Run Disney’s Wine and Dine half marathon is perhaps the most beloved of all the half marathons offered by Run Disney. Most runners who have run most, if not all, of the races offered by Run Disney will tell you that the Wine and Dine half marathon is their favorite.
I could not wait to run this race! It is my third Run Disney race, and my second this year. I ran the the Tinker Bell half marathon (and Pixie Dust Challenge) at Disneyland in May. Running Wine and Dine would get me my coast to coast medal for 2015. You earn the coast to coast challenge medal by completing a half marathon at Disneyland and a half marathon or full marathon at Disney World in the same calendar year. This was definitely a bucket list race for me and I’ve been looking forward to it for an entire year! After the stress of registration for this event, which sold out ridiculously quickly, I wanted to savor every minute and every mile.
I was running as Marie, from the Aristocats as a tribute to my daughter, Meggie. She loved both Marie, and the movie. And after all, everybody wants to be a cat! 😉 Especially one with a light up tutu!
This was also a large group trip for a bunch of my family and friends and their families. 5 of us were running the half, 3 of us were running the 5K, I was the only one to run both, which happen to take place in the same day! The rest were our race support and ChEAR squad. It is so fun to share the excitement of a Disney racecation with family and friends. This racecation turned out to be one to remember for sure.
Best Race Host Resort Ever
One of the things most people don’t really give a lot of thought to when running a Disney race is their hotel. It’s important to stay at an on property host resort in order to take advantage of the free race and Expo transportation provided by host resorts. You can stay more cheaply off property, but parking and traffic on race day can be a nightmare, especially for this race, because of the nighttime start and road closures, as well as the fact there is NO parking or drop off at ESPN where this race starts.
Even if you stay on property at a value resort, you need to be prepared to leave your hotel early to allow for ample time to get to the race without feeling rushed.
We chose to stay at the Beach Club Resort because of it’s proximity to Epcot, and because, well, it’s an amazing hotel. We secured excellent pricing through Mouse Fan/MEI travel. The rooms are spacious and can easily sleep 5-6 people and have a decent sized mini-fridge. They were all also recently remodeled. It is a beautiful resort. The pool is great for the kids, with a sandy bottom shallow beach style pool, a water slide, and a large free form pool and a few hot tubs, too. Not to mention, Beaches and Cream! It’s by far not the cheapest option, but we felt it was worth the extra money for the race weekend and it was definitely worth it for us.
While all of the Run Disney host hotels cater to runners, the Beach Club was a win in so many ways. Being able to walk to Epcot or to the boat launch to Hollywood Studios meant we did not have to rely on the often time consuming Disney bus network unless we chose to go to one of the other parks (there is no bus service to Epcot or the Studios because of the proximity from the Beach Club). The monorail or the bus could get us to the Magic Kingdom and there was the bus to the Animal Kingdom. It was also a short walk to the Boardwalk and all of the activities and restaurants there. We knew we would check out Atlantic Dance, Jellyrolls, and Trattoria, so this hotel was a huge win for us.
There were dedicated luxury (not Disney) buses for the runners to and from the Expo on Friday and Saturday of race weekend as well as to the race start at ESPN. This is provided at all host hotels. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for any bus for any reason. Being on a bus to a Run Disney race or Expo is like a celebration in itself!
The 2015 Wine and Dine official event guide is provided online about a month before the race and can be found on the Run Disney website. I strongly recommend everyone read it cover to cover BEFORE arriving at the expo. It contains valuable and important information about the expo set up and the race day details. You do receive a hard copy at the expo, but it’s definitely helpful to have reviewed it prior to arriving. There are maps of the layout of the expo floors, a list of vendors, course maps and descriptions and important safety information. For this year’s race especially, knowing the safety information could save you a lot of frustration! I’ll explain more about that later.
The expo was held on Friday and Saturday of race weekend, with both races being on Saturday. It is held in two different buildings at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Packet pick up and ticket pick up for the Pre-Race Taste is in the Field House with a small Run Disney Merchandise booth. T-shirt pick up, a larger Run Disney store, and all the vendors are at the Josten Center, which is just across the way and a short walk. There were opportunities for photo ops against race related back drops, although I did not take advantage.
