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Disney Dopey Challenge 5K Race Review (First of five reviews of the Dopey Challenge)

dopey challenge medalsIn 2011 I ran my first marathon at Walt Disney World. In 2012, I ran the Goofy Challenge, which is a full marathon and half marathon back to back and the Tower of Terror 10-miler. In 2013, I ran the Princess Half Marathon. Then I decided to complete the ultimate Disney running challenge: The Dopey Challenge! The Dopey Challenge is a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon over the course of four days. The end result: six medals, loads of endorphins and 48.6 miles.

I will cover the Dopey Challenge over a series of five posts, each will cover one of the races and will culminate in a final post which will cover the entire challenge.

Today’s first post will cover the Walt Disney World 5K. The 5K was the first of the four events in the Dopey Challenge. The 5K is a great race for kids, and for new runners, as well as Disney Dopey Challenge participants. Each of the four races began early in the morning at Walt Disney World. However, the 5K begins at 6:00 a.m. vs. 5:30 a.m.. for the half and full marathon. Additionally, the 5K is much less crowded, so you don’t have to arrive quite as early as you do for the full or half marathon.

Since this was the first race in the series for the Dopey Challenge, I was particularly nervous about waking up on time, so I set my iPhone, alarm clock and scheduled a wake-up call. All three went off at 4:00 a.m. The night before I had laid out my shorts, Garmin, water, socks, shoes and pinned my number on my shirt. I quickly got dressed and headed over to the bus stop.

Given that I had run two full-marathons prior to the Dopey Challenge, I was well-versed in the routine for running a Disney race, but I was surprised that the 5K was not as crowded as the marathons I had run. Therefore, I realized getting up at 4:00 a.m probably wasn’t necessary, as there were not as many people on the road, roads were not closed and there were less people in the race. Luckily I brought a copy of Runner’s World with me, and I ate my banana, drank a cup of coffee and read Runner’s World while I waited. I made my way over to the start line (which wasn’t as far of a walk as the full marathon) and headed for my corral.

In all Walt Disney World races, you are placed in a corral based on your anticipated finish time. The corrals begin on a staggered start, with the first one starting at 6:00 a.m. and each staggered by two minutes. If you participate in the Dopey Challenge, you will receive one corral letter for your 5K and 10K and one for your half marathon and full marathon.

The temperature was a bit cold, but I wore a pair of throwaway jogging pants over my running gear, and I tossed them aside before we started (all clothing discarded at the race is donated by Disney). The fireworks went off at the start and then we waited for our corral to get going. The first mile was run through the roads, the second mile went through the World Showcase at Epcot and the third mile went through the Future World and Spaceship Earth at Epcot. There were plenty of characters out for this event, but I actually didn’t take pictures with any because the lines were so long! I would have loved to get a picture with Dopey, but his line was the longest and I didn’t want to wait around.

pluto5kmedalThe race was over before it even felt like it started! I think because I had run the marathon there previously, the 5K felt super fast and almost anti-climatic. I knew that this event was only the start of the four-day challenge, so it felt like a great warm-up. My family didn’t come with me to this event, because it would have been silly for them to come all the way there for a race over in ½ an hour. I was back at the resort before they even woke up!

The only hiccup in the race was the confusion for The Dopey Challenge Participants. For those who participated in Dopey, we had to get a wristband demonstrating we completed the event and we obtained a wristband for the next event. The wristbands were irritating and I wish they had a different system.

The medal was a plastic Pluto and I thought it was super cute! I’ve heard many participants say they didn’t like the plastic medal, but I loved it. It was colorful and different.

I would definitely like to do this race again and I think it would be fun to run with my kids next time. Have you done the Walt Disney World 5K? What did you think?


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