A look at my experience running the 2023 Wine and Dine half marathon:
I do a lot of RunDisney events, and I really enjoy recapping them, but lately I’ve been slacking there. I’m bummed to see how many races I didn’t recap! It looks like I’m missing all the races from Springtime Surprise 2022, Wine and Dine 2022, and Princess 2023. I don’t know if there’s interest in reading really old race recaps, but part of me still wants to write about them!
But this time I’m going to be at least a little on the ball, because I’m actually writing this recap of the 2023 Wine and Dine half marathon during the same month it happened!
This was my second time going for Wine and Dine, and the last two years they have really drawn me in with the theme. Last year they did a Soul theme. As it’s one of my favorite movies ever, and I don’t suspect there will be many Soul themed races in the future, I had to go. This year the half marathon was Encanto themed, and that’s another huge favorite. I was on the fence but all it took was one email from Jenn at Fairest Run of All to say, “can I persuade you to join me?”
The past year has not been kind to my running or my health, but I’ve kept moving and kept training as much as possible. So while I knew it was going to be nowhere near my best race, I knew I’d get through it okay. The goal was to feel good and have fun!
Of course, a Disney race involves waking up at 2:30am, and I’m not sure either of those things qualify as feeling good or having fun. But it may have actually been the most sleep I’ve ever gotten for RunDisney! I managed to fall asleep around 8:30pm, and with daylight savings we gained an extra hour. I had almost 7 hours of sleep that night!
There were 3 of us staying at Pop Century, so we up and got ready and headed towards the buses. There have sometimes been bus issues in the past (I’ve dealt with some myself) but at Pop for this race there was already a long line of empty buses waiting for runners. So we got on and headed off to Epcot.
I’m really happy with my costume I put together for this race – I decided to do Ember from Elemental. Though it didn’t seem like anyone really recognized me, so either I didn’t do as good a job as I thought, or not enough people have seen Elemental!
Jenn and I were in corral B, so we dropped Erika off at C and then went to wait. Jenn also had an awesome costume which involved glow sticks, so we did a little bit of costume assembling while we waited so the glow sticks would last to their full potential. We finished just in time, because as the last glow stick was attached our corral was standing up and heading toward the start!
As I mentioned, I’ve dealt with a lot of health issues lately and as a result when it comes to running things are somewhat unpredictable. A few weeks ago I did a 10 mile run and felt pretty darn good throughout, but then a week later I did 3 miles and felt horrible. I didn’t know what to expect this morning, but I promised I wouldn’t be hard on myself regardless.
But at least to start, I was feeling pretty good! I did the first 4 miles with around a 10:15 pace and more importantly that felt right. There weren’t any character stops that were really calling to me early on – I did stop for Duffy because there was basically no line, but mostly I kept running until we hit Hollywood Studios.
Maybe it’s because I’m so used to doing Princess and only running through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, but I really love running through Hollywood Studios.
There were tons of characters here too, and I saw some fun ones with short lines so I began stopping for photos! First up was the penguins from Mary Poppins. I’ve seen them before, but their set-up was really cute here.
About halfway through Hollywood Studios I saw they had the billboard for Elemental up, so I stopped to take a selfie. I figured it would be my only chance to get a pic with something related to Elemental! (spoiler alert – I was right).
I also had to stop for a pic when I saw Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore, because Winnie the Pooh is pretty special to me.
As we exited Hollywood Studios we were just finishing up mile 5, and started the run back to Epcot. I knew from the map that we didn’t get into Epcot until mile 12, so this was a very long stretch of roads. It’s kind of inevitable with Disney races, and I’m used to a fairly long stretch for princess, but Princess at least has typically exited Magic Kingdom just after mile 6. Somehow that extra mile of boring roads felt like it made a much bigger difference!
I was at about mile 7 thinking, “I could be done right now, and that would be great. Could this be a 10 miler instead?” Alas, I was in it for the whole 13.1 miles (or 13.55, as my watch tracked with all my character stops etc.).
There were a fair amount of characters I suppose, though not all of them were super appealing to me (and again, they felt very random!). There was also a handful of entertainers which I always love. Live musicians and singers is awesome! We passed a band that was just starting a song when I was in the area from Encanto, and they had a dancer as well. I wish I had hit them during the song instead of during a transition!
I did three character stops during this 7 mile stretch. First was Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia, as I do enjoy that movie and they had a very short line. I also decided to stop for Oogie Boogie (also now known as “that cute green guy with a great smile” thanks to Erika!). I actually am not a big fan of Nightmare before Christmas but I’ve never gotten a photo with Oogie Boogie before and it wasn’t a bad line so I figured it was my chance.
I saw Carl from Up, and thought that was pretty neat since I’d only done meet and greets with Russell and Dug before. As I was waiting in line Russell and Dug actually came out to join him, so I got a photo with all 3 of them! Funny enough, they were quite literally walking up to join him when it was my turn so I have a few “action shots” in my photos.
I had also started to feel some of my injuries or issues surfacing around mile 8-9, so I was trying to slow my pace a bit and the character stops were a good way to get a quick rest in.
Just before we entered Epcot there was a photo stop with the Haunted Mansion dancers. Very cool! Also very random but why not?
We entered Epcot right near the Imagination Pavilion. There was a ton of Figment love going on at the races since he was featured on the challenge medal. I was wondering if the new character would be out to take photos, and he kind of was. But it was a blocked off area so selfies only. Fine with me – I grabbed a quick one and kept running!
I stopped for one more character before finishing. I had not seen Miguel from Coco out before! And when you’re so close to the end I think most people just want to be done, so most weren’t stopping.
I thought that would be it for photos, but when I saw Soul was featured on the 13 mile marker I had to stop there for a selfie too. Soul needs more love and I am here to give it!
And hey – that meant I was .1 mile away from the end, and soon I was crossing that finish line! Timewise, it was not a great half marathon for me. But I took it easy on myself. My body didn’t feel terrible, and I got 10 character photos. Not bad for a half marathon!
Jenn had finished a bit before me, so we met up and I got my traditional post-race celebration beer (this year’s specialty beer was called “Runfetti”). We hung out for a little bit and also got a photo with Mirabel, who was in the post-race area!
It was my first time meeting Mirabel as I haven’t been to see her at Magic Kingdom yet, and she was delightful. Very bubbly and natural and fun. I think we got some great photos!
Erika finished not long after me, but she decided to head back to the room to get the first shower. Jenn and I went back as well for showers and naps before heading to the parks. With the Wine and Dine after party starting that night around 9pm, it was going to be a very long day!
Characters at the Wine and Dine half marathon (as best as I can remember):
- Sleeping Beauty, Prince, 3 fairies
- Aladdin & Abu
- Smee and Captain Hook
- Rafiki and Timon
- Mary Poppins Penguins
- Woody and Bo Peep (?)
- Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore
- Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow
- Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde
- Jack Skellington
- Oogie Boogie
- Carl, Russell, and Dug from Up
- Haunted Mansion ballroom dancers
- Figment (selfie only)
- Miguel from Coco
Have you ever run during the Wine and Dine race weekend?