Dopey Challenge: Pros, Cons & Would I Do It Again…

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.

Dopey Challenge Logo


  • 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!Dopey Shirts
  • Medals – who doesn’t like medals (and lots of them!).  This is one place where runDisney definitely doesn’t skimp.Dopey Medal Photo
  • 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…Snow White and Dopey
  • 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!)Castle Lights
  • 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.

Half Corrals

The overflowing corral “I”.


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.

Did you run any races at WDW Marathon Weekend?

What were your pros and cons?

Dopey Challenge: Crazy or Sounds Like Fun?

46 thoughts on “Dopey Challenge: Pros, Cons & Would I Do It Again…

  1. GREAT list – I think my thoughts are almost identical! I love the race shirts for these races as well, super cute!

    I also have the same thoughts about whether I would do it again 🙂 And the corrals, oh boy. Our friend (with a 1:58 half) was put in K. It was horrible. Like you said, it just really didn’t flow correctly for us – which then put me in a cranky mood. I’m very interested to see how they change it for next year.

  2. GREAT list! I just kept nodding in agreement 🙂

    I actually have the same thoughts regarding if I would do it again. Funny how you get that runner amnesia! As for the corrals – oh boy. Our friend (with a 1:58 half) was put in K. I ended up so frustrated! The flow was off because our pace was so different. I’m very interested to see how they change it for next year.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt that this way! I am know someone else who only put a POT and no estimated finish so they were placed according to their half POT which worked out A LOT better for them.

      I’m interested to see if they make any changes next year too…unfortunately we probably won’t know about them until AFTER we have to register.

  3. I share most of your frustrations too Danielle. Personally I think that the cost of Dopey is too high. I would argue that the Goofy is equally challenging (the 5 & 10 aren’t a huge deal, other than two more early mornings) at a much lower cost and time commitment.

    • I agree, it’s really the back to back half and full that are the challenge. I’d be interested to know if the Goofy runners felt they had the same corral issues.

      • Ya I had some issues with the corrals for Goofy too, but they didn’t have a big impact on anything but my ego. I was in C, which is still a quick corral, but my friend that ran the Half only was in A despite my proof of time being almost 20 mins faster.
        I ran the half from H, and there is a big difference when you’re back further…WAAAAAAY more runners (and walkers). It just sucks for people who bust their butts for a proof of time that seems to mean nothing to runDisney

        • Agreed. That was my frustration, I worked hard for that 1:59 PR and I feel like I earned being in the corral with the other 2 hour half runners.

    • I left with the same feeling-the Goofy portion was the more challenging part of the weekend but if doesn’t require nearly as many vacation days or early wake ups.
      I, too, had the “well, if I’m going to go down I might as well do all the race” but if this was my only trip to Disney World, I’d be really bummed that I was basically too tired/exhausted to do anything fun.

        • then when I added up how much it cost I thought of all the other places I’d like to go… and like, retirement funds… mostly other places I’d like to go.

  4. I ran the full and there were some corral issues there as well. I did not do Dopey because this was my first marathon, but honestly once I got to Disney, I questioned why I didn’t do Dopey since I was already down there. The price is intimidating, but after seeing the cost for the Disenyland events, $500 doesn’t seem quite as bad as I first thought.

  5. I could have written this post! Completely agree with you. It’s sometimes hard for me to judge runDisney events as I would any other race, because I’m a Disney freak and my excitement to run through the parks tends to overshadow the areas that are lacking…but, yeah, the lack of characters, the cost (of course), and the ridiculousness that was the corral assignments (I guess I’ll always know to only submit just a POT?) really did take something away from the experience. However…am I crazy to say that I would do it all again? In a heartbeat? Haha.

  6. I barely noticed what was going on at the 5K because I was having so much fun with my mom. But am I the only one who thought the characters and entertainment at the 10K and half were great? At the half, I got 9 character pics and I didn’t even stop for them all. I can think of another 5 off the top of my head that I didn’t stop for. Plus, bands and DJs. I was thoroughly entertained. Corrals–definitely an issue, no doubt about that. I didn’t do the marathon–just 5K, 10K and half and agree that it’s the back-to-back half and full that’s the real challenge. The three I did were a breeze, except for the early morning wake-ups. But I know there’s nothing runDisney can do about that. They’ve got to be clear of the parks when they open. Sigh.

    • So I just thought of something…I think a lot of us are comparing the WDW 10k to the Disneyland 10k which really was AWESOME! Of course that’s because about 90% of the course was in the parks so I’m sure it was easier for them to have a lot of characters out.

      And for the half I think I just had bad timing, the lines were SOOOO long for characters I saw and I saw a few marathonfoto photographers at places there probably were characters but they were switching or something….oh well, at least the full made up for it for me!

  7. I really like your idea of splitting the 5K for Dopey runners and families. I heard numerous people say that the race was SO crowded that they would rethink doing another Disney race.
    I’m sorry to hear that the entertainment was lacking. They made great improvements with Tower of Terror last year, so I was hoping that was an overall trend.
    The medals are definitely a HUGE plus, but given the hefty price tag, I don’t think this is something I will ever do…well that and the 48.6 miles 🙂

    • I haven’t heard any feedback from families that ran the 5k, but I’d be interested to hear what their experience was like. And yes, hopefully runDisney will hear some of the feedback and make improvements for next year!

