If you’re wondering what the Dopey Challenge is, it’s a runDisney event held at the Walt Disney World Resort during the January Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The challenge is held over a four day period: day one is a 5K (3.1 miles), day two is the 10K (6.2 miles), day three is a half marathon (13.1 miles) and the last day is the full marathon (26.2 miles) – that’s a total of 48.6 miles in 4 days! This sounds insane, but to a lover of all things Disney it’s a fun filled weekend!
Well what can I say? Mother Nature had her say on how the 2017 Dopey Challenge was going to play out! The night before the half marathon, runDisney cancelled the race due to severe weather predicted for the area in the morning. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise as the next day was to be my first full marathon, but I had trained and felt confident that I would be able to do the 48.6 miles in four days. So let me recap how the four days played out for me at the Walt Disney World Marathon Week.
Day Two- 10K – January 6, 2017 – 5:30 am start at EPCOT – weather 80o/53o
This was my first really early morning. I was dressed in my Minnie Mouse running costume and ready to board my bus by 3:15 am. The WDW Radio Running Team gathered again for a photo op, walked to the start together, and broke into our respective corrals. I had a really fun group to run with today: Jill, Jennalyn, Kelly, Angel, James, and Phil. We ran/walked the 6.1 miles and stopped at a lot of the character stops.
The route for the 6.1 miles starts in the Explore parking lot. After the start we ran on Epcot Center Drive for about 2.5 miles before entering Epcot at the red Cast Parking lot behind Test Track. We finally entered the World Showcase near the Norway Pavilion where we could not resist the urge to see some Vikings. There were character stops at the various pavilions, we decided to wait in the long line at the American Adventure Pavilion for a photo with Mickey Mouse, Donald, and Goofy!
At about 4.5 miles into the 10K it was time to leave World Showcase via the International Gateway and head over to one of my favorite areas – Disney’s BoardWalk. As we ran on the slippery wooden boardwalk, we found our cheering team members near Ample Hills Creamery, so we definitely had to stop for a selfie with Lou Mongello and the Team. We continued our run around Crescent Lake, past the Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and back into Epcot’s World Showcase entering just past the United Kingdom Pavilion.
Then after leaving World Showcase it was on to Spaceship Earth. After a few more group photos, we finally saw the finish line. Once we received our medals, food, and water, my 10K team reconnected for a picture with Dopey! It truly was a magical event. Our finish time was not the fastest by far, but the memories we shared will last a life time.
That afternoon, my family and I went to Epcot for a few hours. It is recommended by several marathon trainers to keep moving all day so your muscles do not tighten up, so going to the parks is a must. After all, you are at Walt Disney World!
Later that day, around 6:30 pm…it happened! The news was all over social media and in my email inbox: the Half Marathon was CANCELLED due to severe weather predicted for the early morning hours. I was upset and in a little shock as I boarded the Frozen Ever After attraction. I’m not sure I fully engaged with the new attraction since I was thinking about the cancelled race. With that news, we ended up staying at Epcot later and left before a little drizzle started coming down.
Now what? Without the Half Marathon there is no real Dopey Challenge. In my mind it has to be all or nothing. I could have cried. I trained for over eight months. Once I was back in my room, I texted my Mouse Fan Travel Agent (who was also at WDW for the events) and booked a resort stay and registration for Dopey Challenge 2018!
Stay tuned for my Full Marathon recap on my journey to the Dopey Challenge 2017!
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(Dopey Challenge, 10K image, and course map ©runDisney. Photo credits Jennalyn Jeager, James Hansen, Mandy Hart, Donnie Crook, Shane Bishop, Phil Horn, Deanna. All other photos are personal property of author.)
Hi! I’m Vanessa Prince, a wife, and mother to three Disney loving teenagers! After working for several major consumer products companies I now enjoy being a stay-at-home mom and keeping busy with my gardening and volunteering. I also like planning trips and helping others create their magical vacations. My family loves sailing the world with the Disney Cruise Line, in fact we have been to at least 20 countries with DCL! I enjoy participating in runDisney events and am a proud member of the Blue Wave – the WDW Radio Running Team. I am also a Disney Vacation Club member. I have been fortunate to visit Walt Disney World Resort since 1971 and the thrill of watching my children enjoy Walt Disney World is a joy I cannot create anywhere else. I have enjoyed writing for WDW Radio since 2016.