Dopey Challenge 2018: Final Thoughts

Wow, 48.6 miles in 4 days – twice! I must be crazy, or, Dopey! Here’s my recap on the events.
Day 1 – Walt Disney World 5K
Day 2 – Walt Disney World 10K
Day 3 – Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Day 4 – Walt Disney World Marathon

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All the races, all the medals!

Did you do any specific Dopey training?
Honestly, not really. Last year I ran the LA Marathon in mid-March, and then spent May through August focusing on triathlon to prepare for Ironman 70.3 Maine. From there, I picked up a 12 week plan from the NYRR Virtual Trainer to focus on getting ready for the Philly Marathon in late November. My thinking was if I trained well for Philly and put myself in a position to PR,  I would be more than fit enough for Dopey. Although high winds ruined my PR plans in Philly, I did run a race I was proud of. After Philly, I did a reverse taper, to build back up to one peak week that included a Dopey simulation (3/6/10/20).  I’m not sure if I really needed that extra 20 before Dopey, but it did give me some extra confidence.

What was your pacing strategy for all 4 races?
My plan was to run run the first 3 races at about a 10mm (the faster end of my training paces) and hold on for dear life to come in under 5 hours for the marathon. I did want to stop and get a few good character photos, but I also was not willing to wait in crazy long lines, either. I think I executed my strategy of having fun but making sure I still ran races I was proud of perfectly, and I am so beyond happy with my final results.

What were you final results?
5K: 29:24.  10K – 58:14.  13.1 – 2:11:48. 26.2 – 4:31:20. overall, I came in 872 out 7469 Dopeys (top 12%), which for this mid-packer, is pretty damn cool.

Did you go to the parks after the races?
Uhh, yeah. I’m at Disney World!  I made sure to take a nap after each of the shorter races, and I did try to go to bed between 9-9:30 every night, but I still wanted to make sure I had a fun vacation.

How did you pack?
Literally, the kitchen sink! I brought two running outfits for each day – one with a pair of shorts and a singlet, one with a pair of tights and long sleeves, thinking I could mix and match as needed. I also brought a few extra outer layers, and some extra tops, just in case.  It ended up being so much cold then I originally thought, so I was glad I came prepared! I did only bring one pair of shoes to run in, since I normally do not switch up my shoes during the week. I am lazy like that.

Where did you stay?
We stayed onsite at Cornando Springs – which I think was perfect. It was close enough we did not have any major bus or traffic issues getting the races, but it was not on the race course (like the Magic Kindom area hotels) so we did not have any major traffic issues getting back, other than after the actual marathon.

What was the hardest part of the challenge?
Absolutely the wake ups.  The sleep deprivation was getting progressively worse each day – by the end, I just so beyond exhausted. And then of course the day after the marathon, I didn’t sleep nearly as late as I wanted to, because my body clock was so screwed up from the last four days!

Is there anything you would of done differently during the weekend?
The only thing I can really think of is that I should of eaten more the day before/morning of the half marathon. But I think I salvaged the race just fine.

Is there anything Disney should do differently?
Well, I sure wish the races did not start at 5:30 am LOL! I understand why the half marathon and the full marathon need to start that early. After all, the races do impact the parks, and the runners are just a small portion of the guests of the entire resort. However, I do not understand why a 5K and a 10K need to start at 5:30 in the morning when the parks do not open until 9 am.

I also wish they would figure out a better solution for the merchandise at the expo.  I have been to many, many large races over the years, and none of them have the same expo madness. It took us almost 3 three hours just to buy a few official merch items and pick up our race bibs – we didn’t even look at the other vendors. Every other large race – including World Marathon Majors – puts all or the majority of their offical merch online before the race. I really wish Disney would do the same.  While Disney has been offering some pre-order items in more recent years, they are generic race weekend (not race specific) items, and you don’t know what it looks like before you pick it up. Sorry, I am not spending $85 on a jacket if I don’t even know what it looks like! And if I am doing Dopey, I want a Dopey a jacket, not a Marathon Weekend jacket. #rantover.

How much did the week cost?
Um, alot. LOL! Race registration was $560, plus hotel, travel, park tickets, food, etc.  While there are ways to make the weekend a little more economical (not as many sit down meals or park days) however you slice and dice it, it will be an expensive week. For your registration, you did get 4 days of racing, 5 tech shirts (and a cotton shirt for the 5K), and 6 medals.  Compared to triathlon, it’s not so bad, but in the world of road racing, I think it is one of the more expensive races.

Would you do it again?
If money and time off were not on the table – HELL YEAH! But sadly, this is the real world, and we all only have so much vacation time and money we can devote to racing.  While I highly doubt I will never run the Dopey Challenge ever again in my life, I don’t plan on returning for it any time soon, at least for the foreseeable future.  I have a lot of other race goals I would like to accomplish, and I will never get to them if I keep doing the same (expensive) race weeks over and over.  I am sure I will be back in Disney for the 19.3 challenges (less costly and time consuming), however, sooner than later!