You could drive to ESPN, although it was a lengthy walk from parking to the actual buildings, or take race transportation. The bus system was well organized and well-marked, and we never waited more than 10 min for a bus.
There was a new VIP packet pick up event this year held the Thursday evening of race weekend. It included perks such as character photos, appetizers and a bar, a run Disney duffel bag and luggage tag, an opportunity to meet Jeff Galloway, and shopping for Run Disney merchandise before the “common runners” who did not pay $199 for this privilege, could shop. It was about 60% sold as of the day before, and from social media posts from those who attended, there were about 200 people there. If it had been less than $125 or included a gift card or another perk, I’d have done it. After my expo experience this year, I’d be even more likely to do it.
The Expo opened Friday at 10 am, and at 9 am there was already a long line hundreds of people deep, waiting to get in. I did not arrive until about 11:30 am, thinking the chaos of being there when it opened would be over, and the lines for Run Disney merchandise were easily 45 min to an hour long! I recommend you go to the merchandise booth first, then get your bibs if you have your heart set on merchandise. This is the first time I’ve been to an expo so close to opening and seen most of the merchandise already sold out!
By the time I left at about 1 pm, the lines were all much, much shorter and if you came in the afternoon, you likely were in and out quickly. There was very little Run Disney merchandise left though, even by noon. It’s unclear what, if anything, they were able to re-stock. I quickly shopped for what I could find of what I wanted, but the jacket I wanted was already sold out, which I was really sad about. I mistakenly purchased the men’s jacket before I realized I bought the wrong one! I was able to get a purple logo sweaty band (last one on the shelf), a generic Run Disney T-shirt and string bag, a coast to coast T-shirt, a race logo wine glass (they were gone 15 min later, although I don’t know if they re-stocked or not), a car magnet, and the pin versions of the medals. Note: the women’s shirts all run very small! I usually wear a small and I purchased a large which fit like a small! They are made by Champion and I have no idea why they run so small, but buyer beware! I then waited in line for 45 minutes to buy it all.
The expo floor was crowded but had a lot of really cool running related vendors. It helps to have an idea what vendors you want to visit, especially if you want to purchase something specific. You could easily spend a few hours there (and spend a lot of money) if you wanted to really experience everything the expo has to offer. The Run Disney booth had Jeff Galloway taking photos and talking to people as well as a display of all the upcoming race medals. There is also a speaker series and food is available for purchase at various places around ESPN.
Packet Pick up
Packet pick up was divided by race, and then by bib #. It is very well signed and well organized. Your bib # is on your waiver, which you need to bring with you (along with a form of ID like your driver’s license, don’t forget it!) and sign it before handing it in to receive your race bib. If you forgot, there are printers available to print one. READ THE WAIVER. You should always read what you are signing, it could save you a lot of frustration later. Once you had your waiver, you simply lined up in the correct line to claim your race packet. Some lines were longer than others, but they moved fairly quickly. The 5K and kids races were on one side of the expo floor and the half marathon bib pick up was on the opposite side. You signed a book when you picked up your bib and you needed to show ID to do so.
If you were running the half-marathon, when you handed in your waiver and signed out your bib, you also received a race event guide, a yellow wrist band for the after party, and if you were running this race for your coast to coast medal, you also received a green wrist band that said “coast to coast challenge 2015” which they placed on your wrist right then and there and could not be removed until after the race. The real estate on my wrist was at a premium with my Fitbit, Garmin, Magic Band, and two wristbands!
With every race packet/bib you received a clear Run Disney gear check bag and a sticker with your bib # on it. You are to affix that large sticker to the bag and use that bag if you are going to check any items pre-race to pick up post-race. You can, as of right now, place another bag inside of it, but you MUST use the clear bag to check items and it MUST have that sticker on it. When you pick up your bag, they check that # on the sticker against your bib # and if they don’t match, you don’t get that bag. Bag check and pick up at the race goes very smoothly and is quick and easy this way.
