Race Recap: Dopey Challenge 2022

This was my second Dopey Challenge ever. The first time I did it, I figured it would be my last one. Now that I’ve done my second one, I want to keep doing this challenge! My body absolutely loves the training and I feel so great in the weeks after the race. Training has gone mostly well and I was able to get in the important warm up races in. I don’t think I will want to do this every year, because it is fairly expensive and I just see the same theme parks over and over again. There are so many races and so many places to explore. But, I think every once in awhile it would be okay. It is getting incredibly difficult registering for it anyway, so perhaps it is best to save it for milestone years.

Merchandise expo: The expo was SO SAD. I think we arrived a few hours before they closed on the first day. The expo floor was pretty much gutted…no merch or anything left. In an act of desperation I bought a 3X Dopey hoodie but ended up returning it before leaving Orlando. We were able to score some nice Run Disney jackets, but nothing branded for marathon weekend. I checked Facebook marketplace a ton but no jackets ever came back up on sale. I highly recommend pre-ordering your merchandise when registering for Dopey. I thought I could save some money up front and maybe shop around the expo, but nothing was left. LITERALLY nothing was left. Such a bummer and a huge disappointment.

Staying off-property: we saved a ton of money staying off-property. There is a little bit of convenience with staying on property. No rental car is needed, since you have the shuttle. However, the shuttle for marathon weekend runs during a very small window (I think 2-3:30am). If you drive in on your own, you can sleep in a bit, each some breakfast, and then head to the start. We honestly saved enough money to pay for at least one Dopey registration.

Driving to the start: super easy with a rental car! There is plenty of free parking and it is easy access to the start line. I highly recommend it if you are staying off-property.

5K: The quickest and most fun race of Dopey in my opinion. This is really where you see some great group costumes. My favorite one was the monorail. They even had the announcements recorded and playing in the background.

10K: This was definitely the hottest race of the weekend. It was hot last time too. My costume held up but the shirt ended up in the trash at the finish line because IT WAS SO HOT. It was the first time I walked around with just a sports bra.

Half Marathon: So for my last Dopey weekend, the half marathon was cancelled and I had to do 13.1 miles on the treadmill. This was my first in-person half for Dopey and wow, I was feeling super haggard. It felt like I was on an extended sinister teacups ride with evil clown music playing in the background. This outfit was also the most comfortable, so it was definitely a win! I felt great during the race but was very tired afterwards. I only went on a few rides and then went back to the hotel.

Marathon: My favorite race of the weekend! Finally, the culmination of a season of training all coming to an end.

The marathon was tough for different reasons. Of course it was physically tough, because all marathons are hard. The weather was hot hot hot by runners standards. There were pace requirements, meaning they reserved the right to end someone’s race early if they didn’t meet speed or distance requirements. I saw lots of buses loaded with dejected runners. I knew I was one fueling/hydrating/pace misstep away from joining them.

The heat affected us all, but the back of the pack was hit really hard. After the 16 mile mark, runners were going down. Like, literally falling or collapsing mid-run. Dehydration, cramping, low blood pressure, heatstroke, etc. I’ve never seen so many on-course medics deploy so quickly and consistently during a race. Wheelchairs and gurneys flying out of nowhere. EMTs on bikes. The siren of an ambulance every once in awhile. Disney is one of the best races for on-course support, so I had no doubt everyone was in good hands.

I hit plenty of personal worsts this training season, so I felt prepared for bad conditions. Long run too hot? Fueling strategy off? Wardrobe malfunction? Over course limit? Having worked out those issues before race day really equipped me with the mental strength to finish.

I am happy to report that I never once felt like pulling out of the race. That was something I struggled with in Dallas. Instead of dreading the halfway point or the 20 mile point, I was actually sad that my marathon weekend was almost over. That was a new feeling. It was a feeling of nostalgia for something that hadn’t yet ended.

I hope that everyone who had a medical setback today heals up well ❤️‍🩹 It was a humble reminder to me that not everyone makes it to the finish line

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