Phew! The dust has settled, hopefully all the travelers have made it home safely, so let’s recap the weekend that was Wine & Dine. As with anything, there were highs and lows, I’ll try to cover everything I saw here, but as always, drop a comment if I missed something.
The start line: For me the best part of any race weekend is the party atmosphere at the start line. It’s a big costume ball with sneakers, and boy were there some great costumes! Carissa and Riley were there, providing the hype and fireworks blasted each wave across the start line. It was so great to be back in person.
Half Marathon: The entire Half Marathon experience was pretty much the worst this weekend. It started with really high humidity and some light rain, and just went downhill from there. The new course they tried out was narrow and filled with soul-crushing highway miles towards the end. I got the worst corral placement possible. Stuck in the back, there were more walkers than runners and more bottlenecks than stretches where I could actually run at the pace I wanted. There was also a disappointing lack of etiquette on the course. Walkers spread out across the entire path making passing impossible, but in their defense, there really wasn’t any “right” for them to move to. With humidity climbing and paces slowing, it was pretty much 13.1 miles of prolonged frustration.
Afterparty: The afterparty was the busiest I can remember seeing Epcot. At least at the start of the evening, lines for everything were pretty long. Since party-goers were welcomed to the park at 5 pm and day guests didn’t leave until 9 pm, there was a lot of overlap. I heard that things opened up after 10 pm, but after 3 days of being up at 2:30 am, I didn’t make it that far. I did try a couple of delicious Festival foods – the French fry flight and the pork lettuce wraps, but I called it a night early since I needed to catch a plane in the morning. I was going to try to get on Guardians of the Galaxy, but the line stretched out to the Creations shop when they opened it, and my sore feet weren’t having it.
Virtual Queue: To try to manage crowd flow, runDisney utilized a vitrual queue for race merch shopping. To join the queue, you needed to be geographically within 45 miles of Wide World of Sports. This ended up throwing a monkey wrench in a lot of peoples’ days, especially those who live locally. It wasn’t horrible, but I heard many cases of people waiting at least 2 hours for their groups to be called.
Brushes with Greatness
I was lucky enough to catch up with two of my heroes! Puppet Runner (+Remy) and Jeff Galloway, who inspired me through the last quarter-mile and got me across the finish line.
I also connected with a number of people I know from Facebook groups and Instagram. So much fun to see meet these amazing comerades.
Going in to the weekend I really had 2 goals:
- Don’t get swept
- Stop at some character stops to get some pics.
I’ve always been so terrified of the Balloon Ladies that I have never dared stop. I was determined this time to get some pics with characters… but I have to be completely honest, it almost sank me during the 5K! As I mentioned earlier I started in the back. There were 3 character stops in Epcot. Olaf was hanging out in Norway and the line was ridiculous so I kept moving. Remy and Emile were posted in France and I figured it was now or never. If I waited for the perfect moment I would end up empty-handed again so I got in line and waited. And waited. Then the characters went on break. And I waited. Finally they returned and the line started moving again and I got my first treasuered character pic. That’s when I realized ALL the runners had passed. I saw one person hobbling by on crutches, and after that, it looked like the staff was wrapping up. That’s when I kicked it into high gear and went straight for the finish. (Not last!)
I was still struggling with time, but I did manage to grab a few over the course of the weekend:
And Some Final Thoughts on Costumes
So this was the first time I went all-in on costumes. I’m not crafty or rich, so this was a bit of a stretch for me. Running with a friend, we decided to do couples costumes. They worked, although maybe not to the degree I hoped they would. The biggest issue was my selection of a full-body polyester cat costume. Unfortunately it was the longest race, the hottest race, and it was raining at the start line. Mr. Mittens made it 3 miles before I had to start removing pieces. It was a matter of survival. Oh well. I was very cute for the one pic I took in the hotel room.
And in the end, a good time was had by all. I’d love to see your costumes, too! Find me on Instagram @disneyparkrunner and show me what you’ve got!