10 Steps to Your First Dopey Challenge

Ken (Mousehacking.com) and his wife Emily (LattesAndRunways.com) blog about Disney and world travel. They’re here to share their tips for running the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge.

 

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Follow our steps to earn your finisher photo with Dopey himself!

 

In April, Holly wrote about her first 5K, the Disney Princess 5K. As with all Disney things, once you get a taste, you’re sure to want more. The ultimate RunDisney goal? The Dopey Challenge. 48.6 miles run over four days—a 5K (3.1 miles) on day one, a 10K (6.2 miles) on day two, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on day three, and a marathon (26.2 miles) on day four. Having each run six marathons and two Dopey Challenges, Emily and I are here to give you 10 Steps to Your First Dopey Challenge.

1. Get Excited

Even before signing up, get excited. You’ll need that excitement to get the courage to sign up. A Dopey Challenge is an amazing (but grueling) experience. You’ll have four straight days of running through the parks, cheering fans, snapping pictures with sometimes-unique characters, and accomplishing something you probably didn’t think you were capable of. It’s going to be a Magical time, and you should be excited.

2. Sign Up As Soon As Possible

We always sign up for major races as soon as possible, usually at the moment they open. The Walt Disney World Marathon is one of the most popular races in the United States (and the world, for that matter). The past few years, Dopey Challenge availability has been a little better, and RunDisney has opened up more slots as time went by, but if you are certain you want to run the Dopey Challenge, plan to be at your computer when registration opens.

3. Try to Compartmentalize This Trip

For most of us, a Dopey Challenge comes with an additional Magical challenge: planning a great Walt Disney World trip. If you’re running the Dopey Challenge, the first priority of your trip should be the Dopey Challenge. You could run the Dopey Challenge and have an amazing four days filled with parking hopping and new restaurants, but it would exhaust you across the board.

 

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Instead of running every which way, just take a stroll around the park to show off your gear!

 

If you can make an extended stay of it, splitting your stay between park-focused and Dopey-focused days is a good plan. Combining Dopey with New Year’s Eve is ideal. If you can’t make an extended stay of it, that’s okay! Consider a resort day, a guided tour of one of the parks, or anything you don’t usually do (Fantasia Gardens, anyone?).

The caveat to this is that 5K day and 10K day you’ll be done with the races in time for a full day of adventure. So you will have time to enjoy the parks. But remember, you’re waking up near 3AM and you have two big races ahead of you—don’t go overboard.

4. Run a Half Marathon Race

Yes, there is running involved in preparing for the Dopey Challenge (sorry!). You can’t run a marathon if you can’t run a half marathon, and running a half marathon race, not just a training run, is a great way to understand some of the basic challenges of long-distance running. You’ll learn about how your running gear handles over longer distances (good 5-mile gear might not be good 10-mile gear). During a half marathon, you’ll get some early tastes of how your body holds up over longer distances. You might start to learn about fueling on the run.

By the way, when Emily and I finished our first half marathon, she immediately said she didn’t want to run a marathon. This is a classic reaction—you’ll get past it. A few weeks later, we had signed up for two marathons, including the Dopey Challenge.

5. Run a Marathon Race

People do the Dopey Challenge without marathon experience, so it can be done, but I don’t recommend it, especially if you want to fully take in everything Dopey has to offer. Training runs, even up to 20+ miles, don’t give you a true sense of how tough the marathon can be on race day.

 

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The end of a non-Disney marathon, plenty of lessons learned.

 

Training runs (if done properly) are also useless for understanding your limits. Almost all first-time marathon training is broken into two concepts—running long and slow to know what running for hours and hours is like, and running short and fast to know what running at your goal speed feels like. You combine these only on race day. This means until race day, you don’t really know what you’re capable of, and that’s going to matter when it comes to enjoying the Dopey Challenge, as we’ll see.

Training runs also don’t give you any sense of how enjoyable a marathon can be. The energy of the other runners, the cheering of the crowds, the hilarious signs, and the joy of finishing—a training run has none of these. At several marathons I’ve wondered during training why I do it, only to be reminded during the race of how truly great it is. You’ll want those memories when training for Dopey.

