As it turns out, Olympic medalist Jenny Simpson isn’t just an elite runner, but she’s also quite a master planner. And at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Sunday, the Simpsons saw their own family fairytale become reality—husband Jason won the 13.1-mile race in record fashion; Jenny took second place among the women; and the entire family made the special weekend their family vacation.
Indeed, there was a lot for the Simpson clan to celebrate during the race that started at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort and finished at Epcot. Jason Simpson shattered the race record, posting a time of 1:10:24—more than a minute quicker than the previous mark of 1:11:47.
Jenny, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 1,500m run and 2011 world champion in the same event, was merely using the 13.1-mile race as a “training run’’ during her early preparation for the IAAF World Championships next summer. But she nearly won the women’s division, as her 1:21:23 was eclipsed only by the course-record 1:20:20 run by Giovanna Martins of Brazil. And the Simpson 1-2 finish unfolded on the heels of their sixth wedding anniversary and Jenny’s parents’ 35th wedding anniversary, and in her home area of Central Florida.
“I worked my tail off to make this all happen,’’ Simpson said of coordinating the family trip from her home in Boulder, Colo. “Winning the bronze medal (in the 1,500 meters in Rio this summer) was great, but this is really, really amazing. It was just so much fun to be in the environment where I grew up here in Orlando and at Disney and especially being around all of the (Disney) characters and my friends. It was a lot of fun.’’
Donald Hanigosky of Parma, Ohio, finished second overall (1:20:47) followed by Jeremy Spry of Brooklyn, N.Y. (1:21:22). Among the women, Mason Cathey of St. Petersburg, Fla., (1:22:55) behind Martins and Simpson.
In all, more than 31,000 runners participated in the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend presented by MISFIT, which included Mickey’s Holiday 5K, the Wine & Dine 10K, Kids races, Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge (running the 10K and half marathon), plus a Health & Fitness Expo featuring the latest in fitness apparel and products, and a speaker series with industry leaders, such as runDisney’s official fitness trainer Jeff Galloway.
After the Sunday morning half marathon, many runners, including the Simpson clan, celebrated their accomplishment in the theme park, primarily at the official Post Race Party during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, featuring fine wine and cuisine from around the world.
“(Winning the race was a) really great start to a Disney day,’’ Jason Simpson said after crossing the finish line. “We’re going to go to the parks and have a good time and celebrate, so this is really fun.’’