be checking off Florida in my Race All 50 quest. My little kiddos were approaching the perfect age for Disney, so after penny-pinching all year, we finally pulled the trigger on our family's first (and most likely only) trip to Disney World.

This is where I made my first mistake. I booked my trip through the Walt Disney website... but evidently you're suppose to register through Disney Sports in order to receive a race discount, the gift item (a cool rolling suitcase) and proper placement at host hotels. We had booked the new Art of Animation resort, which was nice, but had no transportation to the race expo, kids race or the half marathon start/finish lines. So we spent a good deal of extra money on taxis, which was the only other option. I was rather disappointed with how complicated Disney accommodations were. Pretty sure just renting a car would have been easier during our stay in Orlando.

Our Disney vacation was busy and quite frankly, exhausting. I can only be on top of my game for so many days in a row. That was evident on Saturday morning when we showed up for the Disney Kids Races... without my kids race bibs. Ugh! Thankfully, my hubby taxi-ed back to the hotel and returned in time for the start. My kids had a blast dancing with the warmup DJ. The race was over in a flash (They only ran 200 meters). Everyone was a winner. The girls got a big Mickey Mouse medal and that was that.
Hey parents, if you insist on running side by side your kid, line up in the back, ok? Little kids can't see around you. It's kinda like an adult with a double jogging stroller lining up at the start of a 5K. 

After the kids' race, we went straight to Hollywood Studios to spend the day. I failed to squeeze in an afternoon nap before my race. (mistake #? I've lost count...) By time Saturday evening arrived, I had been on my feet walking the Disney properties and standing in lines for four full days. This is not proper pre-race prep. Do as I say, not as I do. I was mortified at how tired and sore my body was from this vacation (Really? I run 35 miles a week and all this walking is kicking my butt?!?!)

Look who I found in corral A...
 It's Dave Mari!
I arrived at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon start (ESPN Wide World of Sports) shortly before 8:00 pm. The lines to get photos with Mickey and Minnie Mouse were so long, and quite frankly, I was sick of standing in lines so I skipped it. I checked my bags, grabbed a banana and granola bar from the concession stand, and found myself a spot in the grass to relax and chat up fellow runners. There was a fun DJ pumping up the crowd, but I was quickly bored and impatient, waiting two hours for the race to start.

Finally, the call to corrals was made. I lined up in corral A, where everyone was sitting down on the road. Can you feel the excitement?  Thankfully, once the race started, I woke up.  With a countdown and bang of fireworks at 10 pm sharp, we were finally off and running!
Starting Gun Fireworks - again stealing your photo Dave!

I was extremely happy with how smooth our corral started off. There was little to no crowding; everyone around me seemed to be running a similar pace down the wide highway. (Although one woman did soar pass me cursing other runners for their placement in corral A. WTH?) We turned the first corner and headed to Animal Kingdom.

By time I hit the mile 2 marker, I had already stopped twice. One for a photo with Goofy. One for the porta-potty. First bathroom stop in a race ever. I repeatedly told myself to slow down and run a comfortable pace. This race was meant to be training run, the taper before my full marathon. I certainly didn't want to blow up and cause need for recovery.

I enjoyed miles 3-5 in Animal Kingdom. My family had spent a full day there and in hindsight, it was probably my favorite day of Disney. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the nature setting at night. Throughout the course, there weren't many spectators, but the abundance of lights, floats, characters and music were a real treat. I stopped whenever I felt the urge and just forgot about the clock.

Miles 6-8 were a lonely stretch along the highway as we made our way to Hollywood Studios. While somewhat quiet, I enjoyed this time too. Shortly before mile 9, we entered Hollywood Studios. This theme park was lit up so lovely in the evening. My favorite was running down Sunset Boulevard and the Spectacle of Dancing Lights. I almost stopped in awe of this section. As I came through, some street sweeper yelled out to me, "Welcome to New York!"

