Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.
Although I must say, EPCOT is pretty darn close to home at this point! Last week I was there all of Monday, Thursday night, Friday, and Sunday morning (1 am, to be exact). And while I’m back at home now, the whirlwind of last week is still fresh on my mind.
I got the unexpected but amazing email on Wednesday that I was invite to attend the runDisney Wine and Dine meetup the following night. Once I got my (Donald) ducks in a row, I was set to join in the meetup!
The evening started with a check in outside of the EPCOT gates; we handed over signed waivers and received a park pass, runDisney shirts to wear for the meetup (burgundy color – so fun!), a Test Track Fastpass and a wristband that allowed us in to the closed off area for IllumiNations.
While wandering into the park, Kristen and I found each other and became fast friends. Once we were sporting our new shirts, we headed over to Test Track to check it out. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been on the ride but it’s completely different now!
runDisney gave us a lot of free time to wander the park and check out different things prior to the start of the meetup. After visiting some of the Food and Wine festival booths (Griddled Greek Cheese, for the win!), we made our way to the runDisney IllumiNations area. There we met other meetup attendees, including a fellow Meredith!
Once we all gathered in the roped off area, we chatted with the people around us and met Brian, a cast member attending his first runDisney meetup. I’m always a bit nervous about meeting new people but everyone at these events are always super fun, super friendly, and looking to connect with fellow runners!
The show was incredible and once it was complete, the families visiting EPCOT headed toward the exits, while we made our way around the World Showcase to the America Gardens Theatre. Once we arrived we were treated to a spread of food, from hummus and veggies to the Terra Market’s Vegan Trickin’ Chicken Curry and Vegan Wine, both from the Food and Wine Festival.
Soon after we settled, runDisney’s Sports Media Director, Darrell Fry welcomed us to the event. Faron Kelley, joined him on the stage and they kicked off this portion of the evening with a couple of amazing giveaways.
They welcomed two favorites to the stage, Tara Gidus and Jeff Galloway, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting previously at the Tink meetup. They discussed fueling for a night race, running in the evening and how runDisney races are really for every type of runner. It’s always great to hear from the duo; they play well off of each other and you can tell that they have a good friendship!
We were treated to meeting a few of the chefs and a sommelier from the Food and Wine Festival. As the race is called the Wine and Dine, it was very interesting to learn more about the different food kiosks, in particular the Terra Market which is all vegan options.
Next up were the good people from New Balance! This partnership with runDisney was new for 2013 and it’s continuing next year. We got a sneak peek of the 2014 runDisney shoes and the super cute inserts they are offering next year.
New Balance showed off some of their new, highly visible in the dark apparel and then brought superstar Olympian, Jenny Simpson, to the stage (who actually hails from Brooke’s Florida hometown).
She, along with the New Balance rep, invited representatives from each branch of the Military as it was Veteran’s Day weekend. There was a standing ovation for these men (I was busy clapping and tearing up, so no picture).
After the presentations, the gang showed up! Goofy, Minnie, and Chef Mickey joined us for some shenanigans!
Minnie was loving the Sparkle Athletic skirt I was sporting (thanks Kelly!) and showing me her own skirt. Adorable! And then the group of us joined together for a pic.
Once the runDisney folks got the word that the park was completely clear, we were able to do our run around the World Showcase! The plan was to run the loop around one and half times, bringing us to the fountain at the end of the run.
Prior to the run, I got a chance to chat with Jeff Galloway for a minute and let him know how well his run-walk method has been working for me, especially after injury. It’s what I followed when I got back into running during last month’s 10k race and have continued to use. He is seriously the most gracious person.
I happily joined the run-walk group for the run around the Showcase and we were off with 20 second intervals! I was dragging a bit by this point but since I’m usually in bed by 10pm at the latest, I figured I was doing pretty well. Plus, it gave me a taste of what the half would feel like!
The four of us stuck together during the run, joking and having a great time! Soon it was over and we took group pictures that runDisney was kind enough to send along.
Our night came to a close at midnight with a champagne toast and a wish for happy running over the weekend.
Have you been to a meetup (runDisney or otherwise)? Done a night race? Our Chick Chat of the Wine and Dine half is coming up in the next few days. Were you there?