In 2014, over 6100 runners participated in the greatest runDisney challenge yet – the Dopey Challenge. There may have been some blood, a few tears, a lot of sweat, but most importantly, there were most definitely smiles!
So for those who are signed up for the upcoming Dopey Challenge, or are considering tackling this beast in upcoming years – you may have a few questions. Megan was one of those 6100 (Krista took on the spectating duties) and together they have compiled frequently asked questions, along with some advice to help you learn all you need to know about the Dopey Challenge!
What is the Dopey Challenge? The Dopey Challenge is the epitome of runDisney challenges. Occurring during the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, the Dopey Challenge consists of a 5K (3.1) miles on Thursday morning, a 10K (6.2 miles) on Friday morning, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday morning and a marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday morning. Complete this 48.6 mile challenge and not only will you get the individual race medals, but also the Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half medal and the Dopey Challenge medal. Yes, that’s 6 medals!
How much does it cost (and is it worth it)? While runDisney races are definitely among the most expensive, the Dopey Challenge registration is definitely steep. In 2014 it was $495 and has increased from there. With the price tag comes four races, six long-sleeve tech shirts, six medals and a whole lot of fun! However, the price is definitely high and not something the budget may allow for (especially since you also need to factor in travel, hotel, food, etc.)
Is it really that different from the other runDisney challenges? runDisney offers eight 19.3 mile (10K + half marathon) challenges. Jumping from these to the Dopey Challenge is quite the jump, especially with the main beast – the marathon addition. It is highly recommended you have a marathon under your belt before taking on the Dopey Challenge. As for those who have participated in Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half Challenge (half marathon + marathon), it may appear that adding an extra 9.3 miles is not that big of a deal. However, it also includes 2 more early mornings!
How many race bibs will I get? With the Dopey Challenge, you will get two race bibs. The first is for the 5K and 10K. The second is for the half marathon and marathon. Both bibs include a corral letter (same corral for the 5K/10K and half marathon/marathon) and timing chip.
Do I need to do a “test” Dopey during my training? Along with the many back-to-back runs needed to train for the Dopey Challenge, it is also highly recommended that you have a “test” run of the Dopey Challenge. While it does NOT need to include the full mileage of the Dopey, it should include a majority of the miles. For example, many runners completed a 3 mile, 6 mile, 10 mile and 20 mile “mini-Dopey” during the peak of their training and stated that it was definitely a confidence-booster and helped ward off the post-Dopey soreness.
How many different pairs of shoes should I pack? At least two. Not only do your feet need a break from the same shoes, but you also need to be prepared for various weather conditions. No one likes to run in wet shoes, especially not multiple days in a row! Make sure you are training in multiple pairs as well.
If you are driving to the races (staying off property), what time do you suggest getting to the parking lot? The 5K has the latest start time, so that race will be a little different. It is recommended to be in the parking lot by 5:30 a.m. For the 10K, half marathon and marathon, you need to be in the parking lot no later than 4:30 a.m. When driving, always err on the side of caution and allow yourself extra time in case of any traffic backups. Remember that for the half marathon and marathon, there is quite a walk to the corrals.
Is the 5K timed? For Dopey Challenge runners, yes. Your bib has a timing chip, so your 5K time will be recorded for your overall Dopey Challenge time.
Is there spectator areas for the 5K or 10K? For the 5K, the spectator locations are the start and finish lines. For the 10K, the start and finish line areas are available, as well as along the Epcot Resorts – along the Boardwalk and around Crescent Lake. (Note: if you spectate along the Epcot Resort area, you will not have enough time to make it to the finish line to watch your runner finish.)
What tips would you give spectators of the Dopey Challenge? Let your runner decide ahead of time what races are the most important for you to be at. If you are able to get up 4 mornings in a row to spectate – great! However, if there are kids involved, it may be wise to choose only a couple of the races. For the half marathon, spectating locations include: Ticket & Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom, behind the Grand Floridian/Polynesian resorts and the finish line in the Epcot parking lot. For the marathon, spectating locations include the same as above, along with outside Animal Kingdom, in ESPN Wide World of Sports and along the Epcot Resort area. (Note: if you spectate anywhere past mile 14, you may not have enough transportation time to make it back to the finish line in time to watch your runner finish.)
What sort of rest/stretching/compression gear is recommend between races? Rest is definitely the biggest key in between races. While it may not feel like you need it between the first three races, it is definitely a must after the half marathon. Keep with similar patterns to what you did during training. If you are used to an ice bath, jump in the pool or in the tub in your room. If compression gear keeps your legs fresh, be sure to pack those items along. The main thing is to make sure your legs and body are ready for another day (or three) of running!
Is going to the parks in between races out of the question? It isn’t necessarily out of the question, you just need to make sure you are getting enough rest in between races! The main “in between” to be mindful of is between the half marathon and marathon races. You have had three early mornings and still have your longest race to go! Going to the parks is absolutely fine, just take it easy and make sure you stay off your feet by a certain time of the day. During the Dopey Challenge is not the time to conquer all the attractions!
What are the character situations along the courses? Are there any “must have” photo ops? As with any runDisney race, characters are all along the courses. As you are running four races, you will have plenty of photo opportunities! Since each race brings out different character experiences, the “must haves” will depend on you. Our advice is to save those moments in line for the characters you don’t normally see – or the ones that are your absolute favorite!
How should you fuel for the races? This is where the “mini-Dopey” during your training comes in handy! Throughout your training, do some trial and error to determine what fueling process works best for you. A carb-heavy meal the night before the longer runs definitely helps. Also learn what fuel works best during your run. Then use these during the Dopey Challenge. Be sure to bring EXTRA fuel as you most likely will find yourself even more hungry after all the running you’ve been doing!
What is the hardest part of the challenge? It’s probably safe to say this answer is two-fold. The training is definitely a feat in and of itself. The mileage logged while training for Dopey is no joke, especially around the holidays. (And those in the northern regions will be dealing with cold and snow.) Along with the training, one of the hardest aspects are those dreaded early mornings. For (at least) four days in a row, your alarm will go off around 2:30 a.m. Oof!
Do folks carry their medals with them during the full so they can have pictures with ALL OF THEM? That would be quite the sight! While some may choose to carry their 5K, 10K and half marathon medals in their running belt, most (we imagine) do not. Yes, bag check is an option, however we don’t advise putting something that valuable in there. Have your spectator hold them for you and meet you in the Family Reunion area. Or wait for that beautiful 6-medal moment until you are back in your room (or out in the parks!)
Those who train and complete ANY race (including the Dopey Challenge) are rockstars in our book! For the runners wanting to take on a whole new level, the Dopey Challenge is definitely a way to do so.