Dopey Challenge 2016 Recap & Race Report
Now that I’ve completed each of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend race reports, I thought I’d follow up with some closing thoughts about the overall experience of doing the Dopey Challenge, as well as other assorted runDisney thoughts.
I had a ton of fun doing the Dopey Challenge. After last year’s Walt Disney World Marathon, I was pretty confident that I’d do the Dopey Challenge this year. I’ll admit that I was jealous of all those medals I saw people sporting last year.
I felt like Ozzy Osbourne while tons of other runners were strutting around like Flavor Flav. It didn’t hurt that registration was in April, so the pain of the race was a distant memory by that point.
Before I get ahead of myself with recapping the Dopey, in case you’ve missed them, here are my reports from the four individual events comprising the 2016 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World:
- Family Fun Run 5K Race Report
- Walt Disney World 10K Race Report
- Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Report
- Walt Disney World Marathon Race Report – Part I
- Walt Disney World Marathon Race Report – Part II
You should read those before this recap. They are (hopefully) at least marginally entertaining. However, for those runDisney enthusiasts on the go who simply don’t have that kind of time, here’s a 90 second video recap of the Walt Disney World Marathon:
If you were wondering why I had so few photos from the parks in the Marathon reports, or why I was holding out my phone in photos of me from Epcot in the final installment, well, that’s why. It’s pretty shaky, but keep in mind that I was running and doing kung fu kicks while recording the video!
It’s an okay (impromptu) initial effort, but I’m already trying to think of ways to push the envelope with something cooler and better produced for the next race.
After completing the Dopey Challenge, I’m glad I did it at least once. With that said, I would not recommend it to everyone. I will probably do it again. I’m crazy, fiercely competitive, and I like foolhardy challenges. I also like all DAT BLING. The most compelling reasons to do the Dopey Challenge are (honestly) the medals, the thrill of the challenge, and the sense of accomplishment.
The biggest downsides are the cost and the time commitment. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter is something many people may not consider (I know I didn’t). You’ll be getting up at around 4 a.m. on 4 consecutive mornings. Not only is that really draining, but it (should) mean early bedtimes on each of the evenings before the race. That really cuts into park time, and means that your trip will essentially revolve around the races. Perhaps not a big deal for Annual Passholders who visit multiple times per year, but the Dopey Challenge would be way too intrusive to folks visiting once per year (or less).
Then there are the courses. There is a lot of overlap in the various courses, which is understandable to a degree. In hindsight, this might be part of the reason why I really felt the boring stretches of the course during the Marathon. I didn’t feel that way last year (nor did I feel it during the Disneyland Half), and I think that’s because there was a newness and novelty to the run. That likely would have been the case this year had I only run the Marathon, too. Doing Haunted Mansion once per trip keeps it fresh and exciting, but doing it 4 straight times makes it–actually, bad example. You can never do Haunted Mansion too many times.
Of course, more and varied entertainment along the way could remedy this, but so too could just running one of the races. Even though I’ve devoted a lot of text to it in these reports, this was admittedly only a minor issue for me. I enjoyed a lot of the entertainment, and the vast majority of the time, I just had a smile on my face being out there.
There’s a reason for this, and I have to fess up: I’m starting to enjoy running. (Don’t worry, I’ll be going to the doctor to get this issue checked out.) I think anyone who enjoys running would likewise enjoy the Dopey, whereas those who enjoy Disney and see a runDisney event as a conduit for enjoying a different side of Disney should probably just stick to the Marathon or one of the other individual events.
I’ve made a lot of pejorative comments about running and the fact that I don’t like running, but rather, I like runDisney events. I don’t know to what extent this remains true. I’m still not ready to run my first “real world” marathon because I’m concerned about how much I might (or might not) enjoy it, but I’m really tempted by the U.S. National Park Half Marathons, and those are probably my best bridge to real world events since I also love the National Parks. There’s one through Death Valley that I witnessed last year that I think would be cool for bragging rights (“Oh, you did the Boston Marathon? Well, I only ran 26.2 miles through the hottest place on earth. NBD.”), even if the course looks boring and it’s actually during the coldest time of year in DVNP.
