The Wine & Dine 1/2 marathon takes place in conjunction with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot center. This festival lasts for about 6 weeks – this year going from Sept. 28th-Nov. 12th. – and features amazing food and beverages from all over the world. Of course, we needed to get in a couple days early so we could check it out! Definitely a must do while you’re there!
We flew in on Thursday evening. We booked our trip through Get Travel which meant everything was taken care of (race entry, lodging, park tickets, transportation, …). At the airport we hopped on the Disney Magical Express which took us straight to the All Star Sports Resort. Kris was smart and looked at the map of the resort before we got there so we were able to get a room in the closest building (Touchdown) – made for an easy walk to the restaurant and to catch the buses. Once we were there we utilized the Disney transportation system and had an easy time getting around.
Friday morning we headed into the parks for a few hours. With our travel package we had 2-day park hopper tickets and figured Friday and Sunday would be the best days to use those. That way we wouldn’t be tempted to do too much on Saturday before the race (which started at 10pm Saturday night).
As with all RunDisney events, there was an expo along with packet pick-up that we could attend either Friday or Saturday. We chose to go mid-day on Friday and were pleasantly surprised with the lack of a big crowd at that time. It was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it was very well organized!
We first went into the HP Field House to pick up our packets (race numbers and instructions). At that time, they gave us two wristbands – one to get into the after party and the other was for our Coast to Coast medal (which we earned for completing a race at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World within the same calendar year).
It was then time to head over to the expo. The usual expo vendors were there – running stores, shoe companies, nutrition products and any other gadgets you could need. We headed to the back to pick up our goodie bag (long-sleeve tech tee & gear check bag) and then quickly zig zagged through the vendors.
We took our stuff back to the hotel and headed back into the parks – that evening we enjoyed dinner and dessert from around the world … it was fantastic!!!
Some of our favorite dinner foods were from Germany, Canada and Italy. For desserts – France, Germany and the Desserts booth … YUM!
Saturday we had a lazy morning – took the buses and monorails around to the different Disney Resorts and slowly made our way over to Downtown Disney where we had lunch at the Earl of Sandwich. We then went back to the hotel, watched a little TV, relaxed and slept for a couple hours.
We got up around 6pm and started getting ready for the race. We were instructed to get on a bus between 7-8:30 … we aimed for 7:45ish. We got our stuff together and had no problem getting on a bus – they had plenty waiting to take us to the staging area.
One difference with this race than others we have done is the after party – so, getting our stuff together didn’t just mean our race stuff, but also our after party stuff. We actually used our gear check bags (we rarely use these at other events) and took clothes to change into and anything else we needed for the evening.
The bus took us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. They had a huge staging area with pre-race entertainment. There we met up with a couple friends and hung out while we waited for the race to start.
At 9pm all gear check bags had to be dropped off so we took off our warm clothes, turned in the bags and did a little warm-up. We then stood in the line for the portapotties … figured by the time we actually got to the front of the line, we’d need to go. Piece of advice … people were coming out of the portapotties unhappy because there was no toilet paper – there were boxes upon boxes of rolls of toilet paper behind the wall of portapotties … so, before you settle for none, look around!
At this point we were about 15-20 minutes away from the start of the race and started heading to corral A. The corrals were very well marked and had plenty of space between them. There were also a lot of event volunteers directing people and making sure everyone was in the right spot.
It was now time to turn on my Garmin and it wouldn’t turn on. I had made sure to fully charge it so it would be good to go but there was a glitch in the system and it wouldn’t get past it’s initial screen. We tried a few tricks and nothing worked so I got to run my first race in several years without it.
The first few miles of this race were a little boring as we headed over to Animal Kingdom. Had it been daytime, I think it would have been a pretty run, but there wasn’t much to see at night. We then ran through Animal Kingdom and had another low key 2-3 miles.
Around mile 9 we made it to Hollywood Studios – we zig zagged through the park and ran through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – those were pretty amazing! As we left that park we only had a couple miles to go – along the lake to Epcot where we finished.
All in all, it was a good event – Disney does a great job with organizing these events! We really have not participated in other events that compare to Disney events in terms of being fun and well run. Compared to the other Disney events; however, the course was not as exciting. There did not seem to be as many characters and spectators on the course to help keep the energy and motivation going. With that said, this was a smaller event – there were only 11,599 finishers as compared to the nearly 22,000 that participate the marathon in January.
I am trying to be happy with my results – I had a good run but came in 47 seconds shy of a new PR. It’s disapointing to get that close and miss it. However, my time was good enough to earn my 5th place in my age group which I am excited about – that is my best finish in a Disney race.
Kris had a fantastic run, coming in 13th overall and 1st in his age group! As they did with Tinker Bell, they will be mailing out our awards in the next couple weeks – we can’t wait to see them!
As we crossed the finish line we were given bottles of water and powered. We were also given snack packs and bananas. As we left the finisher area we also had our choice of beverage – there were a couple types of beer, sangria or soda.
First up was Spaceship Earth – we walked right on and practically had the ride to ourself. Once we got off that ride, in order to get to the rest of Epcot, we had to cross race traffic. They actually had a pretty neat system set up to facilitate this but, be warned … its a little crazy trying to get across!
We then headed back to the food and wine festival to get some food. As part of our goodie bag we each received a $10 gift card we could use anywhere in Epcot – this was easily spent on dinner and desserts!
There were two other rides they kept open for us – Maelstrom, which we went to next … again, walked right on and had the ride to ourself, and Soarin’. We didn’t go on that until later when we met back up with our friends. By that point, there was actually a line and we waited about 15-20 minutes to get on. After that ride, it was time for our second round of food. To all of our surprise, we actually stayed until 4am when it closed – we figured we’d crash before then but we didn’t – we had a great time!
At 4am the food vendors closed down and we headed out to the buses. We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly we got on a bus and got to our hotel. We were back around 4:30 and in bed shortly thereafter.
Surprisingly I awoke at 7:30 and made myself go back to sleep – we ended up getting up around 9:45 and making our way over to Magic Kingdom. We spent a good part of the day there and felt better than we thought we would.
We had a couple delicious waffle sandwiches from Sleepy Hollow for lunch and then got a sweet treat (slushy) from under the big top in Storybook Circus for a little sugar pick-me-up in the afternoon … YUM!
Later we met up with our friends again at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop for a little more sugar to get us through the evening … those sundaes were fantastic!
We then wandered around Epcot some more before making our way back to Magic Kingdom where we ended the night around 10:30. I am quite surprised we made it that long!
Needless to say, we slept well that evening and had a tough time getting up on Monday. Sadly, we had to be out of the hotel room by 9 to catch our shuttle to the airport. We almost made it out on time – however, we missed our shuttle … oops! It turned out to be no big deal – we got on the 9:30 shuttle and still had plenty of time once we got to the airport since we weren’t checking any bags.
Disney’s Magical Express makes the trip to and from the airport entertaining. They start with directions and information (presented by your favorite Disney characters) and then you get to watch the old Have a Laugh cartoons.
All in all, a great trip. The only tough part is – flying from Phoenix to Florida makes for a long travel day on both sides of the trip … but, getting to race and play at Walt Disney World is worth the travel!