Dopey Challenge – Final Thoughts & Cost Analysis

For all of you who are all Dopey’d out, this will be the last post.  I wanted to do a final one and make it more of a highlight reel and then go over the cost and what is associated with the fee verses expectation and hype and well, the BLING FACTOR.  To make it clear, I went to Disney to run the Dopey Challenge as a social event.  For fun.  Not for time.  Not to be competitive.  But to spend time with my running friends, hang out and become one of the Inaugural Dopey Challenge Runners.  That’s why I went.  We were also focused on enduring the event and making sure that we ran slow enough to take it all in and enjoy the experience instead of just zooming past everything and putting the hurt on in an attempt to run fast times.  It was all about the experience for us.  We wanted to walk away with great memories.  Have amazing stories to tell for years to come.  Enjoy a beer at the end as a triumph, not lay on the ground withering in pain like so many others we saw.  Part of the fun for us was creating silly photos that we can laugh at far into the future.  Thanks, Julian for introducing us to the “monkey” pose.  I’m still not really sure what we were doing but maybe you Brits can fill me in sometime.  All I know was that it was funny as all get out in our sleep deprived state.

monkey pose

We utilized the Disney photogs A LOT, much to the dismay of some of the other serious runners who were pissy irritated when we would all stop to do something stupid funny for the camera.

funny 10K pic

We clowned around.  Whooooped.  Hollered.  Played loud music DURING the race.  Sang.  Danced.  Annoyed other runners.  Made memories. 

holding jason

My favorite race by far was the 10K because it was far enough that we weren’t too crowded but short enough that we could have fun without worrying about conserving energy.  We ran a decent pace but still stopped for silly photos.  And we got to meet Minnie Mouse at the end.

Minnie & Me

The temps are, of course, unpredictable and while it wasn’t “too”  hot this year, we did have several days in the 70s with 100% humidity.  Normally I melt in the heat and humidity but this year I did GREAT!  What was the difference, you ask?   My treadmill miles.  All those stupid training runs which I did inside on the treadmill when I didn’t have any other choice.  Huge benefit to me.  Those sweaty miles allowed my body to function better under the warm, “moist” conditions.  Finally, an answer to improving  my performance in the harsher conditions?  Let’s only hope.

What I did right for the Dopey Challenge?  I was very chill about it and focused on fun.  I ran conservatively every day, even marathon day.  I was prepared.  Shockingly, I met many people who hadn’t trained for the Challenge at all.  Some of them finished, some did not.  Out of the 7000 Dopey’s who started on THUR in the 5K, only 6200 finished.  How did I train?  Not via any “dopey” internet training plan cuz they all looked like the mileage was WAY too high, in my opinion, but I did train.  I focused on CrossFit 2x a week.  In the last 6 weeks prior to Dopey, I had little to no running at the beginning of the week, then piled on the miles at the end of the week.  Almost always running 4 consecutive days, with low miles on THUR & FRIs and then bigger miles on the weekend.  Total rest on Mondays.    I was also running a lot of hills and trails in order to prep for the Huff 50K at the end of December.  I was counting on those trail miles (and hills) to build my stabilizer muscles and toughen up my feet for whatever Disney tossed my way.  It worked well.  I basically trained for a hilly, slow marathon.

What I did wrong?  My tummy was my one and only issue this weekend.  I had some aches and pains, most of which were due to my slip/fall at the finish line of the 10K {totally my own fault} and a Plantar Fasciitis flare up but everything was manageable.  The IBD  gave me a lot of hassles in the half and full.  If I could have a “do over”, I would try an Imodium pill before those races.  I have shied away from Imodium in the past because it has side effects, like dehydration, but multiple incidents of “bathroom stops” are also dehydrating so I think I would have taken the chance and it’s something I’m going to try in the future. 

Where I stayed?  We stayed off site at a residential villa complex.   This probably brought us slightly earlier wake-ups in order to ensure we were on property with plenty of time to spare but it also lowered our overall expenses.  It also gave us the opportunity to cook our own food, which had to help with both my tummy and my budget.

The cost?  I paid $500 for registration, then another $25ish for an active.com fee.  I also did an add-on for a necklace which commemorated the Inaugural Dopey Challenge.  That was about $20-$25.  See necklace below.  Total cost for my registration (plus necklace) ended up at $550.

Dopey Necklace

Included in the registration?  1 cotton tee for the Family 5K and 5 gender specific technical tees for each of the other 5 races (10K, half marathon, full marathon, goofy challenge & dopey challenge).

shirts

6 amazing medals.  Honestly the bling is the best that I’ve ever received and I don’t run for the bling or even really pay much attention to it.  I hang all my medals on a stair post, the kids play with them, and when too many accumulate, I take them downstairs to the basement and toss them in a box.  But I have yet to put these Disney medal on the post.  They are still on the kitchen counter.  I really don’t know what to do with them.  It seems like a shame to just hang them on the post.  I don’t have a medal hanger/rack.  I don’t want a medal rack/hanger cuz I don’t have anywhere to hang that either.  Just not sure what to do with these babies but they are amazing.  The first photo is the medals for the four races:  Top Left – Marathon (it’s huge and heavy), Bottom Left – Half Marathon, Top Right – 10K, Bottom Right – 5K.  Then the Goofy and Dopey medals.  All beautiful.  

