As I mentioned last week, I am writing a series of posts that cover the Dopey Challenge over the course of five weeks. Each week I will cover one of the races in the series and the series will culminate in a final post will cover the entire challenge.
The third race in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Dopey Challenge. Series is the Half Marathon. The Half Marathon starts at 5:30 a.m. and is a popular race, so it’s extremely important to arrive early. By this time, it felt like Groundhog’s Day when I woke up. The alarm sounded at 3:00 a.m.….again. I put on my running capris, sports bra, singlet, compression socks, camelback, shoes and hat…again. I pinned the number on my shirt…again. This time I also made sure I had GUs since I typically need one GU to get me through a half marathon. I also filed up my Camelbak, which I didn’t need to do on my 5K or 10K. I use a Camelbak backpack when I run, because I prefer to carry my hydration on my back than in a fuel belt.
Disney gave us clear plastic bags to store our gear while we ran. We adhered a sticker with our race number on the bag for easy pickup. I packed a massage stick, protein bar, water and a new shirt. I checked my bag easily and moved on to get into my corral. There is a pretty long walk from the bus drop-off area to the corral, so it’s important to get moving pretty quickly.
I brought another magazine to throw away after I read it, so I sat down in the corral area while I read and stretched. There were 16 total corrals, spaced two minutes and then five minutes apart for the start. Fireworks and Donald Duck sent off each corral. Mickey, Minnie and runDisney hosts were set up on stage.
The course started at Epcot on Epcot Center Drive for the first mile. We began our start towards Magic Kingdom at mile two. We ran past the Walt Disney World Speedway at mile three. We then ran past the Tickets and Transportation Center at mile four, then onto the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower at mile five. We entered Magic Kingdom through a side entrance near Main Street. We ran straight towards Cinderella Castle, which was a beautiful sight! This year we entered Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle much earlier than in previous years. Running through Cinderella Castle is the highlight of the race, and I always look forward to this the most, so the anticipation of this part makes the first half of the marathon speed by. After running through Cinderella Castle, we headed towards Epcot on Floridian Way. We ran miles 9 and 10 on highways and roads, before entering Epcot near mile 10. At mile 11 we ran around Spaceship Earth and then to the finish line.
This race was the toughest of all the races for me. Mentally it was difficult because I had already run two races in the two days previous. I knew that when I was finished, I was still not relieved from completing all of the events…I still had the main event to go! I also psyched myself up that it was “just” a half marathon, when in reality 13.1 miles is still a long distance, especially if you stop for character photos, which I did. I wanted to make sure to get pictures with the characters because I didn’t want to overtire my legs. I also had to get a picture with Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas because it’s my nephews favorite character and I had to show him. I also had to meet the reindeer I saw along the course. I absolutely love Christmas, so I was thrilled to see them! I also had to meet Woody, my son’s favorite character. However, that put my finish at close to two and a half hours, which was a lot of time on my feet and I didn’t bring enough nutrition to cover the stops for pictures. I was pretty tired when the race completed, but was ecstatic to get my Donald Duck medal!
Of course I went through the tent to make sure my Dopey Challenge bracelet was marked again and then I went to search for my family. However, my family had trouble getting to the finish line because of the road closures and crowds, so they missed my finish (bummer!). I texted my husband and they were able to meet me in the finisher’s area. We walked around for a bit while I shook out my legs. I also enjoyed my snacks from my runDisney race finisher’s box, which had crackers, hummus, a Luna bar, water and half a banana. We then headed off for a morning at Magic Kingdom and then back to the resort to relax and get ready for the big event the next day!
For more info, see my post on the Disney 5K, Disney 10K and my previous post on the marathon at Walt Disney World. If you like Disney race reviews, also check out my podcast on the Tower of Terror 10-miler.