Posts Tagged by Animal Kingdom

The Final Expedition Everest Challenge

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Well folks, this is it.  The final running of the Expedition Everest Challenge.  I remember the first year the challenge took place, I was in Walt Disney World for our honeymoon.  I tried to convince B to do it, but that idea got shot down quickly.  I guess his idea of a honeymoon did not include running a 3 mile obstacle course.  I was more intrigued by the scavenger hunt portion of the event, but that still had no appeal to him.  Turns out it was a good thing we decided not to do it because there was a monsoon that evening.  We returned from a night in the parks dodging rain storms and came across numerous soggy, miserable looking runners in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  But enough about that, let’s get to this year’s race!

Part 5K, part obstacle course, part scavenger hunt, the Expedition Everest Challenge is one of the most unique race weekends runDisney has to offer.  It is definitely more about fun and friendly competition than serious racing.  All of this ends with a fun afterparty in the shadow of the mountain itself.  Oh and you get some super cool medals!

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Let’s take a look at some of the race details…

Packet Pick-Up

For this final year, runDisney has moved packet pick-up to the Animal Kingdom Parking lot.  Unlike other races, there is no Health & Fitness Expo to attend.  There is sure to be some runDisney commemorative items and great photo ops available, but don’t expect a big vendor show to pick up last minute race needs. Packet pick-up hours are:

  • Friday, May 1st: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, May 2nd: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Participants in all of the races MUST attend packet pick-up to turn in signed waivers (click here to print your waiver) and collect race packets, which include your race bib with B-Tag timing devices, race shirt, and gEAR bag.  The gEAR bag doubles at the bag to use for bag check during the race.  This is also where you will receive any commemorative items you may have purchased during registration, such as pins.  If you are part of a team, both team members must be together to get your packets.

Resort Transportation & Parking

Bus transportation will be available for participants staying at resort hotels to and from packet pick-up and the race. Buses will run during the following times:

  • Friday, May 1st: 11:30 am – 6:30 pm (last bus will leave for the resorts at 7:30 pm)
  • Saturday, May 2nd: 7:30 am – 1:30 pm (last bus will leave for the resorts at 2:30 pm)
  • Saturday, May 2nd: 7:45 pm – 9:00 pm & 10:15 pm – 3:00 am

These are the host resorts for the weekend:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort

If not staying at a host resort, participants will need to provide their own transportation.  Parking will be at the Animal Kingdom parking lot.

Costumes

Costumes are one of the best parts of any Disney race and this race seems to bring out some of the best! Yetis, Wilderness Explorers, you name it!  The Disney Parks Blog has some great ideas for costumes if you haven’t figured yours out yet.

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Please note that runners are NOT allowed to wear a face mask of any kind and will be removed from the course if this is violated.  This is for your own safety, especially during a night race!  So who are you dressing up as??

Bag Check

Participants MUST use the clear bag provided at the expo to check any belongings during the race and affix the label with their bib number on the outside.  Bag check will be located in the Animal Kingdom parking lot from 8:15 pm – 1:30 am.

Tip for you: Put a small, lightweight backpack or duffle bag inside your clear gEAR bag to transfer everything into after the race.  The strings on the gEAR bags make them horribly uncomfortable to carry around if you are planning on staying for the after party.

Race Bibs

Bibs must be centered on the front of your shirt.  Safety pins will be provided in your race packet at the expo.  Do not bend our fold your bib, as the ChronoTrack B-tag will be affixed to the back of the bib which will be used to track your time.  If your bib is not properly centered, damaged or covered, your time may not be recorded properly.  Your bib will also be used for the on course photographers, so make sure the number is clearly visible.

Pacing Requirements

You must keep a minimum of 16-minutes per mile for the 5K adventure run.  If you fall below this pace you will will run the risk of getting swept.  Pace cyclists will be on the course to let you know if you have fallen behind.  Your final time will be based on your cumulative time for the 5K adventure race and scavenger hunt.

Aid Stations

There will be 2 water stops along the course.  One along the 5K adventure race and one at the start of the scavenger hunt.  There is also a first aid station at the start and finish line.

5K Adventure Race & Scavenger Hunt

The 5K Adventure Race will begin promptly at 10:00 pm in the Butterfly parking lot at the Animal Kingdom.  Runners must arrive no later than 9:00 pm.  There are a few obstacles along the course that you can complete individually or as a team.  The course will be closed at 11:45 pm.

After completing the 5K, participants will receive their first clue for the scavenger hunt.  Answers to all of the clues will be found throughout Animal Kingdom.  Once all clues are completed, teams and individuals must cross the finish line back in the Butterfly parking lot.  The course will be closed at 1:00 am.

Post-Race Party

The Post-Race Party will take place from 10:30 pm – 2:30 am in the Dinoland USA area of Animal Kingdom.  Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids and all of the attractions in Dinoland will be open during the party.  Race registration includes access to the party and spectators can still purchase tickets here.  Wristbands for the party must be collected at packet pick-up.

Everest at Night

More information on the Expedition Everest Challenge is available on the runDisney website and in the Official Event Guide for the weekend.  Also, check out some of my packing tips as your get ready to travel and one of my plans for prepping for night races.  Lastly, check out recaps from 2014 & 2012 from some great guest writers here on RAD.

If you’ll be in WDW for the Expedition Everest Challenge, head over to Starbucks at Downtown Disney’s Westside from 3:00 – 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 2nd for a fun meet-up with my friends from Kingdom Magic Runners!  You’ll meet some fellow runDisney enthusiasts and get some fun giveaways too!  Get more details and RSVP here.

This is the only WDW race weekend I haven’t participated in and I’m pretty bummed that it won’t be returning.  I LOVE scavenger hunts so this really is right up my alley.  Sadly it’s just never worked out with my schedule.  I hope you all have a wonderful time and enjoy ever moment of this unique race!  If you are interested in writing about your experience, send me an email and I’ll feature you’re story here on RAD!

Good luck finding the Yeti!

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Registration Opens Today for the 2015 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

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Registration opens today at Noon EST for the 2015 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend!  Named as the perfect “Runner’s Night Out,” this race takes you through 3 Walt Disney World parks and ends at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  How can you go wrong with that?!

All running events take place on Saturday, November 7th beginning with Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K at 7:00 am at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  (Here’s a great review of that race from 2013!)  Later that morning at the New Balance Track & Field Complex, located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS), are the Kids Races with the dashes starting at 10:00 am and the 1-mile run at 10:45 am.  And if that’s not enough running for one day, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon starts at 10:00 pm in the WWOS parking lot.  This nighttime race takes runners through Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and finishes at Epcot…the only Disney Half Marathon to take you through 3 parks…and ends with free beer & wine at the finish!

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Other events taking place over the weekend are the Pre-Race Taste and the Finish Line Party.  The Pre-Race Taste is a 1 1/2 hour event on Friday, November 6th located at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! Theater inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios and features food from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, entertainment and unique photo opportunities.  The Finish Line Party is a great event for runners and their supporters.  It takes place at Epcot following the Wine & Dine Half Marathon where select attractions including Soarin’, Test Track and Mission: SPACE are open until 4:00 am for those attending the party.  Another added bonus is that all of the Food & Wine Festival kiosks are open during the party to feed your post race hunger!!

Pricing for the events are as follows:

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

  • $190 by March 31, 2015
  • $205 between April 1 and April 14, 2015
  • $220 on or after April 15, 2015

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

  • $65 by April 14, 2015
  • $75 on or after April 15, 2015

runDisney Kids’ Races

  • $15 by April 14, 2015
  • $20 on or after April 15, 2015

runDisney 1-Mile Run

  • $30 by April 14, 2015
  • $35 on or after April 15, 2015

Disney Wine & Dine Pre-Race Taste Tickets

  • $79 for Adults (ages 3 and up)
  • Children under 3 do not need a ticket

Finish Line Party Tickets

  • $75 by August 12, 2015
  • $85 between August 13 and October 28, 2015
  • $95 on or after October 29, 2015

The price tag for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon is a bit higher than other Disney races, but it includes a few extra perks.  You get the usual amazing Disney entertainment on the course, a long sleeve tech shirt, and race medal, but also included is admission to the Finish Line Party at Epcot and a $15 gift card (increased from $10 in previous years) to use at the Food & Wine Festival kiosks!

Packet pick-up will be required at the Health & Fitness Expo held at WWOS beginning November 6, 2015.  Remember you MUST pick up your own packet.  Visit the runDisney event page for more information on all of the events taking place that weekend and click here to register for any (or all!) of the events beginning at noon today.

rad-wine-dine-aLooking for a place to stay over Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend?  Kingdom Magic Vacations has rooms available at various Walt Disney World resorts from Value to Deluxe.  Not only will they get you the best rate, but they are experts when it comes to running at Disney.  They will help you plan the perfect racecation and take care of every little detail for you.  All you have to do is the training!  Click here to get a free quote.

You can also check out some of these RAD recaps for more info on what the events are like:

2014

2013

2012

As per usual with runDisney races lately, this is sure to sell out quickly.  Make sure you are at your computer with credit card in hand when the clock strikes noon!  This is such a fun race and I can’t say enough good things about it…well if the weather cooperates. 🙂  Will you be running in 2015? 

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Mission to Marathon: 2015 WDW Marathon Recap

We’ve been following Hannah’s journey to marathon redemption in her Mission to Marathon series for a year now.  She has shared the realities of training and given up some great tips!  Well it all led up to WDW Marathon Weekend and when Hannah DID complete her first marathon, but not without some difficulties. This is a wonderfully honest recap and I’m so proud to feature it here.  

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Things NOT to do when preparing for a marathon:

  1. Don’t train (like…at all)
  2. Don’t hydrate/fuel in the days leading up to the race
  3. Don’t hydrate/fuel properly the morning of the race
  4. Don’t stretch or strength train to manage a prior injury
  5. Be super anxious and stressed not just for the race, but also about other aspects of your life

Yup…don’t do those things. But guess what, you can do all of them and still finish.

I’m not in any way advising you to do those things. And, I’m not suggesting it is a smart move to run a marathon after you’ve done them, but it is possible.

But back to what you want to hear about — The RACE!

Expo

Running at Disney is like nothing else. It is a completely different experience from other races you will run in. There is entertainment and support from volunteers and spectators that far exceeds any other race. Fair warning that I do not have many pictures. Well, none from the race itself. I will try to throw a few in and at the end you can click the link to watch my video (unedited raw footage and probably not that thrilling to most people, but you can see me fake a smile while in pain and head from the finish line to the med tent…but more on that later!).

Miles 1-5: Just full of anticipation. I feel like Magic Kingdom gets further and further away with every race, but it’s really just that it seems like the early part of the race, but it is five miles in so it its quite a bit of time before you actually get there.

Miles 5-6: Oh man, that anticipation kills you from mile five to entering the Kingdom. You’re SO close! And then you get your reward, you get to run down Main Street!!! This part of the course is PACKED with spectators and they are awesome! Hang a right and head through Tomorrowland then through Fantasyland before heading through the Castle. Yup! Disney lets you run through it.

The hubs and I got separated (bathroom break) so I waited on the backside of the castle until he caught up so we could run through together. Oh, and thanks to Anna and Elsa for a the little Disney magic of sprinkling snow! You finish up by running through Liberty Square and Frontierland before heading back outside the park. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Starting to think 10k is my distance, haha.

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Miles 6-8.5ish: This is a bit of a boring stretch, but it’s not that long and you’re still on a high from all the fun at Magic Kingdom.

Mile 8.5-9: Running the Track! This is truly a cool experience and the only race you get to run here! Here is where I was really wishing I’d kept up with training. Not because I was hurting, but because I knew I needed energy to get me through the entire race so I had to stay focused through here rather than enjoying myself. I come from a car/racing family so this is a big thrill for me and I couldn’t even pay attention to the cars.

Miles 9-12ish: Another boring stretch. I was starting to feel a little bit of the fatigue at this point. We had been doing 5/1 run/walk ratio and cut it down to about 4/1 at this point.

