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The Journey to the runDisney Dopey Challenge 2017 – The Beginning

Vanessa runDisneyHello WDW Radio friends!  My name is Vanessa Prince, and I am the proud mom of Andrew Prince, who writes on the WDW Radio Blog as Disney on Wheels.  I also have two teenage daughters who love Disney as well, along with my husband, who is a secret Disney lover.

Over the next eight months I will be writing about my journey to the runDisney Dopey Challenge 2017.  But, I thought a little background info on me might put this challenge into perspective.  Growing up I played sports, softball and volleyball.  I was even a coxswain (the person who steers and gives commands) for the Marietta College Men’s Crew for four years.  With participating in these sports one would think I had a running background, but in fact, I ran very little, and actually disliked running when I was younger.

So, why am I writing about running at Walt Disney World?  It all started in 2011 when I was 45 and my husband told me about runs at Walt Disney World and how they ran through the parks and backstage.  Oh my goodness, I just had to sign up for one of these!  And I did.  Back in 2011 it was easier to take some time to sign up, as events did not sell out in hours on registration day.  So in May of 2011, I signed my husband up for the Goofy Challenge (half and full marathon), and I signed up to run a 5K at the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  A 5K, how hard can that be?  I found a website called Couch Potato to 5K and followed all of the recommended training tips.  In August of that year, I ran my first 5K event that was hosted in my community.  It was fun and people even cheered me on as I ran the course.  I was getting excited for my runDisney event and knew I had to stay in shape over the fall and winter, so I continued to run around the neighborhood.

January finally arrived, and the entire family spent the week at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside.  We visited the runDisney Expo and went to all of the WDW parks before the events started.   The 5K was held on Friday morning and started at 6 am in the Epcot parking lot.  6 am does not sound too early, but in order to be at the start, we had to get up around 3:30 am, get ready, walk over to the bus transportation stop and ride over to Epcot.  It was a little chilly that morning, and we were pushing Andrew in his wheelchair for the 5K.  The three of us had a blast running around Epcot.



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We were able to go behind the scenes a couple of times.  Kind of fun to see what is really behind the facades in the park!  I was hooked on runDisney.  Then we went to cheer on my husband as he ran the full marathon.  That’s when the bug bit.  I watched people of all ages and body types crossing the finish line, and I said to myself – “if they can run a half/full marathon, I certainly can try one!”  When we arrived home, I signed up for the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon.  And now, at the age of 50, and five years later, I have signed up to run in the Dopey Challenge – 48.6 miles!  I hope you will follow me on this once in a life time journey!

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Photos are from the author’s personal collection.


profileVanessa has been going to Walt Disney World since 1971.  She is happy that her three children and husband enjoy Disney as much as she does.  Vanessa is an Annual Passholder, a member of Disney Vacation Club, Platinum Castaway Club, WDW Radio Running Team and a runDisney participant.   Her son Andrew writes Disney on Wheels for the WDW Radio Blog.  When she is not at Disney, she is a stay at home mom and uses her masters in marketing background to raise money for her children’s schools.  Vanessa also enjoys planning her next trip home to anywhere Disney.