Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Race Recap

The 2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon took place in Walt Disney World on Saturday, November 9. I was eager to run this race again, since I missed it in 2012 due to runDisney changing the race to November (from early October). Although that prevented me from being able to say I ran in every single Wine and Dine Half, I must admit I welcomed the change, weather-wise. The weather for this Wine and Dine was quite pleasant. Some said it was on the warmer side, and I think even Jeff Galloway mentioned it was close to 10 degrees warmer than ideal running weather. I didn’t notice.

This year I was lucky enough to be part of runDisney’s first nighttime meet-up. The event took place in Epcot two nights before the race, on Nov 7. Upon checking-in and receiving our tech shirts, we had a few hours to meander around Epcot on our own. Shortly before 9pm, all of the attendees met up outside of Mexico in World Showcase to enjoy IllumiNations from the reserved viewing area. At 9:30, we all headed to the American Gardens Theatre for “light food and beverages”, as well as some runner mingling. I guess you’re not supposed to eat meat before running, because the “light food” I received was a piece of chicken, that wasn’t made out of chicken (some sort of vegan option). It tasted like chicken, though, so I was happy.

After eating and mingling, runDisney took the stage in the theater to make a few announcements, and to make sure everyone was having a good time. Some folks from New Balance came onstage as well, and previewed some of their exclusive runDisney merchandise for 2014. At 11:30, the Fun Run began, which consisted of 1.5 laps around World Showcase. It was really fun. But then again, I love World Showcase. At midnight we all gathered for a group photo and a toast. The toast was underneath Spaceship Earth. The photo was behind the Fountain of Nations.

Keith, Danielle, Jenn

It seems as if I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but, I didn’t train for this race. It’s weird, but ever since running the full marathon in January, half marathons seem so easy. Granted not training isn’t the smart thing to do, and it won’t afford you a fabulous finish time, but as long as I finish under 2.5 hours, I’m happy. That was my goal for this race.

The race started at 10pm, and my friends and I arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex around 8:30. The all-day pre-race hydrating had caught up with pretty much all of us, so we gathered in the enormous port-a-pottie line. Afterwards, some of my friend’s friends found us, and we gathered for a group photo.

Pat in the grey, Danielle in the white tanktop, me behind her, Dan behind me, Eric in the Cowboys shirt, Jenn in the pink shoes, and a few other folks

I was in corral E, so while the race started at 10, it didn’t start for me until 10:09. However I managed to snap a blurry pic of the official race start.

Race start fireworks
Crossing the Start Line

The race course took us north on South Victory Way, and turned left onto Osceola Parkway towards the Animal Kingdom. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to pose with many characters, but to give myself a mini break (since I didn’t train), I would make a quick stop and snap pictures of all the characters.

At around Mile Three we arrived at the Animal Kingdom. Not a fan of this park, it seems that I only enter it these days when I’m doing a race. Rafiki was waiting out front to greet us, and the standard lighted horns were waiting for us upon park entry.


The one character I stopped to pose with was King Louie from The Jungle Book. And really, I only stopped because at that moment there was only one person in line to pose with him. What’s an extra 30 seconds added to a time you don't really care about?

I wanna be like you hoo hoooo

After posing with Louie the course took us by Expedition Everest, past the Nemo theater, through Dinoland, USA (shudder), and soon back out onto Osceola Parkway. Animal Kingdom had comprised roughly Miles Three through Five, which meant we had close to five more miles before reaching our next park. During that stretch I spotted more characters, and I even "ran" into my friends Jenn and Dan. 

The line for Jack Sparrow was huge

Sebastian, upon leaving the Animal Kingdom parking lot

Oh hai Jenn and Dan!

The run along Osceola led us to World Drive, where we headed north. A little over a mile later, we were heading east on Buena Vista Drive, and then south, towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park is always a welcome sight during the Wine and Dine Half, as it means the remainder of the course is pretty fun.

