On Thursday, November 7, runDisney held their first nighttime meet-up leading into the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Previously, meet-ups had always been held on weekday morning and I wouldn’t have been able to attend due to work. As soon as I saw that this one would be held at night, I jumped at the chance to sign up. Luckily, I got my email in quick enough and I made the list of 125 attendees!
Check-in began at 7:00, but the meet-up didn’t officially start until 8:30 where we were to be in place at Mexico Vista for Illuminations. I got there around 7:30 and received my admission ticket, a runDisney shirt made specifically for the meet-up that we were asked to change into, and a fastpass for Test Track to be used that night. With some free time on my hands, I wandered around World Showcase for a bit.
Soon it was time for the first part of the evening – Illuminations! This is my favorite nighttime show at Walt Disney World so I was especially excited to have a prime viewing spot.
After waiting for some of the park crowd to thin out, we made our way over to the America Gardens Theatre. There were a couple food stations set out, one with the Trick’n Chick’n Curry from the Terra booth at the Food and Wine Festival. I hadn’t had the chance to try that yet so I was happy to have that opportunity and ended up really liking it! They also had samplings of chardonnay from The Vegan Vine. I can honestly say that I had no idea that there was vegan wine. It was really good too!
Chef Mickey was also available during this time for pictures. I also took the opportunity to meet Jeff Galloway, whose run-walk-run method I follow. He was so nice and was genuinely happy to hear from everyone about how they were doing in their training.
Soon it was time to hear from a few speakers. First up, sports media director Darrell Fry and Faron Kelley, Director of Marketing and Communications for Disney Sports, came up to give out some prizes. I was really hoping to win one of the certificates for a future runDisney race entry! Next up was Jeff Galloway and nutritionist Tara Gidus. They spoke about how great runDisney has been in making running accessible to so many people. I, for one, probably would not be running if it wasn’t for volunteering for one of their races and seeing how fun it could be. Tara also gave some advice on fueling up for a night race.
We also heard from a couple of Epcot chefs who told us about foods that might be good for us to try during the party after finishing the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. One excellent suggestion was the salmon from the Scotland booth. My friends and I definitely enjoyed that one after the race!
Representatives from New Balance spoke a bit about the shoes that were designed for runDisney. They have been wildly popular with long lines to purchase at the race expos. They let us know that the current versions would only be available through Wine and Dine Weekend and the 2014 design would be available at Marathon Weekend in January. Sneak peeks will be coming so keep an eye out on Twitter! Other new merchandise next year will include race specific shoe inserts and lace charms. We got to see the race inserts and they looked great!
Next up – time to run! There were two running groups: one for straight running and one for run-walk-run. I went with the latter and off we went through an empty World Showcase. The torches and countries had remained lit after Illuminations, which was pretty cool. We ran one and a half times around the lagoon, ending up by the Fountain of Nations for some group photos.
After photos, we headed to the front of the park for a toast. The meet ended around midnight and was a great start to a fun Wine and Dine Weekend! If you ever have the chance to attend a runDisney meet-up, I would definitely recommend it!Follow us for more updates: