Dopey Challenge Recap: Full Marathon

Note: If you’re just joining us, please check out my 5k and 10k recap and my half marathon recap.


Sunday: The Full Marathon
Day four, and another pre-3AM wake-up call. Yeah, these were getting old, but last one! Woohoo! At this point a bit of delirium was setting in. We ate our typical pre-marathon meals, dressed for multiple weather scenarios, picked up our friends and drove to Epcot. I had heard that traffic could be a nightmare, so we left a tad earlier than Saturday but made it just fine. We had a solid hour in the (warm) car before heading to the corrals.

The weather would be very cold at the start (mid-30s) but would warm up into the high-50s/low-60s and sunny later on. We knew we would be out on the course for a long time, so we had to dress for both. I opted for shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, a short-sleeve tech shirt, hat, gloves, and a fleece throw-away top to keep me warm up in corral and for the first few miles. It was a solid plan, and I felt good throughout the run.

The first several miles were the exact same as the half the day before. We started on the highway, ran onto World Drive, through the auto plaza into the Magic Kingdom, around the parking lots (stopping for photos with Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck!) and through the TTC, towards the Contemporary and into the Magic Kingdom itself. We skipped all other photo stops until we got to Woody and Jessie, and even though the line was long we decided to stop. In a story that will repeat throughout the day, right before we got to the front of the line Woody took a break, so we just got Jessie.

Somewhere in the midst of taking a photo of the mile markers (which we managed to get all of them!), I lost a glove. Not both of them, just one. It was when I was ditching my throw-away top. So there I was, one glove, and it started getting a bit chilly again. Crap. We were only a few miles in, and there was a loooong way to go. Yikes.

Upon leaving MK, you head down Cone Alley by the Grand Floridian, and finally deviate from the half course. The WDW Marathon gets a well-deserved reputation for being a bit of a boring course, with a lot of long stretches on highways, lots of ramps, lots of dead space. You leave the MK at mile 6. You enter Animal Kingdom at 12.5, leave it at 14, and don’t enter another park until 23. The rest of that time is just plain, boring roads. In a repeat from our Woody/Jessie photo, we got in line for Timon and Rafiki (where’s Pumba?!) who promptly went on break. We decided to wait, and luckily it didn’t take long for them to come back, and we were back on the road.

Now, the time between AK and HS is miserable. You’re on boring roads again, until you hit the Wide World of Sports. This is just round and round you go, throughout the property. Even the DJs seemed pretty miserable. You’re there for a few miles, and as soon as you get out you feel relief. We opted against most photo stops there, since we had taken many with the characters at the start/finish village instead. Plus, I think Ro just needed to keep on moving. At this point we slowed our interval from 4/1 to 2/1. Eventually it would turn into run whenever we could.

With WWOS in the rearview, we were onto the last little bit: Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, World Showcase and margaritas and beer! Wait, what? Yup! We opted to stop at the margarita stand and get some drinks to power us through the final half mile. I mean, everyone knows fueling and hydrating is the most important part of a marathon, right?

Ah, glorious!

We stopped at mile marker 26, listening to the gospel choir, and knew we would be finishing in just a few minutes.

We crossed the finish line in what was our slowest time, but also the most fun marathon we’ve ever done!

And with that, we were done. We had completed the Dopey Challenge, 48.6 miles of running in four days. A 5k, a 10k, a half marathon and a full marathon. Unreal. We started celebrating as soon as we got our medals, heading right for the beer tent to wait for our friends to finish.

We headed back to our hotel where we cracked a bottle of champagne and put our feet in the cold pool water. Eventually Ro and I showered and hit up Disney Springs, where we munched on some sushi at Morimoto and a few cocktails at Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar. We were beat, so we called it an early night to get some sleep. The next morning we hit up Epcot and MK for photos before a dinner at Citricos, and then drove back to our apartment to crash.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and we loved every minute of it – except the wake up calls. This isn’t something we would necessarily repeat anytime soon, maybe for anniversary years. Otherwise, we’ve got Dark Side half marathon coming up next – though we’re searching for another half prior to then.

Next up: a recap of our character photos!

Dopey Challenge Recap: The Half Marathon

Note: if you’re just joining us, check out my recap of the 5k and 10k first. Thanks!


Saturday: The Half Marathon
As if waking up at 2:45AM for two straight days wasn’t bad enough, Saturday brought a 2AM wake-up call. The half and full marathons are significantly larger races during the weekend, traffic is heavier, and roads around EPCOT (where the athlete village is) begin to close several hours before the race. So we needed to be up earlier to hit the road and ensure we were parked before the roads closed.

Much like the previous two mornings, it was still bitterly cold that morning. It was just a touch warmer though, so we opted to check some warm clothes and I didn’t even wear sweats over my running tights. It was still friggin’ cold though! For this race (and the full) the corrals were in a different area, about 0.7 miles worth of walking. And, you had to be there much earlier than the first two races, so we ended up not sitting in our car as long as we did Thursday and Friday.

After the videos and with a countdown from Donald Duck himself, our corral slowly started working its way towards the start. One thing that’s awesome about the Disney races is that every corral (and now every mini corral) gets its own send off, complete with countdown and fireworks. It’s pretty awesome! About 10 minutes after the first wave started, we crossed the line and began running down the road towards the Magic Kingdom!

The course for the WDW Marathon Weekend half marathon essentially starts in the EPCOT parking lot, runs to and through the Magic Kingdom, and then returns to the EPCOT backstage area, into the World Showcase and finally finishing back in the EPCOT lot. We made it to the MK entrance feeling pretty good. We even dropped our cover-up clothes at that point, which we immediately regretted as we felt a chill from a few wind guests. But the energy and excitement of running through that special place was amazing! Being essentially alone in the park, with the holiday lights still on, sent us good chills.

When you leave the Magic Kingdom, you exit out to the side and go down a road. A very long road. A very narrow road. A very boring road. One that is filled with orange cones and barricades. Bob’s Barricades, as they have become known (although the cones this year were labeled Acme, so who knows what’s going on anymore). This can be a bit soul-crushing, and it’s very hard to maintain a run/walk because there are a lot of people and you’re running down a single lane of the roadway. I’m not going to lie, it’s bad. But eventually, you come back out onto World Drive (essentially the road to and from the Magic Kingdom gate) and head back towards EPCOT. At this point, Ro had to use the porta-potties, so we stopped. As soon as we stopped, I noticed a crowd and saw Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbosa, so I ran over to get in line. Ro came out just in time to join me for the photo before we hit the road again and began running up the off-ramp to Epcot Center Drive.

On the ramp, I heard a voice barking out orders and motivation. Army Guy!

With his words ringing in our ears, we headed to EPCOT and popped out near the UK pavilion and began running towards Spaceship Earth.

And soon enough, we heard the gospel choir and saw the finish line

We grabbed our medals, our photos, our food, and our checked bags to put on some warm clothes. We also had a beer and champagne, but it was so cold we drank them quick and headed back to relax before a late breakfast at the Grand Floridian.

Three races down, one more – and the big one! – to go. 22.6 miles covered, 26.2 left. Tune in next time!

Dopey Challenge Recap: The 5k and 10k


First off, the good news: We successfully finished the Dopey Challenge! 48.6 miles of racing across four (very early) mornings. A 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, and a full marathon. I’m still amazed we even signed up for this thing, let alone finished it with flying colors. I’ll say at the outset that it was very cold, the morning wake-up calls were horrible, the marathon was very challenging emotionally and physically, and I couldn’t be happier that we got to run it together. It truly was a magical weekend.

Wednesday: Packet Pickup and Expo
Before the running began, we had some business to attend to. First up was picking up our packets. Obviously since we were running Thursday – Sunday, all Dopey participants had to pick up their bibs on Wednesday. This led to a VERY crowded expo with very, very long lines. Bibs and shirts were on the upstairs level of the HP Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports venue.

The line to pick up bibs

For Dopey, you get two bibs: one for the 5k/10k and one for the half/full (they have the same number, though). They take your photo so that they can prove you ran with those bibs later on. After that, you pick up your (SIX!) shirts.

Downstairs you can visit the runDisney store and pick up any pre-purchased stuff. We did a bit of shopping, avoiding the super long line to get into the merchandise area by simply ducking under the ropes separating the pre-purchased portion from the rest of the store. We headed back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the next day.