4 Races - 4 medals  Goofy & Dopey medals

The registration fee included the 4 races, with tons of workers/volunteers, characters who were “on-duty” and working for our enjoyment at various intervals.  I’d say there was a character siting every 1.5 miles or so.  Lots of work put into each scene too where the characters were located.  Each spot really told the story of the movie in which the character starred.  Clocks & Mile Markers at every mile.  Massive firework displays sending off each corral.  The fireworks also got better and better with each day which I thought was very impressive.  Medical tents, aid/water stations {with loads of port o potties} every 1-1.5 miles.  Cliff Bar shots & chew stations on course.  Banana stations.  Food stations with pretzels and/or candy.  Even a fruit snack and chocolate stop in Hollywood Studios during the marathon. 

To be honest, I can’t even imagine how much planning would even go into something like this.  The Disney Marathon was marathon #8 for me and many of the previous marathons were Chicago Marathons so I know a big marathon when I see it.  I know what it takes to do it right and understand that the planning cycle is year round.  The Disney event was even a bit “bigger” than your big city marathon.  I really enjoyed it.  All of it.  And I appreciated the effort, the planning and the flawless execution of everything from the race down to the countless number of people they needed for parking the cars {for free, no parking expenses}, running the security for bag check, down to the pre-race party with a DJ who was energetic and dancing each and EVERY morning of our 4 day event.  Was it worth the money?  YES! 

Would I do it again?  Probably not.  This was a big price tag for me and my family and it was a huge time commitment for me being gone that long.  It took a lot of extra effort for Hubby.  It tough being gone from work that long.  Honestly, between travel (snow delays/flight cancelations) and the race, I was gone from Tuesday afternoon until Sunday night.  I didn’t get home until Sunday night at 8:30 pm.  I had very little time with the family on SUN night, just snuggled the little guy, talked a bit, showed everyone the bling and the various gifts that I purchased for them, then we went to bed so I could go to work on Monday morning.  I had fun.  I enjoyed my experience.  I think it was worth the money.  But it’s a one and done for me.  I’d rather go elsewhere and make more memories, run different races and have a new experience.   But that’s just me.  I met many people who were Perfectly Goofy and running their 9th consecutive Goofy Challenge. I met a lady who was returning to run her 21st Disney Marathon.  She has ran EVERY ONE that they have ever held.  Super cool, but I want to run ALL THE RACES so can’t afford too many repeats unless they are in my backyard.  Smile

Great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.  Take it slow and easy.  Train.  Be ready mentally and physically and you too can be  DOPEY!  Take LOTS of pictures. 

Dopey Challenge times:

  • 0:29:33 – 5K time
  • 1:00:06 – 10K time
  • 2:23:01 – Half Marathon time
  • 4:59:37 – Full Marathon time
  • 7:22:38 – Goofy Challenge time
  • 8:15:17 – Dopey Challenge time
  • $10.80 per mile {$525 registration fee/48.6 miles}
  • 98.6 cents per minute {$525 registration fee/532 minutes}

Worth the money?  You tell me.  I feel as if I had a $1 worth of fun for each and every minute I was on course and that doesn’t even factor in the medals & tees.  Of course, you can’t replicate my Dopey Rockstar pals but I’m sure you have your own pals who would make your experience just as amazing.

Group_10K

** Had An Amazing Time with the Dopey Challenge ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Dopey Challenge – Day 4 – THE Marathon

Sunday, brought Day 4 of the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World.  Marathon Day.  26,000 runners.  We were down to about 6,400 Dopey runners out of the 7,000 who had started with us on Thursday, in the 5K.  The half marathon on Saturday, and specifically the 100% humidity had taken out some of my Dopey friends.  Sad smile  But alas, the majority of us were still standing strong, even if we were a little delusional from lack of sleep.  My Dopy Rockstar pals once again climbed out of bed at 2am FL time (1am, Chicago time) and hauled it up and out, leaving for our drive to Epcot by 2:30am.  Easy parking day.  We were very close to the entrance as opposed to the other days.  Seems Disney Officials finally got it right and put the early birds up front by the gates.  Just in time for us for the BIG day!  We stayed tucked up in the car til the very last minute it was time to go in for gear check.  We made a lame attempt at photos.  My brilliant photo thought of the day was to do “game faces” but as you can see, Judy and I just smiled cuz well, that’s all the thought we could put into this last game day.  Jason, Dawn, Judy & I below:

game face

Then we did a quick meet up with a few of Jason’s British friends.  I think we were going for muscles here, not really sure.  Me, Jason, Julian, Dawn, Judy, Jonny & Martin.

pre marathon

Then off to the start to finish this thing run the marathon.  Another amazing set of fireworks, even better than that which they did for the half, if that is even possible.  This is the photo that runDisney posted and it’s ahmazing!!

marathon start_runDisney

Each corral (A thru M) started with their own set of amazing fireworks with Mickey Mouse as the official conductor who sent us off into the darkness for one last run thru the streets of Disney.  Here is the course map to get an idea of exactly how much of Disney we would be tackling.