6. Plan Your Costumes

Costumes are a much bigger part of RunDisney 5Ks and 10Ks than half marathons and marathons, but plenty of Dopey Challenge runners wear costumes all four days (Emily does, I usually do 2-3 days). This takes major planning. You’ll need to include the costumes in your packing plans. You’ll need to make sure the gear is acceptable to run in (a bigger issue for the longer races). You’ll need to account for weather (we’re Chicagoans with 6 total marathons behind us, and the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon starting feeling under 30 degrees was our coldest). And you’ll likely need to make at least two costumes from running hear (Halloween attire simply won’t be good for running a half or full marathon).

7. Expect to Take it Easy…

If you read Jeff Galloway’s marathon training program and Dopey Challenge training program, you might notice a big difference between the two — Dopey Challenge has only a single training plan for the goal of surviving. There is no “run your fastest marathon” or even “run your fastest Dopey Challenge”, your goal for your first dopey, at least, should be to survive. Race-by-race, this means:
• The 5K and 10K are going to be especially boring. From the front corrals, you can easily walk the 5K, including character stops (more below), and finish with time to spare.
• For the half marathon, run your first 10 miles a little slower than your Dopey marathon pace, or at marathon pace, treating it otherwise exactly as you will the first 10 miles of the marathon, including when you’ll walk, how many character stops you’ll do, when you need an aid station or bathroom, and when you need to fuel.
• For the marathon, plan to run slower than your typical marathon pace.

8…But Not Too Easy

Character stops. They’re a huge part of a RunDisney race. They’re the most important part for some runners. They also can take a long time. The longest we waited in line for a character stop was 15 minutes for patriotic Mickey, Goofy, and Donald at the 2017 10K. That’s over 30 seconds per mile added to our pace if the race were a marathon. Most lines are only three minutes, though. RunDisney doesn’t announce stops ahead of time, so you won’t know when they occur or who will be there, making planning for them impossible.

 

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?? YES PLEASE!

 

The easiest way to deal with the uncertainty of character stops is (1) to understand your capabilities and marathon plan ahead of time (see steps 5 and 7) and (2) to adjust your plan as you go through character stops. The second part of this is critical. If you wait in line for 15 minutes at miles 9.5, don’t then take a walk break at mile 10!

Character stops are partly why we think running a marathon prior to Dopey is so essential. You do not know what to expect for a marathon until you’ve done one, and if you don’t know what to expect, you won’t be able to adjust it for the added complexity of character stops.

9. Stay Loose at the Parks Between Races

There is a lot of Dopey debate about this one, but we’re fans of staying loose at the parks between races. You’re at Walt Disney World, enjoy the scenery! Walking a few miles will not ruin you for marathon day (don’t exhaust yourself, though), tight legs will. This shouldn’t be a big problem if you follow the above tip for taking it easy the first three days.

10. Have Fun!

Your goal for Dopey is to survive, not to survive miserably. During a Dopey Challenge, you can take photos with characters, enjoy treats handed out my generous fans, spend time with live animals, give high-fives to kids with mickey gloves cheering you on, maybe ride rides, and stop for Disney treats along the way. One of my favorite Dopey moments was Snow White having to ask me to put my beer down at mile 25 of the marathon before taking a picture with her. That happened, and it wouldn’t happen anywhere besides the Walt Disney World Marathon.

 

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Thanks for your patience with these beer-drinking runners, Snow White!

 

Few marathons are setup to offer you a better time than the Walt Disney World marathon. Even if you’re pressed for time, take a minute to snap a picture while you’re in Animal Kingdom. Grab a Mickey Ice Cream bar from a vendor during a walk break in Hollywood Studios. Do something you can’t do at any other race! Because it’s not a true Disney experience without just a touch of Magic!

Do you have RunDisney Dopey Challenge or marathon tips or questions? Sounds off in the comments!

 

Mahalo, Ken (Mousehacking.com) and Emily (LattesAndRunways.com) for sharing your experience and tips on how to prepare for the Dopey Challenge!  It has been an honor to have you both as guest writers on my blog!  Hope to see you on the course at the next Run Disney event.

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How I Survived My First 5K

IMG_20170224_093428_954.jpgIn February I ran my  first Disney 5K with my children.   After months of training along a quiet, rustic trail, I jumped into a crowd with thousands of runners and quiet was far from heard.  Throughout my training my children earnestly tried to prepare me for the change in terrain and other environmental changes as they were learning to run my “slow speed” and how to manage my weaknesses.  But, what I learned on  race day is:  running in an event with thousands of people  is incredibly different than training as a trio.   There is a plethora of emotions from anxiety to excitement as everyone awaits for their corral to be called to the starting line.  Once the race begins runners turn on their defensive running skills as they make their way along the track.  Some runners head straight to the finish line while others make their way from character to character.  I must say stop for the characters!  You have plenty of  time to enjoy all photo opportunities.  Disney invites many rare characters to cheer you.  They are stationed every half mile or so and are a huge part of the fun.

I am not a professional runner by any means.  I basically went from couch to 5K in less than 3 months of every now and again training.  My children are the runners.  And I will be honest we walked most of the 3.2 miles because I just couldn’t handle it.  At mile marker 1 I was out of breath and my throat was on fire because I have not mastered breathing while running.  My only accomplishment thus far was running for 5 minutes straight.  As we crossed into Mexico I told my dauwdw2017055673013401_7958377109_dsnyRes-base_dsnyLoc-regghter I was done and would wait at the finish line for her and her brother.  She grabbed my hand and dragged me through the rest of the winding track.  I can proudly say that I crossed the finish line and I can’t wait to do it again.

I could not have survived my first 5K without a few runner essentials.

  1. KT TAPE:  KT TAPE is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support.  This is a Godsend for anyone who suffers pain from running.  I tend to get shin splints within the first 5 minutes of running.  IMG_20170223_211054_265I easily taped my shin area and soles of my feet the night before with the help of a KT TAPE YouTube video.  I was amazed at how easy it was to tape myself and even more amazed when I finished running without any shin pain.  KT TAPE will last for days and withstands sweat and water.  So if you are running a series of events over the weekend you will only need to tape yourself once.  I still don’t understand the science behind KT TAPE, but it works like magic and I will never run again without it.
  2. Shoe Charms:  Running on the Wall motivational shoe charms will inspire any runner to climb mountains.  Just as my body was giving up I looked down at my shoes and read the words, “Keep Running- Hebrews 12:1” and “She Believed She Could and So She Did.”  IMG_20170222_202811_396This was at the same moment my daughter grabbed me by the am and said, “Mom, your doing great you are almost there.  You made it to Mexico.”  I knew I couldn’t give up.  Having that little push really helped me gain momentum and motivated me to “Keep Running.”
  3. Fruit DropsFruit Drops:  Skratch Labs Fruit Drops are made with real fruit and will give you a quick boost of energy that will get you flying to the finish line.  Fruit Drops are an easy and convenient source of carbohydrate to help maintain blood sugar and performance during prolonged exercise. A single pouch contains ten ‘drops’ comprising two 80 calorie servings.  I found the Screen_Shot_2017-01-10_at_2.28.16_PM_475x475Raspberry Fruit Drops by Skratch Labs a need to start kick my early morning.  They are sweet and provide lasting energy.  My children and I shared the raspberry fruit drops before the race and we were on a high for hours after the race.  But be prepared to crash hard when the energy runs out.

As a new runner I am learning with every race I run.  My body is still adjusting and I can’t run an entire race, but perhaps one day I can.  I watch other runners and think to myself, “they make it look so easy.”  For me, running is made easier with my top 3 runner essentials.

Do you have a product that you just can’t run without?  Share below in the comments.

