I’m officially Dopey! This past weekend, I completed the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World by running the Walt Disney World 5K on Thursday, the 10K on Friday, the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday. It was four days of running totaling 48.6 miles – and it was amazing.
To be fair, I am a huge Disney fan and a frequent runner at runDisney events. However this was my first Dopey Challenge. Two years ago I completed Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge by running the half and full marathons. Last year, I suffered a stress fracture in my hip while running the marathon and was unable to finish. So returning this year and successfully completing this challenge was an especially emotional experience for me.
The races were extremely well organized. All of the races begin outside of Epcot at 5:30 a.m. before the theme parks open. Motor coach buses transport runners from all of the on property resorts. However, runners must be on the buses by 4 a.m. for the 5K and 10K and by 3:30 a.m. for the half marathon and marathon – making for some very early mornings. I think what saved me this past weekend was that I would return to my resort room after each race and crawl back into bed for at least an hour of sleep. Having that extra sleep made a big difference in how I felt each day and how I ran the next day.
The weather for all of the races was unseasonably cold. It wasn’t the frigid cold that Chicago was experiencing, but it was cold nonetheless. Temperatures were in the mid to upper 30’s most race mornings. There were heater lamps set up for runners the morning of the 5K, and each lamp had a large group huddled around it looking for some warmth. People wrapped themselves in Mylar blankets before each of the races, discarding them to the side at the last minute before the races began.
I had decided that I was going to these races to have fun – and I did! Part of the draw of runDisney races is the on course entertainment and being able to run through the empty theme parks. Disney characters and photographers are all along the courses so runners can stop for a picture. I was in the first corral each day and so had no line when I wanted to stop for a character picture – and there were plenty of them! During the full marathon on Sunday, I stopped for pictures 17 times and still ran my second fastest marathon and a BQ time! Needless to say, I was smiling the whole course.
The 5K and 10K courses ran through Epcot. The half marathon course started in Epcot and ran up to Magic Kingdom before heading back to finish in Epcot. The marathon course took runners through all four of the theme parks plus the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It was truly an epic experience.
This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Dopey Challenge and the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, and runDisney went all out to celebrate, even passing out special Mickey ears at the marathon finish line. Over 20,000 people finished the marathon on Sunday.
The medals were also spectacular. Runners who completed the Dopey Challenge travelled home with 6 amazing medals – one for each of the four races plus the medal for the Goofy Challenge and one for completing Dopey. I need to find a special place to display mine!
I would highly recommend this race weekend to anyone looking for a fun destination race or anyone looking to complete a unique challenge. Registration for the 2019 race weekend opens in April. Hopefully I will see some of you there!