You’ve probably heard a ton of different things about runDisney races. You might even be interested in signing up for one. Well, with multiple opportunities for runDisney events throughout the year, what better time than now for looking in depth at a runDisney race?
Let’s explore one runDisney event: the Wine-and-Dine 1/2 marathon held in November of 2018!
Early Morning Start
As is common practice with most runDisney events, the Wine-and-Dine 1/2 marathon started very early in the morning. 5:30 am to be exact. If you stay on property, aside from dragging your butt out of bed at 2:30am (no joke), runDisney will take care of transporting you to the start line. The buses used at the start of a runDisney race can be spotted in the front of your resort. Learn more about the runDisney race day buses here.
RunDisney Starting Area
Once you arrive at the starting area for your runDisney race, take a deep breath. You’ve made it! I don’t know about you, but I always get nervous I’m going to miss the start of a race. Maybe because I have in the past? But, who knows? To navigate the start line, check out my post here about how to make sense of everything.
Perspectives from the Corral A Start
Due to a previous race I ran, I was able to qualify for a spot in Corral A. It was the first time for me starting in Corral A at a runDisney event. Through my experience, I learned a few things that I don’t think are common knowledge.
When you first arrive to a runDisney starting area, you’ll see that the different corrals are sectioned off. Be sure to get into the Corral A early as it moves up to the start line a 1/2 hour before the race starts. Announcements are made about getting into your corral, but if you are doing a warm-up or at the porta-potties, there is a good chance you might miss the announcement. I may or may not have made this mistake. To avoid missing your corrals’s start, be ready to go by 5am.
After the corrals are moved up, starting with the first few, runDisney will set the waves off in increments, spacing the groups to avoid overcrowding. As mentioned previously, corral A was moved up at 5am. The actual race didn’t start until 5:30am and to fill the gap runDisney provided some inspiration on the big screen. A few runDisney officials will pump you up, the national anthem will be sung and then the final countdown begins.
At this particular runDisney event, they had a super special affect come down from the sky. I thought it was pixie dust. Turns out, it was just rain!
Rain had been predicted for the day, but it was supposed to hold off until 10am. Well, turns out the Florida weather listens to the weatherman’s predictions just about as well as the Michigan weather does. The light rain combined with the Florida heat made for a rather sticky group of runners waiting for the race to start.
I would have preferred pixie dust..
Finally, at 5:30am, the gun went off and the race began!
In true runDisney fashion, fireworks filled the sky and we were off to run 13.1 miles. The first few miles move past in a blur. It’s important to not get caught up in the excitement or rush of the race start. Things move quickly and everyone is riding an adrenaline high.
You can easily, as I have done waaayyy too many times, get caught up in the excitement and faster paces. Try your hardest to hold steady and not let the race burn you out in the first few miles. If you can rein things in, your body will definitely thank you later on.
As you approach mile 3 you start to settle into a rhythm. For this particular Wine-and-Dine race, mile three was fairly dark. It appeared that a few of the lights weren’t working. While there are definitely dark parts in all the runDisney races I’ve completed, I don’t think this was intentional. Just be aware if you have trouble with low lighting situations.
During the beginning of these miles, we were heading to Disney’s Animal Kingdom via the back entrance. I noted a slight bank in the road. I aimed for running down the middle which seemed to be a little less of a bank. Helped keep my feet and legs a little happier.
I love seeing the behind the scene action of the different parks, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom is no exception. It feels like a private, personal back stage tour. The heart of mile four is through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and you get to experience Pandora.
Pandora is all lit up when I ran through as it was still pre-dawn at this time. It was actually my first time in Pandora, so between the winding pathway and my awe-struckness, I lost a little bit of time. Pandora was worth it though.
Mile 5 you are finishing up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. You leave the park, running through a cheering cast members and a very excited volunteer manned aid station. I took an energy gel at this time and made sure to not intentionally choke. I did, however, accidentally choke. Thank goodness for lots of water at that exact moment.
After you finish up outside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you head up an on ramp as you enter into mile 6. This particular on ramp, is a pretty decent hill. The reason it difficult, is as soon as you complete the on ramp, you head onto an overpass that does seem to go up, and up, and up…for a little while. I found that just focusing on one step after another instead of the fact that I was heading up a huge hill was super helpful. Plus, runDisney has a big screen at the top of the ‘hill’ with a few clips to distract from your ‘discomfort’.
These are some of the ‘driest’ miles of the whole race. You’ve already gone through an awesome park, the sun has come up and there are a few characters along the sidelines, but not a ton to look at. These, unfortunately are also the miles that can make or break your half marathon. Be sure to give your mind something to stay busy with. Since you have a heads-up warning, you have a chance to get prepared to make the miles fly by for you.
As you finish up miles 7-8, you enter into mile 9. Mile 9 is probably one of the toughest miles in the whole race. you head up to an overpass, but still are in a little bit of no-man’s land. Keep your thoughts outward so you don’t focus on some ‘discomfort’ that might be settling into your body. It’s time to push through.
The best part though? And one of my favorite parts? You will get to see the one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story. As you head up the overpass, he’s waiting for you at almost the top. He most likely will encourage you to keep move-move-moving, helping you move your booty up that hill. If you plan to stop and take a picture, don’t be surprised if you get told to do a few pushups. You need to earn your keep around mile 9.
Ah, you’re almost done and you can feel it!
Mile 10 is a ton of fun as you enter into Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You will enter the park from the back of Sunset Boulevard, right next to the Tower of Terror. You’ll run down Sunset Boulevard and feel like a star as all the cast members cheer you on.
However, the trip through Disney’s Hollywood Studios is short-lived. Almost as soon as you entered, you quickly turn a corner, marking your exit from the park. Before you leave completely though you’ll have a chance to run through the park entrance. During my 2018 Wine-and-Dine experience, the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios was experiencing major construction. Due to the Skyliner construction, multiple walls were erected and made running through the front of HS very…interesting. The walls added a lot of curves to the race, causing me to lose a little more time. Disney did their best to spice up the area with multiple signs. On each sign was a joke and the following sign had the answer to the joke.
The funny part? At 10 miles in, there’s a VERY slim chance you’ll remember any of the jokes at the end of the race. Even if they made you laugh while you were running. I know that’s what happened to me!
Mile 11 is another fun mile. You start right next to the waterway that connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk area resorts. Along the boardwalk guests and cast members are out cheering and you feel like they are all there just for you. In reality, you know they are probably there on vacation with loved ones, but at that exact moment, you are the star! Mile 11 was my absolute favorite part of the race. I just love me some Boardwalk running, so mile 11 was right up my alley.
As you finish up mile 11, you head into Epcot via a back entrance to World Showcase. In less than a mile you travel through half of the ‘world’ as you run past far off lands. Cast members and characters are out cheering you on. During my race I was able to swing two quick pictures, one with Pinocchio and one with Mushu. Keep your eyes peeled for rarer characters!
You’ve made it to the final mile! You know the race is almost done as you run right next to Spaceship Earth and see the finish line around your final turn. Oh, what a sweet sign it is!
Congrats, you’ve made it! Now go enjoy your time at Disney and wear that medal with pride!
I really enjoyed runDisney’s Wine-and-Dine 1/2 marathon, but there are a few things that would make it, and all runDisney events even more spectatular. It would be awesome if more spectators could, and would, line the course of runDisney events. I understand from a logistics angle this isn’t necessary popular. However, it would help to liven up a few of the ‘dead’ spots.
My only other request? Being able to run through Cinderella’s castle for all runDisney races. Or just run circles through and around the Magic Kingdom. I mean, I love the other parks, but do we really need to run anywhere else? Don’t you agree?