I was lucky to get to know Kinnereth Jory, a California native and Disneyland regular, as I was getting ready for the Disneyland Half Marathon this year. She had some GREAT tips for touring Disneyland for me! So I was happy to return the favor when she was coming with her fiancee Andy to WDW for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Kinnereth and Andy put together this fun Hers & His recap of the race…check it out!
Hello, readers of Running At Disney! Sarah asked us to share our race recap from a “Disneyland goer” point of view and we are so happy to share with all of you.
Hers: Disney World is so large! I had been for the 2012 Princess Half Marathon (my second half and first Coast to Coast) but I forgot how large the property is in general. We always tried to allow at least 20 minutes for shuttles (we stayed on property) and an hour to arrive at our destination (including possible walking).
We arrived from CA Saturday morning (I do NOT recommend this). We were able to check in and nap before heading to the expo. runDisney in FL was very organized. We were able to get to the expo on Saturday afternoon, change Andy’s corral, and exchange my shirt—all in less than an hour! We lunched and rested for a bit before heading to the race start.
I had done extensive research by reading race recaps from prior years so that we would know what to expect. I think this really helped us be prepared! Here are the tips we appreciated most: eat lunch and then lighter snacks leading up to race, be sure to rest and nap the day of the race, pack a check-bag with dry clothes for the after party, pack baby wipes for said changing.
His: I’m originally from Ohio, so I had been to WDW more than Disneyland up until a year or so ago… but that was back in 1985 or so when there was just Magic Kingdom and EPCOT (which was only a few years old at that point). As a kid I didn’t realize the enormity of WDW and each of its parks. I’ve heard Disneyland is 300 acres… and WDW is 30,000 acres! Wow. That is huge.
We flew into Orlando on a red-eye flight from CA. I don’t sleep well on planes, so I barely had about 3 hours sleep the entire night when we arrived at our hotel—All-Star Movies—(which I’m glad we stayed at because my fiancee knows how into movies I am). After getting everything set with our reservation they found a room that we could stay at immediately! That pretty much made my day. So we went to the room and I crashed for a few hours.
After that we waited for the bus to ESPN… but the bus never arrived. In the span of about 20 minutes FOUR Hollywood Studios buses came by (stopping at the same area we were standing at), which was very teasing for us. We enquired about the Event buses we kept seeing go by (which never stopped at the bus stops). We discovered that they stopped around the other side of the building. While waiting for one of the Event buses, we finally saw an ESPN bus go by and ran to catch it.
Hers: runDisney in CA needs to take a page from runDisney in FL and host a better race expo. I loved the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It was so easy to navigate and we hardly waited in any lines! I hope that the Tinker Bell half I run January 2014 goes as smoothly 🙂
In Disneyland I am used to walking to the starting line of the race from my hotel. I have run four half marathons there and we easily have about 45 minutes to get ready and walk over. I was scared to be late to this nighttime race, so I made us arrive to the shuttle by 7:20pm! We had NO problems getting on the shuttle right away and arriving quickly at the starting area. My packet was missing the wrist band for entering the after party, so we popped in to the info booth and they gave me one (so easy – thanks runDisney), next we checked our bags and used the restrooms. We looked at our watches and it was only 8pm. So we sat on the grass and took pictures… do you like our signs?
The starting line and corral system seemed very similar to me. I think there were more corrals in WDW, partly because there is more room! This helped the race to be less congested.
Course: We ran on the highway first, then entered Animal Kingdom for a bit and back out to the road. At mile 9 we ran through Hollywood studios, this time for about 1 whole mile, then on to some road by a resort before we reached Epcot. Running the later miles in the parks was nice. The west coast races have anywhere from 4-6 miles in the parks, then a looong time out in the neighborhoods of Anaheim (it does get boring) before heading back to the [same] parks for the last 1.5 mile.
His: Getting all the race stuff at WDW is a WAAAAY easier experience than at Disneyland. At Disneyland they don’t really have any space to hold the expo. They hold it in the bottom of the Disneyland Hotel, which is teeny-tiny and gets completely jam-packed with lines of people, often criss-crossing each other in the middle of the space. Ridiculous!
By contrast, at WDW there’s so much space that getting your bib and race bag is quick and simple. I was amazed at the difference. Back to the hotel we went for another nap to catch up on the sleep we hadn’t gotten on the plane.