Given that, I’ll probably do the Dopey Challenge again. I have no problem admitting that I feel an intense pride in having finished, and I enjoy pushing myself. I without a doubt intend upon doing the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, and I fear that I’ll feel a diminished sense of accomplishment if I “only” do the Marathon. I know that’s absolutely absurd as completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, but I know me…and sometimes my thinking is absurd. (At least I have self-awareness. Points for that, right?)
The only reason I say that I’ll “probably” do it comes down to money and time. The entry fee for the Dopey Challenge is pretty steep, and it was tough to swallow once. (Maybe if my “Couch to Couch” training plan sells well, I’ll be able to justify it more easily next year! 😉 ) Then there’s time. The Dopey Challenge requires a longer trip, and frankly, this trip was too long. It seemed like we had just gotten back from our December trip and we were back again. I know, #firstworldproblems, but I do like to space our trips further apart so each has a greater emotional impact.
I will say that the trip was still pretty awesome. The races were a ton of fun in themselves, but we also spent a lot of time with friends, and they helped “make” the trip. From our celebratory dinner at Trail’s End to eating Baked Alaska at The Boathouse until 1 a.m. to a huge group at Skipper Canteen (wow, all of my favorite moments revolve around food), we had an awesome time. Most impressive is that this was a pretty awful trip for photography, so for the trip to still be that fun says a lot, I think.
After this trip, I can see why running groups are so popular. While I didn’t (and likely never will) run with other people during the race, it was a ton of fun to hang out with our posse before and after the races, and then after the events had concluded. Virtually everyone else in our group is heading back for Princess Half Marathon in February, and now we are wishing we were going. I know hanging out with friends is not something unique to runDisney weekends, but race weekends do seem uniquely conducive to hanging out for whatever reason. Maybe it’s some weird team-building thing?
One additional benefit from having friends who are serious about running and have been into it longer than me is benefitting from their knowledge. When I did my first runDisney post here, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, until several commenters “corrected” things I said and did (sorry, but after wearing running shorts, I’m still going to run in basketball shorts…running shorts suck). To me, running seems like it should just be a matter of moving your feet…but not only is it much more complicated than that, it’s much more expensive than I think it should be.
Both through my own research and in talking to others, I feel like I’ve gone from totally clueless to slightly less clueless. I literally learn something new each time I do an event, and I really enjoy that. It’s great that running is not as simple as I expected, as I tend to get bored with simple things that are easy to master. My big revelation for this race was about compression gear, and while it might be placebo effect (per some studies I’ve read), count me as a huge fan of compression gear.
Speaking of which, when it comes to recovery after the Dopey Challenge, I feel like I fared surprisingly well. Many of you seemed to revel in the fact that I had trouble getting out of an inner-tube at Typhoon Lagoon following last year’s WDW Marathon and could barely walk the following day. Well, I was very sore following the Marathon on race day itself (the only thing that “enabled” me to get out of my seat at Trail’s End was the prospect of unlimited fried chicken and soft serve ice cream), but I felt mostly fine the next day (sorry to rain on your parades!).
Along those lines, I want to touch on the comments I’ve made about my training, or lack thereof. I’ve said this before, but I really want to stress the fact that my training regime should not be followed by anyone, anywhere, ever. Many readers have commented that my runDisney posts have piqued their curiosity and made them less intimidated by these events. That’s great. Anytime mileage is involved, there’s bound to be a segment of people who find the events daunting. RunDisney is very accessible to everyone, and I hope my posts elucidate that.
What worries me is the comments from other registered participants who find my lack of training reassuring. While I do enjoy a copious diet of In-N-Out (during the off-season) and only ran a few times before the Dopey Challenge, it’s not like I spend all day sitting in a lawn chair watching cars drive by and guzzling Bud Light (gotta have the light beer to stay healthy!) until I pass out. I hike. I go to the beach. I’m active. I’m also very fortunate to have the metabolism of a hummingbird. Even still, my lack of training isn’t pragmatic. As my grandma often lectured me, “do as I say, not as I do.”
