Day 5: 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend #DopeyChallenge #WDWMarathon Recap

The big day has arrived.  Going to bed early the night before paid off.  The alarm went off at 1:45am (I wish that were a typo) so that we could get to the start area early.  Since I missed out on a Dopey Challenge race banner last year, we had decided to arrive very very early.  That meant driving. It worked.  Arriving at about 2:30am, we were about the 5th group in line at the merchandise tent.  The merchandise tent itself did not open until 3am.

I got my Dopey banner and also picked up a Goofy one as well.  They look great hanging in my office. (We get them signed by characters.) 

After picking up the banners, I headed back to the car to relax. Since we arrived before everyone else, we had a pretty sweet parking spot. Having the car there meant I was able to spend some time in a nice warm comfortable seat.  Very convenient since I was feeling a little twinge in my ankle. DisneyBride kept trying to get me to take a nap, but I was too excited to sleep.  So at about 4:45am we got out of the car to go catch up with a friend. 

No, that is not my costume. Yes, I really did wear a trash bag at the start line. It was cold. #DontJudge

Speaking of costumes - this might just be my first runDisney event where I did not wear a costume or at least something costume-like. Instead I had on my Marathon Maniacs gear (because the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon qualified me to be a Maniac). I also wore InknBurn shorts, my custom Run Alice Run arm sleeves, and my Orange Mud Vest Pack 2. 

After catching up with friends for a few minutes, I gave DisneyBride a goodbye kiss and headed for my corral.  The weather for the marathon was far better than it had been for any of the other races.  Even so, I kept my trash bag on to keep me warm.

Let me take a second to point out something I thought was a little off all weekend.  The poor Goofy runners almost received no love. Even before the marathon, they seemed to only get a quick mention.  It was the 10th anniversary for the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge still seemed to cast a huge shadow over Goofy.  Congrats to all the Goofy Challenge participants and and even bigger congrats to those that have completed all 10 years!

The fireworks to send off the runners were amazing.  Better than I've ever seen at a runDisney race start, and I've seen a few. I need to learn how to get better photos of the display.  Thankfully, most of you read the blog for my humorous take on running, not for my photography skills.

Miles 0-13.1

The course starts off the same as the half.  For the Dopeys, the 2 mile marker is an important one.  It is just past the halfway point of the Dopey Challenge's 48.6 miles.  Pretty amazing to think that 2 miles into the marathon, you are only half way though the challenge.

Outside the Speedway, a few new cars were out on the course.  

Just outside the Ticket and Transportation Center, I ran into DisneyBride.  It's always great to see smiling faces.

DisneyBride looking good with her Mickey hand and Buzz Lightyear hat.  

Speaking of smiling faces, the High School bands really knocked it out of the park again.  Here is the Timber Creek High School band, my vote for the best band of the weekend.

The run from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom is pretty uneventful.  The DJ with the huge Mickey hands always does a great job of pumping up runners to make it up the hill in front of the Contemporary.

Arriving in the Magic Kingdom the first picture should come as no surprise.  The one, the only, the Buzz Lightyear.

Second stop was the Mine Train.  Thanks again runDisney for giving us the false impression months ago that the Mine Train would be operating during the Marathon,  Apparently, running past the Mine Train was enough to make it "part of the race course". Yes, I did 'air quotes'.

I said it before and I'll say it again, it never gets old running through the castle.  I even managed to get a spectator to take another great castle photo for me.

Leaving the Magic Kingdom you make your way past the monorail resorts. My first stop after Magic Kingdom was Genie and Abu. Apparently, my luck ran out right before it was my turn for a photo. The Genie had some sort of genie emergency and had to take a few minutes.  

Next up was the Speedway, running on the track is always a really awesome experience.  Several local car clubs bring out some cars to show off.  My favorite was a 1966 Ford Fairlane.  I probably liked it because it is very similar to my 1st car, a 1967 Ford Galaxie.

After leaving the Speedway, we started heading to Animal Kingdom.  The first stop was the couple partying with their RV. Last year they had pickled herring to help fuel the runners.  Unfortunately, they didn't have any fish to fuel us, but they were enthusiastic cheerleaders.  It was nice since the next several miles are pretty boring/gross. 

First up, the compost facility and the solid waste transfer station.  Super pleasant to see and smell.  It's a little too 'behind the scenes' for me. 

Then the Country Bears were jamming out. I guess runDisney really wanted us distracted.  Because the next sight is probably the favorite of all the marathoners.  The waste water treatment facility truly sprinkles 'Disney Magic' upon our noses.  Even being a pretty cool day and the plant spraying to keep the smell down, it was still there.  Oh the joy!

The cast members had several animals out again.  I managed to stop for the sheep and pig.  The animals also had custom bibs, a really nice touch.  Perhaps, I should have gotten better pictures of their bibs.  You know... just to check the results and see if they beat me. 

I had hoped to ride Expedition Everest upon my arrival in Animal Kingdom.  Since I arrived just minutes before the park opened, the ride already had about 30 minutes worth of runners waiting to get on.  I decided to pass, waiting that long just wasn't an option. 

Leaving the park I finally hit the halfway point.


It really seemed like the second half of the course flew by.  If your are still reading, I promise the second half of this recap isn't as long as the first half.

The parking lot to the Animal Kingdom had quite a few spectators with really great signs.  Also, Mickey was on hand to ensure that everyone was having a great time.

I'm a big fan of the GraveDiggers.  They are always rock solid in their performance and really get into the spirit.  Even better, the line was super short and moving very quickly.  Even with runners taking time to 'get buried' they were up and back to running in just a few seconds.

I always enjoy the run through Wide World of Sports.  The cool towel on the way into the complex was really refreshing.  Nothing like having something cool to wipe the sweat from my face and neck.  The constant scenery changes, the varied surfaces, and the twists and turns keep you distracted from the run.  The run through the baseball stadium is one of the highlights for me.

After leaving the complex, I finally arrived at mile 20 marker.

Its just about 2 miles until you arrive at Hollywood Studios.  Hollywood Studios has probably my favorite aid station.  Yep, cool delicious chocolate.

The run through Hollywood Studios is short, but very scenic.  It was also my opportunity to make up for not being able to run Expedition Everest.  While in Hollywood Studios I decided to go off the course and ride Toy Story Midway Mania!  

If was funny watching people yell at me "You're Going the Wrong way!  Then they laughed when I told them I was heading to a ride.  It might have been even better than riding Expedition Everest.  I think I have a new tradition. 

In line for Toy Story Midway Mania!

Who rides the rides in the middle of a marathon?  This guy!

Approaching EPCOT, I began to get thirsty.  Luckily, Germany was nearby.  Just like last year's marathon, an adult beverage was in order.  Yep, had to stop for an ice cold beer.  Having the opportunity to choose the country where it comes from is just a bonus.  Perhaps next year I'll change it up: England, Canada, Japan, who knows?

I cannot believe how AMAZING this grapefruit beer is! I gotta bust out some dance moves!

Crossing the finish line, I felt really good.  I immediately received my Marathon medal and headed for the Dopey tent.  Anxious to see what they were going to confirm, I peeked at the computer as they typed in my bib number.  All they checked was that I was the one who had picked up the bib at the expo.  I don't believe they actually checked to ensure that I ran the other races, just that I picked up the bib.  I hope that they eventually get to the point where they verify times for the Challenge participants. 

Marathon medal Volunteer!

Goofy Challenge Medal Volunteer
Dopey Challenge medal volunteer

With all my medals around my neck, I headed for the reunion lot.  I wanted to get my final Dopey photo with all the medals gloriously around my neck.  DisneyBride was already in line with my 5K, 10K, and 1/2 marathon medals and she greeted me with a big kiss. 

Finally, DisneyBride understands my love of Tonga Toast and came through again this year.  Waiting for me was an order of Tonga Toast and some bacon.  

I was only back home a few days before a few friends agreed to sign on for 2016 with me.  Yep, I'll be heading back for another Dopey next year!


Thanks for reading!

For my other 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend recaps see the links below.

Expo Recap

5k Recap

10k Recap

Day 4: 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend #DopeyChallenge #WDWHalf Done- 22.4 down, 26.2 until eternal greatness!

For this race, I would be flying solo.  Since she wasn't running or volunteering, DisneyBride decided to sleep in. Yeah, I know. But I can't blame her - those 2am wakeups are brutal.

Again I decided to catch a later bus.  This time, it almost came back to haunt me.  The driver managed to get lost trying to get out of the Art of Animation parking lot.  If only Disney provided large direction signs to help drivers exit their resorts, oh wait, they do!  He managed to do 2 figure eights before finally making it out of the resort.  A revolt almost broke out on the bus.  We did make it to the starting area, we arrived about 15 minutes later than we should have.  I think I am back to taking the earliest bus.

I wish something could be done to end the long march to the starting corrals for the half marathon.  The lighting was better this year, and they were kind enough to provide a DJ and cheerleaders along the path. I would venture a guess that the walk from bus to the startline adds at least a mile. 

The corrals set off at much shorter intervals than the 5k or 10k.  

With the highway being the course for about the first 5 miles, crowding wasn't much of an issue.  I am a big fan of the long stretch on the way to the Magic Kingdom.  

