Monday, October 10, 2011

Disney Wine and Dine Recap 2011

RunDisney posted the recap video for the race and after party! 

So here it is! The recap of my first half-marathon and months and months worth of training.
First of all, I just want to say that it's an amazing experience to run at Disney. And the Wine and Dine solidified my LOVE for Disney races and now it's official I am going back for Marathon weekend to run the Half Marathon and 5k.

In this blog I will cover where we stayed, the expo, the race route and entertainment, and the finish line and after party.

We stayed at the Boardwalk Inn and had a garden view room facing the back of the hotel and quiet pool. We originally wanted a boardwalk view, but because of the hotel being completely booked we had to settle for a garden view. Which ended up being a better option anyway because many nights there were loud drunks on the boardwalk coming back from Epcot's Wine and Dine festival. The hotel was a perfect pick for the race because of the amazing location, the transportation to and from the expo and race were easy and convenient. The course passed the Beach Club hotel at mile 11-12.5 (the Beach Club is adjacent to the Boardwalk). So my husband walked down the boardwalk and waited by the bridge that is right outside the back entrance to Epcot. I think we will either stay at the Boardwalk or Beach Club next year for the Wine and Dine. The location was AMAZING and the Boardwalk Inn was beautiful!

When I went to go to the expo the first day that it was open, I had to search for where the bus was picking us up. I asked the staff member running the station at the boardwalk bus stop and he told me that I needed to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, then a bus to a value hotel, and then hop on a shuttle to take me to ESPN. I knew that the info he was giving me was totally off, so I searched for someone else to help. After asking 3 different people and giving in and standing in line at the concierge desk, I got the answer. The bus was picking us up a little further down than the normal bus stops. This wouldn't have been a problem if there were signs or if the staff at the hotel were told what was going on. Once we got to the pickup spot we only waited 15 minutes to catch a bus.

The expo was great. But it did start with a minor hiccup. I had no idea we weren't allowed to bring strollers into the ESPN complex, which was huge burden since it was only me and my 18 month old son. If I had one extra set of hands there wouldn't have been a problem. But trying to carry everything myself with a squirmy child who just wanted to run around was a little too much. I do wish it was a little more child friendly.

The vendors were great and many had some amazing deals on running gear. I wanted to stay for some of the talks but didn't have the opportunity since my munchkin decided that it was nap time and wanted to go to sleep. The swag bag was pretty standard. We received a clear plastic bag for bag-check, a t-shirt, and an energy bar.

Pre Race and Race Start
Getting to the pre race and race start was pretty easy. The bus for the race picked us up at the same location as the expo buses. This time around there were also signs directing runners where to wait. I decided to get to go right when the buses started running. It was an easy process, I got a seat on the bus right away and we were at ESPN within 15-20 minutes. There wasn't really any waiting when we got there, we were off the bus within minutes.

After getting to the start, I headed straight to bag check trying (once again to avoid any lines). I had my bag ready and checked within 5 minutes. After getting that out of the way I hoped in a long line. I wasn't sure at first what it was for, but quickly discovered I was going to meet one of my favorite Disney characters. After getting through the line to get my picture taken with Minnie and Mickey, I decided to start to focus and began some stretching.

The music playing to all those on the field was great and there were so many bathrooms that the lines moved faster than light! As start time approached I headed over to my corral (C) and just took in the excitement of the runners around me. Before I knew it wave A was starting. The fireworks were AMAZING!

Less than 10 minutes later we were at the starting line. Each corral had their own set of fireworks, which was exciting. And with a spectacular light show we were off. At firs the congestion was pretty bad, but once through the first 1/2 mile runners spread out and it wasn't that crowded.

Race Route
The course started at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex and went down Osceola Parkway into Animal Kingdom. From Animal Kingdom we went back out onto the highway and into Hollywood Studios. The course then weaved through the Boardwalk/Beach club area and right into Epcot. Most of the race was on the highway, but the entertainment on the highway made up for the distance we put in outside of the parks.

The course did have some dark spots, but I think that is the fun of running a night race (being ultra aware of your surroundings). There were also ample bathrooms on the highway (which weren't lit well) so my one bathroom break I opted for an in park restroom (less lines and more light).

Water stations were at almost every mile and they offered energy bars towards the end of the race. Water stations also offered Poweraid (Poweraid at the front of the table/water in the back) .First aid stations also were all over and so were ambulances. First aid stations were also offering bio-freeze for sore muscles and joints.

When I first registered for the race I had no idea what kind of experience I had signed up for until I started reading blogs and forums. I was expecting the extent of the entertainment that we had.
The stretches of highway were full of entertainment including DJ's, light parade floats, stilt walkers, characters for pictures, and tons of spectators who were AMAZING! I loved the drill Sargent from toy story yelling at runners on the steepest hill.

When we entered the parks, the lighting was amazing. The Animal Kingdom had these amazing lights that looked like dinosaur teeth and the Tree of Life was lit up and was awesome.

In Hollywood studios the Osborn Christmas lights welcomed us with Christmas music, Lightening McQueen was showcased on stage at the stunt show (as well as a big screen tv showing you running by), and Darth Vader was taking pictures with people as they passed the Jedi school.

After leaving Hollywood studios the course took us onto the boardwalk, probably the quietest part of the race because of the hotels. I liked it though because it gave you the opportunity to realize the extent of how far you have come (11-12 miles at that point). The course finished at Epcot.

Finish Line
The finish line was at the entrance of Epcot. Once going through the finish, I received my medal and a bottle of water right away. I was then ushered to the picture area to have my photo taken with my AWESOME bling!

Food tables were set-up after the picture area. They were handing out bags with bagels, a banana, and a poweraid. The flow of the finish line took you right to an outdoor bag pickup area where I received my bag within minutes.Everything moved amazingly, it was pretty seamless.

After Party
Once we were done with all the finish line business, were entered Epcot and were greeted with numerous options for our free drink of beer or soda. I didn't actually stay for the party itself. I went in with the intention of getting my medal engraved ($20.00) and I did. Once I completed that task, I left the party and headed back to the hotel. I was exhausted!

Overall the race was amazing. I have told people that it has been one of the top 5 experiences of my life. I will, with no doubt, be coming back next year to run again. Thank you runDisney for such an amazing experience. Until next time... Cheers and happy trails


Nike Tech 8" Running Shorts

Nike Ribbed Running Tank

CEP Compression Sleeves

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