There are two races as a part of this weekend- both on Saturday. Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5k starts at 7 am and takes place in and around Animal Kingdom. The half marathon starts at 10 pm the same day and covers three parks before ending in the Epcot parking lot. After the race, runners are treated to what run Disney calls the "ultimate runners night out!" in Epcot. Selected rides and food kiosks are open for runners until 4:30 am. *Spoiler- it was the ultimate way to end a half marathon!*
This post will review the expo and the 5k. Find part 2 here.
After the disaster that was the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo, I wasn't sure how Disney would respond to make this a better experience. But they absolutely did.
On Friday we left our hotel at 9:30 am on the run Disney provided shuttle bus. If you stay on Disney property at one of the "host" hotels for the weekend, you have access to shuttled rides to all race weekend activities- it's incredibly convenient.
The expo was held at ESPN Wide World of Sports and was supposed to open at 10 am on Friday. We got there around 9:40 and were able to walk right in to pick up bibs for both the half and the 5k.
|Picking up the 5k bib- no line for me!|
|Line for the half marathon bibs.|
As usual, there were plenty of vendors at the expo and tons of run Disney and Wine & Dine specific merchandise. I had no problem getting a few t-shirts, magnets, and other items. There was a lot in stock and the line moved very quickly. After purchasing some official merchandise, we walked to the back of the expo to pick up our race t-shirts. Again, no issues or lines picking up shirts.
For the 5k, we got a dark green cotton t-shirt with the 5k logo. The half shirt was a unisex, black long-sleeved shirt with the Wine & Dine logo on it.
There were plenty of vendors, free food, and other cool stuff at the expo. The crowds were never overwhelming and we were in and out within an hour. This was a very organized, well-stocked expo.
|No lines! :-)|
|Again, no lines!|
|Easy shirt pick-up.|
|Busy, but not too crazy.|
|Course and corral information.|
|I LOVE the Wine & Dine shirt!|
|The nightly fireworks are holiday themed.|
|The first night the lights came on!|
We woke up early on Saturday (4:00 am to be exact) and were on the bus to Animal Kingdom by 5:00 am. The race course starts and finishes in the AK parking lot. Before the race there are usually characters and a DJ playing music to get everyone pumped up. The race started at 7:00 am and we wanted to be there early to get our annual picture with Mickey and Minnie.
|2011 Halloween 5k (Wine & Dine was in October that year)|
|2012 Jingle Jungle 5k|
|I have to give credit where it's due- Matthew planned these costumes! They turned out awesome!|
|They also posted this gem of my awesome Cupid Shuffle skills!|
|Matthew and Kathy- they met in the corrals for the WDW marathon in 2011.|
|These people had awesome "Nightmare" costumes!|
|Jennifer and I met in the expo line in Disneyland this year! Photo credit: Jennifer Golden|
|Whoa- corral A!|
As we were walking towards the front of the starting line, someone yelled my name. It was Christine! It was so great to connect with these two and chat about the weekend and recent races/training. I still can't believe I've met them in person- they have an awesome blog and are such cool and inspiring people. It was awesome to see them again this weekend.
|They always have the best costumes! Seriously, you should read their blog!|
|The tree of life and the first runners coming through.|
|Playing drums in Africa.|
|The King of the Swingers, the Jungle VIP!|
|Everest is beautiful in the morning.|
We ran through parts of Africa, Asia, and Discovery Island before exiting the park, doing a quick out and back behind Everest and then continuing to the parking lot for the finish.
|My favorite part of this course- love this bridge.|
|This was a picture-perfect Florida morning!|
|Holiday mile markers.|
|Wait... you mean Everest isn't a real mountain?!?!?|
|The out and back at mile 2.5.|
The course was slightly different this year- usually the out and back section went out to Rafiki's Planet Watch and back. While that route was cool because you could see actual animals, the smell of said animals in the early morning Florida heat wasn't as cool. The course route this year was much better and we spent more time in the park.
After the 5k, we went back to the room and were asleep by 9:30 am. After all, we had only a few hours until our next journey of 13.1 magical miles began!
Click here for Part 2!