I just got back from our vacation to Disney World in Florida where I took part in the Dopey challenge which is a series of four runs over four days all within Disney World Florida.
- 5K on Thursday
- 10K on Friday
- Half Marathon on Saturday
- Marathon on Sunday
That’s 48.6 miles over the four days and 2018 was the 5th Dopey and the 25th anniversary of the Disney Marathon. We arrived in Florida on Tuesday and decided to stay in the Polynesian and had a great room in the Hawaii building which overlooked the Magic Kingdom and lagoon which meant at night we could watch the water parade and fireworks from the room.
There are various combinations of runs you can partake in. You could do any one of the runs individually, if you did the half and full you also got the Goofy challenge and if you did all four you get the Goofy and Dopey challenge. Additionally for the half and full marathon there is an optional race retreat which is a tent for before and after the runs serving food which has heating and AC and extra character picture opportunities. Additionally the race retreat offered early entry to the expo. I opted for the Runners World VIP Dopey offering this year which is all four runs, race retreat access in addition to training plans from Runners World, separate walk out to the half marathon and marathon and separate packet pick-up. I’d use the Runners world twice previously for the inaugural Dopey and its second year.
Wednesday I headed to the Expo with my family (my wife was also doing the Marathon and my youngest kids doing the fun runs). I got there before 10 as I had early entry before the general 12 opening. This was pretty disorganized but eventually I managed to pick up my bibs and shirts (after first getting my race retreat band which was a 30 minute queue). I picked up 6 shirts, a t-shirt for the 5k and then 5 long sleeve sports shirts for the 10k, half, marathon, Goofy and Dopey. There was no line at the expo store which was good so bought a few bits and pieces. Past 12 the expo was really busy I heard.
It was coollllddddd. In the 30’s so going round the parks which were very packed was not much fun with 2 6 year olds but we wondered around a little and ate at the hotel.
The Disney runs all start at 5:30 am and for the 5K and 10K the bus transportation starts at 3:30 and so for Thursday I was there at 3:30 ready for the first bus from the hotel which takes you to Epcot where all the runs start (actually the Epcot parking lot or car park for my English brethren). I set an alarm for 2:30 but was already awake as didn’t sleep well. It must have been about 34 degrees but at least they had some heaters in the waiting area (along with lots of porta-pottys) which about 100 people tried to gather around each. I had an under armor shirt, a sweat shit, hat, gloves, leggings, shorts and was still freezing.
About an hour before the run start you could head to the corals where you waited in the cold. I was in coral B for the 5K and 10K (one bib) and C for the half and marathon (a second bib). Basically waiting for 90 minutes to run a 5K. By the time it started my feet were numb and the route was just round the car park area. There was about a 4 minute gap between corals starting and they broke the start down into mini waves even within a coral but was pretty smooth and because I was in B started pretty soon after 5:30. They had water on the course and what can I say. It was a 5K run really around a car park in pitch black. Then you grabbed your 5K medal, a snack box then back on the bus. I went straight to the fitness center and did some weights, grabbed breakfast for the family then off to the parks for the day).
Friday was basically exactly the same except this time it was 10K and you got to run through Epcot as part of the course and you got a 10K medal 🙂 Still freezing cold and still water on the course. I was in a rush as we had an 8am character breakfast so that motivated me to move it 🙂
Friday night we went to Macaroni Grill (which is by Disney Village, now called Disney Springs) via Uber where I had pasta and grilled chicken breast, trying to eat something clean to prepare for longer runs.
For the half and full things are a little different. You have to get the monorail to the race if you are staying at Polynesian, Contemporary or Grand Floridian (but can get a bus back) and this starts at 3am. Also you can go to the race retreat before the race starts. It’s still really cold but will warm up as the run goes on but I decide to way the same clothes. I get up at 2am, walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) (which is next to the Polynesian) to catch the monorail to Epcot (the resort monorail loop is separate and you have to change at TTC anyway). They weren’t ready till 3:15, a little behind schedule, but all good. Once I got off the monorail I walked to the start area and straight to the race retreat which had water, Gatorade, coffee, bagels (and post race hot breakfast but I never went there post race). It was nice and warm inside and I stayed there till 4:45 when we got a separate walk to the start as part of Runners World VIP via a back way which was great. Once you got to the coral people were hoping over the fence to pee in the woods. This time on the course there was water and Gatorade and in addition they had some nutrition in the form of sports beans during the second half with lots of porta-potties along the course if needed. The race started at 5:30, again with waves and this time you run to the Magic Kingdom, through it, then back via Polynesian where you enter Epcot briefly before finishing back in the Epcot car park. I stopped to get my picture taken in front of the castle and the Epcot golf ball during the run 🙂 but there were lots of opportunities to get other pictures with characters and landmarks throughout the course. I had a 9am character breakfast in Cinderella’s castle so once again was rushing. I grabbed my half marathon medal, got my picture and jumped on the bus back to Polynesian. Like all the runs they are basically flat with the only inclines during an overpass (a Florida hill as a bus driver explained to me 🙂 ).
Saturday tried to take it easy around the parks and once again Macaroni Grill for the same dinner as Friday.
Sunday was the same routine as Saturday, same transportation, same start time, just twice the distance and with this course you run through all four parks and there is more nutrition on the course with more energy gels, bananas throughout the course and even packets of M&Ms at the last 2 miles! While it started off cold the forecast showed it would warm up so I didn’t have hat or gloves, just a throw-away hoodie (that I ditched after the first hour). There are some spots where you are just running along roads but overall its a great course, the crowds are awesome and there is plenty to look at. At mile 20 you are at ESPN where you also run round the ball park and I got a picture with Minnie Mouse. At mile 25 they had a special mile marker to celebrate the 25th anniversary and I got my picture taken there but I guess it got lost (along with my wife’s medal finisher picture 😦 ). When you hit the Epcot world showcase you are at the one mile left point and it goes by quickly. A quick run under the golf ball, round a corner and you get your medal! Then you go to a series medal tent where they check your picture and you get your Goofy and Dopey medals along with a special 25th anniversary Mickey Mouse hat.
Overall I was happy with my times and it was a great Dopey!
Wanted to finish with a huge congratulations to my wife. She complete the marathon without any training the last 6 weeks because of a rib injury and not much training up until that point. It was pure spirit and willpower that got here through. Very proud!