Miles 12-13: I love running through Animal Kingdom. Just be careful of your footing because the park is a bit rougher than the others! We got to see Monkeys jumping around and the park is already open by this point so people are out and cheering on all the runners. We debated riding Expedition Everest but decided if we sat down in the cars we couldn’t get back out at this point, haha.

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Mile 13.1: This was such a great point for me! Halfway done and also where the hubs and I parted ways last year. It was so nice to pound through this point and keep going, TOGETHER!

Miles 13-17: Last year I hobbled through until 16.5ish after the hubs went on his way. This is a long stretch on the dreaded Osceola Parkway. It started drizzling and then raining while we were running here. This was probably the beginning of my downfall. I don’t do well with weather changes under normal circumstance and rain just makes me cold. The bigger problem came after the rain stopped and then it got muggy hot. Ick! Oh, also, they switched up one of the fuel stops and instead of Clif Shots they had Clif Bars. I wish I had looked at the course map and known this. I would’ve scarfed down one of my own gels before the water stop. Instead I tried to choke down a dry, gritty Clif bar (sorry…but that’s what they taste like after 14ish miles). I only got about a third down before pitching it.

Miles 17-20: When you really look at it, you are in ESPN for quite a long time! Its a nice change of pace because you get to run off the track, but its also a windy route so its a bit confusing and turns you around. It started drizzling again through here. Also, my LEAST favorite part of the course. I HATE running through the baseball stadium. At this point in the race (or at any point) you don’t want grit and dirt kicking up into the backs of your shoes. You gotta slllooooooowwwww down to avoid this and it stinks. The crowds through there are a great, but I gotta be honest that they could cut this out and I wouldn’t care a bit.

Miles 20-22: This is where I really started to sink. I think everything just started hitting me at once. The Achilles in my right foot and my left IT band/knee were killing me so I was doing a bit of a shuffle. The hubs kept trying to get me to run, but it wasn’t happening.

Miles 22-23: Hollywood Studios! Woot woot! A little boost of energy to run through the park, but only after a pit stop for me to sit down and breath. I know sitting is bad, but I was light headed and afraid I’d pass out. The chocolate candy (holla at ya Hershey’s!) helped, but not enough. But the run through the park, past the hat and out the entrance was great!

Hollywood

Miles 23-25: What? We’re this far into the race? Really?! Running through the Boardwalk was really neat, but that lightheadedness and the slat boards of the boardwalk were just making me dizzy. Hubs said there were a lot more spectators out by this part of the race last year, but it was pretty sparse when we came through. Still fun and a great part of the race!

Miles 25-26: The LONGEST trip you will ever take around World Showcase! BTW…anyone else on the slower than slow track of this marathon, did you see John Stamos at Mexico? Hubs says “That guy looked like John Stamos” and I said, “I’m pretty sure it was” and then we kept moving. He had a sort of entourage and came running out to cheer someone on, so we’re thinking it was actually him? Anyone confirm?? On the bridge between World Showcase and Future World I took my 3-4 sit break to catch my breath. At this point I realized I wasn’t sweating, but there was no way I wasn’t finishing!

Epcot

Miles 26-26.2: Hubs tried to get me to run the WHOLE .2 miles but it wasn’t happening. We did hold hands and run across the finish line! Yay!! Such vindication after last year. It felt awesome!

Post race: But immediately after the finish line I veered right towards an RN from the medical tent and a wheelchair. She, of course, got us our medals before wheeling me to the tent itself where they checked my vitals, gave me fluids and a heated blanket. We were there for about a half hour while I got my body back under control. They didn’t officially say what it was, but we are thinking heat exhaustion from my symptoms. After about 10 mins of being there I started getting really confused and was shaking and crying…but they gave me the heated blanket at that point and some powerade and after another 10 mins I was feeling much better.

I am so very grateful to have my wonderful husband who puts up with me and all my craziness. He was the reason I crossed the finish line and helped calm me down in the medical tent. He was so encouraging and uplifting. I was afraid I was disappointing him, but he was just so proud of me pushing through. And, I am so proud of him for finishing his second marathon (without training)!

