Monday, October 10, 2011

runDisney Meet Up & Eat Up

On the Friday morning before the Wine & Dine half marathon, I was lucky enough to be one of the participants of the runDisney Meet Up & Eat Up at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.  They announced the meet up on the Disney Parks blog and the first 25 or so people to RSVP were to be included in the group. 
We met at the sports complex at 7am, where we checked in and met Bob Hitchcock from runDisney's PR department, and our gracious host for the morning, as well as the other participants.  I met a couple of fellow bloggers, Heather from Run Faster Mommy, and Rachel from Runner’s Tales.
We were then taken down to the track where we met Brooks Johnson, an Olympic track coach.  He has coached a runner in every Olympics since the 60’s.  
He spoke to us about form and how relaxing our shoulders and using our arms will help us to go faster without having to move our legs any faster.  We broke into groups and gave this a try under his watchful eye.  Great tips I will not soon forget.
Once Brooks was done speaking with us, we then met Jeff Galloway, official training consultant for runDisney.  He is a well known running coach of thousands, known for his run/walk/run method.  He also happens to be a former Olympian, has run over 130 marathons (including every Disney Marathon) and has been running for over 50 years.
He spoke with us about the race the next night and how to properly fuel yourself throughout the day on Saturday.
At that time we also heard from Anton Van Zyl and Melissa Wisner winners of last year’s inaugural Wine & Dine half marathon.  
They gave us tips on what to expect from the course and as Anton was talking, he looked over at the runDisney folks and said something along the  lines of "The course will be well marked again this year, right?"  Can you imagine being worried about the course being well-marked?  I would never be worried about that :)  Ahhh, the concerns of the elite runners, right?  Good thing Anton asked, because he went on to repeat as champion again this year.  Melissa finished 5th this year, both awesome results!
The group then went on a 1.8 mile run with either Jeff or Melissa and Anton around the sports complex.  I joined the group that was running with Jeff, because well, he's like a legend. 

During the run he spoke about his run/walk/run method.  He believes that this method of completing a race will help you prevent injuries over time.  He even mentioned one time when he was in Athens to run THE Marathon, his group was visiting a museum where they came across an article about how all the participants of the very first marathon ran/walked the course.  Interesting little tidbit.

Both Brooks and Jeff have so much experience in this sport it was great to hear from both of them.  They also have different opinions on running, which I found very interesting.  
Once we were done with the run we went up to the ESPN Sports Grill for a cooking demonstration with Disney chef Gary Jones.  
He is a fellow athlete and spoke to us about nutrition.  He made some delicious Quinoa Birchermuesli which we all got to taste.  I'll be sure to share the recipe soon!
Mickey Mouse was taking an interest on how the volunteers were doing mixing all the ingredients.  These characters sure do have character.  Mickey was making me laugh :)
We also heard from Farron Kelly of runDisney and he mentioned that a possible 4th running weekend was in the works for Walt Disney World!  I don’t care what it is, I am in! 
He also mentioned that if all goes well at the inaugural Tinker Bell half marathon this year, there may be more races for Disneyland!  AND they are even in the beginning stages of talks with the overseas parks for race weekends at those locations.
Farron discussed how it just a little over a year ago that the Disney races were re-branded ‘runDisney’.  Comparing what I experienced this year, compared to the 2010 race weekend, you can tell they have found their groove.  Signage was super clear everywhere from the expo, to the hotels, to the start line to the finish line area.  Cast members around property are becoming more aware of these events and when I checked into the Beach Club, I received a race weekend program guide.  They are definitely a more recognized division within the WDW organization.  It must be a very exciting time for them!
Following the presentation we took a group picture with Chef Mickey, love that Mouse!
runDisney also had goody bags for all of us, love the swag!  We also received WWoS bags and individualized t-shirts commerating our meetup event.  They even had our twitter handles printed on our shirts.
What a thoughtful souvenir, I absolutely love mine!
The group was then able to shop the runDisney merchandise at the expo before it opened to the public.

I was hoping for the pink Coast to Coast tech shirts they had in California, but there were none, so I got this awesome tech shirt instead.
I love Epcot, I love drinking around the world there and I love the Wine & Dine half marathon.  Love, love, love this shirt!
After the shopping extravaganza, we were brought over to the HP Field House where we were able to jump to the front of the line for packet pick-up before everyone else (Do not look anyone in the eyes) It was great!

After that our VIP treatment was over… sad face :(
I was so glad to be a part of it!  Bob Hitchcock from runDisney was a great host, always ensuring his guests were having a good time.  Thank you Bob!
I know that I love the runDisney brand, thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere at their events, and will always encourage friends and family to participate with me in these races. 
If you haven't done so already, "like" runDisney on Facebook and follow them @DisneySports on Twitter.  Who knows... maybe you could participate in their next Meet Up!


  1. I love that the shirts had your twitter handle on it! So fun! Someday I'll have to run Wine & Dine. Too many great races to choose form. (Very exciting that more races may be coming to Disneyland though!)

  2. Ohhhhhh!!! I love this post. I am SUPER excited about 2012 Wine and Dine. Ridiculous. that shirt is RAD.

    So, my 12 yr old, in her first real 5K, placed 2nd in her age group. After the race, we were discussing it, and she says, "I had a tough time knowing where to go. There weren't that many people in front of me..."

    The troubles she has...

  3. Okay, I am totally going to stalk the heck out of them before WDW Marathon weekend. I want to do this!!!

    I finally had the courage to talk to Jeff this weekend and he was just so nice and cool and inspiring. I did his run/walk/run method and ran my fastest time ever. I think he knows what he's talking about!

    What a very fun day for you!!

  4. Looks like an amazing experience. That's awesome news if they are going to plan races at the overseas locations too.

    I went to Athens in 2010 for the 2,500th anniversay of the marathon with Galloway's group. It was a once in a lifetime experience getting to run even part of the course with him. He was doing 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking, which is not how I trained so I couldn't stick with it for the whole race. I'm definitely a believer in the run/walk/run method.