Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yes, it was the night before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and I was having a panic attack. For a while there I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run it at all. Power walk if ya gotta, that was my plan. I did eventually get a little sleep, though, and when my alarm went off at the usual ungodly runDisney hour I was determined to toe the start line and do what I could.
So I put on my race costume, drank some water, and microdosed half a Pop Tart on the bus over to the staging area. Becky and I both wanted to get as close to the front of our corral as we could; despite the still fairly early hour, we hustled over to corral B and took up a position in the mid-front area.
Quick moment for a tribute to Becky, who really was my MVP before the race: she helped me identify my panic attack, reassured me everything would be okay, and sang Disney songs with me to lift my spirits. Oh, and she helped me put the glow sticks on my rainbow corridor race costume – clutch indeed. By the time corral B started moving toward the start line, I felt a billion times better. I had no illusions that this was gonna be a triumphant race, but I was confident I would finish.
We wound up at the very very front of a corral split (as opposed to the 10K, when we were the backity-back-back). This of course delayed our personal start by a minute or so but it also meant we would be untethered by crowding, at least for a bit. The announcers counted us down, the fireworks exploded, and we were off!
Slowly. I mean, I was pretty slow. I felt confident but not strong, so I waved Becky a fond farewell as she took off and settled into some molasses-like miles. Hey, I was running! Things were looking up!
The course kicked off in the same way they all seem to lately – after a brief road portion, we quickly entered Epcot, snaked through World Showcase, and rolled out. At least we stayed on stage the whole time; none of that weird stuff where we go behind France.
From there we again took the next logical step: along the Boardwalk and resorts toward the Studios. You know, the marathon in reverse.
Here I stopped for my first character, Duffy the bear. Not that I wasn’t excited to see him with no line, but why was he on an ostensibly Encanto-themed race course? Increasingly I think Disney just reaches into the costume closet, grabs whatever’s closest, and calls it a day.
Anyway. Next we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios proper, where I snagged my second race photo with Thumper and, uh… hold on; gotta ask the internet something real quick… Thumper’s girlfriend? One of Thumper’s sisters? Miss Bunny has ONE line in Bambi and gets a costume character??? Like I said, there was no line.
There was also minimal line for the penguins from Mary Poppins, who I already have race photos with but check out the cute little chalk drawing restaurant set up they have! I later saw in Becky’s photo she took a seat on one of the chairs; I wish I’d gone for that. Me and my stupid body blocking the giant menu. If only my torso were clear.
We ran through Batuu and Toy Story Land, then down Sunset Boulevard and past the Tower of Terror before exiting the park. The Country Bears saw me off (I hear they love Encanto).
Somewhere in there I passed some ladies from Sparkle Athletic, who saw my rainbow skirt and cheered for me from their photo stop line. They’re really out there doing the most and yes, I placed yet another order on Black Friday. (My Dante costume needs shiny multi-colored arm warmers, okay?! IT NEEDS IT.)
And now for the fun part: ROADS! Oh, miles of roads. I’d say it’s a necessary evil and it is, but I do so long for the old days when the Wine & Dine Half course encompassed Epcot, the Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. What a time to be alive.
It wasn’t all bad, of course. I was still plugging away, at a snail’s pace I admit but nevertheless running. I hopped into a photo with the elusive Jack Skellington, although I eschewed Oogie Boogie this go round as I’d just snapped a pic with him last marathon.
Oh, and for a while I was running behind the famous Jogging Jack Sparrow! I was tempted to ask him what kind of rum he’d like me to bring him from Puerto Rico next race, but he was constantly bombarded by selfie-takers plus talking to people is scary. Maybe one of these days I’ll summon the courage to deliver this important inquiry.
Anyway, Captain Jack popped off course for a photo and I kept on trudging as Spaceship Earth loomed into view. It was all the encouragement I needed to continue trucking along, and in short order I was heading back into Epcot!
But first, a picture with some of the Haunted Mansion’s 999 happy haunts, because why not. I bet they loved Encanto too.
Okay, then I entered Epcot, where I hear Figment was out for unofficial selfie photos by the Imagination pavilion but I missed him! Me, the rainbow corridor! Boo! Ah well, I was gonna finish and that was all that really mattered.
And it is in that spirit that I propelled myself forward, my gas tank filled with Disney magic and Disney magic only. The plan was to simply maintain my momentum and finish strong (“strong”), a plan that was derailed in the best way with a last minute Coco character stop!
Bonus: the Cast Members manning the station were the only spectators to geek out of my costume. “RAINBOW CORRIDOR!!!” they shouted, and I felt like a rock star. (Mariachi star? That’s the same, I think.)
After that it was time to finish up this mofo. The gospel choir at mile 13 was singing a Queen medley as I surged past, and it was with the soothing sounds of “We Will Rock You” echoing in my head that I finished up the race. Did I feel good? No! Was I fast? NO! Did I finish?! YES I DID!!! I may have lowered the bar but by God I also cleared it. Take that, mental health!
I collected my medals for the half and challenge, gathered up my snacks and drinks, and skipped over to the merchandise tent… where I was told there were no bags to be had. Drat. Next time I’ll have to check one.
My finish area experience wasn’t quite over, though; I hooked up with Becky again shortly after, and we got some adorable photos with Mirabel! And you thought Encanto characters would never show up! For a face character, she was impressively natural. Highly recommended.
And there you have it! This concludes my 2023 Wine & Dine Half Marathon race recap. It was arguably one of my worst halves ever… but it went from near-disaster to success-by-some-metrics, and that’s good enough for me! I managed to mine the fun out of my race all the same. That, my friends, is the runDisney magic.
Tune in next time to hear about our post-race day in the Studios and Epcot! Spoiler alert: I take a nap. Twice.
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