"Anyone wanna run the 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon for the Dopey Challenge?"
"Um, Noooo!" ...gears start turning....
"If you register, I will!!"
So, my friend Chris and I registered. The registration date had been saved months before in our Outlook calendar with reminders set. On that day, we had our credit cards ready in hand, texting each other to make sure we both got in. Our plan was "leave no man behind". We were going to run this entire challenge together and just have fun! We're coming for you Run Disney! And before you know it...."Congratulations! You are registered for Run Disney's Walt Disney World's Dopey Challenge 2016!
We were both in! I remember sweating like bullets afterwards. I can't believe I just dropped that much $$ on a race. I was suffering from the 3 Rs - race registration remorse. But then I went online and saw past participants draped in their medal gloriousness and my guilt quickly disappeared! Also - it's Disney. There is nothing cheap about Disney. And really...I just wanted to be adorned in my own medal gloriousness!
The Dopey Challenge took place in Walt Disney World Orlando Jan 7-10. You run a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday. In an attempt to not bore you with all the details that took place for each race, I put together a list of my musings over those past couple of days running the Dopey Challenge:
- With the exception of the 5K (starting at 6:00 AM), all races start promptly at 5:30 AM, which means a 3:00 AM wake-up call. That is super early!! Be prepared for calling it a night around 9:00 to get up that early in the morning.
- The 5K and 10K are less crowded. The traffic gets pretty bad for the marathon because of all the road closures. Plan to leave a bit earlier to make it to the start line in time. We got there with just a few minutes to spare!
- The walk to the start line for the half and full marathon is a long one so get there early!
- Do the Dopey Challenge with a friend! I don't think I would've had this much fun if I didn't have a partner-in-crime. I never laughed so much during a race before.
- Run it for fun! Chris and I already made a pact to run this challenge for fun. We were not concerned about time - unless we thought it was too fast - then we made a promise to slow down so that we had enough juice to run the marathon. Also - with signing up for races way ahead in advance, you have no idea what types of injuries may pop up. Chris was struggling with a hernia (which has now been diagnosed as a sports hernia) and it decided to rear its ugly head at around mile 9 of the marathon. There was a time where the thought crossed his mind that he wouldn't be able to finish, but he's a trooper and finished! Also - we enforced the "leave no man behind" rule!
- Stop and take pictures!! There are characters lined along parts of the course, as well as props, etc. They have 2 folks working each station, one to "professionally" snap your photo and one to snap your photo with your phone/camera. Cool!
- Cinderella's castle was transformed into Elsa's Frozen castle and it was lit up in bright lights! It almost stopped you in your tracks. Well, it did for me…so I decided to take lots of pictures!
- It's a fairly congested race with lots of sharp turns and inclines
- You'll never go thirsty - there are several water/Powerade stops along the course with tons of volunteers happily holding out cups for you to grab
- There are also several medical tents along the course. During the marathon, we did a tour of medical tents so Chris could apply and re-apply biofreeze
- Biofreeze works! I've witnessed it!
- There was a guy doing the Dopey Challenge in a boot! There were also several participants in blades also. You all are quite inspirational!
- You run lots of service roads and main roads, in addition to running through the parks. You get to see the "ugly" side of Disney (wastewater treatment facilities, etc.) which was actually kind of interesting to see
- Marching bands should be a MUST at all races!! They really know how to give you that boost of energy when you run by them - especially if they're playing some Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk". I had to break it down with a few of the marching bands. I'm sad we didn't get a picture or video!!
- You get to take pictures with live animals running into Animal Kingdom (boa constrictor, vulture, hog, donkey, miniature horse, etc.)
- Ride Mt. Everest if you can! We ran past there before it was opened :(
- The best race signs were the Steve Harvey ones - "Run like Steve Harvey is going to give your medal to Miss Columbia"
- You get 6 race shirts and 6 medals for finishing! The extra 2 are for the Goofy Challenge (half and full marathon) and the Dopey Challenge. You get all kinds of bling!
- I can't wait to run the next Disney Challenge! Will it be the Star Wars' Run to the Dark Side Challenge? Hmmmmm…..