I have been wanting to do Wine and Dine half for years. The timing has just never been right to do it. Typically, some other Disney race has been too close to W&D to be able to travel to both. I finally got to run it this year and it was quite an adventure. Lots and lots of words and pictures ahead. You've been warned.
|That glass of champagne is almost big enough for me.|
If you've been to a runDisney event at WDW, then you already know the ins and outs of the expo, so I won't go into too much detail about that, except to share this picture of me in front of my favorite beverage and to whine about one annoying change in the pick up procedure
My only complaint about the Wine & Dine expo was the change they made for picking up the commemorative items, like pins and necklaces. After you picked up your packet, you had to stand in an additional line to pick up the pins. I think we waited in that line for over an hour. I was seriously peeved after that. I'd been having issues with my lower back and standing around like that was really irritating- to my mood and my back. If I hadn't already paid for the pins, there's a good chance I would have said f**k it.
Anyway, I walked the 5K with my mom that morning and we had already been park hopping Thursday, Friday and Saturday (including a trip to Universal Studios), so my legs were already tired and all of the standing around in lines really made my lower back sore. So I went into this half marathon with a genuine concern for a DNF for the first time in my racing history. Well, I was a little worried during my first half about being swept, but since then, the only time I thought maybe I would DNF was during the 2014 NYC Marathon when I ran with an injured knee. Well, it turned out that the weather was going to help me out of my predicament.
I met some friends at the corrals- Abby, Emily, Sarah, Pam and Michelle. I knew there was no way a PR or even any sort of respectable time was in the cards, so I decided to have fun and take pictures with my friends rather than run hard. Sarah and Michelle were using this race as a training run for another race, so my plan was to stick with Abby, Emily and Pam and have fun. I've run a few races with these girls before, and we always have a blast.
As we were checking our bags and getting ready to head to the corrals, the wind picked up. There had been lightening off in the distance, but considering the fact that it poured down rain during last year's race, it didn't occur to me that there might be any sort of rain or weather delay.
|This is what the staging area looks like after an evacuation.|
The DJ's music suddenly stopped and they announced that we would need to make our way to the ESPN buildings and "not to be alarmed" which just seemed weird, considering it didn't seem that stormy out.
|Look! A herd of runners stampeding towards the ESPN complex!|
I have to hand it to runDisney- they handle things better than most events. Herding thousands of runners into two buildings and the baseball stands for cover is no easy feat.
|Not ideal if you are claustrophobic...|
It was taking so long just to get everyone inside the buildings that we attempted to stay outside, along with a large number of other people. It was a perfect time for some selfies.
Finally, we were forced inside. Disney takes safety really seriously. I still didn't understand what all the fuss was about at that point. Living in Arizona, we have spectacular lightning storms and this didn't even come close to what we have here. But then I found out that that particular county has one of the highest air to ground lightning strike rates in the country. I also found out later via social media, that the first water stop was completely destroyed by the wind and that the volunteer crew couldn't get everything back up in time for the runners.
As much as sitting around, waiting to start a race with an already late start time, was annoying a bunch of people, this is why people like Disney. They make safety a huge priority. At this point, we had no idea if they were even going to have the race or if it would be cancelled. I was having flashbacks to the 2012 NYC marathon when I heard the news of the race being cancelled via social media while en route to the expo.
|Text from a friend sitting up in the stands...|
Truth be told, I would have been disappointed if I didn't get to experience W&D after all these years, but it wouldn't have been as disappointing as training all those months in extreme Phoenix heat for NYC only to have it cancelled.
They finally released us to the corrals and as we were making our way to there, it was announced that a significant portion of the course would be cut. At that point, we weren't exactly sure just how much would be cut, but we guessed we would still we running about 10 miles.
In a weird way, it was kind of exciting. I mean, everyone was chatting with strangers and this was an unprecedented move by runDisney. Personally, I was thrilled that the race course had been cut. I was tired and my back hurt. I did feel bad for several people that we talked to that were supposed to run their first half marathon that night. What a bummer.
And we were off. We saw the first mile marker and the first aid station. Apparently, the original course (I was unfamiliar with this course since the Donald and Princess Half marathons have a different course) goes through Animal Kingdom first and that was completely cut out. The next mile marker we saw was mile 8.
|Why does it look like I'm groping Emily?|
|Some Country Bear action.|
|Wow, I'm am short.|
Basically, we shuffled along for the entire race. We took a bunch of pictures with characters. I was really excited to finally see the Osborne Lights. I had never seen them, so when we hit that portion of the course, we were basically tourists just snapping pictures. I think that alone added a good 20 minutes to our time.
And then we were close to being done. I was grateful for the shortened course, honestly. My back was killing me and my feet hurt. We saw the mile 13 marker and we were almost done.
Mickey was at the finish line, so I definitely needed a picture. I don't usually stop right before the finish line, but why not, right? This race was already way out of the norm, so I needed a Mickey picture.
The official course measurement ended up being 6.72 miles. They announced it at some point, maybe as we crossed the finish line?
We dragged ourselves over to get some ice and then picked up our checked bags. I missed the free wine tent (sniff, sniff) as we headed to Epcot for the after party. Now since I've never done W&D before, I have no idea if it is normally as insanely crowded as it was this year or if it was jam packed because the race was shortened and more people finished earlier than usual. Whatever the reason, it was crazy packed. We made our way to a real bathroom and changed into dry clothes.
Sadly, I didn't take any pictures during the after party, which is a bummer. We all met back up again after wandering around, trying to find a food line that wasn't a mile long. Finally, I noticed that the restaurant in the American pavilion was open and relatively unnoticed by the mob, so rather than enjoying something from one of the kiosks of the Food and Wine Festival, we had regular burgers, fries, chicken tenders, etc. I was starving so I didn't care.
The after party lasted until 4am and we shut the place down. My mom and I were staying at the Boardwalk, so I could walk there from Epcot. I said my goodbyes to Abby and Pam, which was sad because I never see those girls except at races. But I also decided to register for Tinkerbell that night because then we could have a reunion and Tink wasn't yet sold out.
Since this post is already way longer than anyone is probably interested in reading, I'll wrap it up and save the rest of my Wine and Dine 2015 musings for another post.
All in all, it was a fun and interesting time. Who else ran the Inaugural Wine and Dine 6.72 miler?