A Dopey Time


The Dopey is done! Well, mostly. Rain and lightening canceled the half-marathon so the 48.6 miles over 4 days turned into 35.5 miles over 3 days. Still a success and a blast!

The hardest part of the whole weekend – waking up at 3 am Eastern time every day.  Frankly, I was thankful to sleep in until 6 on Saturday. The Dopey doubled as a family vacation, so no naps after running – I’d get back to the resort (after the 5K and 10K) around 7am, shower and we’d be out the door to the parks. Everyone had fun – I wanted to be sure of that.

I ran the 5K and 10K easy – the marathon, too. Well, as easy as you can run a marathon. The competitor in me is sad about the missing half-marathon and the extremely slow marathon time (4:40 – my slowest ever); but that’s what I set out to do – so really, the rational me has no regrets.

Of course, I question my training and go over all the things I could do differently. Namely, more long runs – seems 16 miles as my top run in the last 6 weeks was not enough. I definitely hit a wall at 20 miles in. That with stopping a lot and digestion all screwed up due to Disney buffets and strange wake-up times (getting up at 3am on the East coast is equal to 1 am in Colorado)…not an especially stellar race. But, who goes to Disney for a PR? It’s about the experience – which was FABULOUS.


pluto-5kThe 5K had about 12,000 people – yes, 12,000 of the alleged 60,000 runners who would go over the course of the weekend! It started the latest of all the races – at 6am, so I had to get on the bus by 4:30 am. But, fear that I wouldn’t get up had me up and at ‘em at 3am and on the bus by 3:37. Way too early since the buses were so darn efficient. I was bussed to the parking lot/race start where many many other people already were – in full costume mind you – but really, I didn’t need that long. I waited in line for a photo op with Pluto – the official race sponsor – went to the Port-o-potty a good five times and sat, and sat. I tried to count the tutus – but there were just too many. Dalmations, Minnies, Mike Wazowski, Malificents and Nemos galore – cheery folk at 4am made for a fun, energetic atmosphere.

We lined up near Epcot for the start – in each of waves from A to H. Within each wave, we were released in a mini wave, to reduce crowding on the course, and it did. This was a fun run for everyone – timed, but no winners declared. Tons of characters out on the road – Donald, Goofy, Thumper, Minnie and more. You run through the countries of Epcot, which were all lit up because at 6am – there’s no sunlight yet.lighted-epcot

You finish just about where you started and head right to the buses so we could do the Magic Kingdom all day. I ended up with over 30,000 steps for the day.




This was my favorite race. It seemed to have the most spirit: lots of men in drag as Snowwhite, Minnie and fairy princesses. Disney brings out runners of all abilities and brings them out with enthusiasm. Everyone so wanted to be there. Once again arrived at the start around 4 am – but this race started at 5:30 so there was less waiting around. Almost no wait for the port-o-potties, but I was especially ill feeling this morning – so easy access was greatly appreciated. I did stand in line for Dopey – worth it, but it was a long wait. What else was I gonna do for an hour and a half?

The race10k-finish was similar to the 5K – about 4 miles out on the roads, where I may or may not have dodged into the trees for a quick pit stop, and got to see the Incredibles, Mickey, Goofy, Lilo and Stitch. We ran back into Epcot, through the countries, in all their bright light, as well as over the boardwalk of the Disney yacht club. Overall – a super fun race with lots of energy. Despite all my steps the prior day, my legs felt good. The finish is festive, but quick.

Back at the resort by 7:15am – off for a day at Epcot. Completed 32,200 steps this day.


I did the half-marathon about 4 years ago, but was sad to miss it this year. People were devastated and went out and ran in the rain anyway around 7am. Dozens were running a 1-mile loop around our resort. img_3112But, Disney made the right call – lightening was brightening the sky from 4am to 5am – the time when volunteers would be setting up and runners heading to the start line. A run, no matter how fun, is not worth the risk.

I’m conflicted as it means I didn’t really do a full Dopey. But, I got to sleep a bit and we had an awesome, wet, day at Animal Kingdom. I will say, I felt far more sludgy, hitting just around 15,000 steps. Lots of indoor shows – Lion King and Finding Nemo – and a completely carefree dinner at Rain Forest Café. No regrets – fun was had by all.


