So with all my recaps of the Dopey Challenge complete I thought I’d write a separate post sharing some of my pros and cons of the entire experience.
**Please keep in mind that having done many runDisney events (including marathon weekend the past 2 years) I am also comparing these races to past years and events, I am not sure how my thoughts would be different if this was my first runDisney experience.
- The Race Shirts – finally runDisney not only offered women’s fit race shirts, but the material of the shirts is SO much better than they’ve been in the past. Definitely the first runDisney race shirts I’ll actually wear!
- Medals – who doesn’t like medals (and lots of them!). This is one place where runDisney definitely doesn’t skimp.
- 1 Trip, 4 Races – I love running through the Disney parks, so what’s better than getting to do it multiple times in one trip!
- $$$ – there is definitely some sticker shock when it comes to the Dopey Challenge. For 2014 the 4 races came to over $500 with the registration fees (includes 6 medals and 6 race shirts). Not to mention flights, hotels, food, etc…
- Merchandise – I always find myself disappointed in the lack of good merchandise at the runDisney booth. First of all I don’t like dated stuff and they don’t offer many undated, generic runDisney items. Second, I attended the expo Wednesday afternoon (the day it opened) and pretty much all of the Dopey merchandise was gone already. Oh well, saved me some money I guess!
- Lack of Characters – when you pay for a runDisney event you’re paying for the experience of running through the Disney parks and seeing characters along the way. I really felt the 5k, 10k and half marathon were lacking characters, which also made for very long lines at the ones that there were.
- Castle Lights – not a huge deal, but they were on for the full, and not the half??! I love running down Main Street towards the castle and it’s even more magical when the castle is lit with the holiday lights! I feel bad for the people who only ran the half and didn’t get to see them on. (NOTE: they were on for both the full AND half last year!)
- 5k Family Fun Run – with 7,000 out of the 10,000 5k runners being Dopey Challengers this year I think “Family Fun Run” may have been a bit of a misnomer. In the past this was a great event full of families and kids. This year I’m sure kids were being trampled by Dopey runners and the characters lines were SO long I’m sure families didn’t even have the opportunity to stop. I personally think these need to be 2 separate races, a Family Fun Run 5k and a Dopey Challenge 5k. Maybe start Dopey runners at 5:30am and the family run at 6:30am?
- Early Mornings – Disney races are usually the only time I pop out of bed at obscene hours of the morning without a complaint, but 4 mornings of 3am wake up calls in a row was just brutal and made for an exhausting trip!
- Corrals – this one is getting it’s own section, too much to say…
I’ve been upset about the Dopey Challenge corral placement from the time the corral assignments came out (see The Angry Corral Rant). I tried to let it go and go into the races optimistic because I know in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge deal, but to be honest I am still not happy with the way the corrals were handled for the Dopey Challenge.
I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but I do want to share my frustrations. I submitted a 1:59 half marathon proof of time and a 4:30 marathon estimated finish time. According to TrackShack (the race management organization who puts on the runDisney events), I was in corral “I” for both the half and the full marathons because that’s where my 4:30 estimated finish for the full placed me. I understand that, but I have 2 major issues with it:
First, if corral “I” was where the 4:30 finishers should be then why was the 4:30 pace group in the corral ahead of me?? I spoke to someone at Runner Relations and while I understand they were not changing corrals at the expo I really felt that this made no sense, what if I wanted to run with the 4:30 pacer – I did put down a 4:30 finish after all. Well, Runner Relations best advice was, “I guess just run fast at the start and catch up to them.” Ummm….really??!? Pretty sure that defeats the entire purpose of pacing!
Second, just because “I” may have been the correct corral for me for the full marathon it placed me in the same corral as the 2:45 pace group for the half (having submitted a 1:59 half proof of time). As far as I’m concerned this is just laziness on the part of TrackShack & runDisney not wanting to have to put the Goofy & Dopey runners in different corrals for the half and full since we used the same bib for both. This unfortunately made for a miserable half marathon for me since I was trying to run a 10 minute per mile pace and the rest of my corral was running around 12:30-13 minute miles.
Would I do it again???
Good question. My initial though at the end of the weekend was that the Dopey Challenge was a good “one and done” type of thing. It was exhausting and to be honest the 5k, 10k and half marathon left much to be desired.
My thoughts now – I really do enjoy the Walt Disney World Full Marathon, I’ve had such a blast every time I’ve done it…and if I’m going to be down there to do the full why not just do all the races!?!
Haha, so needless to say I’m really not sure. Plus, to be honest, I would be VERY hesitant to do the Dopey Challenge unless I hear that they are making some changes to the way the corral placement is done. I just don’t think it’s fair that I submit a 1:59 half proof of time and get put in the corral with the 2:45 pace group. For $500 on a race weekend I am NOT ok with that.