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We hopped a bus back to our resort, grabbed some food and rested in our room for a bit (with compression socks on…get some if you don’t have them). We were planning to head to Downtown Disney in the evening, but it was chilly and rainy, and my left knee was killing me. We ended up just doing a walk up dinner at Maya Grill at our Resort, Coronado Springs. I highly recommend this restaurant, especially if you are staying at Coronado. The food was delicious! We only ate about half our meals so we took them back and enjoyed the remainder for breakfast the next day (cold Tex-Mex is pretty good)!

So you CAN do everything wrong and still finish a marathon, but you will hurt like you’ve never hurt before, might end up in the medical tent, and will be so mad at yourself that you won’t enjoy the race.

That’s my recap!

Marathon Finisher Hannah

Congrats Hannah on finishing your first marathon and for being so honest about your experience.  I know first hand that it is an incredibly difficult experience.  

Here is Hannah’s raw footage from the Marathon and I think it perfectly shows the ups and downs of the race.  It’s not all smiles and running…and that’s ok 🙂

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Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at www.workorrun.com, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 1 – The Wine & Dine Half Marathon

I am SO excited about this two-part series!!  Ashleigh contacted me about doing a guest post on her runDisney experience and when I found out that she was traveling all the way from Australia to run both the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend AND the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge, I couldn’t wait to hear all about it!!  Here’s Part 1 of Ashleigh’s adventure!

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Hello everybody! Sarah kindly asked if I would blog about my experience running Disney as an Australian having travelled over to the States for Wine and Dine and Avengers. I will be writing a two part series, talking about my trip as a whole and the excitement of Disney and the runDisney races.

Deciding to travel half way across the world for a couple of races was not as easy decision. I am not what you would call a natural runner, I am about as far from a natural runner as you can imagine. I began running in July 2011 when I signed up for a 5k with my mum in support of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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My mum and I after my first 5k!

After that I was hooked- I signed up for another 5k and another and another, then a 10k and finally a half marathon a year and a bit later. I found out about runDisney when I saw it mentioned on Facebook, and after doing some research I began following Jeff Galloway’s run-walk program, which is what gave me the confidence to sign up for more races after my first 5k. As someone who has always struggled with running and I had some pretty bad experiences with sport in school (not so supportive physical education teachers), the idea that someone who had run marathons at Olympic level was telling me it was okay to take short walk breaks when I ran was amazing.

So that brought me to the idea of runDisney- I liked everything it stood for, running for the fun of it, running not be the best but to be the best me and hello…Disney characters on course!?! Photo opportunities!?! Wear my medals around at the park the next day and have people stop and congratulate me!?! YES PLEASE!!!

I love living in Australia, but the running culture here is very different. We don’t have runDisney or Rock n Roll or Diva running events. Everything feels a lot more serious, and there are a lot less races. The fields are smaller, but the quality of runners is higher, so there are still quick finishing times, but at my home state of Victoria’s big half marathon (The Melbourne half marathon), I was at the back of the pack with a 2:41:57 finish.

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My first half marathon finish!

I mean right at the back, which is fine with me- but the idea of being able to run a race where there are other runners just like me- people running for fun and to better themselves even though they might not be the speediest runners, really appealed to me. So runDisney was officially on my radar. But how does one justify flights, accommodation and an international trip for a race? With great difficulty!

After finishing university and settling into work I got some hard news that a very dear friend had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was really hard to wrap my head around the fact that a friend only a few years older than me had suddenly been told that he had an incurable disease that would essentially affect the rest of his life. The reasons I had chosen not to do runDisney were stupid. Money. Work. The difficulty in planning. They were not good reasons to miss out on something that I was so passionate about. Life is short and if we don’t take opportunities when they come up, we might end up missing out on them altogether.

So when registration opened for Wine and Dine 2014 I took the plunge- the race was on my birthday, and I took that as a sign. I followed that with registration for Avengers (and registration for Dopey but more on that another time). I was registered and I was over the moon- then came the training. I actually had my strongest training block ever, even though it was actually Dopey training, so I left Australia feeling excited, because I knew I was ready.

After a lot of flying-Maningrida-Darwin, Darwin-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth, Dallas Fort Worth- Orlando, I finally arrived at Walt Disney World with my boyfriend who joined me for the trip and acted as support crew for the runs. We hit up the parks everyday and when we went to the expo I went crazy!

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My expo purchases! A very successful day in my book!

KT tape sells for $30 a roll in Austrailia and was 2 for $30 at the expo. Dr Kool- doesn’t exist in Australia? Cindy shoes- tick. Goofy shoes-tick. Pins- tick. Tumbler- tick. I did it shirt- tick. Tech shirt- tick. You get the idea. I loved the energy at the expo, it was a little crazy but really well organized so even as a first time runDisney participant, I found it really easy to navigate my way around and find everything I needed.

When I saw my bib for the first time I couldn’t believe it. Me. Ashleigh. I was running in a runDisney race. It was amazing. On Saturday we woke up and went to Animal Kingdom for a few hours before returning to the room at about 2. I used this time to nap, relax, re read the participant info booklet, and double/triple/quadruple check I had everything ready for the race. I went with a simple wonder woman themed costume, and even though temps were set to be around 55-65 degrees, I opted to run in just a t-shirt and running skirt as I find I overheat very quickly and I didn’t want to be stripping off during the run.

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Simple Wonder Woman inspired costume. It was super comfy to run in!

I jumped on the bus at Port Orleans French Quarter at around 7, and I arrived at the race by about 7:20. When I arrived at the race I quickly jumped in line for a photo with Chef Mickey- which proved to be a smart choice because by the time I had my photo taken the line had about doubled (and I ended up being in line for approx ½ hour).

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Chef Mickey and I. I love this photo!

I decided to skip the other character photos and instead take some time to sit down and relax before the start. Some very friendly runners chatted with me while we waited for the corrals to open, and at about 9:00 I made my way into the corral.

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

Corral G! I was really happy with my corral placement- it was an excellent fit!

A gentleman in the corral kindly gave me a garbage bag as it started to rain almost as soon as we stepped into the corral and this ended up continuing for almost the whole race. Thank you to that mystery man- it was VERY MUCH appreciated! As I stood at the start line watching the fireworks go off, I was overcome by a sense of gratefulness. I was grateful for everything, the ability to run, the chance to be there, the opportunities that I had allowed myself.

The start line was amazing!

The start line was amazing!

I stripped off my garbage bag and bounded off as soon the fireworks went off for my corral.

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The fireworks were even more amazing. I can’t think of a better way to start a race!

I had decided to run 4:1 intervals and stop for as many photo stops as I liked, because it is not everyday you get to run at Disney! I stopped at every mile marker for a selfie, and I stopped for photos with the fairies, Timone, the Animal Kingdom tree, Buzz and Woody, the Incredibles back drop, the Osbourne lights and Captain Jack Sparrow. I also saw photo ops (but didn’t stop) for King Louie, a Star Wars character (sorry I am not a big Star Wars fan) and Country Bears.

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I could be forgetting a couple, the race was a bit of a whirlwind. I heard the green army men yelling at people but I don’t remember seeing them, I kept thinking I was about to run past them but it never happened- they may have been on the other side of the road. As for the actual running part, it may have been raining, but I was having a ball. I run in km in Australia so I just imagined that every mile marker was a km marker, so it felt like the race was only 13km!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

Of course I stopped with the Australian mile marker!

The course was really interesting as it began at ESPN, then through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before finishing in Epcot. As someone who wasn’t overly familiar with the Disney World property it was actually a great way to tour around and see the parks. Although there were some huge puddles, there were lots of cast members and volunteers pointing them out, the aid stations were well organized and the medical tents and staff were amazing. I really enjoyed running through the parks because there was just so much to look at. I honestly remembered feeling disappointed at the 6 mile mark because I was sad it was half way over. I was hi fiving cast members left, right and centre and I loved the way random runners would strike up conversation for a couple of minutes. While many people complained about the weather, nothing was going to rain on my parade on Saturday night!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

Still feeling awesome at mile 9!

As we ran along the Boardwalk I was just so excited to see that finish line, and once I saw Spaceship Earth, I knew I was almost there. As I had run so conservatively the whole race, I had heaps of gas left in the tank and basically sprinted toward Mickey, hi fived him and then leapt across the finish line. I was given a finishers medal, wrapped in a space blanket and lead down the chute. I had my photo taken before being given some food.

