I am a runner. I’m not fast, but I’m dedicated and determined. I’ve ran many places around the United States, but my favorite races come back to where the magic is; Walt Disney World®! I found runDisney back in 2009 at my very first half marathon in San Antonio, TX. I was hooked and, technically, had not even run my first half marathon yet; (the expo was Saturday, race on Sunday!) I remember telling the runDisney rep, I’ll be seeing you guys soon, and I did.
Three months later, in March 2010, I participated in my first runDisney event, but let’s fast forward to Jan 2014. I ran the biggest challenge my body has ever endured (outside of labor…ladies, can I get an AMEN?!) and LOVED every minute of it. I ran the “Dopey Challenge,” 48.6 miles of magic, and still enjoyed my vacation with my husband and 1 year old! We raced and played every day! Want to know how?!
I’m going to highlight the “Dopey Challenge” during Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend! Marathon weekend is always the first weekend in January! I’m here to give you my best advice on how to actually conquer all 4 of these race events while still enjoying your vacation at Walt Disney World®! The “Dopey Challenge” is the ultimate event to endure during Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, in my opinion!
What is The “Dopey Challenge”?
- 5k on Thursday (3.1 miles)
- 10k on Friday (6.2 miles)
- Half Marathon on Saturday (13.1 miles)
- Full Marathon on Sunday (26.2 miles)
That’s 48.6 miles of magic over 4 days! (Not including all the walking you do getting to the start line, visiting the expo, or enjoying the parks!) Crazy, right?! Well, I’ve done it two times and am going back for a third! (Maybe I am a little Dopey!)
For the “Dopey Challenge,” and all other events, “runners must attend the Expo for race number, shirt & gEAR bag pick-up,” per the runDisney website. For Dopey, this would be Wednesday. The runDisney Health & Fitness Expo is located at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and includes hundreds of vendors all geared towards running, plus some special guest speakers/runners throughout the days!
Thursday morning is when the real fun begins. runDisney events start EARLY. They have to. They need to minimize the amount of time runners could (will) interfere with the normal operating hours! Although, the cast members do a fabulous job of ensuring guests are out of the runners’ way for the half & full since those typically run into normal operating hours for some of the parks! The 5k begins at 6 a.m. and the rest of the events, start at 5:30 a.m.
As you can see, the “Dopey Challenge” is not only physically hard, but it’s 4 days in a row of waking up extremely early.
Disney offers transportation to the start of each race, when you stay on property. With the exception of the 5k, the transportation begins at 3:00 a.m. and runners MUST be on the bus no later than 4:00 a.m. The 5k buses begin running at 4:00 a.m., with runners boarding no later than 4:30 a.m. that day!
Once you finish the race for each day, then what? Visit a park, of course! Show off your (earned) bling and enjoy the heck out of yourself because you’re at Walt Disney World®!
Some other helpful tips:
- Stay awake after your race
- Visit a park to move and keep the lactic acid from building up in your muscles, even if you’re moving is slow!
- EAT! Running 48.6 miles burns a lot of calories, so taking in proper “fuel” is crucial.
- Foam roll (either bring it with you or go back to the expo and let them roll you out! This is a great tool for anyone looking to self-massage to help soothe tight, sore areas, known as “trigger points,” and speed up muscle recovery!)
- Ice bath at least Friday & Saturday evenings
- Be in bed, phone plugged in, alarm(s) set, and lights OUT by 8:00 p.m.
I am a big advocate of staying awake and continuing to move, after each race. This is for a few reasons. Staying awake helps me get to bed earlier than evening, so I can wake up the next day and do it all over again. (Waking up is harder for me than the actual running each event!) Then, continuing to move helps me relieve any soreness I might encounter during each run. My first Dopey I had a 1 year old. She was on the move and wanted to go, go, go! So that’s exactly what we did! Foam rolling didn’t seem too necessary to me after the 5k & 10k, but after the half, I was on that bad boy ensuring my muscles were ready for what was ahead the next morning. My sweet friend, Arielle, MADE me take 2 ice baths. She, so kindly, even took the trash bags and filled them with ice to dump in the bathtub….she may or may not of had to force me to actually get IN the tub of ICE WATER! Looking back, it was the best protocol for me. I can honestly say I had ZERO soreness while running the marathon and even ran my best/fastest the last 16 miles of it. My husband said, after the race, that he couldn’t believe my splits were getting faster when I had already endured 32.6 miles (of just running) the previous days.
I hope you’ve found some of this information helpful! Every runDisney event I’ve done has never disappointed my expectations! The “Dopey Challenge” will always hold a very special place in my heart, but I’m not sure I’ll tackle it again after 2018…maybe! 😉
Think you’re up for the challenge? Visit www.rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon for every detail imaginable about the races, training, and how to register! I promise you won’t be disappointed. They even have kids’ races for 13yo & under!
One last thing, runDisney events are FULL of special photo opportunities with characters, and are not just for “runners.” I run/walk EVERY race I participate in. As long as you can maintain a 16 minute/mile pace, you’re going to be successful! It truly is 48.6(+) miles of FUN!
Laura is a travel planner with Key to the World Travel. Contact her today using the links below to plan your next vacation!