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RaceDots- Bling for your Bib

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Don’t reach for that safety pin!  Secure your race bib with RaceDots; a magnetic race number attachment system.  They stay in place so you don’t have to.  This magnetic attachment system is a revolutionary idea that is changing the running world one runner at a time.  RaceDots are made from extremely strong rare-earth magnets in a thin metal shell. The patented design allows the two magnetic pieces to nest inside one another making for an extremely strong, hard-to-break bond.  RaceDots hold fast through clothing, so you’ll never pierce or tear your favorite dri fit tee.

downloadThere is no material to thick for the magnetic power.  Plus, the RaceDots shell is nickel-plated copper, so they will never rust and leave ugly stains no matter how much you sweat.  Not to mention they are easy to use.  They go on in a snap and slide for the perfect placement.  No more bunched up race numbers.

Absolutely perfect for junior runners.  My daughter hates being pinned up.  I pricked her once and ever since she goes into panic mode when I have to pin her race bib on.  No more worries! rd1_2015-numberplacement I was amazed at the strength behind this little magnet.  The attraction is so strong they attach themselves.  They stay in place~ during the Wine and Dine One Mile Kid Race my son was knocked over by some aggressive runners and he slid through the grass.  RaceDots stayed put and he was able to get back up and continue for the finish line.   No tears or rips in his Buzz costume and most importantly no wasted time pinning the number back on.   Honestly these lil guys are a genuis design!  It has me wondering how did I ever function  without RaceDots?!

 

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My son sporting the Captain America RaceDots after finishing the One Mile in 10:34

RaceDots come in a variety of colors and designs.  We favorite the American Flags and Captain America designs.  If your team is looking for  something with a personal flare?  No problem!  RaceDots can be customized to just about any design or color.  However,the minimum for customized orders is 100 packs of 4 or 50 packs of 10.

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RaceDots is more then just a magnet it is a revolution.  Say goodbye to pricks, rips, and rusty pin stains with RaceDots!  Order yours today!  Visit RaceDots

 

Give Kids the World- Gingerbread 5K

Allison and Noah ran the Gingerbread 5K benefiting Give Kids the World today.  This is their second 5K and first time running the Gingerbread 5K.  Noah finished in 31 minutes and Allison in 36 minutes.

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it’s 5:30am!!!  On a shuttle bus to Give Kids the World to run the Gingerbread 5K.

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Just hanging out with my friend, the Chick-Fil-A cow! 
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A little nippy at the starting line, but these speedsters are ready to go!

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Crossing the finish line at 31 minutes.
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Crossing the finish line at 36 minutes.

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Luv Remy and Roughy!

Ewok Run Disney Costume

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Somewhere off in a faraway galaxy a young boy is preparing for the race of the galactic century!  Star Wars Half  Marathon weekend is an epic Run Disney event that takes place in the Walt Disney World Resort.  It is a weekend of galactic fun and fantastic runs.  Runners will feel the power of the force as they charge through Darth Vader’s turf with the Emperor’s white uniformed stormtroopers cheering them along the way. Runners are faced with the ultimate dilemma to run for the light side or  run for the dark side.

jedi_1851-1536x820As for my lil man, he has chosen  to run for the light side and will be representing the moon Endor  in the Star Wars 5K as an Ewok.  Yub Yub and Coatee-cha tu yub nub! (Ewokese for yay and celebrate the freedom!) Ewoks evolved from Wookiees and look like adorable lil bears.  Cunning lil creatures they are quick on their feet and known to be great hunters.  Personally, I love their cuteness!  It is for these reasons my son has chosen this notable character as his costume in his first Star Wars Race in April 2017.

dscn7360This was the easiest costume to put together.  My new friend, Debbie owner of DK Design Emporium helped me with the too cute Ewok ears that have literally stopped Disney cast members in their tracks.  One cast member couldn’t handle the cuteness and teared up while exclaiming, “Just stop it!”    Debbie shapes the faux fur ears and attaches them along with an orange hood to an orange baseball cap to create the Ewokian look.  The orange hood is quite light and breathable, keeping any runner cool during an extended run.  Need this hat for an adult runner?  No worries!  Debbie can make this hat in adult or child sizes.  Match the Ewok Hat with a brown runners shirt and brown runners shorts and your lil Jedi mate is easily transformed into a mighty Ewok.

The fun doesn’t stop there!  Debbie is a master designer and can make any custom look.  If you are not sure what your desired run costume should look like, you can browse her design album on Pinterest.  There you will find a variety of styles for any Run Disney event.  Here are some of my Star Wars favorites:

above: Gamorrean Guard Running Costume, Princess Leia Inspired Running CostumeGreedo Running Costume, and Tusken Raider Sand People Running Costume.

 Costumes are also perfect for Halloween, a costume party, or a fun filled day at the park!  Characters, cast members, and other Disney guests will be Ee chee wa maad (Ewokese for Wow’d) My son received so many compliments on his costume and your runner will too!  Run on over to DK Design Emporium and order your Run Disney outfit and may the force be with you!  Order processing takes up to five days.

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Chewie:  Huurh aarrragghuuhw (Wookie for how adorable!)

 

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Eyeta (Jawaese for Friend)

 

 

Whose the Leader of the Club, Made for You and Me?!

M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E! Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!

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Mickey Mouse is one of my favorite Classic Disney Characters.  He started it all!  So it is only fitting that we honor him in the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend Kid Races.  This year is the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon presented by Cigna, and our first year participating.  My sweet boy, Noah will hold his banner high as he crosses the finish line in his 2nd Run Disney Kid Race this January in the iconic Mickey Mouse costume pictured above.  Three exceptionally talented and extremely gracious Etsians helped put this very special run costume together.

The Ears:

il_570xN.829320618_pgwuStrut your stuff in the hippest pair of ears around!  The Mickey Ears ball cap was designed by Gina Roberts, the  owner and designer for Gigi’s Flower Fancy. Roberts has been selling her handmade crafts since the 80’s and can now be found on Etsy.  She has a passion for making Disney hats and other Disney paraphernalia.  Using the “ear-perfection” method, Roberts is able to create stay up ears that do not sag, wilt, or flop.  You can stuff em in a bag and the felt ears will pop back up every time.   Customize your ball cap  to your fancy by adding a bow, flower, or a monogram…get ear crazy!   Perfect for a Halloween costume, day at the park, Disney weddings, and Run Disney Outfits!   The cap is available in adult or child size and is easily adjusted for the perfect fit making them RUN PROOF!

Made in the USA for both boys and girls!

 

The Shorts:

il_570xN.937064298_lzkbThe Classic Style  Mickey shorts used for Noah’s run costume was designed by Cherylyn Morris owner of One Two Three Shop Boutique on Etsy.  Cherylyn’s love for clothing design was stirred when she was a teen in high school nearly 20 years ago when she needed a new skirt for school.  Knowing that her mother was not going to purchase a new skirt, Morris got creative and gave new life to her old one.   Today, her inspiration derives from her children as she now designs storybook clothing.  Her shop features an array of dresses and tops  inspirited by magical characters that can be worn by your child everyday.  The Mickey shorts are really to cute for words, I mean they are just perfect!  Cherylyn has replicated Mickey’s classic red shorts with two large white circles (the buttons) on the front.  They are made with a light, thin material allowing your young runner to stay cool in the heat of the race.  The elastic waist gives an extra stretch to provide a comfortable fit.

 

The Gloves:

DSCN7055This runner costume would not be complete without Mickey’s white gloves.  The gloves used in this costume were designed by Alicia of Alicia Marie Create.  The gloves are made from nylon/spandex material with the tips cut off to allow for breathability while running.  Detailed  with three black stripes representing Mickey’s three fingers as originally designed by Walt Disney.  They are perfect to complete your outfit for a Disney marathon or any costume run!  If you live in a colder state you can also find thicker “Winter” gloves in Alicia’s Etsy shop.   Gloves can be made in adult or child size and take up to a week to ship as they are made to order and customized to meet your needs.

 

This costumes is perfect for your young runner and will definitely bring home the Big Cheese at any Run Disney event!

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I am very grateful to Gina, Cherylyn, and Alicia for sharing their talent and custom designs to help put this look together.