RACE RECAP: runDisney Wine and Dine Weekend

runDisney Wine and Dine Weekend Race Recap

runDisney events have caught my eye before simply because of the medals, now anyone that knows me will tell you I am a bit of a Magpie and a massive Medal Slut. I will race for medals, the better the medal the more likely I am to enter. And the Disney ones are AMAZING!

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Now the stumbling block for completing any runDisney races before now was money if I am honest, once you include flights, accomodatoin and entry to the park it can be really expensive.

So how come I am doing a runDisney race now? Well I have a certain mini version of me named Evie, she is a massive Disney fan and has been with her mum and grandparents about three times a year since she was born. I tend not to join them due to work and not being a Disney fan at all, some will say it’s because I am grumpy and they might be right…a little. When she came back after the last trip she asked me if I would go back with them, I said yes and she made me promise. So here we are, months later all booked up to complete four races in two Disney Theme Parks over two weeks and spending ALL the money.

On arrival at Orlando Airport there isn’t much activity around the Run, so the excitement doesn’t build

It is time to head to the runDisney Expo over at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and pick up our race packets, runDisney send nothing out to you apart from emails so you must get it all on the day. Before you head to the Expo though you must print and sign your waiver which at the time felt real extreme, I am used to signing them for a Spartan which I totally understand but for a runDisney Race? Come on… but this is a nation that will sue you for anything!

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The organisation of the packet pick up is on point, very much like what we have grown to expect and get used to for the Virgin London Marathon, we pick up our respective numbers, get handed our safety pins, all very sterile and orderly, no characters running about nothing, and then we head into the sales floor or should I say runDisney merch area, so the Expo is split into two sections you must head to the packet pick up first which includes everything Disney and nothing else. It is to be expected, lots of collectible merchandise, ornaments, apparel and everything you could think of. Well except they had NOTHING that catered for children which is very weird considering there’s a whole afternoon of kids races on the Saturday. Escaping the first hall we headed to the second Expo room, which cleverly you must go to, because that is where you collect your race T-shirts which is kind of strange that they give you them before you’ve ran. I kind of expected them to hand me the medal at some point ha-ha. In this hall is all the independent exhibitors, selling you T-shirts, energy gels, belts, exclusive New Balance RunDisney trainers, and car insurance ha. They made a wise move forcing you to head to both rooms, making the most of the opportunity to rinse you of any money you have left after everything you’ve already spent on the trip. Now apart from Geicko insurance and New Balance there aren’t as many big names here as I would have expected, luckily for me we decided to talk a walk around Disney Springs after the expo and I stumbled across a Stance store so picked up a few treats to rewards myself, since they do a Disney range of socks I really am shocked that they didn’t have a stand at the Expo, although I imagine it is very expensive to be an exhibitor.

Over the first race weekend in Walt Disney World® the races combine with the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, during the festival as you travel around Epcot visiting their mini versions of various countries you can experience the food and cuisine of those countries, including picking up a pint in the Rose & Crown pub in England, having a shot of Jaegermester in Germany or drink Sake in Japan. So with the theme being food and wine the first two runDisney races I will be completing are the 10k on Saturday and then the Half Marathon on Sunday. These form part of the Two Course Challenge, Disney as a company are very clever in making everything collectible and that includes runDisney medals, so here I am running two races instead of one just to get an extra medal, they do it with pin trading, soft toys and such as. Constantly making them more and more collectible.

For completing the two course challenge I will walk away, or limp away with three medals, and three commemorative T-shirts. And obviously the glory that goes with completing any challenge set before me….

Disney Wine & Dine 10K presented by MISFIT™

So Saturday comes around and it’s a 4am bus call for the 10k race, I’m not feeling particularly fresh and I am feeling guilty for waking everyone up to take me to the race, we stayed off property so no Disney transport for us, I decide to leave Evie in bed as it is just too early and the course isn’t particularly spectator friendly, there aren’t many points to cheer apart from the start and the finish.

I get my kit on ready to go, something doesn’t feel right at all! Oh yeah that’s it I am wearing a vest?!?! I never wear vests ever, but with the heat already getting to me I picked up a last-minute running top from the New Balance stand at the Expo, a special Peter Pan running vest. I check I have everything with me and we are off.