We came in from behind the Tower of Terror

Sunset Boulevard

DHS's best attraction - check out the 15k sign

Shortly after passing One Man’s Dream and the 15k sign, we were filtered towards the infamous DHS tunnel. The tunnel, which is where you can see Disney’s Wardrobe Department from, has been notorious for also doubling as a 100-yard-long sauna during races. Now I don’t know if this is the first time they did this, or just the first time I can remember (2012’s Tower of Terror 10-Miler is sort of a blur by now), but runDisney installed fans inside the tunnel! Holy smokes what a difference they made. Kudos to whoever finally made that call. I think I almost passed out in that tunnel during a previous race. Not only did they install fancy fans to keep us conscious, but they also added disco balls! When can you go wrong with a disco ball? Answer: never.

Peter Pan seems to be diggin' it

The roughly two-mile course continued to wind through DHS, and towards what we were all waiting to see, the Streets of America. On the way more characters were out, and like with all the others, I stopped for a quick pic.

I still like Mr. Incredible's black and blue suit better

I finally reached what some consider to be the best part of the course (and all consider the best part of the Hollywood Studios portion), the Streets of America, decked out in all of its Osborne Lights glory. I took another mini break here to record a little video with my iPhone. It was also here that I bumped into Heather Montgomery of fame. I seem to bump into her almost every runDisney trip!


Me and Heather

After exiting Hollywood Studios we were at about Mile Eleven. The course ran along Crescent Lake, towards the Epcot resorts, and ultimately, Epcot. I always consider this part the home stretch, even though there are still technically two full miles to go. Personally, I had a surprising amount of energy left considering my lack of training. Maybe it was all the mini breaks I took in order to snap photos of the characters. I had even forgotten to consume the second half of my packet of GU Chomps (I ate the first half 15 minutes before the race), which I didn’t realize until much later.

Mile Twelve was around the Yacht and Beach Club. Every time I do this race I stay at the Beach Club, and every time I pass my hotel at Mile Twelve I joke with myself that I should just turn in and run straight to my room. I know, I don’t find it funny either. I pressed on over what I consider to be the final “obstacle” of the course, the modest hill in between the Beach Club and the International Gateway. As hills go it’s not very formidable. However after running for twelve miles, any hill becomes exaggerated. I conquered Mount Modesthill and followed the course to the backstage of Epcot, and then ultimately into Epcot between the United Kingdom and Canada. We veered left towards Future World and the Land Pavilion, and I was quite pleased to be inside Epcot at this point.

The course routed us through the tunnel past Innoventions, and into Innoventions Plaza. There was a large concentration of onlookers here, some of them cheering us on, some of them waiting for a break in the runners so they could cross. We turned left before reaching the Electric Umbrella, and towards the park’s exit.

After exiting Epcot, the race was just about over. According to the Wine and Dine Half Event Guide, the finish area was located in the Imagine Lot. Just before reaching it, there were more lighted horns. I could see the Finish Line from this point, and for the first time ever, I had enough juice to sprint to the finish. Even in the 2011 Wine and Dine Half, the last time I fully trained for a race, I didn’t sprint to the finish. Go figure. My finishing photo wasn’t great however, so instead you’ll get me after I received my medal, then me holding a banana.

Finish Line in the distance!

Sorry for the watermarks, but these photos are way too expensive to purchase
Yeah I took two Powerades - so what!

I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating. This is my favorite race. If you like night races, I definitely recommend giving this one a try. After the race I noticed how cool it had gotten, so I was glad I brought along the long sleeve tech shirt runDisney provided us. The after party was fun as well, and I even got to use the 10 dollar gift card runDisney provided. I finally got to meet my runDisney pal Krissy, met up with my friend Estelle from This Happy Place Blog (and her friend Katherine), and mingled with a bunch of my fellow runners.

Me and Krissy

Hangin' with Estelle, while seemingly wearing the Eiffel Tower as a hat

If I had to lodge one complaint about this race, I’d say that the crosswalk for people to get from one side of Innoventions Plaza to the other (aka runners trying to get to the after party) was a bit annoying. It took about 15 minutes to get 15 feet. But that’s it, really. This race is always a blast, and I plan on doing it all over again next year.


  1. As usual, way to totally rock it without training! We'll have to agree to disagree on the disco balls though - I hated them! They totally made me dizzy in there! : )

  2. Your recap is so much happier than mine will be, which might be why I haven't even written mine yet either :) Always an awesome weekend with you though!!!