Latest reviews by Sarah Shupp
Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon is one of my absolute favorite races. I've completed it in 2012, 2013, and I will be attending again in 2014.
This is a unique event because it starts at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night. It also winds its way through 3 of the Walt Disney World parks (Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot)- no other Disney half marathon does this. At the conclusion of the race, all runners gain entry to the "Finish Line Party" in Epcot; open until 5:00 am for the ultimate runner's night out.
The awesome things about this race:
T-shirts, medals, the course, and the after-party. All of these are premium quality. The course itself is worth runinng this half- when else can you run through deserted Disney parks in the middle of the night?!?! Also, Hollywood Studios features the "Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights" because Christmas starts on November 1st in Disney. These lights are absolutely breathtaking to run under. It is truly a unique experience. And the Finish Line Party is just as awesome. I usually finish around the 3 hour mark (so around 2 am) and still have tons of energy to ride my favorite rides (Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Soarin'). And this race occurs during the "Food & Wine Festival" in Epcot so there are a limited number of kiosks open at the after-party with food for purchase. I really can't say enough good things about this race- it is absolutely awesome.
The not-so-awesome things about this race:
The price- at $185, it's not cheap. But you do get what you pay for. Also, you have to be at Wide World of Sports (where the start is) by 7:30- 8:00 ish. That means a lot of standing or sitting around until the gun goes off around 10:30. Luckily, runDisney does a fabulous job of keeping everyone entertained with music, games, videos, etc.
Overall, I think this race is absolutely worth the cost. It offers a truly unique experience- all with the magic of Disney included! :-)
Located at the foot of South Mountain (part of the Blue Ridge Mountains), Gettysburg is the site of the largest land battle fought on US soil and the Battle of Gettysburg was considered to be the turning point of the Civil War. Though the actual course did not transverse any battlefields, it still was a beautiful and unique run especially due to the timing; late October is peak leaf-changing season.
This race pits blue (north) against gray (south) in a civil war themed race. When registering, you could choose to run for the north or the south- each shirt and bib was customized with the color of the side you chose. The top female and male finisher times for each side were added together and whoever had the fastest time, "won" the challenge. All finishers that were on the "winning" side got a special commemorative item- a coffee mug with the race logo.
Everything about this race was low-key. Packet pick-up was a breeze, there was plenty of race day parking, and no lines to get food at the end of the race. Small, local half marathons really allow participants to enjoy the experience- for a low cost. I think I paid $60 for this race and it was absolutely worth it.
This year, packet pick-up was located in a movie theater in a shopping center. This would be the same parking lot for the race the next day. I picked up mine and my friend Kelly's bibs. Mine was blue and her's was gray- we figured by running for opposing sides at least one of us would get the special commemorative item :-)
For shirts, we had a choice of unisex or women's cut long sleeved. On the race's facebook page, they had announced that because the field was more than half women, they would offer women's cut shirts. I picked up a blue and a gray shirt and was out the door in less than 10 minutes. There was merchandise available for purchase from a local running store but I didn't get anything.
On race day, there was ample parking and just a short walk to the start/finish line. There was a small bag check and plenty of port-a-potties. The race started with a gunshot from a gentleman dressed in a Civil-War era costume. The course itself was all on country roads- while the course was open, I saw very few cars traveling at that time in the morning. I would say this course has a few rolling hills, nothing that was really difficult.
There were water stations every two miles on this course staffed with local track and cross country teams. They were amazing! An added benefit to running in the back of the pack is that there is more time between runners so the volunteers sometimes are cheering just for you as you may be the only person at the station at that time. We also had our names on our bibs so the volunteers would yell things like "Go Sarah!," "You're doing awesome, Sarah!," "Keep going, Sarah! You're looking great!" It was so cool. Definitely the best volunteers I've EVER seen at a race.
The metal was absolutely gorgeous. It featured the blue and gray logo and a thick ribbon with the date and name of the race listed. At the finish, there was plenty of food for runners- chips, bananas, bagels, etc.
I would absolutely recommend this race to others. Very well organized, great swag, and a fun course.