The Dopey Challenge is the most difficult challenge that runDisney offers. It entails a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday. Did I mention that they start at 5:30am and you have to arrive early for the long walk to the corrals? Not easy. Especially since to train for this I did a 5k, 10k and half marathon in early November and very little else. I do NOT recommend this. I did Dopey in 2015 with a bit more training and it went much smoother.
But back to what happened.
For the 5k, I ran with a group of my friends from Dopey 2015, including my husband, and a few other friends who joined us. It was very cold, especially with the long wait to start, and was in the low 30s. I overdressed and decided to keep my winter coat on instead of checking it. I ended up regretting this decision pretty quickly once we started running but thankfully my friend Doug carried it for me during the race. Shane usually ends up as pack giraffe but his Goofy gloves made it hard to carry anything. We ran the race at an easy pace and had a blast despite the cold. This 5k course is so much fun, especially running around the world showcase in the dark with the torches and lights.
The 10k was pretty much the same group, and thankfully it was a teeny bit warmer. I had planned out costumes for many of the races but due to the weather I had to abandon my plans. I picked out some cute clothes from my closet the night before the 10k and it ended up being one of my favorites. The 10k starts out going away from Epcot, through the gates and under an underpass that usually has a character out waving, but it was a bit too cold that day. Lilo and Stitch are often out for the 10k but not this time. They’re my favorite and I stop for them pretty much every time I see them.
After going down the hill and skirting Epcot on Epcot Center Dr, after crossing the 5k mat, it’s back into World Showcase (wait, didn’t I do this yesterday morning?). It was a bit lighter this time, but still a great run with the music going. After the World Showcase, it’s a loop around the Boardwalk then into Future World. Don’t forget to say Mine! along with the seagulls outside Living Seas with Nemo. Stop for a ball picture then do bumper cars with your friend (Sarah and I collided sending each other down different routes right before the finish chute). Another great race for the 10k Badasses.
The half I ran with Shane, and decided to go for a more warm weather outfit, even though most people were still opting for cold gear. The cold never bothered me anyway. The half starts outside Epcot then heads up World Dr towards Magic Kingdom. I took off my bolero around 1.5 miles in since it was chafing and it was COLD. But better cold then chafed. I can’t feel my arms as well due to the thoracic outlet syndrome so it didn’t bother me too much. The 5k mark is just past the old speedway and we were cruising along at the planned pace. Past the Contemporary then into Magic Kingdom just past mile 5.
They brought us through the main gates this year then down Main Street. This part always makes me tear up. Turn right when you get to the castle to head into Tomorrowland, then past the Tomorrowland speedway and the Teacups into New Fantasyland. Passing Ariel’s Grotto and the 7 Dwarves Mine Train you approach then carousel then it’s time to run through the castle! I did not position myself well and am not really in any of the pictures, but they got Shane! After that I like to stop for a picture in front of the Castle. I love the difference in my outfit versus Shane’s. Out through Liberty Square, into Frontierland and leave Magic Kingdom next to Splash Mountain. There’s a water stop at the 10k mat right after you leave the park.
The next few miles are along the highway, past the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and the golf courses. There’s usually a few characters here and spectators!
Once back on World Dr the sun gets really bright (and hot if it’s warmer) but almost to mile 10 right before the round overpass. We call it green army man hill since there’s usually one of the green army men from Toy Story out there telling people to “move it move it move it”. Then 2 more overpasses and it’s back into Epcot just before mile 12. A victory lap out to world showcase and back, past the hallelujah choir and woooooo done! 1 more race to go. My 23rd consecutive sub 3 hour half marathon!
On the way home from the race I got sick, and spent most of Saturday very sick and couldn’t eat until dinner time. Not good going into a marathon so depleted and dehydrated.
I went lightweight for the full marathon, outfit wise, and once again grabbed an outfit the night before the race. Thanks to Pamela from Distance Designs I had the perfect tank.
This race was hard. I went in undertrained (ok not trained) and sick. It was also the first time I ran a marathon completely solo. The first 8 miles of the race is the same as the half, out to Magic Kingdom then past Grand Floridian and Polynesian. I already knew by the 5k point that I was not going to have a good race. I was still feeling sick and the lack of training had caught up with me. I was determined to make it through at least, and knew I could walk a good bit and still finish in the required time.
This time I did get a running through the castle picture and stopped for my castle picture, as well as my favorite parade float, Maleficent. I handed off my arm sleeves and gloves to my step daughter around mile 8 then headed off to Animal Kingdom. I was already looking pretty rough by the time I got to AK just before the halfway mark as one of the photopass people grabbed me and said “you look like you could use a break and a picture” and pulled me in for a picture with King Louie since there was no line. The route through Animal Kingdom comes into Africa, through Asia past Everest (some day I want to ride it during the race!) then past Finding Nemo the musical. After that it’s through Dinoland and then out of the park. No Pandora yet – that’s only in some of the races.
Miles 15, 16 & 17 are along Osceola Parkway. Most people hate these miles but I enjoy zoning out during those 3 miles. That did not happen so much this time. When Shane finished, he told Fitz (an amazing race announcer and Fitness guru on Fitzness.com) that was struggling. Fitz sent me a text on his phone and promised me a hug when I finished. The promise of Fitz’s hug right before the finish line carried me through the last 10 miles of the race when I really wanted to give up. Especially in Wide World of Sports, which is endless winding from 18-21. It’s my absolute least favorite part, and as I was leaving WWoS the sweeper trucks were going in. This terrified me a bit but I knew I was 3 miles ahead of them and I only had 5 miles to go.
I made it to Hollywood Studios which is just passed mile 23, and I knew once I got out of HS it was a training run to the finish. We train at the Disney Boardwalk and run down to HS and back so getting to the training run area I knew I was almost done. From the Boardwalk it was into the world showcase where my headphones finally died but I didn’t care, I had made it!!! That loop around the world showcase felt so easy after the last 25 miles and I handed off my dead headphones to Shane in Mexico. I stopped for a ball picture as my Garmin died and then continued on for my Fitz hug before finishing and getting ALL THE MEDALS! The marathon finishers also got a special ear hat to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Disney Marathon.
I was so happy to be done, especially since the next day I’d be leaving on my first Disney cruise and doing the Castaway Cay Challenge. But that is another day and another post.