My (personal) problem going forward is reconciling my lack of training with my possible desire to do real world running events. I am fiercely competitive, and if I’m going to keep running (and I am) I want to keep improving…but I also don’t want to take the time to train. I’m not going to simply claim that I don’t have the time–you can always make the time for something if you really want to do it. Rather, I don’t want to reallocate more time towards training because there are other ways I’d prefer to use my time, and I know getting serious about running would make for a tremendous time-drain.
Plus, if I get serious about training, my sense of competitiveness that I’ve thus far managed to contain will spill out. No longer will I be happy with an okay time, I’ll want to finish in the nth percentile. I’ll want to beat all of my friends. I’ll suck all of the fun out of the race reports because I’ll stop taking photos along the way in a quest to shave seconds off of my time.
Instead, my plan is to improve my overall fitness level without running (there are also some semi-dangerous hikes I want to do, so this should help with that), so I can improve my personal times to work my way forward in the corrals. My goal with this is to get to character photo spots earlier, before lines form, so I can start getting photos with the characters and me, rather than the characters and random strangers. That seems like a win-win compromise: I become quasi-competitive with myself and the quality of the race reports improves. That is, unless you considered them higher quality when you were laughing at my expense…I think/hope there will probably be less and less of that.
The good news is that I plan on applying this newfound knowledge to future posts. For many Disney fans, runDisney is a great unknown, something that is unnecessarily intimidating and difficult to master. I’m not a total moron, and there are many aspects of runDisney that it has taken me a while to fully grasp. I’m already working on a comprehensive “Idiot’s Guide to runDisney” with info and the answers to FAQ that have arisen as I’ve been writing these reports. That post probably won’t be done for a few weeks, but I’m hoping that it demystifies runDisney and makes it more approachable for those Disney fans whose interest has been piqued by these reports.
I think that about covers it for the Dopey Challenge Recap. We’ll have much more on runDisney in that Idiot’s Guide; if you have any questions in the meantime that you’d like to see addressed in that, please post them in the comments.
If you’re planning on getting into runDisney, read my runDisney Race Reports (plus other running-related posts). Also be sure to check out my runDisney Packing Tips post for what you should use to train, and what to carry on race day.
Planning your own Walt Disney World trip for a runDisney event (or otherwise)? The best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
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Have you done the Dopey Challenge? Would you do it again? What’s your motivation to do it? Any other thoughts about runDisney or Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World? Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments below!
Ok Tom I told you when I first read this many years ago you inspired me to work up to the Dopey challenge. We completed it yesterday!! I had to read this article again. anyone who reads this article make sure you listen to Tom about the training! we started our 6 months ago and got through it mostly pain free!!! Thanks for this article it was a pleasure to read again!
After lots of time deticated to training to run Disney dopy challenge I’m suffering with IT band issues with race just days away what should be plan?? Quitting is not an option.
Thanks for all of the runDisney posts! And an idiots guide would be amazing because I feel like one when I google my questions about the events. They just seem like such big events. I have always wanted to do the Glass Slipper Challenge and hopefully I can do it in 2017 or 18! I am just so confused about sign ups. If you sign up for a challenge, you don’t have to sign up for the races individually right? Or do you?
Loved the reports and I am in complete awe that you ( or anyone!) can do this. I am a 5k girl. Can’t imaging all that running! What a place for it though! Great job. I look forward to your Run Disney Paris report!
I’m running the Never Land 5K and my wife is running the Tinker Bell 10K in May at Disneyland. I would love to do a half some day. The most I’ve run is a 5K, and I can’t imagine even doubling that without my legs breaking off at the knee.
We were at Disney World last week and saw lots of people wearing their medals all week after the race, until about Thursday. I saw you on Monday at Epcot (we spoke for a moment at Club Cool) and I saw you pass by with camera in hand on Tuesday at Magic Kingdom, and neither time were you sporting all the medals (to my memory). What gives?
