Recap: 2015 #runDisney #WineDineHalf Weekend: Splash & Dash

It's been a few weeks since Wine & Dine weekend, and at last I've got my recap complete.

Friday: Expo

Driving from Tallahassee that morning, we missed the mad rush that is the opening of the expo.  Upon our arrival, I quickly grabbed my bib, waited in line for my pin, and headed to the runDisney booth.  The only thing I purchased was my magnet.  

 Jeff is always willing to help with last minute advice.

[My filing cabinet at the office holds my race magnet collection. Side note: my colleagues are starting to think I have a running problem.]

Following the expo we headed to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom to enjoy some park time.

 Carb loading is important!

Buzz wants to be just like me.

We stayed until the fireworks and then called it a night.  I had an early wakeup for the morning 5K.

Saturday: Jingle Jungle 5k

I've run this race twice. It was actually our first runDisney event, way back in 2011.  But this time, I decided to volunteer instead. I enjoy volunteering at the races almost as much as I enjoy running them.  My assignment: I spent my morning moving people from the finish line to the medal volunteers.  "Move along folks, nothing to see here."  Yeah - that was me!  I saw many of my runDisney friends cross the finish line.  Great job everyone!  Also, if you haven't volunteered for a race or the expo, I can't recommend it enough.  So much fun. Do it!

Saturday: Baptism (The Splash)

Now for the "splash" in the splash and dash.  My two little nephews were scheduled to be Baptized at midday, between the 5k and the half marathon.  So, following my volunteer shift,  I grabbed DisneyBride and headed for Tampa.  We dashed to the church, rejected Satan, splashed holy water, and enjoyed dessert with the nephews before heading back to Orlando to relax for a few minutes before the race.  


Saturday Night: Half of a Half (The Dash)

I decided to go with a costume that paid homage to my favorite chef. The Swedish Chef from the Muppets is legendary in the Running Happily Ever After household. The costume started off intact as you see here, but the humid evening quickly made a casualty of my mustache adhesive.  So I  ran 'sans mustache'.
I arrived at EPCOT before 7:00 to make a quick trip into park.  With a kiss from DisneyBride and some soda from the Cool Club, I headed for the buses to ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Boarding a bus a few minutes after 7:00 I assumed it would be smooth sailing. I was WRONG.  The traffic was horrendous and it took the better part of 35 minutes to get to our destination.  Upon arriving, the Wine and Dine atmosphere is very different from other runDisney events.  The promise of beer and wine at the finish makes it more adult themed than family-themed.  Not bad just different.  

I worked my way around the crowd, running into friends and making some new ones.  Eventually, I decided I needed some caffeine.  I headed to the vendors to buy a soda.  A few minutes later, the wind kicks up and then everyone is making a mad dash for the baseball stadium.  

I will skip the details of the weather delay and just say that I am a little disappointed that runDisney/Wide World of Sports didn't seem to have a better communication plan.  Depending on where the runner was pre-race, he or she may not have had any information.  The floor of the expo hall was the only place where I could hear announcements.  I assume that WWOS has more communication equipment, as I imagine that evacuation of the fields is a normal occurrence during the summer.  I do not fault the race organizers for the decision to shorten the race or to evacuate us (apparently due to lightning), please just do a better job with communication in the future.  Also note, that not all runners carry their phone during a race, so more frequent announcements to everyone would have been appreciated.

With the all-clear given, it was another mad dash to the start line.  It may have just been the quickest start of any runDisney race I have ever participated in.  Here is where I would like to give the volunteers a shout out.  They were evacuated as well, and still managed to get all their tasks done.  Everything from having the water stops setup and manned, to guiding runners back to the corrals. 

The course was shortened with the out and back to Animal Kingdom being removed.  The short course lead to pretty long waits at all the character stops.  My longest wait was almost 20 minutes for Buzz and Woody.  Everyone along the course seemed upbeat, despite confusion over the shortened course.  This is my third runDisney night race (after the final Tower of Terror 2014 and the final Expedition Everest 2015) and I really enjoyed them all. Looking forward to running the complete 13.1 course in a future year.  

This is the final year of the Osbourne Family Festival of Dancing Lights in Disney Hollywood Studios, so I was excited and nostalgic getting to run through there.

The Muppet Theater!

After Party

With the course being cut short, it appears EPCOT was unprepared for more people staying for the after party.  The lines for food, beer, and wine were crazy.  I would say that they were as bad as any weekend day I have spent at Food and Wine.  Again, the night races being accommodated by an after party is great.   The crowd never really seemed to thin, even when we left at 3:30. I was also impressed with the amount of characters, especially the ones you don't see too often, that were out meeting fans during the party.   

I just ran a Half Marathon of undetermined distance and all I got was LIGHT beer. 


