The Casual Runner

runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon & Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge Preview & Tips

The Casual Runner Team will be attending runDisney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend this year. For Casual Runners who have never run this weekend before we wanted to share our tips for the weekend.  As you read this, please keep in mind that this is based on what I experienced running the 2014 and 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathons and 2014 Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  In previous years, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon took place as a night race. However, this year the race will be moving from Saturday night to Sunday morning. runDisney also added an additional race event (a 10k) and Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge to this year’s program. So here’s everything you need to know to get you ready to run these magical miles.


What is Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge?

The Lumiere Two Course Challenge Medal will be awarded to those runners who successfully complete both the 2016 Inaugural Wine and Dine 10K and 2016 Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Also keep in mind that this is the Inaugural year for this challenge, which means if you are running this year you may have the opportunity to hold a perfect status of running this challenge year after year. (Note: while runDisney previously honored those runners who completed specific races and challenges every year in which they took place, runDisney has yet to confirm whether they will continue this practice for the newly-created races and challenges).

What to Pack

Make sure you have everything ready to go before you leave home.  Depending on how many races you are running, make sure you have everything ready to go for your outfits: tops, bottoms (tutus and running skirts included), undergarments, socks, running shoes and all your food and wine accessories!


Speaking from personal experience it is always best to pack an extra running outfit in case something goes wrong. Maybe even pack that extra outfit in your carry on if you are flying.  If you are running multiple races it is a good idea to bring extra shoes as well in case it rains (yes it rains at Disney, Disney does not control the weather, as many seem to believe, ahem, anyone remember the 2014 Splash & Dash and the 2015 Wine & Dine??). If it rains, your shoes may not dry out before your next race, and no one likes starting off a race in wet shoes.

Other “must haves” while running include headphones, music playing device, charger for music playing device, GPS running device, charger for your GPS, ponytail holders (yes multiple, they break easily), and a running belt or something to hold all of your energy food/music playing device.

You may have noticed I left off a water bottle.  If it makes you comfortable to run with water, then definitely bring one, but runDisney does an amazing job of placing water and sport drink along the course.  I won’t bore you of telling you what to pack for the rest of your vacation but I will leave you with two pieces of advice for that. First: comfortable shoes to wear to the parks. Second: non chaffing bottoms. We HATE the chafe.


The Wine and Dine Expo

While we have an entire article with tips for Surviving a RunDisney expo, I wanted to share some Wine and Dine-specific ones.

The Wine and Dine Expo begins on Thursday morning and goes thru early Saturday evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  From past experience, runDisney expos tend to be the most busy the first day of the expo.  However if you want official race merchandise I suggest that you make it to the expo on the first day, preferably at or before opening.

Also another tip for getting official race merchandise is to go to the Josten’s Center before you go to the HP Fieldhouse to pick up your bib.  Your bib will be there no matter when you go, the merchandise may not.  The only people that absolutely have to go to the expo on Thursday are the 5K runners.  That being said Friday all 10K and Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge runners have to go.  Saturday will have the lowest crowd levels because the only people left to pick up bibs that day are the remaining Half Marathon runners.

You should never run race a race without trying out your race gear before.  It can be very tempting to buy new things at the expo to wear for the race, but I advise you not do this.  That being said, if you’ve ran in something before, you can always get a new version.  I like to check out the Sweaty Band booth to see if I can find a new one to run in for the race or just for training runs at home.  I also tend to stock up on gels when I’m at the expo at the Fit 2 Run booth.  


Take the time and check out the booths.  Some booths give out samples and freebies, so it’s a great time to taste test running gels, blocks, and energy bars.  Or maybe you want to find a cool way to display your SMOs there are multiple booths there selling racks and frames to do so.  Just have fun, this is all part of enjoying the weekend.

Make sure to check out more tips on Surviving a RunDisney expo.

New Balance & Special runDisney Running Shoes

Wondering what you should check out at the expo? My first priority at every runDisney expo is to head on over to the New Balance booth so I can check in to collect points on the MyNB app.  In case you’re not familiar with this program you can collect points on the app to get rewards such as, RunDisney race bibs! (Yes this is amazing, go ahead go sign up… just don’t forget to come back and finish reading this article!)  

Up until the past couple weeks the only way to get your hands on a pair of RunDisney shoes was at the expos.  However, New Balance Factory Stores have received shipments of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 shoes at amazing prices!  It will be interesting to see how crowded the New Balance booth will be from now on when people know they can get older versions of these shoes at their local outlet store. If you are looking for the 2016 shoes you need to sign up for a virtual spot in line the day before you go.


The Course

Note: these tips focus on the Half Marathon course. If you would like more information on the 10k course it is exactly the same as the Enchanted 10k during Princess Weekend, so please click here.

The half marathon begins exactly how this race has begun the past two years I have ran it; in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Parking Lots. Guests will filter into their corals on Victory Way. Actually at first glance of the map I thought nothing had changed for this race, boy was I wrong!


The first mile is spent running north on Victory Way toward Osceola Parkway where you will turn left and head toward Animal Kingdom.  Typically, in past races, there have been character meet and greets at this intersection.  Shortly after being on Osceola Parkway you will come upon the first mile marker.  In years past the markers depicted different countries represented at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and are themed with matching regional and cultural music.  This sets this race apart as runDisney does not have characters on the mile markers, so they are definitely worth a picture stop.

The rest of the initial 5K of the half marathon is spent on Osceola Parkway.  In years past there have been multiple character stops on Osceola Parkway so keep your eyes open.  The mile 3 marker will be just past the Animal Kingdom Tollbooth.  In years past the course include a lot of mileage in the Animal Kingdom parking lots, however this year we will be running straight to the park entrance!  


Once inside the park we will turn left to head into the Oasis. As soon as you enter the park gates, bathrooms will be on your left in case you need to stop. Race Icon. After making your way through the Oasis (which will have a slight incline the whole way) you will crest a small hill and be treated to a gorgeous view of the Tree of Life. Enjoy it!  Before the Tree you will turn left and head towards the Pandora/Avatar expansion and make your way around the park, crossing the bridge towards Africa.  There are bathrooms in Africa, but they look like they will be set pretty far back from the course (straight ahead and to the right). A right turn will have you running along the river where you will pass better bathroom stops on your left. Race Icon. Make sure to look to your right as you will once again be treated to a gorgeous view of the Tree of Life.

Before you reach Khali River Rapids, you will turn right and head across the bridge back to Discovery Island, and then turn left just beyond Flame Tree BBQ to head towards Dinoland USA (bathrooms will be on your right). This year the course will not be entering Dinoland, instead we will be progressing closer to the river, but you will still see the giant dinosaurs on your right.

Then you will make your way past the Theatre in the Wild, home of Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep an eye out for bathrooms on your right just before the theater (they are set back and down a small grade). Hopefully there will be some character meet and greets in this section as well.  As you make your way into Asia the new Rivers of Light amphitheater will be on your left and the foreboding Mount Everest will be on your right.  Past Everest you will find your last bathroom stop inside the park on your right hand side. RACE TIP: Be sure to use the bathroom if you think you may need it, because you may not see another one for a while. You will then make your way out of the park by using a cast member entrance in the back of the park.  


The next part of the race will be extremely familiar to anyone who ran the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon, and unfortunately this is not a good thing.  The stretch from Animal Kingdom to the Magic Kingdom parking lot may be the worst 3.5 miles of the marathon.  I actually went back to my review of the Marathon (part 1) to see if I could elaborate on this part of the course and, I honestly wrote absolutely nothing about these three miles, that’s just how terrible they are.