If you pre-ordered commemorative items like pins, jacket or ears, this year they had a separate pick up area, instead of handing them out with your race packet. The line was ridiculously long! They made queues out of tape on the floor. I heard many runners complaining about this new system and yet another crazy long line to wait in. It moved fairly quickly, but it added precious time waiting in a previously unnecessary line. I’ve now twice ordered the commemorative jacket, thinking it was the same as the jacket available for purchase. It is not and in my opinion, it is ugly. I have a gray one from Tink and a black one from Wine and Dine. My recommendation is don’t waste your $. It’s design is not revealed prior to pick up, so you are purchasing blind. Also, this year’s commemorative pins were exactly the same as the ones available for purchase, which is also different than in previous years.
Safety Flag Warnings
There were signs placed at the expo outside and inside, and at each race staging area with a red flag warning for unusually warm and humid conditions. There was significant concern on the part of the race management staff and the runners about running in the heat and humidity, which was unusual for this time of year in Florida. This became very important come race time.
Reports from those who attended the speaker series said that Jeff Galloway and those speaking about the courses all strongly advised runners to significantly slow their pace, with more walk breaks, because of the heat and humidity and the risk of heat related illness. Saturday, the temperature was in the high 80’s during the day with very high humidity.
According to Run Disney’s flag system (from the race event guide):
Green: Good conditions. Enjoy the event by stay alert
Yellow: Less than ideal conditions. Participants with high risk of heat stroke should withdraw
Red: Potentially dangerous conditions. Heat injury possible. All participants urged to slow their pace and hydrate adequately.
Black: Extreme and dangerous conditions. All participants advised not to compete. Course may be shortened and times not recorded.
For everyone’s safety, delaying or cancelling the event is at the discretion of the race management team. As a reminder, the registration fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Race Transportation Tips
For both the Jingle Jungle 5K and the half marathon my advice is this: BE ON THE FIRST BUS! I’d heard this from experienced runners and heeded their advice and I was so happy that I did. By this I mean be at the bus stop 20-30 min before the buses are said to begin running. You’ll thank me. Seriously. Do it.
Buses start running at 5 am for the Jingle Jungle 5k (race start 7 am) and at 7-8 pm only for Wine and Dine (race start 10 pm).
Traffic for the half marathon is a fustercluck because they close Osceola parkway and other roads for the race course, but all the Disney transportation, all the cars, and all the race buses still have to travel to/from and by ESPN WWOS and traffic backs up due to road closures. I heard stories of people waiting at their hotels 60-90 minutes for buses and/or being on the bus for over an hour for what should be a 10-15 min ride at most.
Wine and Dine… and evacuate?!
The Wine and Dine half marathon is held in early November every year, during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. The weather is usually pleasant in central Florida by November, with average highs in the low 70’s and nightime temperatures in the upper 50’s. The race is currently the only run Disney event that begins at night, and the only half marathon that runs through three, yes three, Disney parks! It begins at ESPN Wide World of Sports, goes through the Animal Kingdom, then Hollywood Studios and through the Osborne Lights (and this is the last year the Osborne lights will be up, making this race even more special to those who have never run it), down the portion of the Boardwalk by the Yacht and Beach Club, and through Epcot to the finish in the parking lot just outside of Epcot. That’s not all! It also includes a famed after party in Epcot for the runners in Epcot until 4 am with their spectators (event ticket purchase required pre-race) that is a perk not offered in any other Run Disney event.
The race may also be becoming cursed. At least that is the way many runners are beginning to feel about it given the events of the past two years! Let me explain…
Although I did not run it last year, it is commonly referred to as the 2014 splash and dash, as just as the race began, the skies opened and it poured with rain the entire race and temperatures were unseasonably cool, in the low 50’s. Characters and other entertainment had to be pulled off the course because of the rain, and the runners were pretty miserable by the end, cold, wet, and sad that the race was not what it could have been because of the weather. Most bailed on the after party in favor of a warm shower and to nurse blisters. Run Disney, of course, does not control the weather. Those who ran last year were especially looking forward to this year being ideal conditions to actually get the full Wine and Dine half-marathon experience. I was, too. Unfortunately, Mother Nature once again had other ideas.