Final Thoughts 

Even with the shortened course, I had a great time.  Sure, I'm disappointed that it wasn't a half marathon, but any run through Disney Parks is fun.  I also enjoyed the party-like atmosphere that the Wine and Dine Half race weekend is famous for.  The after party, while packed, was still fun.  I will do this race again, with the hopes of enjoying the full course and a less crowded after party.

And DisneyBride picked up my souvenir race banner above to add to the other collection in my office.  Now you see why my colleagues think I might be obsessed. 

Next up is the Space Coast Marathon. The theme for that race is PR or ER. Yep - you heard right, I'm going for a marathon PR this coming Sunday. See you on the course soon!


Who is your favorite Muppet?

Do you enjoy running or racing at night?

Fall Race Season Starts NOW

Fall means another race season is upon us. And as we take on new challenges, we are both super excited about this year's line up of events.

Disney Groom
My 2015/2016 race season kicks off this Saturday with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. This season is pretty packed with 4 marathons, 3 half marathons, and 2 legs (swim and run) of a half Ironman.  My schedule follows (with my famous commentary), if you are planning to attend any of these races, let me know. 

Disney Bride
My focus this fall and winter is to get strong on the bike as I prepare for a half Ironman relay in April 2016. To that end, I've really cut back on the number of running events.

runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon 11/7/15 
DG: We've been coming to Wine & Dine weekend every year since 2012 for the 5K.  Surprisingly, the half is the only Florida runDisney race we haven't run. I will be taking advantage of all the characters and entertainment on the course.  I will not be running this one with any focus on time - just about having fun!  I am looking forward to an epic Food and Wine festival at the conclusion of my run.  Someone save me a beer! FYI: I will have my favorite and best costume yet!

Also, I may not be running the 5K, but they can't keep me away! I will be volunteering at the Jingle Jungle 5k in the morning; I have not been given an assignment yet.  Keep a look out on twitter and instagram, I'll let everyone know where I am going to be. 

Space Coast Marathon 11/29/15 
DG: I have enjoyed this race the last two years.  This year I will be completing the Milky Way Challenge.  I am also shooting for a PR.  Its been awhile since I have gone for a marathon PR, so far my training has gone well.  It appears that a PR is well within reach. 

DB: This is a really well organized event.  The course support  is fantastic and I love getting to see so many of my runDisney friends again. I'm back for my third Space Coast Half Marathon 

Best Damn Race (Marathon) Cape Coral, FL 12/13/15
DG: The destination race that's not a destination race.  Cape Coral is the town where I grew up.  My parents live less than 5 miles from the starting line.  Depending on how things go at Space Coast, I may make a second attempt at a PR.  I look forward to a very flat course on very familiar streets.

Swamp Forest Trail Half Marathon 1/3/16
DG: Returning for my second year.  (Unless you count pacing DB for final 6 miles of this course when she ran it in 2013.)This is an absolutely amazing race on some beautiful trails in Tallahassee.  I plan on using this as a taper run for the Dopey Challenge. 

Walt Disney World runDisney Dopey Challenge 1/7-1/10/16
DG: Returning for year 3, I can't wait to join thousands of my runner friends for an epic 4 day race series.  I will continue my "Perfect Dopey" streak.   

DB: I'll be running the 5K and 10K (or what is quickly becoming known as the Bashful Challenge). Plus I'll be volunteering at the half and serving as sherpa during the full to support my Dopey.

Tallahassee Marathon 2/7/16
DG: This is the year I finally run a marathon in the town I live.  The Tallahassee Marathon has completely changed their course this year.  The new course features some of Tallahassee's most famous landmarks.  You should consider adding this race to your calendar. 

Ironman Florida 70.3 (Relay) Haines City, FL 4/10/16
DG: Because running by itself isn't crazy enough, DisneyBride has dragged me into the world of triathlon.  I fought it pretty hard, however, I am really enjoying the swimming.  This should be a really great event. I am doing the 1.2 mile swim and the 13.1 run.

DB: I am SO very excited for this! Am looking forward to this race like no other event that has come before. I am working with a coach to help me on the bike as I take on the longest leg of the event: a very HILLY 56 miles. Yes we do have hills in Florida.

Walt Disney World Star Wars Darkside Challenge + 5k 4/15-17/16
DG: RunDisney always seems to make a pretty big deal about new races.  I look forward to seeing what they have in store for this weekend. I'm in for the 5K & Dark Side Challenge (10K + 13.1).

DB: Okay - so this is just 4 days after our Ironman 70.3. Will we be wrecked?  Probably.  Can we pass up an Inaugural runDisney event in Florida? Heck no!  I'm in for the 5K and 10K.

The season will be busy, the training will be hard, and the glory will be eternal.  Don't forget to let us know if you will be running or volunteering at any of the above races.

Recap: Expedition Everest Challenge

Better late than never. We've been so busy with multi-sport training all summer that this recap has been sitting around in draft form since May.  oops! 

