I began running races my senior year of college at the University of Minnesota. My new years resolution that year was to run a registered race, no matter what the distance. Starting small, I convinced myself to run the Goldy Gopher 5k in April of 2014. This started a chain reaction, which I never expected to last past this first 5k. Now with a impressive list of races under my belt, I decided to embark on a new race challenge, three races in one weekend.
RunDisney has been a part of my life for the last few years, from my first half marathon to challenging myself to push the limits of my running ability. This is why I returned this Fall to experience Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Now, I have run the two course challenges before, running the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. Then I had the bright idea of, “why not add the 5k on top of the other two races, what could go wrong?” I signed up for all three races, trained for months, and traveled to Florida to participate in the race weekend in its entirety.
The weekend starts off with a two day expo. The RunDisney expo is probably one of my favorite parts of the weekend. This year the flow of the entire expo was incredibly smooth. You would get your race bib in one building, where they also had the RunDisney shop, and your race shirts in the other building with the actual expo inside. There are so many things to experience at the race expo aside from getting your race bib and shirts. They always have up some kind of photo opp for the newest Disney movie coming out. This year it was Tony’s restaurant from the new live action Lady and the Tramp. There are also plenty of opportunities for shopping! Every race I run, I usually buy the race track jacket to remember the fun times I had putting myself through running so many miles in one weekend. The other building offered the opportunity to buy anything you may have forgotten at home, like running clothes or pre-race snacks. Disney always knows how to be entertaining so the entire expo is a party from start to finish.
I have the wonderful opportunity to be able to experience these races with my mom. I am so blessed to have a wonderful running partner to endure long races and even longer training periods. As per RunDisney tradition, people usually dress up for the runs which is super fun to watch for people’s costumes. For the 5k race, my mom and I dressed as Piglet and Eeyore. The race had us running throughout the Animal Kingdom parking lot, through Avatar Land and Asia, then finally backstage and to the front of the park to finish. This was probably the most frustrating Disney race I have ever run. So many people run this race because of its short distance and the ability to run almost the entire race inside the park. I have never had to do so much weaving through the crowd before, which did make it slightly less enjoyable. However, Disney always does a great job at keeping morale up for the runners and I had a smile on my face the entire time.
Day two of racing brought on the 10k where we dressed up as Peter Pan and his shadow. We started our race in a parking lot near Magic Kingdom I believe where we would run the first 4 miles on Florida Highway. There were so many characters and entertainers in those 4 miles you would have thought it was inside a Disney Park. Our last 2 miles were inside of Epcot, which was amazing because we were able to run past a lot of new ride construction. We ran past the gondola station which they are putting in near the back of the park, and it was adorned with beautiful artwork I cannot wait to see finished. We also got to run past the new ride building for the Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy rides, both of which look like they will be a blast to experience when finished. After finishing the race, you get the best goodie boxes filled with food! My favorite part of the boxes are the tortilla chips and cheese, although not many people find this to be a popular opinion. With two races down, I was excited and nervous for the half marathon the next day.
The last day of races had come, and lucky for us it started raining during the National Anthem. I have never run a race in the rain so this was a new experience for me. Dressed as Dumbo and Timothy the Mouse, we started our 13.1 mile journey in the rain. I would say it lightly rained during the first few miles of our race, which wasn’t detrimental but still not the most fun running condition. After about 4 miles we found ourselves running through Animal Kingdom again for a short time till we were back on the road heading towards the next park. Another 4 miles on highway and we find ourselves in Hollywood Studios. I have never run in this park before, so it was a nice change of scenery. We ran in by the Fantasmic amphitheater, down to the Tower of Terror, and finally down Hollywood Boulevard to exit the park. Next, was probably my favorite part of the run, running through Disney’s Boardwalk Hotel. The reason why this is the best is because you have been running for almost 12 miles and there are just huge crowds of people standing on the sidelines cheering you on. There is so much encouragement going through this area that it is the perfect boost for getting to the end of your race. After completing the loop around Epcot, you finish your half marathon! Since my mom and I finished both the 10k and half marathon that weekend, we were given a special challenge medal.
Our reward for running the races was a post race party at Epcot. Disney will reserve the park specifically for runners and their families. They keep all of the Food and Wine Festival booths open for us and provide us each with a gift card to try the food for the evening. My mom and I made reservations Teppan Edo, which is my favorite place to eat at Epcot. Located in the Japan pavilion, you will enjoy an amazing dinner and a show. Unfortunately for us, the Florida weather did not want to cooperate and it started down pouring right before we left the restaurant. We decided we did not want to stay in the rain for the rest of the night and ended up going home early after dinner.
Over the course of the weekend, we ended up earning 4 medals for the races we ran and I am so proud of what we accomplished. This was the first time we added in the 5k race to the two course challenge. Again, I will say if you are looking to really run a 5k race, do not sign up for the RunDisney one because there will be so many people walking on the course. The other two races were fun and enjoyable as always. My mom and I actually ended up breaking some of our personal records for running which was really exciting! Overall, the weekend went by smoothly, minus the little bit of rain we ran in during the half marathon. I cannot wait for our next RunDisney event!
Till our next adventure,