Well the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend definitely lived up to all of my expectations! This was by far the best race weekend I have attended so far. The expo was great, the race was exciting, and the after party was a ton of fun! More to come on all of that later… Now, let’s start with a recap of the amazing runDisney meetup I was invited to attend on Friday.
The meetup was held in Epcot and it was early. My roomie (and partner in crime) for the weekend, Amanda from Disney Every Day, and I made our way over to the park just as the sun was coming up and got to see this amazing site…
There were about 40 people in attendance, along with a few runDisney folks and some special guests. We all checked in, got our awesome runDisney shirts and got to know each other a bit. It was great to finally meet so many fellow runners that I have been talking to through social media for so long!
Now it was off to run around Epcot!! Instructions were given out by the runDisney team and we were told that there would be two groups taking off to run the 1.7 loop. The first would be the super fast runners (clearly not me), who would be running the entire time at a 9-10 minute per mile pace. Leading that group would be Anton Van Zyl, two time winner of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. The next group would be led by Jeff Galloway and using his run-walk-run method…definitely more my style.
After the first group left, we were off! It was really neat to have Epcot all to ourselves just as it was waking up. Our group did a 30 second run/ 30 second walk with Jeff Galloway leading the charge. And look who we met along the way…
From Future World, we headed into World Showcase and went clockwise around the lagoon. We did one full loop and met up with the other group back in Germany.
Once we all got to Germany, we went into Biergarten for a continental breakfast and some really great presentations! I had never been inside Biergarten, so I was stoked about that. it was also nice to share those big tables with friends and fellow runners instead of with strangers eating sausage…just sayin.
Bob Hitchcock and Faren Kelly of runDisney both welcomed us to the event and talked about the evolution of runDisney over the past few years. Did you know that the brand has only existed for two short years?! It has become more than just a few races weekends, but it is transforming into a lifestyle. Can’t I attest to that!! With the addition of training and dietary consultants, runDisney is giving runners the tools to incorporate healthy changes into their everyday lives.
Jeff Galloway took the stage next to give us some tips to keep in mind for the race the next day. The most helpful I found were to:
- Pace yourself out of the starting gate
- For night races, don’t over eat after noon and focus on foods that digest easily
- Drink at least 6 glasses of water throughout the day prior to the race
- Create a mantra
- Focus on pumping your arms
- Don’t skip aide stations
- Use compression for recovery
- Make sure to take rest days when training
- Nutrition and hydration is very important – he finds Coke very helpful…interesting!
- Use caffeine to stay focused, not to increase speed
- Have fun! Anton shared that his favorite character to take a photo with at runDisney events is Donald Duck (Yes, he wins races AND stops for character photos!)
After Tara’s very helpful presentation (you know how I love nutrition!), we were treated to a culinary demonstration by Chef Steff, aka the Sports Chef. It is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, so the day wouldn’t be complete without some food! We were treated to a tasting of Chef’s Famous Spaghetti Pie, which is a great post-run meal. I’m trying to avoid gluten, but I did have a few bites and it was very good!
There was one last surprise in store for us before the program was over. Mickey had changed from his run and came out to to help Chef Steff cook! I love Chef Mickey!!
Once the formal program was over, we all headed outside for photos…lots and lots of photos!
Before we left the park, the group made one last stop at the Norway pavilion. Next to the Stave Church, there is a beautiful bronze statue of Grete Waitz. Grete was a marathon runner who won many races, including nine New York City Marathons. She held numerous other world records during her career in almost every race distance. She sadly passed away last year from cancer at the age of 57. As fellow runners, we all stopped to pay our respects and take a group photo in tribute to this amazing athlete.
What an amazing morning! I have never had more fun getting up at 5:30 am!! It’s events like this that make runDisney race weekends stand out from other races and why I keep coming back. Have you ever been to a runDisney meet up?
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media. My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.