2014 was my 4th Wine & Dine Half Marathon and it’s definitely a weekend I look forward to every year!
Not only is it the anniversary of my 1st ever race, but I get to meet up with my favorite Disney running crew (who I actually met during my first Wine & Dine!) for a weekend of wining (?), dining and all sorts of other shenanigans!
I flew down Friday morning and we quickly hit up the expo that afternoon (we’re not really expo lingerers, we tend to grab out race packets and shirts and get out of there in record time!).
Saturday morning we started off with our traditional pre-race buffet eating contest, this year at Trail’s End (I believe this was plate 1 of 3).
Over the years we’ve gotten the race day fueling for a 10pm race down to a science!
Pre-race fueling: eat as much as you possibly can (and then a little more just to be sure!) at a breakfast buffet the morning of the race and then snack as needed throughout the day!
Post race re-fueling: eat at as many Food & Wine Festival booths as possible between the end of the race and 4am! (Ok, so it’s not so much an exact science as it is an abstract art or something…)
After a mid-afternoon nap, another snack, and much discussion about what to wear with the threat of rain (we decided trash bags were appropriate attire), we were ready to go around 7pm! Since we were staying at the Contemporary, a non-host resort, we hopped on the monorail over to the Polynesian to get a bus to the start.
This year Daniel, Jenn and I were running and Pat and our friend Christina would be spectating/ meeting us at the after-party (and by “spectating”, I mean checking out all the food & wine festival booths).
Once we were at the start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, we met up with my sister Christina and her boyfriend Jeff who were also running…
…so far the rain had held off & we kept our fingers crossed for a few more hours of dryness!
Although there were a few friends we wanted to meet up with, Jenn and I decided our time at the start area would be best spent waiting in a really long porta-potty line (I mean what better way to spend the half hour before a race?!).
Well, turns out we somehow picked the right line at the right time! We were standing talking about how I really wanted to try to see Kellie before the start, when the person in front of us turns around and goes, “I know where Kellie is!”
My first thought was, “how on earth does this person know which Kellie I’m talking about?!?”, but then she quickly introduced herself as Jenn from The Fairest Run of All and I realized she indeed was talking about the exact Kellie I was looking for!
And not only did she know where Kellie was, but after we finally made it through the porta-potty line, Jenn led us to the whole group of people I had really wanted to make sure I met this trip!
I am so excited I got to see/ meet all of these ladies, but we only had a minute to chat since it was time to head to the corrals!
And of course, that’s exactly when mother nature decided it was a good time to start raining…
We huddled in the corrals doing our best to cover ourselves with trash bags, ponchos and heat sheets (why we even tried to stay dry I’m not sure since as as soon as we started running we’d be soaked anyways!).
Daniel and I were planning on running together and just taking it easy since we had run the New York City Marathon (and both PR’d!) less than a week ago and I wasn’t really sure how my legs were going to feel about running a half marathon so soon. Luckily I had remembered to bring my waterproof camera, so despite the rain we could stop for some pictures if there were characters out!
After the usual runDisney firework fanfare at the start, we were off and
raining…I mean running!
If you want an idea of what running this race was like, I’d suggest checking out this post by Run All the Races on “How to Re-Create the 2014 Wine & Dine Experience”, but the abbreviated version is: put on your running clothes, turn on your shower, get in and run in place for 13.1 miles.
Within the first mile we were thoroughly drenched and I was worried we wouldn’t be seeing many characters out this race, but then right there on the side of the highway were the good ol’ Country Bears!
(Excuse the poor photo quality…did I mention it was raining??)
**Note: I should probably explain Daniel’s spatula. runDisney gives a gift to their “legacy” runners, those who have run every year of a certain race starting with 5 years. Well, this was the 5th Anniversary for Wine & Dine and the legacy runners got SPATULA’s! Honestly, I’m not sure what runDisney was thinking with cheap plastic spatulas as the legacy runner gift, but I can tell you that that darn spatula sure as heck provided a lot of entertainment throughout the weekend – who knew you could make so many jokes around a spatula!**
We ran a few miles down the (not so) magical Disney highway towards Animal Kingdom and right as we were about to enter the park, Daniel noticed Rafiki hanging out under the covered bag check area! He was literally just standing there waving, I don’t think anyone even noticed he was there!
And a little while later in the park we found King Louie staying dry under an umbrella!
(Despite the fact that it looks like Daniel is about to attack King Louie with his spatula in this picture, I can guarantee no Disney characters were harmed during this race.)
Towards the end of the park we ran into Pluto who was hanging out under an awning in DinoLand USA…
…and right outside of Animal Kingdom we ran into Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa!
Barbossa even commented on what an interesting sword (spatula!) Daniel was running with!
As a side note, I’m not sure if runDisney’s new corraling system is working really well, or if people just weren’t stopping for pictures in the rain, but Dan and I felt like the course was wide open the entire way, we never experienced any crowding, and there were NO lines for pictures at all! (We were in corral C, I’d be interested in hear if people farther back had the same experience or not…)
Back on the highway I heard a familiar voice yelling at people as they made their way up the hill towards Hollywood Studios – the green army man!
Of course I dropped and did my 5…ok, 4.5 push-ups…
…I didn’t quite make it up from that last one!
(I really need to add push ups to my race training!)
And before we knew it we were entering Hollywood Studios!
We saw Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Pixar Place…
…and then got to my favorite part of the Wine & Dine course – the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!
The Osborne lights are amazing no matter when you see them, but there’s always something extra special about running through them at night with an almost empty street!
Out of the Studios we ran towards the Epcot resorts, down the boardwalk by the Yacht and Beach Clubs and into Epcot!
We entered Epcot by Journey Into Imagination and ran towards Spaceship Earth. This is really the only part of the course where there are spectators and as I ran through I was surprised at how quiet they were (I get it, they were probably cold and went and tired…), so I started yelling, “come on people, we just ran 13 miles in the pouring rain!”, which worked and we finally got some cheers as we ran towards the finish!
Dan and I tend to have a bit of a friendly competition (#BeatDan) when it comes to finish times (his finish time is somehow always 1 second faster than mine when we run together!), so we both kicked it up a notch as we ran towards the finish. I’m pretty sure he was trying to let me win this one, but of course when our finish times popped up on our phones they were dead even!
We changed out of our wet clothes and headed to meet our friends at the Food & Wine Festival which we managed to stay at until 3:30am, despite being freezing and soaking again by the end of the night!
My only real complaint about this race is that out of the characters we saw during the race (and I’m sure there were less out than usual because of the rain), they were the SAME characters in the SAME places as Wine & Dine last year (really, check my recap from last year!). There are so many great Disney characters to choose from, I don’t know why they wouldn’t switch them up at least a little!
I really do love this race though with it’s unique 10pm start and finish at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, I’m sure I’ll be back next year to celebrate my Wine & Dine race-iversary!