I wasn’t supposed to be here.
It’s well known that I will step up to just about any challenge, accomplish it and then I’m off to the next thing. So why am I dumb enough to do the Dopey Challenge twice? It really came down to three things.
- It was the 5th anniversary of Dopey and the 25th of the Marathon. Guaranteed that the medals were going to be top notch.
- I still felt there was a period to put at the end of the sentence to this challenge. I did it two years ago but came out really ill that cost me a trip to California and nearly put me in the hospital. You can read about that adventure HERE
- My friends. I’ll do just about anything for them….as you’ll see at Princess weekend.
The expo was set up differently this year as it was in transition. They were going for the experience of the DL Expos but scaled up to WDW size. Results were mixed at best this time. People reported waiting hours in the rain and cold to get into merch. My tips still are the same: Get there early on day one. merch, bibs, expo. If you hit the expo first, you are wasting some time. Also, go with friends if possible. They make it so much more fun!
The boys of the running team decided that they were going to dress up as 80’s and early 90’s WWF wrestlers. I got roped in later and although I did watch some wrestling and knew everyone as a kid, I didn’t live and die by it, but……I did love GI Joe. So I went as a Sgt Slaughter. It was fun because we all worked on our costumes separately and would tease them to each other, but no one had seen them all until we were together that day. It was a sight once everyone was assembled.
It was so cold that day that it altered several of our costumes. I was in and out of sleeves, Hulk added a layer and Luke… well he still ran in a jacket and shorty shorts.
We had a great time out on the course and became an impromptu photo stop while people waited in lines for the real characters.
Once we made it to the ball we had to stop and fight it out to see who was going to cross the finish line first….
After the brawl, it was a quick distance to the finish line.
I like how it looks like Im getting clocked in the face as we cross the finish. Fitting.
So no costumes today. Just a plain old run. There is typically one good rare character stop at the 10k. Donnie and I decided we would start out up front and get some characters. We see Darkwing and Launchpad which was the rare one from last year. My hopes were dashed that we were going to get anything good for this race. As we are closing in on our second mile, I notice a running cadence of someone and know immediately that it’s my good friend Jeff. We pull alongside of him and we run the rest of the race together. This was such a treat because we haven’t run a race together in about 8 months. Donnie played hopscotch the rest of the race around Jeff and I as he stopped for characters.
I can usually get us some good pockets for pictures and today was no exception. We had a great time catching up and enjoying each others company on the course. He typically gets stopped several times for pics, but not today. I think it was because it was so cold and he was harder to recognize all bundled up.
Jeff is a machine. About the only time I can get him to stop is when the WDW Radio Running cheer team is out. The only other times are for bathroom breaks and that’s mine and Barbs chance to get a character while he catches up.
After seeing the team, it’s a quick stroll around the boardwalk which is my favorite section. I love the scenery. I love the people out cheering. I even love the sound the runners make as they run across the boardwalk. It’s basically perfect.
Before you know, it’s the finish line!
I love that guy.
I find my family after the race and see that Ben is over the very cold temps and is sleeping in his mommy made cocoon.
He would eventually wake up and have a blast at the kids races.
The Disney Half Marathon and Marathon!
Wine & Dine Expo and 5K Recap
Is Hunger Games a Disney Property?
It’s been over six months since the last East Coast race. (Star Wars Darkside Weekend) The merch section had gotten much better at that point. The experience was flawless at the most recent race out on the West Coast. (Disneyland Half Marathon). I was very surprised to see how it all fell apart and descended back into chaos. Is it the type of crowd? line management? Scalpers? It’s likely all three.
They would only let a set amount in for Star Wars at a time. This made the line longer outside, but made the shopping experience much quicker and enjoyable. This time they went back to a Hunger Games style free for all. It was packed! I typically only get the challenge magnet and maybe a pin….Friends were telling me afterwards of broken glass on the floor and pushing and shoving. Sometimes I think it might be worth it to pay the scalpers to do battle on my behalf.
I’ve learned this after a year of races: Wine and Dine and Princess Expos are the worst. Go early or later and prepare for madness.
An extra tip for you: There is a smaller, less crowded store at the end of the bib pickup. It doesn’t have everything, but sometimes it has stuff the big one does not….and its not nearly as busy.
Thankfully the Galloways were there on the other end. We had talked about running a race together out in California and were talking through a strategy on how to coordinate.
I got a chance to see the announcers at the Expo. I’ve been running all year and never run into them outside race, so it was fun to grab a quick photo with them.
The rest of the expo was great. I wish they would just get this merch deal figured out and it would be a fantastic expo.
Mickey’s Holiday 5K Recap
This year Disney expanded the race series to three races and in doing so re-branded the 5K race from Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k to Mickey’s Holiday 5K. A couple of my character hunting friends were intrigued with what possible changes could be made to character meets as well.
It turns out not much really changed. The course was identical and many of the characters were the same. It was still a great race and the only one that starts and ends at Animal Kingdom.
I was feeling good about the race and starting to get some of my speed back from doing some actual training before a race. I decided I would got hot for the first mile and see what kind of mile I could get in. I was in the top 10 with a mile of 6:49 before giving it up for the characters.
