Wine & Dine Half Marathon runDisney Meet Up

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

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!

runDisney fans ready to run!
Amanda & I
Photo Courtesy of Disney Every Day

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…

Runner Mickey!

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.

Approaching China
Good Morning Epcot!
Arriving 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.

runDisney Presenters: Bob Hitchcock, Faren Kelly, Jeff Galloway & Tara Gidus

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
Next up was 2 time (now 3 time!) Wine & Dine Half Marathon winner, Anton Van Zyl, who was quite impressive.  A few weeks prior to this event, he completed the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii, which is one of the world’s most difficult events.  He seems to take a very relaxed approach to racing and doesn’t look at them like a competition.  He advised all of us to enjoy the moment, not run too hard and to find something that motivates you for when times get tough on the course.  Other helpful advice for both races and training was to:
  • 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!)
Anton Van Zyl
We were then treated to some very helpful nutritional advice from the “Diet Diva,” Tara Gidus.  The biggest take away I left with from her presentation was that HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat.  It is very important to eat in the morning before you run and then continue to eat every 2 -4 hours throughout the day.  Before races, it is important to stay away from high fat foods because they don’t digest as quickly.  Also, it is just as important to focus on what you eat after a run.  You want to try to consume carbs within 30 minutes after a run and then protein within 2 hours of that.  Great items to have are antioxidant rich smoothies or chocolate milk.
Tweeting out this great advice!
Next to me are Jenn from Eat, Sleep, Run, Disney, Heather from Running with Sass and Marc (@PlazaAndMainSt)
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

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!

Chef Steff’s Spaghetti Pie Demonstration

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!!

Tara Gidus, Chef Mickey & Chef Steff answering questions

Once the formal program was over, we all headed outside for photos…lots and lots of photos!

Me & Jeff Galloway…too cool!
Me & Chef Mickey!!!
Photo of the day goes to my friend Daniel & Chef Mickey
Photo Courtesy of runDisney
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

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.

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

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.

More from Running at Disney

The Days Leading Up to the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon

When registration for the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon opened in...
Read More


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.