I was lucky enough to have my lovely boyfriend waiting in Epcot with dry clothes so I could skip Gear Check, and I skipped grabbing a drink because the lines were just too hectic. I am a super impatient person so having all those people around and lines barely moving equals a very grumpy Ashleigh. I decided it would be best for my sanity if I just skipped the drink and moved straight through to the after party where I could have some breathing room- and show off my awesome medal! I met my boyfriend at the Australia (of course!) pavilion in Epcot and changed into some nice dry clothes and got some photos with my medal.

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

Very happy to have my medal and be in dry clothes!

We ended up finding Dopey and Snow White and Pinocchio- I was disappointed that I had just missed Donald (my favorite). I was starving so we went to Italy, Morocco and Brazil and that satisfied my post run hunger. We decided to leave at around 3:15, but unfortunately our bus had a huuuuge waiting line, so I think we waited around ½ hour before we managed to get on the bus, and by this time the rain had started to get heavier. We arrived back at French Quarter and I had a quick shower before settling into bed at around 4:15am.

A Disney race wouldn’t be complete without post race, park touring with my medal. I had heard some horror stories about people’s medals breaking and people losing the spinner middle from the medal, so I decided to play it safe and only wear the medal in photos. The rest of the day it was tucked safely into my pocket. Even though I was a little disappointed I couldn’t wear my medal, I would have been devastated if it had have broken, so I think I made a good choice to just use it for photo ops. I loved showing off my medals at the parks and it was awesome having total strangers come up to me and congratulate me!

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My Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend trip was a blast, and as I write this I am getting ready to race Avengers in California and get my coast to coast. I had an awesome experience running Disney and I am already planning my next runDisney trip!

Ash J

*****

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Ashleigh’s runDisney adventure at the Avengers Half Marathon coming up tomorrow!

Sticking Together for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Talk of rain began in the days leading up to Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. There is always afternoon rain in Orlando as the 4:00 pm thunderstorms roll through, so I didn’t think much of it at first. However once race week rolled around, the sense of dread started to set in. It was looking more and more like the rain was going to arrive late Saturday night and on through Sunday morning. This was not just a passing storm…

Fun fact…I have never ran in the rain before. Maybe through a few sprinkles on a training run, but for no longer than 3 miles or so. Another fun fact…I hate having wet shoes. This is one of the reasons I’ve never done a Warrior Dash, Spartan Race or similar mud-themed race. Wet shoes = blisters and an unpleasant time.  Wait…are those really FUN facts?? Sigh…

So I arrived on Thursday before the race and enjoyed all things Food & Wine and even went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the first time.  I was having a blast…life was grand!!  Then I woke up Saturday morning to grey skies and a not so promising weather forecast.  I can’t say I was thrilled about the race at this point, but I was just going to make the best of it. I knew that I had a bunch of friends that were going to be in corral H with me so my new goal was to get through it with as many laughs along the way as possible.

My running buddy Amanda and I decided that since the rain was imminent our best bet would be to leave her car at Epcot so we could make a quick exit after the race incase we were soaked. We were able to park close enough to the finish line (or so we thought) that I left my gEAR bag in the car instead of schlepping it all the way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to check it. So we boarded the buses to the starting line and our journey began…

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Since we hit quite a bit of traffic on the way over, we didn’t have much time to check out all the pre-race festivities, but I did notice that they made some nice additions this year. There were quite a few concessions available including a beer cart for the spectators. I actually found that to be a cruel joke because I had to run 13.1 miles to get my beer, but here was a cart right at the start line!

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There were also quite a few picnic tables set up which was a nice alternative to sitting in the damp grass.

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However our friends Kevin and Carrie decided to sit in the grass because they were sporting the trendy look of the day…trash bag chic.

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After a quick stop at the sea of porta potties and some hugs and well wishes from friends, it was time to head into the corrals.

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Photo Credit: Amanda Tinney

It was great to see that even with the threat of rain, the spirit of many of the runners was still going strong. There were tons of great costumes around and many were themed around the theme of the race, food and wine! Here is my favorite…she’s a Dole Whip!!