Arriving at these parking gates always reminds me of my first trip to Disney as a kid.  Its also the point that spectators start lining the course (ok - it is a little distance beyond the gates, but hopefully you get my point.

Let me take a minute and compliment all the marching bands that participated during the half and full marathons.  They really stepped up their game this year.  They all seemed to be really into performing and hamming it up with the crowd.  

The last thing I was ever going to do in high school was get up before the sun and watch people run.  Thank you all!

I also found the cheerleaders again!

It was nice to see Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope on the course.  I am always happy to see some of the newer characters on the course. 

The run onto Main Street is always incredible. Rather than take a selfie, a spectator was nice enough to snap my photo.

It should come as no surprise that I made a stop in Tomorrow Land.  Buzz Lightyear took a break from Star Command to meet with runners.  He is always gracious, however, he didn't seem to appreciate my Darth Vader costume. He's a hero, I'm a villain - I get it...

Anna and Elsa welcomed us to the castle this year.  They even had snow.  It wasn't enough that you froze us a couple of days earlier, you had it snow at the castle.  Enough with the Frozen stuff, Let it go!  After I ran through the castle, a spectator took a fantastic castle photo for me.

Really excited about this pic - the castle isn't cut off this time!
It's the little things...

Near the Wedding Pavillion, I ran into Disney's alleged 'Disney Grooms'.  Never fear! There can only be one @Disney_Groom.

 Eventually, runDisney will remove these posers from the course. 

The run to the Finish Line in EPCOT was pretty uneventful.  Characters and entertainment were plentiful, however, I didn't stop for many characters until EPCOT.  Upon my arrival in EPCOT, I did stop for Phineas and Ferb.  I have never stopped for them in the past and no one was in line, a win-win. 

I also managed to get a pretty good shot in front of the Spaceship Earth.  This costume seems to photograph pretty well and might just become a staple at races.  The force is strong with this one. 

Approaching that glorious finish line just never gets old.  

Mickey was even present to welcome us.  I did a very quick, run-by selfie. Don't worry, I checked to make sure no one was running up right behind me.  Unfortunately the sun was right behind us... oh well.  Going to try again at the full.

This was my awesome medal volunteer for the Half!

I received my medal, beverages, and box o'food then headed to the bus area.  I had planned on just heading back to the resort.  Upon leaving the finish area, I noticed that Dopey had almost no line.  So I decided to keep the streak alive and grab a Dopey photo. 

I had a lot of compliments and questions, on my shorts, my hydration pack, and my custom compression arm sleeves that day. My shorts are from our awesome sponsor: X RaceWear, my vest is the Orange Mud VP2, and the sleeves are from Run Alice RunThe items all served me well on race day (and on training runs).

Leaving the race, I headed back to the hotel to get DisneyBride before heading to Magic Kingdom for lunch.  On the way, we ran into the Mayor and First Lady of Main Street.  

I wished him well with his upcoming campaign (I think he is a lock), and he wished me luck on my marathon.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train had a 70 minute wait (the best we've seen all weekend) so we got in line. Sure enough, the ride breaks down while we are in line - causing a 25 minute delay.  We were too close to the front of the queue to give up (hey distance runners are stubborn people... it's who we are) so we waited it out.

We were well rewarded.  The ride was AWESOME!

I even found DOPEY!

Following lunch, we attended a meetup hosted by Meranda and Lacey of FairyTales and Fitness.  All but one us (Amy) were running bloggers, so it was really cool getting to meet the authors of several of the blogs we follow.  The sparkly skirts seen below were provided by Amy Maust, owner and founder of Rock City Skirts; she was in town to run the Walt Disney World Marathon.

I was offered a sparkle skirt, as was Robert (husband of Lauren of Lauren's Glass Slipper).  We both graciously declined, much to the disappointment of our wives, who did their best to convince us we 'have the legs for it'.

I did however get a different prize, a running journal from Gone For a Run.

Leaving the meet-up, I had to call it quits and head back to the hotel.  It was pretty early - only 4:00ish, but spending more time in the parks would not have been the prudent decision.  It took me about an hour and a half to make it back to the hotel, get dinner, and put the marathon clothes out.  It was not a fun thing to do, however, it was the correct call. 

DisneyBride, ever the party animal - went off to Animal Kingdom to ride the rides, find some dinner, and get as many character photos as she could, until the park closed.

I think I was asleep before 6:30pm - because I wanted at least 6 full hours before the long day that was to come. 

Just 26.2 miles to go!

For my other 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend recaps see the links below.

Expo Recap

5k Recap

10k Recap