Well the day had finally arrived. Our last of our 4 runs in the Dopey Challenge and the longest of all of them…the marathon. Now if you have read my past Disney posts you know my favorite Disney character is Tigger. I’m not sure when it started but he has always been my main man. Well for our final Disney run who else would be be but Tigger and Pooh!
Last year when we ran the marathon we ran with Runners World. That included the special tent admission and we decided this year we wanted to buy the tent admission only for the marathon. What is this tent you might ask? Well it’s heated/air conditioned depending on the weather. It has tables and chairs, food, water, coffee and private bathrooms. There is also a massage area for after the run, a special bag check and you get free socks and a towel after the run as well.
We got on the first bus to the marathon so we could take advantage of all the tent amenities. When we got there we saw that Mary Poppins, Burt and some penguins were there for a special photo!
Next we grabbed some food, water and coffee and sat down. You technically can “mingle” with people since there is a lot of seats at every table. We sat with some nice couple and then a few other people joined later. There were a lot of Dopey runners in the tent. After 4 days I bet everyone was thinking about a treat for the marathon as well.
The line for the special bathroom area got pretty long when they started announcing that people should head to the corrals, but we knew we had plenty of time. We checked our bags inside and then headed to the start. It was warm again that morning, but we made sure that these outfits were made out of tech material so we felt pretty good. On our way to the start there were signs in the parking lot, I think for family reunion areas later, and I found a Tigger one!
Once we found a place to sit in our corral we decided to take off our leg warmers since we had a feeling we would be hot later in the day. There was not supposed to be any clouds today, and even though the temperatures were supposed to be cooler we had a feeling the sun was going to get to us. After about an hour after the first corral left we were up at the front, ready to start our last race!
The marathon starts off the same way the half marathon does. We headed down the highway toward Magic Kingdom. Jack and his pirate ship were back out again, with a long line. We stopped at first then decided to keep going since the line was taking so long. We also made sure to stop at all the water stops since today was going to be a long day.
Finally we were headed into Magic Kingdom. We had to deal with the same congestion on the small roads leading up to the Magic Kingdom, but we had decided to make it through we would implement a run/walk today. We weren’t tired yet, but we knew we were going to be so we prepared ourselves. We just made sure to always move off to the right when we started our walk breaks.
Once inside Magic Kingdom we ran through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland. As we were rounding the tea cups I saw outside the Winnie the Pooh ride a familiar sight. TIGGER! I sprinted to get in line, freaking out the whole time. I was going to get a picture with my favorite character Tigger dressed as Tigger!
I wanted a picture with just me and him first and when I got to the front of the line I started bouncing up to him. He started bouncing too. Cheryl wishes she had gotten it on camera. My favorite picture of any race!
Next we ran through the castle and past the HUGE line for Mickey and Minnie dressed as royalty. We contemplated stopping but decided against it. We made sure to stop in front of the castle for a photo though.
As we ran through Frontierland we saw lines but no characters so we just kept going. They were probably on break. As we were leaving where Cinderella and Prince Charming usually were we saw Rapunzel and Flynn. I had never seen them on the course before so we made sure to stop. As we left Magic Kingdom we headed down the back road toward the track. Last year the track had a lot more vintage cars. This year there were a few but not as many, but it was still a cool sight. This was when the sun was really starting to come out as well. After the track we head down the side road by the Grand Floridian. We saw Donald dressed as a golfer by the golf course. Then we headed onto the longest stretch of backroad toward Animal Kingdom. We stopped to take some pictures with the villains.
The backroads to Animal Kingdom are sometimes shaded and sometimes in full sun. This was when it started getting hotter out, but we trudged along. They have a bunch of “fun fact” signs along the way too. I like reading about how many miles of roads Disney has and other cool facts.
Then we were heading into Animal Kingdom. They had a bunch of animals all along the side of the road. It was so cool and we decided to stop to get a picture with an awesome owl. Then as we headed into the park we saw Rafiki with almost no line!
The next thing that happened was by far the coolest experience of any Disney race I had ever done. As we were running past Expedition Everest we saw a bunch of runners turning off course. Then we heard the CMs yelling how “what other marathon can you ride a roller coaster.” WHAT!?! Ride Expedition Everest! We didn’t care how long the line was we jumped in. They let us on through the FastPass line and even though there were people in the regular line they kept ushering runners through to the front. We were sitting on the ride in about 2 minutes ready to go! It was an awesome experience and we were lucky enough that the next day they still had our ride picture available to buy because as soon as we got off we snapped a photo and took off running again.
