Disney Dopey Challenge: The (not so) magical beginning
Last year in January I was going through a break up with my “at the time” boyfriend and somewhere on the Internet I came across the info about “magical” marathon at Disney. It sounded exactly like something I should do. Because what else could one wish for when you are breaking up with someone than some MAGIC time, right? So I spoke to my friend Jens (because I know he is equally crazy as me) and asked if he would be up for it. Jens said: “sure but if we are going all the way to Florida, we must do the Dopey challenge”. I replied: “Sure, why not.”
Only then I googled to have a look what is this Dopey Challenge about:
Day 1 – 5km
Day 2 – 10km
Day 3 – half marathon
Day 4 – marathon
It later turned out that running for four days is only one part of the challenge and that the bigger challenge will be to get up each race day at 3:30 am (!). Super hard, especially for someone who hates mornings like me!
It seems like yesterday when we booked our flights (and not a year ago)… I can’t believe how fast time goes! On 4th January I was sitting on a plane from Praha to Copenhagen to meet with Jens who was flying in from Berlin. Before we flew to Miami we spend a day wandering through super cold Copenhagen, wearing all of the clothes we have packed for the warm Florida weather. I was wearing 8 layers and I was still cold!
And then we flew to Miami where we picked up our hire car and drove (on no sleep and being awake for more than 24 hours) to… Disney World in Orlando.
Which is where the “I didn’t have enough hours of sleep” tale began.
Picking up our start numbers
We felt pretty special when we headed to our Dopey Challenge race packet pick up place. To be honest I was a bit worried about the whole challenge as 48.6 miles (78.2 km) in 4 days is quite a lot. But when I looked around and saw some of the other people who were picking up their race packets I thought… if they can do it, then I should be able to definitely do it!
And the best thing? We got 6 long sleeve t-shirts! I think I will not need to buy any technical long sleeve t-shirts for a VERY long time!
Day 1 = 5 km
Day 1 of getting up super early and sleeping less than 5 hours. And also the first time we heard the American national anthem (which then stuck in my head and I kept signing it to myself all day long)!
When we got to our starting corral we realized that we were in the last one and that we were surrounded by people who really did not look like runners. A lady standing next to me was probably triple my size and I am absolutely gobsmacked that she was able to run/ walk the 5k. Well done her!
American anthem, little fire works for the start and off we went. Jens and I with our flamingo hats. To be absolutely honest I didn’t really enjoy the run. So many people were walking that trying to run was hard I had to concentrate not to trip over someone. At that point I really did not understand what is the whole runDisney fuss about…
Taking a picture with Goofy was pretty cool. He was tickling me the whole time!! Is that even allowed? :)
Yup, after we got back to our hotel, we took a quick shower and off we went to explore Epcot park, stalk some Disney characters (as the one above) and to ride rollercoasters. Did I ever mention that I HATE rollercoasters? I do! Really!
Day 2 = 10 km
Another short night and another alarm clock at 3:30 am! Crazy hour! Plus it was cold and raining! This wasn’t the Florida weather I was looking forward to! Grr!
When we got to the start we met two of my friends from Advent Running Michelle and Alan. It was a brilliant surprise. 13 thousand people starting on this race and we accidently bumped into each other. I loved it! And I also loved that they are both really nice people! Yay! And what more, in our starting corral, I have bumped into the lovely Alison who recognized me from Instagram! Incredible! The world really is small!
American anthem, little fire works and off we went.
This time I enjoyed the route a bit more as there was a bit less “walkers” but still starting from the last corral was pretty hard core. We have seen some characters along the course but didn’t stop to take pictures. But I enjoyed running through Epcot park again and watching all the cool costumes people were wearing.
And after the run, we went to Animal Kingdom park and rode on a safari and on rollercoasters in the pouring rain. But hey, who cares about rain. Humans are not made out of sugar and we don’t melt with water!
We also went back to the expo to change our starting corrals because again for the upcoming half and full marathon we were in the last starting corral. This time corral number 15! so it would take us probably a good hour and half before we would even start running! And we were successful. Yay!
Day 3 = half marathon
Four hours sleep and another inhumanly early wake up call.
And the first bigger race! The first two races felt “as if nothing” so I was wondering if there will be any difference between the shorter and the longer distances! And there was! Really! And it wasn’t only because there was 10.000 people more starting than in the previous two days.
Finally I understood why is everyone so excited about running in Disney and why does everyone says that it is really magical!
American anthem, little fire works and off we went.
The route goes to Magic Kingdom park and then leads to Epcot and once you get to Magic Kingdom you see THE lit up fairy tale castle, there are people cheering and it is pretty damn cool! Amazing atmosphere! Plus there are loads of different characters with whom you can take a picture. You have to queue to take a photo with a character, but who cares, these races are not about speed. These races are to enjoy the whole experience.
And, believe or not, we met Michelle and Alan again. During the run! It was brilliant to run with them for a while and chat! I really enjoyed the whole run except it was soooo humid! After the first 1k I was sweating more than a pig! Insane! And to be absolutely honest my legs were a bit heavy from 18th km and when we crossed the finish line and I imagined that the following day I will have to do the whole thing one more time… Aaa!!!
After the race we went home and I treated my legs to ice bath and spend the rest of the day walking around in my compression calf sleeves. I’m sure it must have looked brilliant with my skirt and sandals combo.
We decided to take it easy so we spend the day at the waterpark, riding on toboggans and swimming.
The plan for the evening was to go to bed early and sleep more than 5 hours. But things never go as planned. Especially when someone gets almost arrested… but about this and about the marathon I will write next time. This post is already wayyy tooo loooong!
Click HERE to read about our last day: MARATHON DAY!
Are you a Disney fan?
Have you done a Dopey Challenge? How was it for you?
Have you ever run any of the runDisney races?
P.S. My “other” challenge was to get a selfie with Mickey… achieved on day 2. Whoop whoop!
P.P.S. Until the half marathon I REALLY did not understand what is this whole runDisney fuss about and I was even regretting that I signed up for this malarkey!
P.P.P.S. Foolishly I thought that it will be warm and sunny in Florida! Nope, nope! It was COLD and raining pretty much the whole time we were there!
Categories: my RUNNING