4 days, 4 theme parks, 48.2 miles, and one magical run adventure!
Last week I had the joy of racing the inaugural Run Disney Dopey Challenge in Orland Florida. 4 days of racing which included a 5km, 10km, half marathon, and full marathon – an endeavor that accurately stands up to it’s name of Dopey Challenge. Everything to do with this race was magically put together, I highly suggest you do part or all, and I cannot wait until I go back to do it again!
Here are my top 5 moments of the inaugural race.
Moment 5: On Race Support
The support for the half and full marathon was utterly amazing. Only slightly comparable to that of Granfondo Niagara Falls. Ever mile was a water and sport drink station and every 4 miles was a medic station. I actually heard myself say “Again?, didn’t we just pass one of these!” Gels and bananas were provided at two locations on route (for the marathon) and there was more than enough fuel, BioFreeze (my new favourite body aid) and washrooms to go around. Massages post race were also a great treat and a must! This photo is of a medic station just before we entered Hollywood studios. The BioFreeze was in giant Costco size pumpable contains. I had pretty much froze my entire lower body, and obviously my by smile was feeling good!
Moment 4: The Disney Staff and Volunteers
It was unbelievable how amazing and helpful the staff were. Everywhere we went we were recognized by the staff as racers and treated like the ultimate Disney Princesses. After the 10km race we entered the dinning hall back in our hotel and was greeted by a standing ovation by all the staff. Walking in the parks, staff would stop us to congratulate us. Everyone on route, in the hotel, and throughout the parks went beyond their duty to make us feel part of the magic. They are the people who really make this place and race magical (sorry Mickey).
Moment 3: The Race Routes
I loved how each of the race routes built upon the next. We started and finished in Epcot and each route had a similar ending, so we knew where we were headed and how much distance we had left. I loved that the races went through the parks, hotels, and how we got to see a behind the scenes “cast member only” view. My favourite cast only area was where we got of photo taken with Cinderella. The 5km and 10km started and finished in the dark. While waiting in line and getting our photo taken the sun rose. After starting to run again we looked around and it had become daylight, a new day in this magical place was upon us. When looking at the photos we could see the sun rising and it was magical.
Moment 2: On Route Characters
Seeing some of our favourite Disney characters, including those we were dressed up as was a blast! Each route had a number of new characters from the race before and between the half and full marathon some of the similar characters were around so photo ops we missed we could now get without an lines. This picture was our first and since we were in costume (and it turned out real well) It’s my favourite.
Moment 1: Being There With my FitFamily
…which also includes my real family. I love traveling with my sister and I am so happy that running has given us some of these awesome experiences and memories to share together. This race was actually a roll over from our 2012 NYC Marathon entry which we received a refund on. Being there with like minded people who all have the same goal of having fun, certainly makes race traveling easy. We had each other to rely on for motivation, inspiration, and plenty of laughs. We were all feeling the same way and experienced many of the same emotions, so having a solid support group on hand made this trip even that much more enjoyable! …I mean Magical!
A Moment For Next Time
And my one MUST do for next time: Leave the race course to ride Expedition Everest! Yup, this happened! By the time we got to Animal Kingdom during the marathon (on day four of the race) the park was just opening. Of course this meant no lines! When we got to the Expedition Everest ride many runners were leaving to run onto the ride. Our group stopped, we all looked at each other questioning “should we? should we?” no one gave a definitive “yes!” Kim (aka gym mom, aka voice of reason) spoke up saying that after 3 hours of sport drink and gels she didn’t think it was a wise idea for her, we all agreed, likely not the best option to go flipping upside down and have to run 15km and we continued on. Next time, I’m totally rocking this ride during the race!
Other theme parks were opened as we continued the adventure and I saw my racing colleagues eating cotton candy, pretzels, as well as drinking a beer while running to the finish line.
Experiences like this help to remind me of how truly blessed I am. A body that will carry me through nearly 50miles of fun and some awesome friends by my side, an experience that was beyond Disney magical.