Race Report: 2021 Wine & Dine 5K

Runner Holding Medal Post-Race

The 2021 Wine and Dine 5K, part of Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, marked the return to in-person racing events at the resort. The last run at Disney World before the pandemic started was the 2020 Princess Half Marathon, held back in February 2020.

This race weekend typically consists of a 5K on Friday, a 10K on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday. Races for kids and diaper dashes for toddlers are also usually part of this and other runDisney race weekends, but those are not back on the agenda yet. I'm still nursing knee pain so I elected to participate in the 5K only.

I attended the expo on Thursday, November 4th; the 5K race took place on Friday, November 5th.

Before I get to my race, here are some of the differences I noticed during this return to racing event at Disney World.

Runner Posing With Race Bib and Race Backdrops

Photo ops at the runDisney Expo

Pandemic Differences: Expo

There were some different protocols during this race weekend when compared to pre-pandemic runDisney events. 

Digital waivers were used instead of printed waivers. Masks were required at the expo indoor venues (3 separate buildings as usual) and on buses. There were fewer vendors at the expo, and many vendor stands had fewer offerings. There weren't any character photo ops at the expo, though props and backdrops were available. Bib and shirt pickup were quick and easy, and there was mild chaos at the official runDisney merch area, which was pretty normal.

Runner Posing with 5K Race Bib

Jumbo medal posters were available photo ops outside the expo

Pandemic Differences: 5K

The pre-race staging area was very similar to past events, with normal security at the entrance, coffee and snacks available for purchase, a DJ entertaining the crowd, and photo ops with long lines. For the 5K there were two photo ops without characters available: the Evil Queen's throne and a jumbo Magic Mirror. 

Instead of using "corrals" to divide runners at the start of the race, we were designated "start groups". These were divided into mini waves. We ended up getting on the course faster than in the past, but I'm not sure if this particular change was pandemic related. 

On the course, there were some character photo ops, but there were no up-close character meet-and-greets. 

Runners Lining Up to Race

The mini-waves were divided by a ribbon held across the corral

Personal Race Report

The course was a very typical runDisney 5K starting in the Epcot parking lot, running through parts of the park, and finishing back in the parking lot.

Disney 5K Course Map

Due to the forecast calling for rain, I decided to wear simple running clothes instead of a costume. My kit was a black Sparkle Skirt, black tech top from my running club, and black Sparkle Athletics visor. I thought wearing all black was at least mildly appropriate for a villains-themed race. 

Training & Goals

I had seen orthopedic doctor back in July to help with acute knee pain. Physical therapy is not helping as quickly as I had hoped, so I went into this race expecting to walk, hoping to be able to enjoy the course and atmosphere.

Race Day: November 5, 2021

I left home at 2:15AM and had the car parked at Epcot by about 3:10AM. There was very light drizzle on the drive down, but once I parked, the rain had stopped. Before I headed to the start area, I stuffed an emergency poncho in my pocket, hoping it would not be needed.

I got my photo on the Evil Queen's throne after a short wait. Then I got into a long line for the Magic Mirror. Halfway through this wait, it started to rain. From what I could tell, it wouldn't really let up for the rest of the morning. 

By the time I got my picture with the Magic Mirror, it was time to head to the start groups area. I had a quick porta-potty visit and then headed to s3. 

Runner Posing with Disney Backdrops

Photo ops available before the 5K

The first runners started the race at 5AM (new start time). I ended up being in the final mini wave. When I crossed the start line at 5:55AM it was about 66°F with light rain. I ditched my poncho just seconds before crossing the start.

Mile 1: 15:08
I fully intended to walk the course, but being among the last to start gave me a little panic about finishing. So I did a sporadic :30 / :90 run/walk when I could. There were a lot of bottlenecks on the course where everyone had to walk.

Mile 2: 16:07
I miss running so much. I stopped to snap photos of the characters I saw, or the empty sets that I passed. I took selfies by the mile markers and a few other selfies on the way, but I never stopped for more than a few seconds. 

Mile 3+: 16:13, 3:39

Runner Posing By Mile Markers in Race

Mile marker selfies

Four Images of a Runner on a Fun Race Course

There were lots of PhotoPass photographers on the course

Characters on Course

Since it was raining for much of the race, some of the characters weren't out for all of the runners. The character photo ops for the 5K were:

Old Hag (Evil Queen): I only saw the cauldron set, no character when I went by

Lotso: I only saw the Toy Story set, no character when I went by

Shan Yu: Out and socially distanced under cover in China

Frollo: He was going on a break when I went by; his spot in France was covered

Captain Hook and/or Smee: I missed seeing this spot completely; I heard different reports that the final course character was one of these two

Recommendation

I thought runDisney's return to in-person racing was almost perfect. The changes are small and understandable. I'm hopeful I can participate in more runDisney events in the future. 

Final Stats

Garmin GPS time: 51:07 (my all-time fastest runDisney 5K!)
Race Amenities: Long sleeve tech shirt, medal 
Cost: $101.27

Race Finisher Certificate

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