2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Part 2, Half Marathon and Post Race Party
Sunday, November 6 - Half Marathon
Saturday night was the time change - and we got to "fall back" an hour. That was very nice, since it meant that we got to sleep for an extra hour on what was already a short night! But it didn't make it a whole lot easier to get up at 2:30. That's one of the other things I liked about the half marathon being at night - the three hour time difference between the east coast and west coast actually worked FOR us for the nighttime race.
The half marathon started at ESPN Wide World of Sports, which meant that we needed to take a bus to the start line. No cars are allowed to park there. If you want to drive your own car you can drive to Epcot and park, then take a bus to the start line from there.
The buses started running at 3:00, and we caught one at 3:15. It wasn't all the way full, and there were more buses waiting behind it at our resort. I had a friend who was at Pop Century who said the bus lines were longer there, and she had more of a wait than we did.
The area that used to be the race staging area is now the construction zone for the new arena so we were in a different place this year. I thought it was closer to the actual corrals, though.
There were the same four character photo locations that we'd seen for the 10K, and we didn't wait in any of the lines. We had an even larger Team AllEars reunion than we did for the 10K!
It seemed like there were plenty of porta-potties. One set near bag check, and one set closer to the corral entrances. Still, I thought the lines seemed longer than usual. There were less than 15,000 runners in the half marathon. This particular half still has the smallest field of any of the Disney World half marathons.
Lee, Stan, and I were all planning to run together, so we headed out to corral E. There were fireworks for the start of each corral. We started about 12 minutes after the official start of the race. We'd all run the 10K hard the day before so were planning to take it easy for the half marathon. (If you've never done back-to-back races before then I do not recommend running the first race hard. Yes, this would be a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." I have enough experience to know how my body will respond to doing that. And while I would run a 10K hard with a half the next day, I would not run a half hard with a marathon the next day!)
I mentioned previously that there was a new course for the race this year. The Studios portion was cut out completely - my theory is that it's due to a combination of construction and no Osborne Lights. The first part of the race was the same as in previous years - we headed out on Osceola Parkway to Animal Kingdom. Most of this route is nice and wide so there's lots of room. We didn't feel too crowded after the first half mile or so.
The temperature was a little cooler than the day before - 65 at the start - but it was still very humid. Over 90% at the start of the race. Still, since the temperature was under 70 it wasn't too bad. The Country Bears were near the mile 1 sign, but we didn't stop. At several places along the course there were huge video screens showing scenes from various Disney movies - one of those was on the overpass near mile 2.
We arrived in Animal Kingdom when it was just about sunrise. The Tree of Life looked nice.
We ran through a lot of Animal Kingdom - Harambe Village, Dino Land, and Asia. There was some beautiful light over Expedition Everest. I saw a few character stops: Baloo, Timon, Chip and Dale, but the lines were a little long.
Eventually we went backstage at Animal Kingdom. I had to take a photo of Stan and Lee by the mile 5 sign. :-) Only 8.1 miles to go until they could get a beer!
There was a short line for Meeko, so we stopped...but as we came to the head of the line he had to go for a biscuit break. It was only a couple of minutes, though. He was pretty cute when he came back.
I tried to interest him in my shiny running watch but he was much more intrigued by my tiara! :-)
It was a fun stop - worth the extra few minutes.
And then it was on to the the really boring miles. This part of the course was the reverse of part of the marathon course from Animal Kingdom back to World Drive. Several miles of trees, recycling plant, and more trees. There was a Mike and Sulley character stop (long line) and a pair of Streetmosphere characters dressed as tacky tourists.
Somewhere after mile 8 there was another big screen that was showing a video of the Food and Wine Festival - including some of the food booths with cast members cheering us on. I haven't decided yet if that was encouraging or just cruel.
By mile 9 we had turned onto World Drive and were headed for Epcot. This part of the course was quite familiar to us since it's the same as most of the other WDW half marathons.
There were a couple of character stops - Darkwing Duck and Launchpad McQuack were at the turn onto World Drive, and later we saw Lilo and Stitch. The line for them wasn't too long, but they pulled both of them for a break just after we got in line. I was surprised - normally they stagger them so that one is always out. We didn't want to wait this time, so went on.
We found our cheer squad just past the mile 12 sign near the entrance to Epcot. So wonderful to see these smiling faces!
Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow were backstage at Epcot, and there was no line.
Homes for our Troops was the charity for this race, and most of the volunteers were wearing those shirts.
We saw Phineas and Ferb at the Future World bridge but didn't stop, though we did stop for a photo with Spaceship Earth in the background. This one was taken by one of Disney's PhotoPass photographers, who were the official race photographers again. They took some pretty good photos of us, and since we are annual passholders the downloads are free. That's a nice benefit.
Yay! The gospel choir was in their usual .2 miles to the finish location! It's always so wonderful to see them.
And...we finished! 2:37:03. Not bad. Though it was still under 70 degrees it felt warmer because the sun was out. There was a slight breeze, though. Volunteers handed us wet Dr. Kool towels after we finished.
We received our new challenge medals. The volunteers handing out the challenge medals (Hi, Michele!) had a lot to keep track of - in addition to the Lumiere's Challenge medal they were giving out Coast-to-Coast medals and Castle-to-Chateau medals! I saw a couple of people who had received the Castle-to-Chateau medals. (Which reminds me that I saw NO Castle-to-Chateau merchandise at the Expo.)
After exiting the finish area our first stop was the beverage trucks. The guys wanted beer and I wanted champagne! I was pleasantly surprised that the lines weren't long.
We waited for the rest of our group to finish...while we did we ate some of the contents of our runDisney snack boxes. It was the usual selection - tortilla chips, cheese dip, Craisins, applesauce, Oreo cookie, and icky energy bar. At least the contents have improved somewhat over what was originally in these boxes when they first started distributing them. The applesauce and chips tasted good after the race.
After everyone had finished we took our respective buses back to our resorts. The bus lines weren't too bad, and our timing was excellent and we walked right onto our bus.
One thing I discovered about the Lumiere medal is that the flames on the candlesticks glow in the dark!
That night we went to the post-race party. It started at 10:00 and went until 1:00 a.m. We didn't arrive until about 11:00. As we walked into the park from the International Gateway we saw quite a few people already leaving. I was interested in how well attended it might be, since from among my sample set of 10 runners, Lee and I were the only ones who were going.
We used our ticket to get in, and then received a wristband, though no one ever checked it.
We stopped for a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, since we'd seen the real thing about six weeks ago.
There were a lot of character photo ops during the party, and those lines were huge. This one was Abu, Aladdin, and Jasmine.
There were short/no lines at the food booths. We had just come from a delicious dinner at Flying Fish so we weren't very hungry, and just wandered around.
A performance of American Music Machine was just starting in the America Gardens Theater and we stopped to see that. I felt badly for the performers since there were maybe 50 people in the audience. That seemed to me to be an odd choice of entertainment for the party - it's such a large venue.
We walked by some more character stops - Tiana, Naveen, and Louis, Pinocchio and Geppetto, Snow White and Dopey, Mulan and Mushu. All with long lines. Frozen Ever After was open, but had a 60 minute standby line. No thanks. Donald Duck was out in Mexico, and the Mariachi Trio was also performing there.
There was a DJ on the stage at the Fountain of Nations. Playing lots of pop music that was broadcast all over Epcot. There were a few people dancing at the stage. The food booths were really not busy by this time, and the cast members were dancing and having a good time, too. That was fun to watch.
Soarin', Test Track, and Spaceship Earth were all open in Future World but we didn't check them out.
As I mentioned, we weren't really hungry, but we stopped at the Refreshment Outpost to get their Dole Whip with Coconut Rum Festival offering. Yummy.
The Alberta Bound group was also performing during the party, though we didn't see them. It was after midnight and the park was pretty quiet. It had been a very long day for us and we were tired so we headed out the International Gateway. I was surprised to see that there were still a few people entering the park at that time!
I still think that the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is the best value of any of the Disney races. It doesn't cost any more than the other half marathons but it includes the post-race party and the $15 gift card.
Still, I preferred the "old" Wine and Dine format with the half marathon at night and the party right afterwards. I don't think the race in the morning and the party that night worked very well. Attending the party just after finishing the race meant that we were hyped up and hungry and ready to party - but this time we were just tired. And so many runners didn't end up going to the party at all. Maybe if we hadn't had a big dinner I would have felt differently, and would have been able to enjoy the short lines a the booths. Certainly there were people there who were obviously having a very good time. And I have several other friends who attended and had a lot of fun. They are much younger than I am, though. :-)
I am hoping that this new half marathon course is only temporary, and that the Studios will be included again eventually.
I'd like to thank those of you I met over the weekend who took the time to come over and tell me that you enjoy my blogs - that means a lot to me!
Thanks for reading!