By mile 11, we were headed to Epcot Center via a boardwalk area along water. I felt myself slowing down and didn't really care much. I was tired and just about done. I don't remember a whole lot of the last few miles except Epcot was busy with spectators. I got a lot of "Go Minnie!" cheers, which were much appreciated. In the final stretch, we ran through a cool laser beam section, zig zagging over our heads. As I approached the finish line, I even got a high five from Mickey Mouse himself.

Official Chip Time  2:10:11
Overall  #2184 out of 11,599
Sex  #975 out of 7666
F35-39  #177 out of 1283
I purposely did not wear a watch for this race, so no splits.

Overall, I enjoyed my Disney run. The course was extremely neat and different, although I can do without all the frills and fuss before/after a race. It's just not my style. At 12:20 in the morning, I glanced at the lines to enter the post party (we had to re-enter Epcot and pass through a bag check) I said, "Screw it." Instead, I hailed a cab to take me to a hot shower and a warm bed. The next morning, I was back up touring Magical Kingdom with the family...


  1. WOW! WOW! WOW!!
    Sounds like a blast, enjoyed reading the recap and the photo's; WOW!! :D

  2. I felt sad reading your review because Disney races have been such fun for my grown daughter and myself. Transportation to and from race events makes it critical to stay at a race host property. It does sound like you enjoyed the parks with your family and hopefully you have some great memories from your trip to Florida!

  3. Way to go! Glad you had some fun, and I totally understand the "Screw it" mentality at the end. I don't know that I could stay up for the start of that race- 10 pm? Yeesh!

  4. Your "night time" pictures turned out great. That was one of my concerns about doing Disney at night, missing out on great pics.

    I'm bummed for you that you didn't stay "at the right" place. I also would have bailed at midnight on any sort of party that wasn't easily accessible. I haven't done a Disney race and am not sure I ever will. I'm not sure the logistics (waiting at the start line forever in the AM or PM) and price are worth it.

  5. Looks like an awesome race! I'd love to try it one day!

  6. This is one of the races I really want to do next year. Beautiful how they light everything up!

  7. Holy crap, this whole thing sounds exhausting. Man.

  8. Congrats girl! It sounds like you had fun. If I ever run Disney I'm going to revisit this post to make sure I take care of everything I can before the trip.

  9. Race host property?!?!? WHAT??!!! Now I'm nervous. Scheduled to run in the 20th anniversay of the Disney marathon in June and staying at Pop Centurty....start time of the race, 5:30am! YIKES!

    1. I know you probably figured this one out by now, but due to the huge size of WDW Marathon weekend, all resorts have transportation :)

  10. This looks amazing! Definitely on my bucket list for next year!!!

  11. I'm getting so many chills reading your recap right now. Disney sure is a hectic vacation, but it's like no other! And congrats on the great race. :)

  12. disney vacations are tiring for sure, but so much fun! Running a race at 10pm would be so different from the early morning starts runners are used to. Next time check with Heather from Running with Sass- she can help you plan the perfect trip!

  13. I don't and won't have kids so Disney has never been on my radar...I never even went when I was a kid LOL. However the 10pm start and the cool route does have me intrigued. Maybe one day.....but I may just stick to my favorite part of Florida KEY WEST!!! There is a half marathon there and of course I will be doing that Ragnar!!

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  15. So glad you all seemed to have a great time! It is definitely overwhelming at the super large events like these...and I can't even speak specifically to Disney World as I've only done Disneyland and that is overwhelming enough! LOL

    Great job! (And your not caring about time race is still WAY faster than mine when I'm giving it all I got! LOL) Perhaps someday I'll be speedy like you...

  16. I want to go!

    Glad you all had a great time!

  17. I didn't realize this one was so late at night! I know how most of them are early before the park opens. I love the pics with the characters! Does sound like a lot of work for a HM though! We were going to do the 2010 one in January but couldn't go. The more I hear about these, the more I think it would not be quite my thing ;) Although I do want a pic with Darth :)

  18. the spectacle of lights photo is breath taking. I can't believe that the last race I ran into Dave Mari was Oct of 2011!! :(


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