When do you need to register for the various runDisney events?
Inevitably, right about the time I get curious enough to venture out to runDisney’s website, the events that piqued my interest in the first place have sold out and I forget until the following year.
Congrats again on an amazing accomplishment. I’m not a runner and do not plan to start any time soon, but if I was, I would certainly look to compete at the runDisney events.
Thanks for the blog posts and all the effort that you put into these things. The pictures, opinions AND humor are all appreciated to a Disney fan who can’t get to the parks as much as he would like.
You’re welcome–glad you enjoyed the reports!
Congratulations Tom! I have to say I raised my eyebrows at my screen at your lack of training before the challenge but bravo and it obviously works for you. I was super into running and did 5 halfs before I thought I would attempt the big one. Mistake (for me)! I think had it been RunDisney that would have been far more fun but for my first (and last – unless I RunDisney) marathon I chose Loch Ness Marathon, “hilly” doesn’t describe it. Anyway hard as that was it was the training that killed running for me so I think you have hit the sweet spot with your couch to couch 😉 The time, energy and eating that had to go into training just ruined running for me, I should have listened to my husband when he said “you don’t train for a marathon you run a marathon” hey turns out he was right!!
I don’t mind running a mile or two here or there (it’s nice to clear my mind), but serious marathon training just sounds miserable. I agree with your husband’s advice!
It definitely is miserable! You are both right!
Congratulations on completing the Dopey Challenge! I will be doing my first RunDisney event this April (Star Wars Half Dark Side Challenge) and have many questions regarding the events that I can’t seems to find answers to. Mainly regarding how and where my wife may be able to spectate during the events. So needless to say I’m very much looking forward to your idiots guide and hoping you include what to do with family / friends for spectating. Also as a fellow photographer I am wondering about photos during the race and if it’s worth attempting.
I’ll keep those questions in mind (I’m sure they’re common ones) as I put together the guide. Good look on the Dark Side Challenge!
Thanks for the great race posts! Looking forward to the idiots guide. If you could include information about the registration process that would be really helpful! Things I’ve read have suggested some races sell out quickly and there needs to be a strategy for sign up as well?
I’ll cover that, but my quick version would be to sign-up ASAP. Some races sell out quite quickly, others take a few weeks (or more). Might as well think about whether you want to do the race before registration opens, so you can pull the trigger right away.
I loved this post. Learning something new is always exciting, and sometimes frustrating, but it’s fun to go through the very humbling process and to learn from one’s own many, many mistakes. And yay for advice, since it’s more comfortable to learn from other people’s mistakes! And yes, there are always points for self-awareness. Congrats on the sense of accomplishment and all that bling!
If making mistakes makes you wiser, I’m infinitely wise by this point! 😉
Epcot entrance-area music from the 80’s! Thanks, that video made my day. (We had the cassette and nearly wore it out.)
Congratulations on the races; the sense of accomplishment is deserved. I understand the joy of running. I used to have it, and now that I can’t run any more it’s good to live vicariously through your reports. The Disney races sound quite fun.
Ha, I like that you comment on the quality of the music (which I didn’t make), but not the video footage itself. That says it all, Kevin! 😉
Congrats on finishing the Dopey…awesome accomplishment! I was the hobbling chick that chatted with you at Fort Wilderness on Marathon night… We had our celebratory dinner at Hoop De Doo…unlimited Sangria was my friend! 🙂
Interesting to read the comment above about them switching from the mylar blankets to the cool towels…I got two cool towels, but would’ve preferred a mylar blanket as I’m always freezing after long runs. And my hubby brought me chocolate milk cause I always drink that post run… Would’ve been nice for them to have some there…and yes, the boxed nacho cheese and chips was not really what I wanted to eat then (or now!). Overall tho, it was an awesome race and I’ll certainly return to do the full at some point again. Not sure I’m up for the Dopey tho…your point about time commitment is very well taken. Not sure I want to spend that many days of a vacation racing. Thanks for all of the race reports, I’ve enjoyed reading all of them!