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The sprinkles started around 15 minutes before the start of the race so out came the ponchos and ziplock bags.  Earlier that day we took a trip to Walgreens to stock up cheap ponchos.  Well worth the trip off property to grab them for $1.49 instead of spending almost $10 for a Disney poncho.  You won’t feel bad tossing it if you need to either.

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Hey did you know that you can use your iPhone through a ziplock bag??  It was a HUGE revelation among the group…minds were blown.

Since we were in corral H, we didn’t actual get going until about 30 minutes after the start of the race.  The rain was turning into more than just a sprinkle at this point and the winds were picking up so we were all anxious to get going.  This is the first runDisney race that I didn’t get photos or video of the start line because of the rain, but I was happy to see that each corral was still getting a spectacular fireworks show! Once we got going I couldn’t help but laugh at how loud this race was due to the noise from all the ponchos and garbage bags moving around 🙂  I ditched my poncho after the first mile as it was making me quite warm, but this was something I would come to regret later.

There were 6 of us who decided we were going to stay together and run through the suck…remember the goal was laughter!  I had run this race with my friend Jim back in 2012 so I was happy he was in my corral again this year.  Unfortunately he was dealing with an injury and by mile 2 he encouraged us to just keep going after much protest.  Marc and Tiffany pulled ahead at some point and we lost them for a while, so Amanda, Charles and I trudged along to Animal Kingdom and we were actually making decent time when we hit the 5K mark.

By the time we got there, the rain was coming down hard.  The uneven terrain of the park was a bit treacherous and the paths were crowded due to all the construction going on.  This is also where I stepped in my first puddle…wet shoes, my favorite!  Blech.  When we left the park and made our way around the parking lot, all that was going through my head was “I’m COLD!”  Being soaking wet in the dark when it’s 58 and windy is not fun.  Here’s where I really regretting ditching that poncho.  I was hitting a low point and seriously considered stopping…but I just kept moving.

As we got close to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the rain began to taper and I could feel my motivation coming back a bit.  We were more than halfway done and the best part of the course was coming up.  I couldn’t help but smile when I turned the corner to see one of my favorite sites, the Hollywood Tower Hotel!

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It seemed safe to take out my phone now and I was happy to get back to my usual habit of snapping tons of photos along the course.

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Just before we reached the Streets of America, I got a text from Tiffany asking where we were and to my surprise her and Marc were just ahead of us enjoying the Osborne lights!!  We were so happy to be reunited that we just had to dance it out and Marc got it on video 🙂

We all actually spend a good amount of time here and soaked it all in.  It seemed that a lot of other people were doing the same thing and enjoying the break in the rain.  I’m not a huge Christmas fan, but you can’t help but smile and be happy when surrounded by all of this.

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We were all feeling pretty beat up from being cold and wet so we just banded together to finish the race.  Oh what a welcome sight Spaceship Earth was….just beyond that was the finish line!

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This had been a mental and physical challenge from the moment we crossed that finish line, but it would’ve been much more difficult if we didn’t all stick together.  It was a great feeling to have this support team by my side and I think everyone felt the same way.  We all knew that we were going to cross that finish line together and we did it hand in hand 🙂

After the race I grabbed up a mylar blanket that the voluntEARs (BIG thanks to the voluntEARs the stuck it out in the rain for us!!) were oh so thankfully handing out and we made our way through the maze to get out. I also grabbed my free beer and we high tailed it to the car.  I was a bit disappointed to not go in and enjoy the Finish Line Party, but I was so wet, cold and tired that all I could think about was a hot shower and my comfy bed at the Waldorf.

This was my worst race time by A LOT and there were many times that I was cursing myself for doing it, but looking back now, I actually had a great time.  I have made so many wonderful friends and have great memories from my journeys running at Disney…this was just another one of those times.  I’m lucky enough to be able to complete these races and share these stories…there nothing bad about that.  Even with all the rain, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon is still one of my favorite races and I hope to continue doing it for years to come.  I mean, who doesn’t like free beer after a race?! Cheers!

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