Given that one of my goals for this year was to write more, but shorter posts, I’m going to try to really break up this year’s Dopey Challenge recap into a whole series of shorter posts.
In past years, I’ve been really bad about training for Disney’s Marathon Weekend. This was my third year in a row doing the Dopey Challenge and I’ve done the Goofy Challenge three times before that. I’m terrible at training for these races. Usually, I just try to carry through with whatever training I had for my fall marathon, or lack-thereof. It’s not that I don’t run, but I don’t focus much on long runs or a lot of mileage. It’s very haphazard. Surprisingly, my body has been able to not only pull off running a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon over four straight days, but I’ve even been able to do well. Don’t ask me how this happened.
This year, however, I decided I should at least train a bit. With Boston 2 Big Sur coming in April, I only have three months until I have to run two tough marathon courses thirteen days apart. So it was important for me to come out of Marathon Weekend not totally wrecked. To this end, I spent the last five or six weeks before the race pushing my mileage back up into normal marathon training levels and doing back-to-back longer runs on the weekends. Usually, I’d try to do a ten-miler and a 15+ mile run.
I figured it’d probably backfire on me because why wouldn’t changing what works backfire??
Anyway, we’ll get to how that worked out in the other posts.
Because the Dopey Challenge starts on a Thursday, you need to get down to Disney that Wednesday to get your stuff from the expo and all that jazz.
We flew down on an early flight on Wednesday morning and got right into our room at the Yacht Club. We were lucky that it was ready for us and we could drop our stuff off right away. Oh, and Disney’s Yacht Club renovated their rooms since we stayed there last January and they were very nice inside!
The flight down was pretty uneventful, but as soon as we got off the plane in Orlando, we could tell this was going to a crowded weekend. Marathon Weekend just fell too damn close to the holiday crowds this year. The Magical Express line at the airport was quite long and slow, an accurate indication of what the parks were going to be like for most of our trip. We’re not used to this at all, but it is what it is.
Oof. That about sums it up.
runDisney race expos aren’t particularly known to be Disney’s strongpoint. We didn’t have to wait to long for a bus to the expo, but once we got there, it was a shitshow.
Every year, they change it up in some way and this year was no different. They had the packet and shirt pickup spread across three buildings and there were people everywhere. The line just to get into the Dopey Challenge pickup was queued back and forth on itself six or seven times. Once you got in, you had to go to two different spots to get your bibs and shirts. It was just…a lot of people and confusion.
Danielle was only running the 10k and her line, while shorter, was also confusing. Unfortunately, they didn’t tell her where to get her shirt after she got her bib so we spent a lot of time wandering around trying to find that.
After I got my bibs and shirts, I would have liked to at least walk through the official merch. I don’t usually buy anything, but I like to at least look and see if anything meets my fancy. Unfortunately, the line for just to get inside was out of control and queued around the baseball fields. F that noise.
We barely even ended up doing a lap around the expo floor. Typically, we do one full lap and check out all of the vendors, but it was annoyingly crowded and we were in no mood to have any of it. I looked for a place to buy a few gels for the race and then we peaced-the-fuck-out of there.
Considering that crowd and queue management is like half of what Disney World does, it’s sort of their forte, you’d think they’d be able to handle race expos better. You’d be wrong.
I should probably also mention the super cold weather that much of the US was experiencing also extended down into central Florida and Disney was cold. For the majority of our trip, the weather was in the 30s and 40s. Not exactly what you go to Florida for, even if it is good running weather.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother going into how I packed for a race weekend, but with weather forecasted to be between 30º and 70º throughout our trip, packing was a thing.
The warmer weather wasn’t predicted to show up until after the races, but you can never be too sure. So that meant packing enough shorts, tights, tank tops, t-shirts, and long sleeve layers for any sort of running weather. It was like two-weeks worth of running clothes. Plus, throwaway layers for each race to deal with the 90-120 minutes you have to hangout outside before the races start. And then, of course, we brought our new Rapid Reboot recovery sleeves because when you’re running four races in four days, you bring all your recovery-related shit with you. Oh, and, you know, you need to pack for a regular week-long vacation in Disney World, as well.
My checked bag weighed in at exactly 50.0lbs. I had to switch to my larger suitcase which I don’t think I’ve used in nearly a decade. I also had a carryon and a backpack. I never pack this much for anything. But there were a lot of variables to have to prepare for.