The Expedition Everest Challenge was one of the runDisney events we had been planning to do for years and just hadn't gotten around to actually doing.  For 2015 it was announced, would be the last year of this event, and we just had to make sure that we made that final trek.  The event is different from all other runDisney races.  You run your 5k race, and that is immediately followed by a scavenger hunt. Yeah! Cool, right? 

On to race weekend. 

We loaded up the car that morning and headed down to the "Expo".  We arrived in the Animal Kingdom parking lot at about 11:30am and took the photo of the #tinyexpo.  I understand that runDisney never advertised an expo, only a packet pick-up.  However, this is runDisney and this is a destination race. We feel they could have done better.  Most of the weekend had the feel that the race was only being done because they needed to check a box.  I hope this wasn't anyone's first runDisney race, if it was, please don't use this as a yardstick for other race weekends.

#tinyexpo   Seriously, this was the WHOLE THING!

Since we were already at the Animal Kingdom, we decide to take the afternoon and enjoy the park.  We always seem to enjoy cheesy games and experiences, and in keeping with the weekend's Expedition theme, we played the "Wilderness Explorer" Game.

Rocking the Wilderness Explorer book

We also made sure to run around Asia and check out some Everest merchandise, since the only merchandise at the #TinyExpo was the pin and a t-shirt.  


Neat Cap, probably should have picked one up


DisneyBride will always find a Dole Whip, even when they try to be sneaky and just call it a 'Pineapple Whip' (Tamu Tamu Refreshments)

Following our trip to the park and a quick bite for dinner, we headed back to the hotel to put together our "flat runners".  I will say that a night race does have the benefit of being able to sleep in.  So putting the flat runner together the night before was more of following a habit than needing to do so to get a few more minutes of sleep.

Race Day

Ahhh sleeping in is sweet.  Since we had never been to the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival, we decided to spend some time at EPCOT.  It's a lot like the Food and Wine Festival, just with more flowers and less food.  I really enjoyed the gardening displays, I don't think DisneyBride was as impressed. 

Beautiful arrangements were everywhere

Can't go to EPCOT without a picture with SpaceShip Earth.

I'm having a lot more fun that I appear to be. Really I promise.

Lunch in Morocco (vegan)

EPCOT had the coolest topiaries. 

'Frushi" dessert in Japan

While in the art store near the front of the park, I happened to ask the artist if they still had the Marathon Weekend art cells.  They did!  So I was able to get my Dopey drawing that I missed out on during Marathon Weekend.  I think it turned out great. 

Race Evening

I really enjoy the night races.  I'm not quite sure why, but normally at home, I would be in bed by the time the runDisney night races start.  There is just something about running in a large group of people at a time where the rest of the world won't judge you for a post-run beer.

DJ @Disney_Bride rocking the house for Carissa Bealart

I was not disappointed in the costumes this year.  I think my favorite may have gone to the woman dressed as Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons.  I told her I was the one destined to sit on the Iron Throne. She was not amused, but she didn't sic her dragons on me at least.  

And we're off!

The 5k portion of the race was pretty similar to any other runDisney race. I believe it is the same course as the Jingle Jungle 5K during Wine and  Dine Half weekend.  However, it felt different, since we got to run through Animal Kingdom at night.  Unfortunately, there was construction that seemed to block many of the good views within the park.  However, the darkness added a cool something extra to the race. 

Unlike other runDisney races, this one has a few obstacles.  Pretty timid by Spartan and Tough Mudder standards, but an interesting touch.  Perhaps runDisney will require Dopey participants to actually mine some precious stones in January before awarding finishers medals.

Enjoy the view!

I'm convinced that they used trailer tires, my size 13 feet couldn't fit in most of them.

The scavenger hunt was  more challenging than I had expected.  We can debate the meaning of digital vs. analog all day, but just know that the scavenger hunt was not for the ill-prepared.   


Keeping with runDisney customs, we spent Sunday running around the parks wearing our medals.  The Fairy Godmother spent some time enjoying our running/scavenger hunt success.  It was odd only seeing a few people wearing medals, it's nothing like the larger race weekends where 1/2 the park guests are wearing their medals.  

Pretty neat medal!  We heard there were many that broke. Both of ours managed to stay in one piece.

Following our day in the park, and getting ready to make the drive back to Tallahassee we decide to try and get a meal from the world famous Chef TJ at the Trails End restaurant.  Chef TJ prepared us a very tasty 5 course vegan meal. 


Post meal! My "food baby" is huge!

We stole one of Mickey's shoes for Magnus! Just kidding, there is a new line of pet accessories and we picked up several items to bring home to our spoiled puppy.

Final Thoughts

While I am very glad we made the trip down to run this 5K,  I now understand why runDisney is no longer hosting this race.  It appeared that this race was an afterthought, from the "tiny expo" to the lack of interaction in social media.  The premise of the weekend is a good one: both a physical and mental challenge.  Would like to see this pairing return in some way for a future event.   

What did you think of this race? 
Did you run it this year or a previous year?

See you at Wine and Dine in November!