22 thoughts on “Dopey Challenge 2018: Final Thoughts

  1. I’m going to go read all your recaps! The only Disney race I have run was the WDW half and that was enough for me. That early wake-up call killed me for the rest of the trip. I understand the need to start the race at 5:30 but this runner just can’t even…

    Congrats on finishing Dopey and doing so well!

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    1. rach

      Haha I hear you on start times! I d been drinking the Disney kool aid since I was a child so I love it, but yeah, the wake ups are rough. I can barely get up at 6 to run before work most days!

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  2. Ooh… I’m going to go read your recaps now! Way to go on doing Dopey, it sounds so intimidating. But it sounds like you had the perfect plan for incorporating it into the rest of your training last year. I’ll have to look into Coronado Springs. We stayed at Port Orleans for the marathon and that worked pretty well too.

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    1. rach

      Thank you!! Yes, I think all the races came together to work out well. Port Orleans is great, too! I would say honestly all the moderates are about the same – I would stay where you can get the best rate.

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  3. I’ve stayed at Coronado Springs before you and really enjoyed it. I like t carry on so I think it would be a challenge to pack for all those races in there. I only ever bring one shoes with me as well. The races itself I don’t think would be the hard part, it is the wake up calls I wouldn’t want every morning…..haha. And plus like you said the expensive of it is not practical.

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    1. rach

      My friend was able to do carry on and I was totally amazed. She did end up having to wear same jacket and tights for multiple races though! I like to avoid checking too, but too many races and the unpredictable weather made it impossible for me. I generally get a little neurotic when there’s a marathon involved lol

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  4. Good to know about Coronado Springs. I want to do the Princess weekend next year, and I’ve looked at Coronado and Port Orleans for potential hotel stays. I haven’t stayed at either one yet.

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    1. rach

      I would stay at whichever one you can get a better rate at. I don’t spend too much time in the resort either way so I’m not super picky, but I think they are both similar just different themes!

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  5. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    Congrats on doing the Dopey Challenge, all of your race times are great! I did the Princess 10K in 2017 just for fun and it was great, though I wish I could have gotten more character photos!

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    1. rach

      The races are always so fun! Character photos are tough because lines can get incredibly long, and I’m personally incredibly impatient LOL

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  6. Nick

    This was awesome to read. I got re-addicted to running last year and crammed in 7 runDisney 19.3 challenges (3 Orlando, 3 Anaheim, 1 Paris) before my wife had our first child in December and training/travel time would be non-existent. However, I left my last event with a new goal in mind: Dopey 2019. I was looking for a good recap of the weekend to help set expectations, and this was perfect. This helped satisfy my runDisney craving since I won’t be going back for a run until Wine and Dine in November. Thank you!

    I can’t believe you had drinks in between races and walked the parks each day. I’d be so concerned with how my body would react each morning, but this also wasn’t your first Dopey.

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  7. I don’t think I could ever do this challenge – so many miles! I did the Runner’s World Challenge a few years ago (5K/10K on Saturday and then 1/2 marathon on Sunday) and that was way more than enough for me, lol.

    Thanks for the your honest review – I agree that the 5K/10K probably doesn’t need to start so early. I’m sure the runners would appreciate an hour or more of sleep time!!

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    1. rach

      oh sure you could do it!! You can’t think about what’s coming next…one race a time.

      The 5K in previous years used to start later – I think it was 6? I don’t know why they had to move it up! I love my sleep, so I would appreciate even an extra 5 minutes haha

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    1. rach

      When I had asked my dad about his Goofy experience (in prep for my first Dopey back in 2015) compared to an Ironman, he said the difference was an Ironman is just a very long day. In Goofy, he was just very annoyed he had to wake up two days in a row to run a marathon after a half haha!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. rach

      I think someone will, eventually! Already 39.3 challenges are becoming more popular. I think the biggest setback for most race directors is having the road closures for 4 days

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  8. This is such a great review of the experience.We are a huge Disney family, but I’m not sure I honestly see the value in it. I’m sure it’s a grand experience and all, but a lot of time and financial commitment. I was surprised to see that the entrances to the parks is not included in the registration…do you at least get a discount? Also, since a lot of people run these races more for the atmosphere than for a speedy finish time, is it a little frustrating navigating your way through the crowds of “recreational” runners en route to the finish?

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    1. rach

      It is a lot of time, and a lot of money! Unfortunately, no discount on park entrance when you register. If you go through a TA, they do offer package deals. In my case I had an AP, which had already paid for itself from previous trips, so I didn’t feel as bad going to a park for a few hours (as opposed to rope drop to close like I normally do heh.) As far as crowds go, I had no issues running my pace. Disney requires you to submit a proof of time of a half marathon or faster for Dopey, so there is less lying then a normal larger marathon. I have heard complaints that the further back you go in the corrals, the worse the crowding is. But my experience was great – I’m normally mid-pack at large races, so it’s nice to be towards the front for once haha. I would say if you are a Disney fan AND a runner, it’s absolutely worth doing once.

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