  8. I thought I was going to be super envious of all the multi- race runners for marathon weekend, since I only signed up for the 10k. But honestly, it was really nice not being completely wiped. 2 years ago I did the 5k/ half/ relay and last year I did the full and I barely got to enjoy myself either weekend. Sadly, I’m not cut out for it, but I’m more than happy to cheer yall on!

  9. Yeah, I don’t know why they didn’t have the castle lights on for the half. I was corn-fused. I also don’t know why all the smart people at runDisney had such a brain fart with the corral system. I’m sure they thought they were doing the right thing in their minds, but it did not pan out that way.
    I did have a lot of fun though, but I think it was a one and done. I’m glad that I now know I can run those distances back to back to back to back, but if I sign up for a race (and a pricey one at that), I want to be out there racing – not holding back like I did the first 3 races. We’ll see tho…

    • I think they thought this was a good plan for the corrals too but it just didn’t work out quite the way they had envisioned…hopefully they’ll hear some of the feedback and make some changes!

  10. The corrals got exponentially worse the farther back you went. My husband (Dopey) was inexplicably a corral behind me (Goofy) despite his faster POT. I started the half with him in his corral (M), and it was shoulder to shoulder walkers immediately.
    Our plan was to take it easy anyway, but I got snapped at by a dude because I said “Step OFF the course” in frustration to his girlfriend when she *stopped* right in front of me and turned around to take a photo. Almost ran her over. He said “It’s DISNEY”. Um, yeah, and the DISNEY Cast Member 20 feet behind you by the carousel has been saying “step off the course for photos” like a broken record since, probably, 6 this morning, goofball…
    I have no hate for walkers, I run/walk myself, but jeez… keep your head on a swivel, yo!

    • That was exactly my frustration with the corrals, the Dopey runners were clearly penalized because we were running more back to back races and I just don’t agree with that!

      And yes, course etiquette is definitely lacking at a lot of these races – maybe they need to add an expo seminar addressing it!

  11. I was in L and I was incredibly frustrated too (it was our first race, so we didn’t have a POT yet). I spent the entire course dodging people who had obviously put the fastest time they could without POT, but wanted to walk the entire time (I was run/walking, so I’m definitely not looking down on the walkers). Any characters we passed had huge lines, so we didn’t get any pictures with any of the characters (I too thought that there would be more!).

    That being said, overall, I do think I’ll do a Disney race again – I’ll just work on speed and do a few local races first to get a good POT before I register for another one. (Btw, after Marathon Weekend, Team Mickey had a bit of Dopey merchandise left – shirts, etc. at 35% off). Overall we did have fun just because we were finally accomplishing a goal and running in Disney, but I definitely would have reservations about running Disney without a fairly fast POT again. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for you having *had* submitted a POT and being put in a slower corral!

    • Yes, Disney is definitely one of those races where submitting a good proof of time will benefit you – apparently except when it came to the Dopey Challenge! Hopefully that’ll be corrected for next year!

      I hope your first race went well otherwise though!

  12. Yikes about the corrals! I suppose if you do this next time and they do not change the way they do things, you say you will do the full faster than you truly anticipate. Look at all that bling though! You totally earned it!

    • Yeah, I hate to have to not put down a “real” time because they should be able to corral us correctly with an accurately submitted time, but that clearly didn’t happen : (

  13. Pingback: Dopey Challenge: Meeting Some Friends Along the Way! | Live, Run, Grow

  14. I feel the same. i was in corral K with ppl who run over a 3 hour half. it was like walking in a parade the first two miles, we had nowhere to go, and I ran most of the half on the grass. I was SO frustrated by the end of it I was dreading the full. I did love the medals!

    • Haha, yes, it was like walking in a parade! I did a lot of grass running too, but I was nervous about twisting an ankle or something! It was really frustrating and I was dreading the full too, fortunately the full was a lot better for me, I hope yours was too!

  15. Some friends of mine ran the races but I have only seen their FaceBook posts. They all look happy.
    The medals are amazing. I made a frame for the Coast to Coast series races last year and the medals and ribbons were very well done.
    For many races the ribbons are very plain. I also like that they could be detached.
    If you are looking for a frame I could do a 24×36″ frame w/ six medals for $169 + shipping.

  16. I think if I did marathon weekend again it would be for Goofy only. The 5k and 10k weren’t fun enough to bring me back for Dopey but I’m really trying to diversify my races so I may not come back to Disney for a while. Great list! I have a feeling our post will be very similar. 🙂

  17. Pingback: 2015 runDisney Marathon Weekend – Registration’s Coming! | Live, Run, Grow

  18. Just found your great blog! I would also be frustrated if I wanted to run with the pacer and they were in the corral ahead. That is ridiculous on their part. I could understand if they said that there were so many runners that they had to make a cut off and put some 4:30 runners in the next corral but I doubt that was the case. Also you hit the nail on the head when you said track shack must be lazy and not want to give runners separate corrals. I am doing Goofy this weekend and have earned a higher corral for the half but alas have been placed in a further one!

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