Full map

The first portion, maybe 8 miles was a repeat of the half marathon, which I was perfectly fine with me because I had really enjoyed it the day previous.  However, soon enough they turned us off to see new things.  I did get an early photo of Captain Jack Sparrow’s pirate ship, from Pirates of the Caribbean, because it was so cool when I saw it on the half that I wanted to make the stop to take a pic this time around.  Disney really did a great job setting up the scene where each character was located in order to create the look and feel of the movie set for which they represented.  It was very nicely done and a pleasure to see as we sped past.

Pirate ship

On to the Magic Kingdom and I don’t think running thru there could EVER get old!  This was definitely my favorite part of both the full and the half marathon.  Running down Main Street was absolutely amazing and there was MASSIVE crowd support.  It was even better this go round seeing a run club buddy, who has moved to FL, in the crowd cheering!!  Love main street and I love Diane!!

diane

Then the highlight of Magic Kingdom for me was seeing Cinderella’s Castle all lit up and draped in icicle lights.  Absolutely breathtaking.

castle

After the Magic Kingdom, we started weaving thru the rest of the parks, starting with the Richard Petty race track where a local car club got up super early to surround the track with all for their old and new muscle cars.  We ran the entire track and it was SUPER cool!  Then off on the back roads to Animal Kingdom where I was super stoked to ride the Everest Adventure roller coaster.  Til I got there and it was still closed.  Boooo!  I was SO disappointed.  Like really disappointed.  I had been anticipating riding the Everest during the marathon ALL year.  I was crushed.  Last time the family and I went to Disney, I was pregnant with Michael so didn’t get to ride.  This year when we go back, Michael will still be too little to ride.  This was my only chance for YEARS to come.  Sad smile

It was right before we got to Animal Kingdom, around Mile 12 that my tummy started giving me trouble too {read more disappointment}.  I had spent all day/night Saturday trying to refuel from everything I had lost during the half and it was going well until I popped that first energy gel of the day, then it was ALL down hill.  I may have even shed a tear or two on one of the SIX potty stops I had to make (under total duress) during the last half of the marathon.  It was a rough because it left me empty and devoid of energy.  I just kept following my Dopey Rockstar ladies who were so utterly kind to wait for me each and EVERY time I had to stop.  Now those are good friends.  Thank you, Dawn & Judy!  So the second half of the marathon course is a bit of a blur.  I just followed their shirts.  Didn’t talk much.  Noticed the characters were out but always wondered if we would see the ones I liked.  We didn’t.  Here is Maleficent in a photo that Dawn snapped.

I really expected more characters to be around from all the hype I’ve heard about previous Disney Marathons.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot but I expected all the big name Disney characters to be out so we could see them and that wasn’t the case.  I thought it was a great course though that covered a lot of the property.  I didn’t mind the back roads at all and I just kept on trucking.  We stopped for a few photos but since I had my own issues happening, I just tried to keep moving.  We walked thru water stops, and there were a lot of those, probably every mile or mile and a half, but kept moving otherwise.  We finally did find Dopey right at Mile 25 though and fortunately Dawn had run ahead (during my last potty stop) and she had a place in line for us.  Yay!!

Dopey pic

Over all, I give the Disney Marathon several thumbs up.  I really enjoyed running thru the parks, even the back roads.  There were tons of water stops.  Medical support at every aid station.  More volunteers than you can possibly imagine.  Anything you might want:  sunscreen (thank you!), Motrin, Biofreeze, Vaseline on sticks, and so many port o potties (super thankful for that!).

The bling is off the hook and that’s coming from someone who rarely even looks at a race finishers medal.

Dopey medals

They offer events for everyone from your little one, all the way up to Grandma and Grandpa.  It’s a real class act and a very family friendly event.  Plus they have beer and champagne at the finish and let’s just say after 48.6 miles of fun, I was ready to have a celebratory beer.  Myself and Judy toasting to a job well done.  We were happy campers!

Dopey Finishe_me & Judy

So that’s that.  The Dopey Challenge, race by race.  Tomorrow I’ll sum everything up and let you know if I think that the big price tag is worth the experience.  Until then, Happy Running my friends!

** Just Keep Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **