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Thoughts and Advice for the NEW WDW Marathon Weekend Races

by Happy Keller

Hello WDW Radio Blog readers!  For those of you who haven’t read my Blog entries before, my name is Happy Keller, and I am a Coach for the WDW Radio Running Team benefiting The Dream Team Project…(and, yes, “Happy” is my real name)…

runDisneyThis past week there was HUGE news surrounding the creation of two new events for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – First, they’ve added an additional 10K Run to the Weekend which will take place on Friday (with the 5K moving to Thursday) and, Second, they’ve added a new combined event – The Dopey Challenge – which includes all 4 events (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon) during the 4-day Marathon Weekend.

The moment Dopey was announced my e-mail inbox (wdwradiorun@gmail.com) EXPLODED with people asking about Dopey.  I just love getting e-mail from the WDW Radio audience & Running Team – everyone is so enthusiastic and ask such great questions!  So, I thought I’d use this valuable space to answer some of the most common questions I’ve received about The Dopey Challenge:

  • “Do You Think I Can Do It???” – Easily the #1 question I’ve received.  If you have completed a Half or Full Marathon before, the answer is a tentative “Yes”.  Everyone is different, and I want to know more about your health & endurance running experience before giving the more enthusiastic “YES!” that most all of you will deserve.  As with the Ironman I completed last year, you must always respect the distances involved, and take nothing for granted.  Completing these events will be a challenge for everyone who signs up for it – including myself!…(did I tip my hand there???  Yes, I did – I will be signing up for Dopey as soon as Registration opens on April 9, 2013).
  • “Can You Help Me Put Together A Training Schedule???” – Now here I can say an enthusiastic “YES!!!”.  If you want/need help putting a training schedule for Dopey (or any other runDisney event), please write me at wdwradiorun@gmail.com.  I will write you back, and we will work something out together.  I’ve worked with beginners, all the way up to Boston Marathon qualifiers…I’m pretty sure every reader will fall some place within this range! 😉
  • “If I Sign-Up For Dopey, What Should My Strategy Be???” – First of all, slow down a little bit! –> there is still a long time, and a lot of training to do, before we start talking about a real “strategy”.  That being said, without adjusting for training & injuries, my basic advice for this subject is…
    • 5K – Walk it…period.  It is un-timed, and you have nothing to gain by running it.  Besides, there’s a good portion of the WDW Radio Running Team that walks the 5K events, and you would have a great time if you partied with them for the 3.1 miles of the 5K!
    • 10K – Walk…Shuffle…and Run a maximum of 2 miles of the 10K.  You just want to make sure your legs still “work”, but not ruin yourself for the Half & Full.  There hasn’t been a 10K before during Marathon Weekend, so I don’t know what to expect as far as there potentially being another party opportunity with members of the WDW Radio Running Team…(but, since this is the first 10K, I expect there will be a large WDW Radio Running “blue wave” contingent).
    • Half – Now the “heavy lifting” begins!  I would advise to walk/jog as much of the Half as you can and still make the time cut-off.  The Donald medal given to the last finisher is just as gold and just as cool as the first one given out…the only goal is to go get that “Bling” without wrecking yourself for the Marathon on Sunday!
    • Full – If you feel up to it, and you want to, “Go For It!”…That being said, just remember that you won’t get the Dopey medal if you don’t finish all four events within the listed time limits.  I do expect to see a lot of Dopey participants “flaming out” on Marathon Day because they ran too hard on one (or all) of the previous three days.  Adrenaline can only take you so far, and completing a Marathon by itself is a tremendous accomplishment, let alone finishing one after finishing a 5K, 10K, and Half during the three days prior to the Marathon.

Almost as important as how you complete the four events of Dopey, is how you take care of yourself during the weeks leading up to them, as well as what you do in between the events (rest, hydrate, eat, nap, repeat).  I know from experience how difficult that is to do with all of the fun & excitement of Walt Disney World surrounding you, but I would encourage every Dopey participant to scale back their plans just a bit during Marathon Weekend event days.  Yes, you might be able to “do it all” (events + theme parks + dining out at night), but doing so does have the potential to put that Dopey medal in jeopardy.

One other piece of advice –  I came up with a unique strategy to keep myself from damaging myself during Goofy 2013 so as to not upset my training for Ironman Texas 2013 (on May 18th).  I never ran for more than a minute in-a-row, and I always walked more than I ran during my planned Run/Walk.  I easily finished both events and felt great doing it (for those of you who worry about the time cut-offs, I hope you find this encouraging).

The only thing better than finishing Goofy 2013 was getting to meet all of the awesome people who are also part of the WDW Radio Running Team.  I have never been around a group who were so consistently friendly & supportive of one another…I sure do hope that, if you haven’t taken the plunge and joined the “blue wave” at a runDisney event yet, that you will join us soon!

Oh, and to those of you on the fence regarding Dopey, they haven’t gotten rid of the Goofy Challenge –> completing Goofy (Half + Full) could be a great stepping stone toward completing Dopey later!…(and it is still a great accomplishment!)…

This Blog entry was a lot of talk about the new Dopey Challenge because it has been “in the news”, but I am here to help all of you train for any runDisney event.  I am as close to you as my e-mail address –> wdwradiorun@gmail.com…all questions will be answered!


Happy is a life-long Disney enthusiast who is also an endurance “athlete”.  He has completed a Half & Full Ironman Triathlon, 4 Goofy Challenges, and 12 Disney Endurance events so far (in addition to other Half / Full Marathons).  He has successfully coached hundreds of Half / Full Marathoners to a successful completion of their event (including multiple Boston Marathon qualifiers).   When he isn’t training, Happy is surrounded by his wife, Pattie, two Golden Retrievers (Mocha & Kona), and his Disney watch + medal collection.  He can be reached for all running questions at wdwradiorun@gmail.com.