The pre-race festivities are always fun and one of the reasons I like to arrive early. You have to go through a security bag check and then the runners had a wide open field with GRASS (not parking lot) in which to hang out, stretch, meet up with friends or running groups for pre-race photos, take character photos, and have a snack. There are plenty of porta-potties and water was provided for the runners pre-race. There is a large stage and DJ and the race announcers Rudy and Carissa periodically come on stage to pump up the runners and eventually call them to their corrals for race start.
Mickey Milers pre-race photo meet
Pre race area
Shortly after we arrived, we noticed lightning in the clouds off in the distance. It was still 80 degrees and very, very humid. We got a little nervous, but it seemed to never get closer and eventually subsided. At around 8:40, the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped about 7 degrees. Crap. Gust front. That means incoming rain/storm. It started to spit rain. We wandered toward the corrals as it was almost time to do the corral crawl. 15,000 people were running this race and they would allow us into the corrals at about 9. Except they were not letting us in. It was actually eerily quiet from the stage. Then, an announcement with a serious tone. Due to incoming severe weather we were all to be evacuated to the stadium and field house immediately for our safety.
A collective groan, but all the runners dutifully turned around and slowly made their way up to the stadium and field house. It took quite a while for all of us to get up there, but it was calm and orderly, and we were making the best of it. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the world. We were all checking the radar on our phones and it looked like a huge blob of red was headed our way. Now storms can dissolve as fast as they build, but they can also get stronger quickly. The race directors absolutely made the right call to move us all to safety just in case. A bunch of runners standing in a wide open field is NOT the place to be in a lightning storm!
The stadium quickly filled and was standing room only, packed like sardines. I am claustrophobic and I said no way was I going in there. We hung just outside the stadium for a while until we were quickly ushered inside the field house by staff with urgency due to lightning once again closing in. The field house was actually kind of nice. We were able to pee in a real bathroom with not much of a wait, and sit on the floor or in the seats, while we waited for news. People sitting in the stands did the wave.
Eventually, there were random announcements over the speaker system (music was playing as well), but they were basically, “we’ll let you know as soon as we know anything”. As the minutes ticked by, we knew that the race was in danger. It was already red flagged. Social media was starting to report that the Rock and Roll Savannah half and full marathon earlier in the day was stopped mid-race due to heat concerns when one runner died and many, many others were taken to the hospital for heat related illness in similar heat and humidity. In addition to the weather concerns and storms in the area, we knew the permits for road closures and availability of police, volunteers and staff on the course, as well as Disney’s requirements for runners to be clear of the parks by a certain time so they could prepare for the day were likely factors we were up against as the time ticked on. We knew they could black flag the race at any time, cancel the race entirely, shorten the course, and/or not time it. Of course the longer we waited, the more likely a cancelled race became and the less time we’d have at the after party as well.
Oh, the logistical nightmare if they had to bus all 15,000 of us cranky and disappointed runners back to our hotels instead of running to the finish! I’m sure cancelling the race was the absolute last resort, but it was definitely a distinct possibility.
Field House evacuees
The Inaugural Wine and Dine Evacuation Half of the Half!
Finally, after about an hour or so of waiting, word came the race would start around 10:45-11 pm, once everyone was in their corrals. We were allowed to return to the corrals. The corral crawl began slowly. Because everyone was trying to enter the corrals at once, and because of the way they were arranged, it took quite a while for people to navigate to their corrals. We were in F, and actually couldn’t even get into our corral until the race began and the corrals ahead of us were moved up, then we squeaked in at the back of the corral.
The start! Fireworks for every corral release!