Nice meeting you. I’m sure your meal at Hoop-Dee-Doo was as good as ours at Trail’s End!
They have offered that nacho cheese for a few races I’ve done, and I still have no clue why. Does crappy nacho cheese have some recovery properties that I’m missing?
How much does it cost to do the Dopey Challenge?
I tried to find prices on the runDisney website but they’ve all been converted to “sold out”.
Dopey Challenge presented by CignaÂ®
$550 by May 19, 2015
$580 between May 20, 2015 and June 9, 2015
$610 on or after June 10, 2015
I’ve really enjoyed reading your running posts! I’ve (yet again) recently taken up running with the immediate goal of doing a half-marathon in May at our local amusement park, the eventual goal of doing a RunDisney event in 2017, and the long-term goal of doing the marathon or Dopey in 2018 or 2019 (when I’m on sabbatical and can actually justify the training time). I don’t have a naturally athletic frame (generations of Scottish and German blood have given me a body more suited for surviving chilly climates and birthing babies), so lots of training is a must for me.
When you do your Idiot’s Guide, I’m wondering if you’ll address a couple of questions I have that others might also have: (1) what’s the elevation like on the courses? (2) is there music outside of the parks, or are those long stretches both boring to look at and completely silent (except for the sound of my own labored breathing)?
Good luck on your amusement park half in May!
As for elevation…I’m pretty sure all of Florida is like 100-110 feet above sea level. 😉
Looking forward to your “Idiot’s Guide to RunDisney”! My husband and I are planning to sign up for the Wine and Dine Half Event; this will be our first RunDisney event. What are your thoughts on night events?
P.S. We are doing this for fun, not for competitive reasons, so we will be perfectly happy in the last corral.
The Mickey Miles podcast has some great episodes on the night races at runDisney.
Tom you should totally be a guest on their show.
Haha, I can envision the introduction now, “and now we have a total idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about joining us…” 😉
I have not done the Wine & Dine (yet), but it’s notorious for being one of the more unpleasant events due to the humid weather, storms, etc. That’s not the case every year, but it’s a “riskier” event weather-wise given when it falls on the calendar.
Congrats on finishing it all. Very respectable times for each leg, especially with the high mileage.
I wish there had been more entertainment along the way, but my biggest complaint is the finish. When I’m done with a race, I’m hot, I’m sweaty, and my body temperature is about to drop fast. They had just stopped passing out the mylar blankets and had switched to the cool towels. I’m sure some people wanted to cool off, but to completely switch from one to the other without an option was not a cool decision of the medical director. The post run food was also lacking. I’ve done races where there were cheese burgers, BBQ sandwiches, beer, cookies, fruit, chocolate milk, and more at the end. A box with packaged nacho cheese? Yum? And then the walk to the monorail, ugh. I just ran 26.2 miles, now the only way I can get back to my room is to walk another one and wait for a bag check? I kept wishing that a parking lot tram would drive by, but no luck.
All in all, it was fun, the corral system worked well, the volunteers were great, and I got to experience Disney a whole new way.
Great job! I’ve always wanted to do at least one of the half marathons in Disney, admittedly for the medal! I’ve run 2 full marathons in my life, and to be honest, they weren’t all that fun, I think a half in Disney would be great. But if you ever want another full that was pretty good, my first was the Marine Corp. Marathon in Washington DC….its in the fall and sells out quick, but running through all those cool areas and monuments is actually great and there are Marines at all the rest stops handing you water which makes you feel like you have to be strong and keep going!
I really love your blog and as a DVC member and once a year tripper, these blogs keep me interested in planning my next trip all the time! Thanks!
Oh also!!!! I suggest a GoPro, you can strap it to your chest or onto a hat….I do it for charity bike rides and it comes out great!
A marathon in D.C. also sounds like it would be fun. I think I walked about 20 miles per day while we were there because everything is somewhat spread out, but still close enough together to walk (rather than drive).