This past weekend I participated in the 2014 runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend events for the first time. Before I go much further – spoiler alert – the title of this post, Splash and Dash 2014 – does provide some foreshadowing. But let’s get started – first, the Jingle Jungle 5K on Saturday morning followed by the Wine and Dine Half Marathon that night.
The 5K officially starts at 7 am and they ask you to be on site by 6 am. We enjoyed looking around at the different costumes – some really creative ones. I was running in an actual costume for the first time (other races I’ve used more of an “inspired by” kind of theme) so it was fun to find others wearing the same one (I was Olaf – lots of us this year!).
Finally we were off!
Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K follows the same course through Disney’s Animal Kingdom as May’s Expedition Everest Challenge. Only this time you get to do it in the light! We stopped for all, or most, of the character photo ops. Because of this it probably took us close to an hour to “run” this 5K. It’s billed as a fun run, but the Type A in me had a difficult time watching people go by us as we waited in some long lines for character photos! I kept reminding myself I was doing this for the experience with my friend, and the photos would last far longer than any memory of my time.
So the first race of my weekend, of my DAY, was done, and I had more than 12 hours to kill before starting the next one. Of course, it being the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, we took full advantage!
Now, during this time, there were lots of us running the half marathon that night who were obsessively checking the weather apps on our phones. While the weather during the morning and afternoon certainly looked nice enough, our apps were telling us something different was brewing to the west. The only real questions were: what time would it hit, how bad would it be, and how long would it last. We could make guesses based on the data, but suffice to say, it didn’t look good for us half marathoners.
I didn’t get on a bus to the starting line at the ESPN Wide World of Sports until 9 pm. The weather was cool and dry… for a little while. In my corral the rain started. A few sprinkles at first, and I pulled out a poncho and put it on. By the time the race started, it was raining – not sprinkling or drizzling, but raining. As we passed the lighted announcers’ tent we could see heavy rain in those lights! I decided to keep my poncho on for awhile.
Around Mile 3, the eye on my Mike Wazowski costume fell off. A short time later, I abandoned my poncho. I was wet through and through, and the poncho was annoying. I was also questioning my sanity to run 13.1 miles in this blankety-blank weather.
The course basically takes you down Osceloa Parkway to Animal Kingdom, through the park, back out and around towards Hollywood Studios, through that park, and then along the walkway to the Boardwalk, past the Yacht and Beach Clubs, into Epcot and out into the Epcot parking lot for the finish. It’s a great three-park race, and the last 5 miles really fly by with mostly park time from the Studios on. It’s a great boost for the last almost-half of the race.
That said, the highlight of the course for me was running through the Osborne Lights at the Studios. It was truly magical. I stopped here and took a few photos and tried to soak it in.
I did not stop at all for character photos because I did not want to be in the weather for even a minute longer than necessary. For those who did stop, the lines were pretty short when I ran by. However, many of the planned character stations were vacated without a character in sight. Entertainment, especially during the highway portions of the race, was sparse. I know many, many people run runDisney races for the character photos and, unfortunately, this one didn’t have a lot.
The weather was a very unfortunate factor for the half marathon, but obviously we can’t predict it 7 months in advance (when registration typically happens), and it certainly can’t be controlled. Running 13.1 miles in the rain isn’t always a whole lot of fun, but the volunteers at water stops, at turns in the course, at photo opportunity spots all had to stand there. They weren’t moving, and with few exceptions, had no shelter. A race like this cannot be run without the thousands of volunteers and I tip my hat to each and every one. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Highlight #2 was finishing the race. Crossing that line and knowing “I DID IT” was a fantastic feeling. Also, my friends were there to meet me and that was super special!
My 5K race was a blast, because I ran it with a friend, and we just had fun with it. My half race was miserable with the cold and rain, but supremely awesome with running through three parks, seeing Osborne Lights in full regalia, and the pride of finishing another half marathon. The final highlight didn’t sink in till the next day but it was along the lines of – I ran a half marathon in the POURING RAIN. Yes, I did! Wow, I’m pretty awesome!
Did you run the 2014 Splash and Dash? I mean, Wine and Dine? What was your experience?