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The Journey to the runDisney Dopey Challenge 2017 – Expo and 5K


If you’re wondering what the Dopey Challenge is, it’s a runDisney event held at the Walt Disney World Resort during the January 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 I would be running 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 Weekend.

Expo Day – January 4, 2017 – ESPN Wide World of Sports – weather 77o/58o


The excitement for the weekend started on Wednesday – Expo Day!  This is the day when you can pick up your bib, all of your race shirts (I got 6!), any commemorative extras you ordered, extra runDisney items, and other gear from running vendors at the Expo.  We stayed on property at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, so runDisney provided transportation to and from the resorts to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.   The WDW Radio Running Team had a meet-up outside of the ESPN Grill.  It was fun to meet fellow team members and see what merchandise they purchased.

expo outside Amy Carillion expo_meet up WDWRUNDISNEY_Dopey shirts bibs

After the meet-up, I gathered my official bib, had my photo taken by runDisney and grabbed a few extra items I had to have.  They use the photo for facial recognition at the official finish to make sure it was you that actually did the four runs.  The lines were not too bad.  The worst was the line for Runner Relations; I was told it was about a two hour wait.  We walked around the numerous vendors at the Expo to see what was new in the world of running.

After dropping everything off at our resort, my family and I headed over to Disney Springs for dinner at The Boathouse.  Lou Mongello has been raving about this new restaurant, so we just had to check it out!

Day One – 5K – January 5, 2017 – 6:00 am start at EPCOT – weather 75o/58o

5k course map Disney 5k corrals Disney

Our first early morning wasn’t too bad.  Since my son Andrew was participating in his wheelchair for the 5K with my husband, we were given special accessible transportation to Epcot.  I did not sleep very well the night before, probably because I was worried about over-sleeping.  But never fear, our driver called me at 3:20 am to say he was there to pick us up (early by one hour)!  We were just starting to get out of bed, so we scrambled to get to the main door of the resort by 4:00 am.  Once we were dropped off, we had to go through a security checkpoint, which was pretty easy that early in the morning.  After entering the staging area, we met up with the WDW Radio Running Team for a photo op.  There was a DJ keeping the crowd entertained and a photo spot with Pluto was available.  Eventually, we headed over to the corral staging area.  Most of the Team was in corral “D”.  Once we were there, it was about a 45 minute wait for our corral to start.  The race starts in waves: wheelchair participants go first, followed by elite runners (the fast ones), then the rest of the corrals are released in about 5 minute intervals.  Although this 5K was sending runners in mini-waves, breaking up the corral into smaller groups, it took a long time to get to the starting line.   Unfortunately, we were separated from the rest of the Team before the start.

Dopey 5k team Deanna Mongello WDWRUNDISNEY_Dopey 5k corral WDWRUNDISNEY_Dopey 5K start

You are never bored at a runDisney event.  There  are numerous character stops, music, and areas with bands or live entertainment.  Plus, you can meet new friends along the way.  Once we finally started running, our path led us through the outskirts of Epcot down a service road.  Eventually, we arrived at the Cast Member entrance for Epcot and ran behind Test Track and a few other attractions.  We entered Epcot near the Mexico pavilion and circled through World Showcase.  The sun was just starting to rise, and the torches were still burning.  It was really pretty running around the lake and seeing all of the pavilions.  After passing the France pavilion, we went to the backstage area of the United Kingdom pavilion, then back into the World Showcase.  Then we headed into Future World West, past Spaceship Earth, then on to the finish line near the parking lots.  Once we crossed the finish line, we walked a bit and received our medals and snacks.

After a quick shower it was off to the Magic Kingdom for the day with my family!

5K Magic Kingdom

Stay tuned for the rest of my week on my journey to the Dopey Challenge 2017!

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The Journey to the runDisney Dopey Challenge 2017 – the Beginning

The Journey to the runDisney Dopey Challenge 2017 – the Training

(Dopey Challenge, 5K image, and course map ©runDisney. Photo credit Amy Carillion, Cindy Deppen, Deanna Mongello, all other photos  are personal property of author.)


Vanessa 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.