Dopey Challenge: The Full Marathon

Day 4 and another 3am wakeup call.

Although I had been disappointed with the previous 3 races (crowded courses & not many characters) I was still looking forward to the full marathon.  This would be my fourth full marathon (Disney 2012 & 2013 and Marine Corps 2013) and I’m starting to really think it’s my favorite distance.

I boarded the bus and met Daniel and Pat at the starting area and had them snap this photo that I immediately posted to Instagram:


Yes, the day of the full marathon was Jason, my husband’s, birthday and since he wasn’t with me on this trip I thought this would be a fun surprise for him when he woke up!

Now before you think I’m the worst wife EVER for taking off on a race trip (to Disney none the less!) without him over his birthday, he had to work.  And not just 9am-5pm where we still could have had dinner together, he had to work 7am-midnight basically so it really wouldn’t have made much of a difference if I was home – he had given me his blessing to go on the trip.  In fact, with his birthday being in January and working in professional hockey he’s either been traveling for work or had a game on his birthday just about every year.  We now celebrate his birthday in July!

So, back to the marathon…as we made our way to the corrals Dan and I expected Pat to split off and head up to his “fast” corral, but much to our surprise he said that he was joining us back in corral “I” and thought it would be fun to stick with us for the race – yay!

Full Corral Selfie

Pat, Daniel & I ready for the last leg of the Dopey Challenge!

As the corrals ahead of us took off we moved up closer and closer to the starting line and finally we were on our way!

Full Fireworks

**Fair warning – get ready for a lot of pictures!  Having only taken 1 character photo in each of the previous 3 races I think we definitely made up for it during the full marathon!**

The race began following the same path as the half marathon the day before and around mile 5 we entered the Magic Kingdom – today the castle lights were on!  I stopped for a quick photo to wish Jason a Happy Birthday again…

Full Castle Birthday

Happy Birthday from the Magic Kingdom!
Photo by Daniel Wanderman

…and we continued on through the park and towards the Walt Disney World Speedway.  Other than the big dip and hill at the entrance, I really liked running around the speedway last year, especially because the Cars characters (McQueen, Mater, etc.) were out!  This year…nothing.  Well not nothing, there were classic cars and their owners around the track cheering us on and some of the race cars were out, but no “Cars” cars…definitely disappointing.

Full Speedway

Running along the speedway!
Photo by Daniel Wanderman

We continued out of the speedway and towards Animal Kingdom.  We found several character stops with short lines along the way!

I love this villains photo, but it got even better when I went to crop it and realized the Evil Queen was off to the side!  I hadn’t even noticed her there when we took it!

Full Villans

We also found Dug, Bolt and Pluto and Smee and Captain Hook!

Full Dogs and Hook

On our way out of Animal Kingdom we found Jenn and Christina who had come out to cheer us on and provide us some mid-race snacks!  (Thanks guys!)

Full Jenn and Christina

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

We said our hellos and picked up our pretzels and potato chips and we were on our way again!

Our next stop was for one of my favorite photos of the race!  As we ran over I yelled, “lie down and pretend you’re dead!”

Full Gravediggers

Obviously my instructions weren’t clear enough.

We weaved our way around the ESPN Wide World of Sports for about 3 miles and exited back onto the highway right past mile 20 and at mile 21 I found my green army man!

Full Pushups

After my pushups we took a short run through Hollywood Studios where we stopped for a quick picture with Wreck-It Ralph…

Full Wreck It Ralph

…before we exited the park and headed towards the Boardwalk for the final stretch!

Just past the Beach Club we saw Jenn, Christina and Roy again. We gave them a quick wave and kept going – a lap around World Showcase was all that was left between us and our Dopey Challenge medals!

So, imagine our surprise when we turned the corner to head into Epcot and we saw DOPEY just standing there with barely any line – YES PLEASE!

Full Dopey

Getting a picture with Dopey as we headed towards the finish line of the Dopey Challenge was definitely the icing on the cake of this race!

I love the run around World Showcase to the finish, it always feels like a victory lap to me.  You just know you’re going to make it!

One of the best things about World Showcase though is that there are usually a few characters out and at this point everyone just wants to get to the finish line, so no one stops for pictures with them!  We literally ran up to Belle, Jasmine, Mulan and Duffy for pictures with NO wait at all!  They were just standing along the course cheering!

Full World Showcase Pics

Out of World Showcase we floored it heading towards Spaceship Earth and the finish line – nothing was going to stop us!

Nothing except a daring duck of mystery!

Yes, when we saw Darkwing Duck and Launchpad McQuack all three of us threw on the brakes for this epic race picture any child of the 80’s would be jealous of!

Full Darkwing Duck

Awesome last minute, but totally necessary character photo and we were back on track and headed to the finish line!

We passed the gospel choir at mile 26 and .2 miles later the 3 of us crossed the finish line together!

(**I have to admit I actually TRIED to cross ahead of Dan since I’m still a little bitter about our half marathon PR race back in March when he “beat” me by 1 SECOND!!!  Well somehow it didn’t work because his official finish time was again ONE SECOND ahead of mine!  In fact after checking the race results for all 4 races his finish time was ONE SECOND ahead of mine for 3 of the 4 races!  Is it me, or is there something suspicious about this??!**)

Past the finish line I took one last Happy Birthday photo for Jason…

Full Birthday Finish

Happy Birthday from the finish line!

…and headed through the finishers chute to collect my medals!

Dopey Challenge Finishers

4 days.

4 races.

48.6 miles complete.

Dopey Medal Photo

I finished the marathon in 4:39:52, less than 5 minutes away from my PR time of 4:35.  

Considering we made 13 character stops, I did 5 pushups, we stopped twice to see Jenn and Christina, made 1 quick bathroom trip, oh, and ran a 5k, 10k and half marathon the 3 days before, I’d say I’m pretty darn happy with my time!  

Thoughts on some pros, cons and if I’d do the Dopey Challenge again coming soon!

Recaps of the first three legs of the Dopey Challenge:

The 5k

The 10k

The Half Marathon

35 thoughts on “Dopey Challenge: The Full Marathon

  1. YOU ARE A SUPERSTAR! And also my Disney marathon hero. Your photos are fantastic! I love the Darkwing Duck one – you know they were out just after the speedway and before the Nightmare before Christmas I think during the half as well…or maybe it was the full (can’t remember). We were so in the zone in EPCOT (and I was trying really hard to keep Mom moving) that I didn’t even notice most of the characters and never saw Dopey. There was no way we were stopping just like you said ha! I’m so happy this was a fun race for you! 🙂

    • Haha, thanks! We had such a blast, part of me was a little disappointed that I probably could have PR’d without all the stops, but the fun pictures are so worth it! And we were totally surprised that there were no lines at all for the characters in Epcot! Worked out well for us though!

  2. You’re amazing! I am sort of insanely jealous in a I want to be you sort of way! This is definitely on my one day list of races. Are people just overall more cheerful than other races?! How can you not be!
    As far as you missing your hubbies birthday, I do not think you’re worst wife ever- no way! This is a lifetime opportunity and it’s something that makes you happy- happy life, happy wife 🙂 you will celebrate anyways!

    • Hahaha, LOVE this comment! And as far as people’s overall cheerfulness, I’d say most people are like happy little kids (literally) running through Disney, but you also get your share of cranky people upset about how long the character lines are or that they still need to keep up the minimum pace while stopping for character photos, etc.

      Honestly, I have such a blast running the Disney full marathon though, I really do love it!

  3. Danielle… the smile on your face every step of the way says it all! You were obviously enjoyed every 48.6 miles of it. Love living thru you vicariously… someday, perhaps I will join you.

  4. Congrats on an amazing race! Considering all the stops you made and running in the days before, I think you can safely call this a marathon PR! AMAZING! And you got so many great photos. I love the Dig, Bolt and Pluto dog shot!

    • Thanks Karla! I have to admit I’m itching to register for another full ASAP since I really feel like I’ve got a decent PR in me! It was definitely worth missing a PR though for all the awesome race photos!

    • Thanks! Honestly, it’s all in the training & recovery. Just like you train for a regular race you train your body to build up the milage and then focus on recovery between races – it was definitely a fun new challenge!

  5. Awesome! I noticed the Cars cars weren’t on the track too! What’s up with that? My sister always seems to beat me by 1 second when we run together too. No matter what!!! I think they have an agenda!

    • I was so disappointed the Cars weren’t there, I had totally been looking forward to them! And I’ve now learned that the trick is I need to hang back a few seconds and cross the starting line AFTER him that way even if we cross the finish line at the same time I’m still a few seconds “ahead”!

  6. AWESOME! Congrats! That is a SERIOUSLY amazing finish time, and you got some great pictures! Any disappointment I felt re: the shorter races pretty much disappeared after the marathon…I loved it. I also loved the sign for your hubby — too cute! Congrats again, looking forward to reading your overall thoughts on Dopey! 🙂

    • Thanks, I was really happy with my time, although I’m itching to run another marathon now for a PR! And the sign for my husband was a last minute idea, but it was fun!

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  8. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That is a phenomenal marathon time, especially considering all those factors! And I’m so glad to see that you were able to enjoy the marathon course more than your previous races. And I don’t know why, every time I see your push-up army men picture it just makes me look forward to doing it at the marathon more and more! I have issues, I know lol.

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  12. Can i get your opinion on my doing the dopey race in 2015?
    I did the WDW half marathon this past january, my first ever race and first half, with no real training (i know thats bad) and i finished at 3:15.. I want to do the dopey, since i am doing the 5,10, and half… my husband is doing the dopey and i am thinking, why not just do it… but i need advice on if i should

    • Hi Crystal, glad to hear you are considering doing the Dopey Challenge, it was a lot of fun! I did my first marathon as a stand alone marathon (Disney 2012) and personally I am glad I did that instead of making my first marathon part of Goofy or Dopey – but that’s just me! Both Jennifer (The Final Forty blog) and Pam (We Run Disney) did their first full marathons as part of Dopey/ Goofy, so they may be good people to ask about their experiences, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help!

      The one piece of advice I will give you is that a full marathon is MUCH different than a half, so while you did your first half without much training I definitely wouldn’t go into a full marathon (much less Dopey!) without following a training plan and getting in the back to back long runs. Hope that helps some and please feel free to let me know if you have any more questions I can help with!

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