At that time, while we were getting into our corral, we had very little information about whether or not there were any changes to the race course. There were apparently announcements made from the stage, but we couldn’t hear them over the chatter of the crowd and the distance we were from the stage. The run Disney Facebook and Twitter pages notified us that the course was being altered. Word began to spread through the runners. The entire Animal Kingdom portion was being eliminated. We were essentially going to go from mile 1 to mile 8 and run about a 10 K instead. The actual official distance is still a bit of a mystery, but my Garmin said 6.8 miles start to finish.
At the time, it was also unclear why that decision was made however we later learned the AK actually got that storm and there may have been some wind damage. We were also starting almost exactly an hour later than planned so by cutting the course essentially in half, runners would be finishing about the same time they would have had they run the full half-marathon distance starting an hour earlier. Everyone would have the opportunity to finish the race. They would not sweep. Runners were strongly encouraged to slow their pace and hydrate due to the humidity as it was still 73 degrees and over 90% humidity (they almost turned off the race timing clocks, but ultimately did not). Everyone who finished would get their medal. Coast to coasters would get their medals. The after party was still on until 4 am.
Reaction to the shortened course varied. Some people were really upset. Social media was aflutter with people demanding their money back, saying run Disney did a horrible job, and that the runners did not earn their medals because they did not actually run a half marathon. They were upset we were evacuated for a storm that did not actually happen where we were. Others were quite relieved, as they were worried about the heat and their ability to complete the race and not being able to enjoy the after party due to the late start as the after party would not be extended. The vast majority were understanding that the the race directors did the best they could given the circumstances, and grateful that we got to run at all.
Overall, the decision to shorter the course was made due to a myriad of factors including the weather in the area and potential for more adverse weather, the heat and humidity, and the time. I don’t know if it was officially black flagged before race start, but I’ve heard from sources very close to run Disney race officials that the race was *this close* to being cancelled entirely. It most certainly would have been had thunderstorms persisted in the area or if we had no where to go for shelter when the evacuation was ordered. In that way, we were very, very lucky to be at ESPN for that reason. All the other races typically start in the Epcot parking lot and there is no where to put 15,000 people quickly into shelter there!
I applaud run Disney for their decisions. I, too, am very disappointed that I did not get to run the full wine and dine half marathon and did not get the full experience I signed up for and looked forward to for the past year. That said, they absolutely did the right thing by putting the safety of the runners, volunteers, and staff first. Lightning is no joke and it can strike from more than 10 miles away. The heat and humidity were dangerous running conditions, especially for those who are not accustomed to running in it. They were following the policy that is clearly published on the run Disney race page, at registration, and in the race program.
The race will be held rain or shine. If there is lightning in the area, the race will either have a delayed start or, depending on the intensity of the weather, be cancelled. The determination will be made by the Event Management staff.
The Walt Disney World® Resort Lightning Policy
Event operations will shut down when lightning is 10 miles out from the event areas. Event operations will not resume until the lightning is 10 miles out moving away from the event areas. The Sports Manager will determine this using the *Flash to Bang Rule* and weather radar. The Sports Manager will consult with Walt Disney World® Resort Management on a course of action to utilize the operational rain plan, delay the event, or cancel the event.
*Flash to Bang Rule* is applied by measuring the time (in seconds) between a visual lightning “Flash” and hearing the resulting “Bang”. This time is then divided by a factor of “5” to obtain distance in miles. For example, 50 seconds between “Flash” and “Bang” divided by “5” equals 10 miles.
If people had actually read it, they would realize this is always in the realm of possibility for ANY distance race. They can be cancelled, shortened, or stopped for any safety reason whatsoever without refunds. It’s a risk you take as a runner when you register for races. Of course Disney races are destination races, very expensive, and difficult to get in to, so there is a lot more invested in terms of time, money, and emotion for runDisney events than for a local distance race, hence the strong reactions by some to the changes.
