It was almost a year ago that I spent my lunch break at work huddled over my computer trying to get a spot in the Dopey Challenge at Disney World. These races usually sell out very fast – and 2018 was no exception because it was the anniversary of the 25th Marathon and the 5th Dopey Challenge – this meant the medals would be extra cool.
Kevin dropped me off in the parking lot at Epcot around 4 AM and I followed the sea of people in the 32* weather towards the start. As I walked it hit me that this challenge was finally here and I was going to attempt to run 48.6 miles in 4 consecutive days with very little training due to my heel injury. I felt very confident I could complete the 5K and 10K – and pretty sure I could do the half marathon – but could I add a full marathon on top of that?!
I was dressed in my minimalist Ariel costume which consisted of Ariel inspired Mickey ears I bought from a shop on Etsy (which I dropped in my peanut butter toast- oops!), and a purple shirt. I also wore a black zip up athletic shirt under the purple shirt and grey running pants. I felt that although it was cold, I had an advantage because in PA it had been in the 30’s for a while so I am used to layering. A lot of people wore clothing they could discard as they started running and warmed up.
I didn’t know anyone or really where I was going so I just wandered around trying to stay warm. I saw a sign for the 25th Marathon and got in line to get my picture taken. I handed my camera to the lady behind me and asked her to take my picture. She seemed annoyed and I realized that most people probably don’t carry cameras anymore and just use their phone. My G7X has been acting weird ever since I dropped it last summer and when I handed it to her it had zoomed itself all the way in and she was having trouble figuring out how to unzoom it – oops!
It looked like there were stands to buy drinks and snacks and a DJ playing music while we waited for the race to start. There were a few heaters scattered around and I couldn’t get close enough to feel the warmth so I just kept wandering. I noticed a huge line of people waiting to get their picture taken with Dopey. I jumped in line to wait for my turn. After over an hour we were all told that there was no way we were going to be able to get our picture with Dopey before the race started because the line was too long. We reluctantly headed over to our corrals and waited to start.
I was the 2nd to last corral, but they were letting ALL the corrals go in waves – so just because you were in corral A didn’t mean you all started first. They set a new wave off every few minutes to try to space out all the runners, but honestly with 10,000 people it would be hard to avoid congested areas no matter how they space them out.
The first wave started at 5:30 AM – they had fireworks for every wave and giant TVs set up so we could see what was going on at the start line, although most people were happily chattering away and not really paying attention. As our corral inched closer to the start line I noticed people picking up clothing that the previous waves discarded and were putting them on to stay warm. I heard people yelling “HEY! They donate those to charity!!!” and the others were yelling back “I WILL DONATE THEM LATER!!! I’M COLD NOW!”
Then about 6:15 AM our wave was released and I was off! We headed through the parking lot and there must have been a sewage plant around because the smell was terrible and a little girl yelled “Daddy, did you FART?!?”
We quickly left that smell behind as we entered Epcot and started making our way around the World Showcase which was stunningly beautiful. It was hard to take it all in so I stopped now and then to take pictures – I couldn’t stop smiling. The way the lights had a warm glow and reflected off the lake while thousands of people ran by was the coolest thing – it definitely made waiting in the cold worth it!
There are photographers scattered all over the course as well as Disney characters you could stop and get your picture with. The character lines were crazy long and since I was sick and also a slow runner, I was worried I didn’t have time to stop so I just tried to snag pictures as I went by. I didn’t want to get swept during the 5K and not have the chance to complete the Dopey Challenge!
After making our way around the World Showcase we made our way under Spaceship Earth (the giant Epcot ball), then back into the parking lot and across the finish line! We were given a medal and a mylar runDisney blanket – which I made a mental note to keep and bring with the next morning to stay warm! I was handed a banana, a snack box and a water – which I had to then set everything down and get my finishers photo.
Once I was done with all of that I wandered back over to the runner pick up. Kevin was there waiting and took me back to the rental house so I could shower and then we all headed to animal kingdom for the day!
We waited in line for the safari for 2 1/2 hrs which was the longest line we were willing to wait for. My nephew spent the time entertaining people by waving and saying “HI!” There were 2 guys in front of our group that we ended up chatting with and about 1/2 way through our long wait we saw other people playing the game Heads Up so we pulled our phones out and that passed the time until we got on the ride. I was worried that we wouldn’t see any animals because they say unless you go in the morning there will hardly be any out to see because it gets too hot for them – luckily for us Florida was having a rare cold spell so we got to see a TON of animals!
We were able to check out the new Pandora section of the park as well although the rides were like a 4 hour wait time so we just admired the beauty of the area and shook our head at how long the line was to get on Flight of Passage. We will have to go back because everyone says the ride is AMAZING.
Then back to the house for me to rest up for day 2 of the Dopey Challenge – the 10K!