Vacation and running, two words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Well, that’s been the thinking for most of my life, until one day in April 2015 when I got an email about registering for the Walt Disney World Food and Wine Half Marathon. Hmmm – I love food, I love wine, and I love Disney! If there was ever a time where vacation and running should meet, this was it.
After a tremendous amount of deep thought and consideration, I mean, it must have been a solid 5 seconds of mental deliberation, I pressed the “submit” button and that’s it, I’m running the Walt Disney World Food and Wine Half Marathon.
Best Tip I Got
It was the end of June when Serena and I were grabbing brunch with friends when I got the best tip ever when doing a runDisney event. Make sure to run a race prior to your runDisney race. Use it as a training run, so you can submit a time prior to your race. runDisney events have tons of people in them and people are grouped based on times, the majority of people do not submit a race time. If you do not submit a race time you more than likely will be at the back of the pack of 14,000 people…the only queue worse than Flight of Passage.
By far the worst part of runDisney events is the start time of the races, they’re always outside the theme park hours. The year I ran, it was the last time the Food and Wine Half Marathon would be run at night, and I found out why.
Common wisdom would tell anyone to rest before a race. No way I could sit around all day – I’m at Disney!!! Hindsight tells me a pool day is a much better idea.
The race was set to begin at 9 pm from the ESPN Wide World of Sports. I arrived to the music pumping and crowd of people excited to run. My energy was through the roof, I was ready to go. Then I found out why they moved the race to the morning in the following years. The Florida sky lit-up and the thunder drowned out the music. We were delayed by weather….2 hours.
Word comes, we’re ready to go! At 11 pm, the last thing you feel like doing is running. It must have been the Disney magic, or the extra caffeine I drank that day, but I was excited to run.
I made my way up to the race corrals and found my grouping. Just like everything at Disney, there is a Broadway caliber production before the race begins. This production is a must see, as Mickey leads the way. All of sudden I hear “3, 2, 1….Go!!!” Fireworks go off (it can’t be a Disney event without fireworks) and the racers start sprinting through the start the line.
Off I go, I had no idea what to expect. My assumptions were a lot of highway type road and a quick scamper through the theme parks (Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot). I was wrong, every mile was another great opportunity to meet a Disney character. Stop in for a pic and grab some fluids before continuing on. By far my favorite memory was the Green Army Men motivating me as I ran up one of the few “hills” in Florida.
My inner Disney geek loved running through the empty Disney theme parks and around many of the Cast Member only areas. It was topped off with finishing in Epcot and the post race party. Oh yeah, did I mention Disney keeps the Food and Wine Festival open for runners? Where the party continues with more characters, great food, and a post race “refuel” drink or two.
Running in Disney compares to nothing else. Whether your avid runner, or a Disneyphile looking to meet that rare character, the races have something for everyone.
Can’t wait for my next runDisney race!!!