Marathon day brought out fewer costumes and more anxious-seeming runners. Plus, it was awfully cold for a Florida morning. Temps were in the low 30s — and frankly, I didn’t have the clothes for it. I did findmarathon-4 a trash bag and wore a few extra shirts that I could ditch, but it was COLD — even for a Colorado girl.

Once you’re dropped off by the bus, the port-o-potties were notably more packed with lines and I skipped the character pictures at the start – I already had a pic with Dopey and wasn’t willing to wait for Chip and Dale. Plus, I headed out a little later so didn’t have as much free time at the start.

You’re encouraged to head to your corrals early – around 4:30 – and I know why. The walk is long. I clocked more than 5,000 steps before even starting the run. I was in corral F of probably a list that spanned from A to at least Q.  Fireworks started each wave – efficiently timed 2 mmarathon-photoinutes apart.

My digestive tract proved still not adapted to 3am wake-up calls, so the first 6 miles were rough. But then, you find yourself in the Magic Kingdom, where I stopped for pics with Donald, the castle and other friends – heck, this was the most festive part of the race. The Magic Kingdom is the place to be.

Many of the race miles are spent in parking lots and on roads, but at the half-marathon point, you go into Animal Kingdom – where I found Timon and Baloo the Bear. The run in Animal Kingdom is quick – and out you go for what seems like an interminable period. Yes, you visit the ESPN Sports Zone – around baseball fields and running tracks. But it seems like the Sports Zone lasts FOREVER.


Definitelymarathon-3 cool photo ops and blaring bits of music along the course – it’s not short on entertainment – but it’s mile 17 where I start to feel a bit defeated. I’m still running, slowly, and keeping up about a 9-minute-per-mile pace, but  I thought we’d never get out of the ESPN Zone. I was ready for more parks.

marathon-2I had high hopes for Hollywood Studios – there I was certain I’d see Mike Wazowski and Sully of Monsters, Inc. But, it took so many miles to get there – we didn’t arrive until after mile 20 – and I was losing spirit. I hurt and frankly knew I wasn’t on point to run a fast race. My mind was giving in. Cast members (as Disney calls its staff) handed out M&Ms and Snickers upon entering the park – but alas, no Monsters Inc. characters. Actually, not a ton of characters in Hollywood – but lots of cheering crowds. Here, I gratefully met the marathon wall — and surrendered.

You then run along a canal and head onto the boardwalk of the yacht club to Epcot. The run in Epcot is again along the countries, but the park is open, so lots of spectators too. It’s light as well – so none of the mystery of the first races. Photo ops abound with Aladdin, Snow White and Belle out for photos. It’s the last 2.5 miles though – so it hurts. This is where anyone in costume starts to look a little bedraggled. What seemed like a great, fun idea at first becomes a slog.

The finish runs around the Epcot ball and the front entrance. Crowds cheer and you can taste the end – which is as sweet as it is in any race.

I was immediately ushered into the finish chute, received medals and sent to the Dopey line to get the medalshalf, Goofy and Dopey medals – four total in addition to the 5K and 10K medals back at the resort. All these medals seemed a little superfluous as the Goofy and Half didn’t really happen given the half-marathon cancellation. However, the booty is amazing – 6 shirts, 6 medals and satisfaction of a weekend of fun running and family time. If you run to get ‘stuff’ — this race series is for you.

Each mile marker, at every race is clearly marked with lit signs (see Nemo and Dory pic to the10k-mile-marker right). I heard someone on the course mention that Disney miles are extra long miles. And, yes, yes they are. For the 5K – I ended up running 3.25 miles…the 10K ended up being 6.4 and the marathon a whopping 27 miles. So I guess 35.5 is really 36.65 miles — whatever, it’s a lot. Not an ultra, but a lot of ground to cover.

On Marathon day, I clocked 72,000 steps as we stayed at Epcot and then headed to Hollywood Studios to meet Chewbacca, Olaf and Moana. Plus, a few more rides and food to finish off an overall awesome experience.

I feel good three days post-weekend. I was a little sore on Monday, but Tuesday left me feeling almost normal and today, just as good. All the walking probably helped flush out any waste; but, I’m taking it easy this week to recover. I’m still on Florida time, though. Heading to bed by 8 and up at 3:30…gotta work on that.

If you’re thinking about it – Disney marathon weekend is worth the investment of time and money. Don’t treat it as any-old race, it’s about the fun.

Don’t run too fast or seriously – you’ll miss the party.

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