As we left Animal Kingdom we headed out of the park, past cheering fans and guests just trying to figure out how to get through the race into the park. Next we were back on the highway toward Wide World of Sports. I remembered from last year that this stretch of highway was where I started to break down. It’s hot because we are halfway through the race and we are running directly into the sun.
Finally we got into Wide World of Sports and after wiping our faces with refreshing towels headed through the fields. I wasn’t sure if we were going to go through the baseball field again, but I had to walk a little right before we got there because I started to feel light headed. All the running into the sun was getting to me. I guess I should have had a hat instead. Once I had a Gu and walked for a little I felt better and we were off around the baseball field.
Then we were back out on the road toward the highway. The course is set up so that one side of the road are people going into Wide World of Sports and the other side are people leaving. I felt good when I still saw a lot of people still going in. We weren’t sure the time situation being in such a far back corral and stopping for characters. I did not want to get swept! On our way bad down the highway toward Hollywood Studios we did see the end of the race and the sweeper bus.
On the hill to Hollywood Studios we always see a green army man yelling that we are doing great and to keep going. This time we finally decided to stop and get a picture with him.
We also noticed when running over the highway how backed up it was. Don’t try driving around when the marathon is going on. They close most of the roads so this is what happens. Sorry!
Finally we were inside Hollywood Studios. Last year they had chocolate pieces for us inside. A little sugar rush to finish out the race. This year not only did they have chocolate but they had Monsters gummy pieces. We grabbed a few bags and headed through. Dodging the pieces melting and mushy all over the ground was another issue though. I guess it’s difficult to run and eat for some people.
We ran through the costume and prop area into the park itself. We saw Mike and Sully leaving as we were nearing where they normally stand. I don’t blame them. At this point it was getting HOT! I loved all the people cheering for us as we ran down Main Street.
Then we were at my favorite part of the race. Running down the path, by the water, to the Boardwalk. We headed through Yacht and Beach Club and toward Epcot. As we were running toward the gate to Epcot we saw the one and only Dopey! Since we didn’t get a picture with him at the 5K a few days before we made sure to stop. Thumbs up because we are almost done with the Dopey Challenge!
Finally we were running around the Epcot World Showcase. A woman in front of us grabbed a beer in England and said she was drinking it and power walking to the end. Good for her! I just wanted to finish so we ran around until we got to China and saw Mulan and Mushu. We stopped for a picture since I have never gotten one with them.
Our last stop in the World Showcase was at Norway where our friends Kristen and Stacey were waiting to cheer us on.
And finally we were on our way to the finish. It was awesome hearing the gospel choir at mile 26 because I knew we were almost there! I love this picture of me from the finish. Happy and tired all mixed together.
We had just completed 48.6 miles over 4 days and were finishers of the first ever Dopey Challenge!
We got our marathon medals as we crossed the finish line. Then we went to the Dopey tent for our special medals. After every race we were given special plastic bands to show that we finished that race. Supposedly we were allowed to remove the ones from the race the day before when we got the new ones, but every person I asked had a different answer so we just left all of them on.
I loved the Goofy and Dopey medals we got. They were so pretty and I am so happy I can add them to my collection.
My thoughts on the Dopey Challenge
For dedicated runners this was a great experience. I am pretty sure even beginner runners could finish this challenge, but you definitely need to make sure you train properly. At the end of the marathon my muscles were screaming, but mainly my feet were in agony. Disney is a great place to do races because it is really the only place you can race brag. Usually after a race you get your stuff and go home, maybe out to eat, but in Disney you get to walk around the parks wearing your medal and getting congratulated. That is probably my favorite part of Disney runs. Being able to bask in the glory of your accomplishments.
The races were planned pretty well. I didn’t like the face that I had to wear the same 2 bibs twice. I understand the need to conserve but my bibs were crinkled and gross at the end. I also wasn’t a fan of the bracelets we had to wear after every race, but I understand it would be hard to make sure who of the 7,000 Dopey runners finished without some sort of special system.
All in all this was one of my favorite runDisney experiences. I am so glad I got to be one of the people to complete the Inaugural Dopey Challenge. It will be an experience I never forget!