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The great thing about the early start is there is hardly any traffic on the roads so the Journey is short and sweet, on arrival there is already a lot of hype going on, the DJ is acting like its 3am in the club pumping out classics and chatting absolute nonsense, the fancy dress is rife and everyone is queuing for the portaloos. Which in case you are wondering are just as bad here as at Royal Parks Half Marathon, I wish I’d worn a Hazmat.

After that it is time to head to the start Corral, I am in A which is the first wave. There are a total of ten waves and they are supposed to be time based, but as I soon realise something isn’t quite right. After a moment’s silence for the troops and the national anthem we are ready to go, time to do this! I’m ready, feeling good and ready to run, excited for a flat course, I make my way to the front half of the corral, the fireworks BOOM and we are OFF! Well this is where I got confused, 100m later and I am confronted by walkers and far too many of them, I had no idea what was going on…..

Later it was explained to me that people lie about their times because there is a cut off time, and the wonderful folk want to complete the course but knowing that they wouldn’t get around in time if they actually started in the last Corral they just lie, walk and ruin everyone elses race, nice huh.

After some dodging and drifting I got my pace up nicely, it was pitch black out there but humid as hell. I felt good, was averaging 6:40 and thought I could get a 5k PB but strange as it is I passed the 5k point spot on my current PB and I mean to the second, at that point I decided to keep pushing to get a PB for 10k as my current PB of 45 was old and needed to be beaten.  Despite the horrendous humidity that I was not used to running in, I am proud to say I brought it home in 42:43 and got a PB, maybe sub 40 before the end of the year is actually achievable.

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon presented by MISFIT™

For the first time in a long time I had a race strategy, and it was one I hadn’t imagined would ever be mine. I planned to run at a decent pace but stop at every character station, and I mean every single one of them, get my picture taken then get straight back running. With the hope that I could get all of that done within my target time of 2hrs. There was also one other goal, set by some great people via social media that I should try to look like I’m enjoying it and embrace the Disney vibe, I usually adopt the #runGrumpy approach so this would be an interesting one.

We set off running again at the crazy start time of 5am, and not long into the race I saw my first stop and it was a very fitting one considering my vest, it was Peter Pan and his squad. Due to starting in Corral A there weren’t many people queuing for pictures so I managed to get in, throw a cheesy smile for the camera and get out pretty rapid.

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As you can see it was still dark at that point but the sweat from the humidity was kicking in and fast. This is where the strategy started to pay off, I started to look forward to the short rest stops to get my cheesy smile on and get snap happy. Although not everyone appreciated this as there was one gentleman who I would pass after every picture stop, and then when I would stop he would pass me. With every pass he would grunt and huff loud enough for me to know he wasn’t my biggest fan, with every pass it would get louder until I simply laughed loud enough he knew I had noticed. I don’t want to ruin anyones race but I was doing nothing wrong so didn’t know what else to do other than laugh.

The surprise of the course is how much time you spend running on the highways, having done the usual race prep of nothing I didn’t check out the map of the course. I had naively expected 13.1 miles of running round a Theme Park, but alas this was not the case. The blessing of the highways were flat straights, meaning you could pick up a decent pace. Without the character stops and various DJs along the highways it would have been a pretty boring and desolate route, but stopping every now and then helped a treat and I was enjoying the course big time.

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As we neared the 10 mile mark my Spotify went funny and stopped working, so it threw my rhythm off a little bit. I switched to iTunes went to my go to album but couldn’t get the same rhythm back and the dreaded thing happened I stopped for a walk…until a wonderful lady yelled out “Get going dude, you’ve been pacing it perfectly” and that is all I needed to kick-start the engine again. With that I was off chasing the sub 2 dream, smiling widely and feeling the Disney magic, something I hadn’t anticipated.

Running into Epcot as you come to the finish line is a pretty special experience, crossing the line in 1:52 which considering the stops I am extremely happy with. The biggest achievement though is embracing the Disney Magic and smiling, I hate to say it but I might make it a more consistent thing. The smiling that is not Disney, unless I win the lottery I won’t be back here doing runDisney in 2018.

 

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PROS

  • Medals are EPIC and with the different distances it’s perfect for families
  • If you embrace the fun you might just enjoy it
  • Every volunteer says good morning and good luck. And I mean EVERY!

CONS

  • Very Expensive
  • Price Doesn’t Include Entry Into Parks
  • Race Photos are expensive if you don’t link them with a park visit and photopass

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