Thursday: the 5k


It was friggin’ cold! The temperature was right at freezing, with a slight wind chill dropping it into the high 20s. We drove over from our resort so that we could sit in the car for as long as possible. When it was time, we opted not to even bother checking a bag, as we planned to keep our drop clothes on for the entire race.

The 5k has a pretty simple course: start in one of the EPCOT parking lots, run through a bit of the backstage area, pop out onto the World Showcase in between Mexico and Norway, and run around to the other side, underneath Spaceship Earth, and finishing back in the parking lot. We opted to skip the first few photo stops, as the lines were a bit long and we were too cold to stop. It was all about forward motion, get back to the car as quickly as possible. We did stop for one character though. Soon enough, we were done.

Done with the first race

After the race, I actually had to get to work, so I showered and drove to the office for a bit. When I came back, we simply relaxed at our resort, ate a quick dinner, and tried to get to bed early. It didn’t work, but hey, we tried!

Friday: the 10k

Still cold

Friday morning brought essentially the same temperature and wind chill as Thursday. It maybe felt just a tad warmer, but that could have been our tired minds playing tricks on us. We kept to the same plan: I kept my throw clothes on the entire time, we stayed in the car as long as possible, and tried not to stop very often. Of course, I couldn’t NOT stop to say hi to Vacation Genie:

Or to get a photo with Spaceship Earth:

The course for the 10k was pretty similar to the 5k, just with a longer run around parking lots and other streets before the backstage area. We also ran into and around the boardwalk before going back into EPCOT. After we finished, we got our second medals of the challenge and decided to take a few photos with some of the finish line characters (AKA the Big Ones: they had Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy and Dopey out each morning and immediately post-race) before heading back to the room.

And just like that, we were halfway done. Well, halfway in terms of days. In reality we had only ran 9.3 miles, and still had 39.3 to go. The rest of Friday was spent walking around our resort to keep our legs fresh, along with dinner at Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. Another early bedtime (in theory) to rest up for the remaining two races.

Stay tuned…

2017 Year in Review

Quick post to review my 2017 in running…

Goal 1 – Break two hours in a half
COMPLETE! FINALLY after years of trying, on half marathon #7, I broke two hours. I broke it by a lot, actually, coming in at 1:55 at the Kentucky Derby half marathon in Louisville, KY. It felt amazing to run a great race and knock that off my list.

Goal 2 – 1,250 miles
Complete FAILURE on this one. I ended the year at 964 miles over 180 runs. Both are records for me, besting last year’s 900 miles. Quite short of my goal though, and so utterly close to 1,000 miles.

What did me in was basically the lack of running from the end of May through late September. I ran, just not as much as I should. Even just a few runs here and there would have gotten me to 1,000 miles. With Dopey coming up this week, it wasn’t worth it to push for 1k though, too much of a risk of injury for that.

So, on to 2018! I’ve got Dopey, and then nothing else planned for the year yet. We technically have MCM in October, but we’ll see.

On Track

Well, as much as we can be. We are getting closer and closer to Dopey in January, and I’m proud to say that other than missing a long run for my birthday the other week, we’ve been nailing our runs. Either four or five days a week, getting some miles in. Sure, our long runs aren’t quite up to par (we are WAY behind on that), but at least we’re getting there.

Since we can’t catch up to the plan at this point, it was time to start developing a new one to get us as close as possible. The next three mini Dopey’s are 4/8/18, 4/9/19 and 2.5/5/10/20. Our longest run to date has only been 11, so that’s not gonna happen. Instead, here’s what we’re going to do:

    The Plan

  • This week: 3/6/14
  • Two weeks: 4/8/16
  • Peak week: 2.5/5/10/18

It’s aggressive still, but it’s the best we’ll be able to do given our current fitness levels. I think a good portion of the longer segments will need to be run/walk as well, so we will train for that.

But otherwise, we’re doing ok. We did our three miles on Thursday and six miles this morning, so tomorrow will be 14. Longest I’ll have run since Louisville, and after two days of running, so it’ll be interesting to see how our legs are feeling during and after the run. Going to be an early bedtime I think!