Accepting the Challenge:
It all started with two friends who said, “If you register for the Dopey Challenge, I will too.” And surprise — they register, and true to your word, you do too. Within hours there were four of us who registered for the Challenge. Four foolish mortals, friends through racing, who committed to 48.6 miles. What have we done?

Committing to Train:
The four of us who committed to the Dopey Challenge live miles apart, which made training together impossible. Each created a solo training program that fit with their individual lifestyle, but moral support was readily available through the magic of Facebook messenger.  Ironically, after signing up for the Dopey Challenge, there arose personal and professional challenges in all our lives that competed with our training focus.  I can’t speak with any certainty, but based on my observation, these inconveniences only made the commitment to the Challenge much more desirable.

Throughout 2017, some or all of us met to participate in Disney and non-Disney races for training and camaraderie.  We initially met ten or more years ago through a race support group called the Disney Deads. Though we knew each other, working on the Dopey Challenge as the “Dopey Deads” enhanced our friendship and definitely our respect and support for each other.

As the oldest of the four Dopey Deads, my training plan started with my physician, who put me on a diet high in protein and equally high in carbohydrates, but low on the glycemic level.  My training focus included cross fit training, long distances on a bike trainer, and road training on foot, with an emphasis on strengthening my legs to carry me through the demands of the Challenge.  To be honest, I enjoyed the training because it was a means to accomplish a goal that increased in importance throughout 2017.

Focusing on the Event:
In the weeks preceding Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, it was apparent through the online chatter that the Dopey Deads were getting anxious — even nervous.  As always seems to happen before long-distance races, some doubts were beginning to creep in.  Many years ago, a friend once told me that being anxious indicated that one had a healthy respect for the miles ahead.

On arrival to Walt Disney World, the Dopey Deads were in high spirits and ready to toe the line.  For all of us, the overall goal of the Challenge was to not aim for a personal record in any of the four races but to finish the four races within the allotted timeframe.  Instead of doing the races as a group, we chose to run solo and do our own race plan.  We watched for each other on the course, especially during the marathon, ready to give a shout-out and word of encouragement.  On the course was one of our very helpful Disney Deads support team, who cheered us on and supplied us with goodies.

As always, I cry at two points during the Walt Disney World Marathon — when entering Epcot through the United Kingdom gate and when crossing the finish line.  It is a feeling like no other and one of the reasons why the Walt Disney World Marathon is an amazing journey!

Enjoying the Victory:
When I crossed the marathon finish line, I collected my medals and pulled out my phone to check on the progress of my fellow Dopey Deads.  I am happy to report that all of us completed the four races and collected our medals.  To say that I am proud of my fellow Dopey Deads would be an understatement.  They are an incredibly strong, awesomely talented, and timelessly encouraging group of women.  And I thank them.

For me, achieving Dopey status was a more profound victory than most races.  On the day I completed the Dopey Challenge, I also achieved lifetime half marathon #91 and lifetime marathon #24.  And a week prior to the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I retired after 39 years in the workplace.

Doing the Dopey Challenge was a memorable and rewarding experience, and I owe it all to a little help from my friends.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

 

(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)

The photo above portrays the Dopey Deads (Kelly, Kathy, Wendy, and Crystal) and their cheerful race support manager (Mo), who completed the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  

 

To learn more about KS Wicks and read some of her other posts on the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name above!

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