Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Wine & Dine Game Changer

RunDisney made a HUGE announcement today.  Many runners were predicting the addition of a 10k to Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, but I don't think anyone was expecting all the changes that went along with it.  So, here is everything you need to know about the new and possibly improved Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend and whether or not I'll be running this year.

Since the Inaugural race in 2010, Wine & Dine Half Marathon has been challenging runners to a 13.1 mile night run followed by a late night private event.  The after-party took place during Epcot's annual Food & Wine Festival and featured as many as 30 countries for runners to sample cocktails and food in.  Because of the unique nature of the race, it's been named the best race among many lists of best wine themed races and best after parties.  With RunDisney's recent changes, all of that may change for this beloved night race.

Moving from Saturday night at 10:00 PM to Sunday morning at 5:30 AM completely changes everything about the race.  In my opinion, it shouldn't have the same name because it's essentially no longer the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  It is a multiple morning race weekend with a theme just like every single race weekend RunDisney currently offers but it is certainly not the Wine & Dine Half Marathon that so many runners have come to know and love for the past six years.

I'm hoping the elimination of the night run is indicative of a Tower of Terror 10 miler return.  When I first looked into RunDisney races back in 2012, I had planned to run The Tower of Terror Ten Miler in 2013 as my first RunDisney race.  Completely uneducated and unfamiliar with RunDisney races, I was clueless when it came to signing up for one.  Although it did not sell out immediately, I did wait too long and missed getting a spot in the 2013 race so I signed up for The 2014 Princess Half Marathon on a whim as my first race.  I then missed the Tower of Terror Ten Miler in 2014 due to it falling on the same day as Yom Kippur.  I still hear runners complaining about the poor planning involved in that scheduling conflict.  Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism and involves fasting for 24 hours, making it impossible for any practicing Jew to participate in the race that year.  Runners were informed prior to the 2014 event that it would not return in 2015 but no reasonable explanation was given for its elimination from the lineup.  Fanatics have speculated it was cut due to renovations at Hollywood Studios and the race will make a return in the future.  I imagine rumors of its return will continue to swirl around social media now that RunDisney does not offer a night run.

Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5k used to fall on Saturday morning of race weekend, but has been pushed up to Friday morning to accommodate the new challenge.  Moving from Saturday morning to Friday morning has resulted in a name change for this race and is now known as Mickey's Holiday 5k.  Go figure.

The Wine & Dine challenge so many of us have been anticipating has finally arrived.  It is Lumiere's Two Course Challenge.  I love a good Disney pun, so I'm pretty excited about this one.  I also love challenges because I love medals.  I thought it was kind of silly to come all the way to Florida and only come home with one medal during race weekend.  Last year I took home two medals because of my Coast to Coast Challenge, though.  Since I am not traveling to Disneyland in 2016 for a race, this year's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend would have sent me home with one medal unless I added the 5k to my race.  I'm not afraid to admit I am not a fan of 5Ks so I much prefer the 10K challenge option.  Plus, can you imagine the medals for this challenge? WINE WINE WINE.  Incorporate a Beauty and the Beast theme and BAM. Pure Disney gold.

Following suit with every single RunDisney race weekend currently offered in California and Florida, both races take place on consecutive mornings.  Yes, it's a bit redundant.  I was hoping for a 19.3 challenge on consecutive nights to mix things up but it didn't happen.  A 10K on Saturday morning and the Half Marathon on Saturday night also would have been an interesting concept.  Two races in one day would have been a true test of endurance for park hoppers.

The transition into a morning race initially left me pondering two VERY important details.  1- do we still receive wine upon crossing the finish line?  8:00 AM is NOT too early for a peach Bellini or a mimosa... just saying.  2- What about the after party?  Well, we have an answer to the latter of my two questions.  The party is still integrated into the race weekend, however, it is not immediately after the race.  This is another concept I have mixed emotions about.  In one respect, I enjoyed going straight into post-race celebrations without skipping a beat.  On the other hand, a shower would have been nice.  I can't go straight from a race to the parks but the sweat kind of contributes to the experience of Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  With recent race weekend changes, I can shower, put on a Lilly Pulitzer maxi dress, wear my medals, and get a head-start on post-race celebrations by going straight to Epcot!  Hellooooo rum spiked Dole Whips and Riesling flights!  The closed event begins at 8 PM and lasts until 1 AM and runners still receive a $15 gift card to spend at the Food & Wine Festival (or nearly anywhere on Disney property as it's a Disney gift card).

After hearing about Lumiere's Two Course Challenge, I immediately decided I was running this race again.  The transition from a night race to a morning race took away from the excitement a little, but I'll still happily shell out the $330 registration to take part in this Inaugural challenge.  I ran in 2014 during the unofficial "Splash and Dash" Half Marathon in which runners experienced 10 MPH winds in 55 degrees with a non-stop downfall of rain the entire race.  I questioned my sanity after standing at the starting line for an hour getting completely drenched and then continuing on with 13.1 miles in the cold, wet, windy weather.  In 2015, I ran the shortest Half Marathon on Disney property after getting an hour delay and a shortened course due to weather conditions.  I don't know what the 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon will hold, but I'm anxious to find out.  Some runners say the race is cursed.  Maybe the new time will change everything.

Another factor I considered is that 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend will fall on Daylight Savings... giving runners an extra hour of sleep.  I'm not going to complain about the extra sleep.  I had originally hoped it would equate to an extra hour of drinking around the world at Epcot, though.  Last year I didn't leave until close to 4:30 AM so I know how to close a park down!

You can find out how it goes through my blog or you can come run with me!  Registration opens for Disney Vacation Club and Annual Passholders on Tuesday March 22nd at Noon and to the general public on Tuesday March 29th at Noon.  In 2014, it took just over 24 hours for the half marathon to sell out.  Increased popularity resulted in a sellout in under 30 minutes during 2015 registration.  I missed APH registration  because of how quickly it sold out and had to register with everyone else last year.  Nobody can predict how quickly this year's race and challenge will sell out, but EVERYONE is talking about this race so be prepared to register early!  Challenges typically sell out first, so keep that in mind.  Good luck to all runners!

237 days to go...


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