This was the original course map
Instead of going down Osceola parkway to the Animal Kingdom, we went straight toward Hollywood Studios. There was some music and a DJ about mile 2 (the mile 8 marker), and several character stops along the way, although we did not stop or take photos. We just wanted to get to the party at that point, given how late it was, and the lines were long. From that point on, the race was the same to the end as it was originally. We ran pretty much all the way around the outside of Hollywood Studios and back stage, entering through a cast gate near Rock N Roller Coaster where Aerosmith was blaring and volunteers were grooving to cheer us along and welcome us to the Studios. We ran down Sunset Boulevard, and took advantage of a real bathroom! We took a right where the hat used to be, and ran past Toy Story, then backstage again and through the old back lot, including through the costuming tunnel turned night club, before emerging on the Streets of America to see the Osborne Lights in all their glory. We stopped for photos and walked down the entire street at a leisurely pace, taking it in, listening to Christmas Carols play, and taking a bit of a walk break.
Once we exited the studios through the entrance gates, we ran down the walking path toward the boardwalk. This area is very narrow, maybe three runners across at best for about 3/4 of a mile, which made it difficult for anyone who wanted to actually run to make any progress. There were some spectators and volunteers here (the mile 11 marker and the last sweep point for the full half marathon) and they had lovely colored holiday themed floats in the water. From there, we ran under the Boardwalk sign and onto the walkway toward the Yacht and Beach Club. Here there were a few spectators cheering, including my parents and aunt. I’d like to give them a shout out. They stayed out there until the last runner went by at 2 am!! They were the only ones there to encourage her along and she expressed her gratitude to them.
We made a sharp left before the International Gateway entrance to Epcot and ran backstage, emerging next to the Imagination pavillion. There were lots of volunteers there cheering. As we ran between the East and West Innoventions buildings, we could hear the crowd cheering, now spectators lined both sides of our course. We were about a 1/4 mile from the finish. We knew our husbands would be on the left side, and we did spot them as we ran by. They waved and high-fived us as we took the energy from the crowd to spur us on to the finish. We ran by Spaceship Earth and out a cast gate to the finish. Wa-hoo! 1:30 and change for about a 6.7 mile race. An appropriate pace for us given the conditions, but a full 20-25 min or so slower than a typical race of that distance would usually be.
The finish chute was well-organized. After we got our medal and bottle of water or Power Aide, we received a glorious cold, wet, cooling towel courtesy of Dr. Cool. I love him. The medical tent was right there, and had fans blowing, ice, and were ready to assist anyone who was overheated. Coast to coasters went through a little side chute to the right to claim their coast to coast medal and then back into the finisher chute for photos. As you progressed through the chute, you got your snack box, and then on to bag check to claim your bag. They had changing tents available for men and women, and then you went through the line to claim your free beer, wine, or soda. Finally, you were out of the finisher chute!
Note: the free beverage is given to you at the finish, not inside the park. We chose the wine, which was in this nifty self-contained little glass. I actually never drank it as I just didn’t want it immediately after the race and forgot about it until I was packing!
My friend Mel, showing our wine
I was okay with the shorter distance, despite my disappointment. I have never been so hot, sweaty, and miserable from a core body temperature standpoint during a run, ever, as I was for this race. The humidity really took a toll on you. We took it slower than usual, by a full 2-3 minutes per mile pace, taking more walk breaks than usual, too. I poured water on my neck and head to cool off at several water stops and was diligent about hydration before, during, and after the race.
My race bib and medal for the Wine and Dine half marathon
The two half marathon medals that earned my coast to coast
One other big complaint I heard (and agree with) was that Disney (not Run Disney) made us go through another security bag check before getting back into Epcot. There should have been a way for the runners to just go right from the finish chute into Epcot without having to go through another bag check (our bags were already checked at the other end of the race). This was an issue because the line for bag check was easily a half hour long and was not well staffed or signed (nor was the way out for those with no bags) and it caused a huge crowd and back up. Runners were already hot and cranky and hungry and eager to get to the after party, this did not help. It was not Run Disney’s fault, but there should be a way around it for runners.
The After Party
For the spectators that had after party tickets, they had the best deal! For $75, they were able to enter Epcot at 7 pm, and after the park closed at 9 pm, they had the place to themselves! Wristbands were given to them to identify they were ticketed for the party. They were able to access the food and wine kiosks with no lines and ride Test Track, Soarin, Spaceship Earth, and Mission Space with no lines. They walked around with no crowds. DJ’s played music and the atmosphere was party central. Our spectators had a blast.
