This is the final part of my Running in 2015 catch-up. Our final run of the year was the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get places for Adam and myself to take part in this event, even though it was a night run the day before we flew home.
When we knew we were going to be going to Walt Disney World for Adam’s 21st birthday and then found out that if I planned the dates right we could take part in a runDisney event, I had to at least try to get entry for myself and Adam. After all, taking part in a runDisney event was on my wishlist as was/is doing a half marathon. The fact that it was a night run, no getting up at 4 am for a 5.30 am start, was even better. The down side was that in order to be at Disney World for both Adam’s birthday and the half marathon we’d have to fly there the day before Adam’s birthday and fly home the night after the half marathon. Or, more accurately, fly home on the day we finish the half marathon.
We have done a runDisney event before. We did the Royal Family 5K in 2014 which is part of the Princess Half Marathon weekend. I hadn’t been able to get a place on the half marathon for that event so Adam, his Dad and I took part in the 5K instead. We still had the full race weekend experience though, including going to the Expo so we knew what to expect.
For the Wine and Dine half marathon, we went to the Expo on the Friday to pick up our race packets which included our race bib and commemorative shirt. I love the shirt as it is a long-sleeve running/performance one (photo at the end of the blog). There were loads of stands too with everything from running skirts, and other running apparel, to charity stands, upcoming events and so much more. I don’t think I saw all of it but I spent a fortune! There were also speakers, including Jeff Galloway, giving information about the event and what to expect during the event.
The half marathon was a night run which meant that it was due to start at 10pm. runDisney laid on buses from select resorts as well as Epcot from about 7pm to get the runners up to the start area at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. As we weren’t staying in a host resort this year, my mistake I didn’t check! we went to Epcot to get the bus. This meant that my husband could go in to Epcot and enjoy the finishing party while we were running. In the start area, they had a left baggage area and, because they had forecast thunderstorms, I had packed spare trainers and a dry set of clothes for myself and Adam just in case we got wet so I dropped the bag off. There was also a big stage with a Disney DJ and some of the organisers letting everyone know what was happening. This was also part of the warm up – they don’t do the traditional aerobic warm up like they do at the 10K events here, they play songs which have a dance routine which most people know like Thriller or the Macarena and you can either use that as your warm up, or not.
Also in the start/waiting area you could meet some of the Disney characters – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale. We joined a queue without knowing who we were queuing for – it was Mickey 😀
We also queued to see Donald Duck but a thunder/lightning storm rolled in just as we were about to see him and we were all asked to go inside until it passed. This was at 9.45pm as we were about to be called to our corrals 😦 Needless to say, Disney always think about the safety of the runners, their voluntears and cast members first so everyone was asked to go into the main buildings at the Wide World of Sports until the storm had passed and it was safe to start the race. It was a little frustrating but I understood completely why we were sent inside.
We were only inside for about an hour and as soon as we were allowed out and the corrals were filled with everyone ready to go the run was started very quickly. Due to the late start, and the fact that there were 12 waves of runners to get going (and finished), the organisers decided to cut out part of the route – up to Animal Kingdom – so the run was about 7 miles instead of 13.1 miles. Part of me was disappointed that Adam and I would not get to run a full half marathon, but the other part of me was glad that the bit they’d cut out was the route up to Animal Kingdom because I hadn’t been looking forward to running up the hill from the park entrance to the Tree of Life, lol.
The route for the half marathon was brilliant. Mostly flat apart from a couple of flyovers and a bridge between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. More that the route though was the entertainment! There was something to see about every half mile or so, whether it was a character who you could stop and have a photo with (if you wanted to, we didn’t although there were a couple of the characters from Hollywood Public Works who I would have stopped for a photo with if I’d seen them in time and hadn’t been on the other side of the road) or a video wall. They even had the toy soldiers from Toy Story on the hill going up one of the flyovers with one of them shouting encouragement to get us up the hill – fantastic and just what I needed! We also got to see the backstage areas of Hollywood Studios and Epcot and run through the Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios.
Considering it was only 7 miles, our time wasn’t great at 1:24:31 but it was a very warm night at 22C and humid. There was also so much to see that we got a little distracted.
All in all, it was a great event to be part of although if I were to do it again I’d make sure that we weren’t flying home the next day as we didn’t get a chance to go to the Finish Line Party because I was conscious that we needed to be up and out of the room by 11am and we didn’t even get through the finishing area and into Epcot until 1.30am! My husband had a great time in the Party though and managed to go on Test Track twice without queuing at all.
Finally, I would encourage anyone thinking about doing a runDisney event to do it. It is very well organised and the entertainment around the course is amazing. runDisney are putting on their first event at Disneyland Paris in September 2016 and if there are still places left I’m going to enter Adam and myself so that we can cross the half marathon off our list.