Ok, be warned, this feature is about to get a little crazy…or Goofy…or Dopey.
It is almost time for runDisney to throw open the registration period for the granddaddy of them all, the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. This means that Casual Runners need to make some tough decisions as to what event, or events, to enter. As we know, registration for runDisney events is an event until itself, so knowing what events you plan on running before registration opens really is essential.
In recent years, individual events have been overshadowed by the increasing number of challenges: The Coast to Coast, the Dumbo Double Dare, the Glass Slipper Challenge, and even the Parks to Paradise Challenge. In these, runners are challenged to complete multiple races, and, if successful, they will be rewarded with special SMOs and additional commemorative race shirts. This brings us to the order of the day, helping you choose between the Goofy and Dopey Challenges during the WDW Marathon weekend.
First, let’s catch you up on what these challenges are. The Goofy Challenge is in its 11th year, and requires runners to complete the Donald Duck Half Marathon and Mickey Mouse’s Walt Disney World Marathon in consecutive days. Yes, running 39.3 miles in a little over 24 hours really is a Goofy notion.
Because Casual Runners were not quite Goofy enough, 3 years ago runDisney rolled out the Dopey Challenge, which is the Goofy Challenge PLUS Pluto’s 5k family fun run AND Minnie Mouse’s 10k. That’s right folks: 4 races, 4 consecutive days, for a grand total of 48.6 miles.
Two years ago I ran my first marathon, which happened to be the same weekend as the first ever Dopey. In 2015, I planned on “Going Goofy,” but then allowed myself to be talked into “Doing Dopey” at the last minute because, well, it was only 2 more races, and after you are committing to 39.3 miles, what are another 9.3 miles on top of that? Full disclosure: I really enjoyed completing the Dopey Challenge, and am glad that I did it. But now that a lot of Casual Runners have been asking me my recommendation as to whether they should go Dopey or Goofy, I want to give you some things to think about when you are making your decision.
First Timers. First of all, while some runners have succeeded in doing so, I would strongly recommend against either challenge if this is going to be your first full marathon. The marathon is a really big deal, and you have no idea how your body will react to it. Do we need to be reminded that the first guy who ever attempted one died (I thought that I would throw that one out there for you history geeks, it may also be a hint of things to come on Casual Runner). So do yourself a favor, if it is your first time going the full 26.2, skip the challenges for this year, you will have your shot at them next year.
Value. Do the math, you are paying for these races. runDisney does not offer any bulk discounts, so you do not save any money by registering for the challenges. In fact, the Goofy costs $10 more than if you were to register for the Donald and the Mickey separately. It is interesting to note that, for 2015, the full and half marathon events cost the same ($175), so, when you think about it, the marathon is the only real bargain in the lot as each mile only costs half as much as the miles in the half marathon! Similarly, the Dopey costs $20 more than the total of all 4 races. So you do not save any money registering for the challenges, you actually end up paying a little bit more.
But what are you getting for this money? For me, I ended up running a 10k that I enjoyed but did not “need” to run, and a race that I really didn’t care about, the 5k. I am not knocking Pluto’s 5k as plenty of runners enjoy this event (as evidenced by the fact that it sells out), but if I am being honest, I had zero interest in running it other than I needed to in order to complete the Dopey Challenge. Then again, the feeling of accomplishment at conquering the Dopey Challenge is pretty awesome, and no one can take that feeling away from me.
So, if you are keen on running the 10k and 5k, go ahead and go for Dopey. But, if you are not 100% certain that you want to run the 10k and 5k events, you need to ask yourself: is it really worth the extra money to run a race or races that you did not really want to run?
All or nothing. If you want to run a challenge, you have to register for the challenge itself. As there are a set number of bibs set aside for each challenge, runDisney will not allow you to register for the individual events and claim the challenges later. They do not work that way.
On this point, if you hear anyone tell you that you can split the races up amongst multiple runners, you cannot. The challenges must be run and completed by a single runner, so there is no relay option on these, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.
Sleep. Most Casual Runners will be travelling to WDW Marathon weekend, which means this is more than just planning running races, it is about planning a runcation. The amount of time you will need to take off of work and the amount of time you get to visit the Walt Disney World theme parks will necessarily be impacted by how many races you run. Keep in mind, every race you enter means a morning with a super early wake-up call.
For me, the hardest part of Dopey was waking up 4 days in a row and getting moving. I remember sitting and waiting for Fantasmic to start on the second of 4 race days, and I was so exhausted that I nearly fell asleep…and this was at only 6:15pm! For the record, Jake and Jennifer were the smart ones who decided to go back to the resort earlier for some much-needed rest.
Are you a WDW First Timer? Along those same lines, if this trip will be your first visit to Walt Disney World or you are not a WDW veteran, doing the challenges may not be for you. I ran my first half marathon as a part of a family vacation, and it did not impact our touring plans all that much. However, doing a race challenge will dominate your trip planning.
When I ran Dopey I did not see a single rope drop, and only saw one nighttime spectacular – two things that I usually never miss in Disney World – during the entire trip. You also have to save your legs, which means not covering as much ground in the parks. If making these sacrifices will prevent you from getting the Disney vacation you want, a challenge may not be for you, and you may want to stick to running single events instead of multiple ones.
Training. Race events are a big deal. Half Marathons are a big deal. Full marathons are a big deal. Put them all together over 2-4 consecutive days and you have a really big deal. This, after all, is what these race challenges are all about, challenging yourself to run farther than you ever have before and maybe even thought possible. This requires a lot of training. When making the registration decision, do not only focus on what race or races you want to enter, but what race or races you will be able to properly train for, as the training is crucial to your enjoyment and ultimate success.
After thinking long and hard about this, I decided that, even though I loved the Dopey Challenge, I will pass on reprising that challenge in 2016. Instead, I am going to do what I originally intended for 2015: I’m Going Goofy! I will be cheering on all of you Casual Runners who decide to Do Dopey and those who run individual races during the weekend, but I will be doing so a little bit more well-rested and with a little more money in my pocket.
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