Once the runners began to arrive, it got much more crowded, especially around the World Showcase. One of the disadvantages of a shorter race was that greater numbers of people finished together, where they’d likely have been more spaced out over a half marathon, so lines formed quickly. While I was able to ride Soarin with only about a 10 minute wait and Test Track with no wait as a single rider (stand by was 35 min at 3 am), the lines at the kiosks were still easily 20 min long or longer at 3:15 am. I didn’t even bother, we just walked through to our hotel. I do wish we had more time to take advantage, with more cashiers to make the lines move faster, but that was not the case.
Final Verdict? Would I do it again?
Given the circumstances which were beyond Run Disney’s control, I think that Run Disney did an outstanding job managing the race in the most difficult of circumstances. I’m sure they were as disappointed as the runners that they were not able to give us the full wine and dine half marathon experience we all signed up for, but you don’t screw with Mother Nature when she’s throwing thunderbolts!
I’m confident they did everything they could to ensure we got to run at all, especially knowing how close this race was to being cancelled entirely due to the weather. I do wish people would stop their bitching and count their blessings!
Staging and managing a race of this size is a HUGE undertaking, and they do it with such organization and as smoothly as you could ask for. I do wish runners had a greater appreciation for the logistics that go into races like these, especially at Disney. Runners can be so very egocentric, and many of those who were upset were all about their loss. They didn’t stop to think about all the volunteers, cast members who were up all night volunteering and had to report to work at 7 am, the characters, the bands and cheerleaders who came to cheer us on only to be put on a bus and sent home when we were evacuated, the set up of water stops and character stops that never saw runners go by due to the shortened course, and the logistics it took to alter the course, move equipment and characters around, and pull it off with less than an hour’s notice of the course change. Not to mention our spectators, who now had to wait an extra hour with little information about when we’d be starting and finishing as well.
This race was a first to my knowledge. I do believe this is the first race Run Disney has ever had to shorten due to weather conditions and the first so close to being cancelled entirely. It’s the first where runners had to be emergently evacuated. And yes, run Disney has all of these contingency plans for any race. We were truly fortunate to be where we were and to have that shelter available, as had that storm hit us, it could have been very dangerous to all of us. We were part of run Disney history. The inaugural wine and dine evacuation half of the half! We have a great story to go with that medal!
In the end, we were able to run our race, albeit a shortened and delayed one. How lucky we were indeed.
Did we *really* earn a half marathon medal for running less than 13.1 miles?
For those who say we did not earn our medal, there is a saying in the running world. You earn your medal not on race day, but on every early morning long run, on every day you get out of bed and run when you don’t want to, in the rain, the snow, the heat. On holidays, before work, after work, while your kids play soccer, whenever you can, because you need to get those miles in. Running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. You earn it on every training run, with every sore muscle, with every hill you run up and down, and with every foot you put in front of the other. You earn it by getting to the starting line, fully trained and ready to go.
We showed up ready to run a half marathon. I had already run 13.1 a few weeks prior. I knew I could do it. I wanted to do it. The vast majority of us trained to do so and would have completed it without trouble. No, we didn’t get the chance to actually run 13.1 that day. It was not our fault Mother Nature had other ideas. For those who felt they needed to run 13.1 that day to earn it, I say why didn’t you just keep running another 6 miles then instead of wine-ing (see what I did there)? Nothing stopping you. 🙂
So yes, I would absolutely run this race again. I’d love to actually run the entire course. Third time has to be the charm, right? I’m so tempted to sign up again next year! ChEARS to run Disney, for doing the best they could under unexpected conditions beyond their control. I’ll be back!
All the Bling! This year’s races Neverland 5K, Tink 10K, Tink half, Inaugural Pixie Dust challenge, Jingle Jungle 5K, Wine and Dine Half, Coast to Coast