That being said you will head north on Conservation Way (where the mile 5 marker will be), make a left on East Savannah Circle the a right on Bear Island Road.  The next couple of miles will be spent on Bear Island Road, with the exception of a down on back on Western Way (mile 6 marker will be here) to put you back on Bear Island Road.  Hopefully Disney will have lots of characters along this stretch for some entertainment!  As you continue to Bear Island Road you will pass the mile 7 and 8 marker and just when you think you are going to head to Magic Kingdom you take an abrupt right onto Floridian Way and begin your journey on the worst part of The Donald and Princess Half Marathon route.

Floridian Way will merge onto World Drive at the Speedway Gas Station and the mile 9 marker will be within sight.  Side note**  If you are hungry at this point it is an excellent Cheetos stop, just make sure you carry cash on you because we cannot promise Magic Bands are accepted forms of payments here. Time to head down World Drive and hopefully there will be one or two character stops as you approach the mile 10 marker.  Next you will head up the exit ramp onto Epcot Center Drive.  This part of the course many people refer to as “Disney’s Heart Attack Hill” which honestly should be the only elevation on this course.  Typically at the top of this hill you will be greeted by Andy’s Toy Soldiers from Toy Story who like to stop runners and make them do push ups, so make sure you run fast past them unless you’re looking for some extra workouts during your half marathon.


On this stretch you will go past the Mile 11 marker before you make the turn to head toward Epcot.  The Mile 12 marker will be right before you head into Epcot at the backstage entrance by Nemo and Friends.  Once inside Epcot you will head toward Spaceship Earth then run down to the entrance of World Showcase where you will loop around to come back toward Spaceship Earth.  RACE TIP. The in-park bathroom stops in Epcot are not super convenient, especially if you should find yourself running in Future World after the park opens for the day and you have to contend with day crowds.  You will take a right at Spaceship Earth and head backstage to get you to the finish line. Once you past the Mile 13 marker you only have 0.10 miles left, finish fast and don’t forget to smile!!!!

Post Race

After crossing the finish line make sure you collect your medal!  Then a first-aid tent is available if needed, if not time to collect your goodies.  You will get your water and Powerade, then it is time to stop for a finisher photo!

It is important that, if you earned your Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge or Coast to Coast medal, you head through the appropriate tent to do so.  Volunteers will verify your bib with the photo you took at the expo for the Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge or your wristband for the Coast to Coast medal.

Next, make sure you pick up your banana and runDisney snack pack.  You have officially made your way through the finish line at this point and it is time to spend time with your family and friends or hurry back to your hotel to shower and spend times in the park!  Don’t forget if you’re going out to the park to celebrate wear your medal(s)!

Post Race Party

This will be the first year that the post race party will NOT immediately follow the race.  Instead this year after the race you will have the rest of the day to go do whatever you love to do at Walt Disney World.  After you’ve spent your day celebrating make sure to hit up Epcot from 10pm to 1am.  This will be a great time to enjoy Food and Wine Festival without the typical crowd that is usually found in the remaining week of the Festival.  This may also be a great chance to enjoy some of Epcot’s top tier attractions; Soarin’, Test Track, or maybe even a ride on Frozen Ever After!  This event is limited to runners and their family and friends that previously bought admission to the after party.


Want even more information on this race? We have you covered. Check out our hints & tips for enjoying the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival during your visit to Walt Disney World:
Picks for the Top Festival Desserts
Picks for the Top Festival Drinks & Adult Beverages
Picks for the Top Festival Entrees (COMING SOON!)
Picks for the Top Festival Food Kiosks (COMING SOON!)

Check out our coverage of past runDisney Wine & Dine Race Events: 
Wine & Dine Weekend: 2016 Event Changes
The spectacular 2013 half marathon race (Race Review: Part 1 & Part 2)
The rain soaked 2014 “Splash & Dash” (Race Review: Part 1 & Part 2)
The weather-shortened 2015 half marathon wherein we praised runDisney for putting runner safety first and foremost


Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!