Before I start recapping the 2018 Dopey Challenge, let’s take a trip back in time to the 2015 Dopey Challenge. When I was packing, I thought “hey, I am going to Florida! Surely there is no way I will be running in tights” and only brought one pair of capris, shorts, and tank tops. At the last minute, the weather dramatically changed, and it ended up being in low 30s for the start of the 5K. Which yes, compared to CT, is not that cold. However, when you are not dressed for the cold, it is COLD.
When I was packing for 2018, the memory of being freezing in 2015 was still fresh in my head. I made sure to pack multiple running outfits for each day – one outfit with tights and long sleeves, one outfit with shorts and a tank, and a bunch of extra outer layers, just in case. I know my husband thought I was being dramatic and over-packing but I was taking no chances.
HA! Who ended up being right?
The morning of the 5K came around – and once again, it was COLD. Low 30s with a windchill. Also keep in mind these races start at 5:30 in the morning, so not only was it pitch black, I would not see the light of the sun for the whole run, so the temps would not rise at all. I was so happy I had my good New England winter gear – tights, long sleeves, tech zipup with fleece,headband to cover my ears, plus a throwaway fleece sweatshirt, hats and gloves. I was cold walking to the bus, but as born-and-bred Floridian, I absoutely felt bad for those who did not have good cold weather gear (I don’t think I ever owned a pair of running tights until I moved up north!) and who were not used to being exposed to these temps.
My BRF came on the trip with me, and we met up at around 4:45 am outside of our resort, Coronado Springs, to take the bus together. While this is later then Disney recommends, we also have done a ton of Run Disney races together in the past, and knew we would be fine as there is no real traffic for the shorter races. Do as I say people, not as I do! It was fairly uneventful – we got the staging area around 5 am, cleared security, and headed to the start.
We were both in corral A, which I was super excited about, because I did not think I would make the cut with my proof of time. Last time we ran a Disney 5K it was the 5K during Princess weekend, and we both had such a fun time. We stated at the front of corral A and had Epcot practically to ourselves, and ran from character to character with no lines. It was awesome. We were hoping we would be able to use the same strategy for this race as well.
Although we did make our way to the front, as soon as the gun went off, it was clear that this 5K was NOT the same field as Princess! There were so many runners passing me from the start, and they all seemed to be going so fast! I probably should not have started so close – sorry, actual fast runners. I ran the first half mile around a 8:45-9 mm, and then when I got to the first character stop, there were already at line at least 20 deep. Well, darn. I love my character stops, but I also will not wait in a line of 20 people when I am wearing a timing chip!
The rest of the first mile was pretty eventful – it is basically a lap of the EPCOT parking lot until you reach the world showcase through the back entrance. I saw a second character stop, also with a huge line. At that point I decided to slow my pace and just try to enjoy running “around the world” in the dark with the torches lit (which never gets old, no matter how many RD races I do.) I had 3 other races to do that weekend, and there was just no point in frying my legs so early on.
After the World Showcase, you enter Future World, and do an out and back to the before heading to the park exit to finish. On my way out, I saw my friend on her way back, and noted it was just as crowded around her as me. That made me feel better about the character situation – if she couldn’t beat the crowds, there was no way I would!
I did jump in a quick photo line in front of Spaceship Earth since there was only 2-3 people in line. Of course it came up a bit awkward and was sort of a waste of my 30 seconds, but what can you do?
After running past the ball, you round the corner until you weave your way out of a back entrance to the park to the finish line. I thew my hands up in the air, smiled for the cameras, and crossed the first line of the weekend. My final time was 29:28, which was a bit faster than I planned on, especially with the stop, but I’ll take it.
I found my friend by the finish area, and we jumped in line to take photos with Pluto, with our Pluto medals! We also grabbed one with Goofy because there was no line, but at this point, we were getting pretty freaking cold after the run, and decided to just head to the buses.
The big downside to first mile being in the parking lots, is that the buses have to wait for the course to clear before they can leave. We ended up having to sit on the bus for about a half hour or so before we could leave for our resort which was not ideal (cutting into nap!) but at least it was better then staying out in the cold. While I LOVE how inclusive Disney races are and I would never want them to change that, I do wish they could figure out a 5K course that would allow the front of the field to get back to our rooms to eat, nap, and shower, as soon as we finished running.
We finally made it back to to the hotel, and I could not wait to run into a hot shower and take a quick nap. But we did not nap too long – we had breakfast reservations with some royalty at 10, and then it was off to Magic Kingdom to play for the rest of the day!