We awoke at 5:30 pm, got dressed, caught a bus (quickly this time), and headed back over to ESPN to wait for the race to begin. We checked in a bag with a whole set of clean clothes for after the race, as well as a baggy of baby wipes so that we could at least get somewhat clean after the race. We stretched or sat on the grass waiting with everyone else and talked to some nice people while waiting.
We heard the call to line up and plodded along with all the other people into our correct corral. There we waited another 30 minutes or so for Corral A to begin the race. We were in Corral F so it was even later for us to begin. Finally we were off!
Hers: I loved the nighttime race! I loved all the time spent running through the different parks. I loved hearing the “Congratulations” & “Good Luck” from fellow runners who read the signs on our backs 😉
The after party! What a fun idea! We zoomed past the changing tents and missed the comped beverage in order to sit down and stretch. Then in Epcot we changed to dry clothes, purchased a glass of champagne and tried food from Hawaii, Greece, and Morroco. All delicious! We even had time to ride Maelstrom and Test Track before heading to bed at 4am.
His: We started at a slow pace so that we wouldn’t get tired early. I hadn’t been keeping up on my training so I’d only done one long run (8 miles) since the Disneyland Half Marathon two months before. Not a great idea by any means, but life gets in the way of training… at least for me.
Anywho, we were running and I was feeling pretty good. My best race was a 10K around San Francisco a few months ago and I was able to do so well because of the weather. I don’t know about most people but weather means pretty much everything to me. I cannot stand being hot while I run or to have the sun in my eyes. As such I almost always run after it gets dark. I know that this is the opposite of most runners, who love to run in the morning, but that’s the way it goes.
So I was very excited that the Wine&Dine Half was being held at night. I had such a hellacious time at the Disneyland Half in September because after about a half hour of running the sun was up, it quickly got to about 90 degrees, and the humidity was something like 75% (which people from other states may not think is bad, but CA usually has extremely LOW humidity, being the semi-arid region that it is). Anyway, running the Wine&Dine Half was a much nicer experience for me because it was dark and the humidity was low, especially for FL.
I felt pretty good in the first few miles. We made a quick potty stop at mile 3, then kept on truckin’. My fiancee is a much better runner than I am, faster and with no complaining, while I bitch pretty much the entire time because everything hurts. But I was doing pretty good keeping up with her. We would go for two miles, take a 1-2 minute walk break, repeat. I was feeling so good in fact that I ran this way for the first 9 miles, which is saying a lot for me. During the Disneyland Half I basically had to stop running after the 6th mile because any time I tried to start up again my quads would seize up and was incredibly painful.
But again, running at the Wine&Dine Half was a MUCH better experience for me.
Hers: Thankfully, I didn’t have any physical struggles this race. I finally feel like I am getting into a running “grove”. This was half marathon #8 for me, and I am currently training for my very first full, the Napa Valley Marathon 2014!!! Ahhh! I do think the higher mileage has helped me, personally.
What I did struggle with was a few spots on the course that seemed disorienting or dangerous. When we got into Animal Kingdom the smell of the animal pens hit me (phew!), but it was also darker there and the paths were very narrow. It was tough to really run my own pace with all the people and the fact that I was looking down to be sure of my footing.
Then in Hollywood Studios we passed through a tunnel that was filled with fog and disco lights – really!!! I cannot stand disco lights or strobe lights, I get headaches and avoid them at all costs. I really wanted to run with my eyes closed during this section. The fog on top of humidity I’m not used to made it hard to breath. Thankfully this stretch seemed to end quickly!
I enjoyed this race so much. All of the great things outweigh the few negative experiences. I hope to come back and race this one again. Maybe on an anniversary year?
His: From mile 9 to the end I had a lot more problems. I started getting the same quad pains that I did at the Disneyland Half (although to a much lesser extent). I had to stop to walk after each mile (it’s a good idea to walk through the water stops btw because it’s hard to drink whilst running).
From mile 9 to the end I also had to run a lot slower. Up until Mile 9 we were running around 11-minute miles. Because of all the walking that I had to do, Mile 13 apparently took me around 20 minutes, but I was so exhausted and in so much pain that there was no way I could have done any better. All I was shooting for was to get under 3 hours, which I did!
Official Time: 2:58:05
Thanks for sticking with us and happy running!