Keeping with tradition of patriotic for the Disney 5Ks
I stopped for almost all of the characters. It’s starting to get to the point where I won’t wait in a line for ones that I already have unless I’m running with someone.
I turned back on a little speed after a few character stops that were stacked on top of each other. During the the last half mile I pull up along side Carissa who had left the announcing stage to run the race that day. We were running a pretty similar pace so we ended up finishing together. That was an unexpected fun moment to end the last 5K on the East Coast with!
This may be my favorite 5k on the East Coast. I’ve done well the past two years here and every other 5k is the same course out at Epcot. The weather is great and the scenery is nice. It’s one to add to your list if you want to do a fun DisneyWorld 5K.
Star Wars Expo and 5K Recap
It seemed like the steps backwards that were taken at the Princess expo was fixed this go around. They again opened early. I got there a half hour before opening to check merchandise and they already had a line outside of the store. (It did go quick though!) They had a fun meet and greet with BB-8 as well. Lines flowed better and the expo seemed better organized this time.
I had a great time with my running team as we met up and had lunch together that day. It’s always great to see the gang!
I really wasn’t sure what to expect this series. Were they going to go full Star Wars weekends and have a ton of characters out? What about the fab five who have been said that they wont appear in SW outfits anymore?
They had an awesome assortment of characters out with really nice backdrops before the race. By far the best I’ve seen at the races yet. They had Boba Fett with Han in carbonite, Jabba, Vader, Maul, new stormtroopers and Phasma!
We got some pictures and met up with the team. Lou was in the house for the 5k so we did our traditional race selfie.
I was really excited about the group of characters! What else was going to be out there if this is at the front????? Well the answer was not much at all.
5Ks usually have between 5-6 character stops in them. Most are typical finds but there is usually one or two rare or off the wall, random character that is an awesome stop. This one had Ezra and Sabine from the new Rebels cartoon. They were available secretly at an unpublicized eating event at Star Wars weekend. I think they were #510 and #511 different characters that we have met.
The only other stops were R2-D2 and Chewbacca, both of which were on either end of the park and not in the park itself. I didn’t stop at either since I had them already, but it did get me thinking on what Disney’s strategy seemed to be shaping us as this time. They seem to be more intentional now on not cross-pollinating their brands and this was just another clue to confirm that.
On the plus side, Disney started including photopasses for free for certain levels of passholders. This was a great perk, one that would have cost me $100 per series before.
Running around the ball…
The worm thing from the new movie…run!!!
The Princess 5K Recap
You get a selfie…You get a selfie…everyone gets a selfie!
Well here we were back already. It seemed like we were just here for the WDW marathon weekend. I was also coming off a recent setback that forced me to miss the Star Wars races in California. I knew this race would be different, and boy was I right.
The difference was almost immediate from the other Disney races I’ve done. I usually go to the expo early, pick up a few items and hang out with friends before getting some work in that day. There was no quick getting in and out on this one.
We hit the expo itself first. We got there 15 minutes before opening and it was already a mad house in the merch area. I was just looking for a couple of magnets and a cup so it seemed like a lot to battle for a few small items. We also ran in Jeff again. He talked to Beth about some of the benefits kids get from running and exercise. We really do enjoy the little bit of time we get to connect together at each race.
This was the first time we met characters at the expo. Cinderella’s Royal Coachmen
We got in line for bib pickup after getting our things from merch. The line went all the way out past the front entrance to the ESPN center. Luckily it moved quickly and it didn’t take too terribly long to get in the building. From there we had to get back in another long line to exchange shirts. All in all, it took about 2 1/2 hrs to get everything done. Marathon weekend took us about 1 1/2 hrs.
I did something that I didn’t think that I would likely do again, and that was dress up for a race. My daughter Beth was running with me and this was her first Disney 5K. She was excited and wanted to dress up as Frozen so Sharon got her a dress and made me a costume.
There was good weather (a first during my Disney race experience) so they had some characters out before the race. Ariel was the theme this year so she was out and the medals were all her colors for the weekend.
We were able to finally track down our running team (They actually found us) and we got a quick picture together. It was then off to the corral to get ready for the race. Beth was slightly nervous because she thought we were going to get run over by all the people behind us. She did great though and she stopped for all the characters except for a couple that we already had.
They themed the characters out in beach type attire to match the under the sea vibe I think. The mile run to get inside Epcot went well and wasn’t too crowded. After our second character stop, people were starting to catch up to us and the lines started to get longer and longer.
I realized that we were in for some frustrations once we hit the Donald/Daisy line. The line was already pretty long and they rotated just as we were coming up. I think the most I’ve waited in a line is about 8 minutes. (That’s a long time in a race for one stop) This one took us 16 minutes. In that 16 minutes, I stopped counting the number of selfies the girl in front of me was taking at 18. Snapchat, twitter, text, facebook. If I’m sleeping in my bed and I get a text at 6am of you dressed as Tinkerbell making a duck face, I’m probably not going to appreciate it. Perhaps one of the people she was sending pics to did.
Its during this torturous time in line that I realize that everyone is taking selfies! By the 7 dwarfs bush, in front of the light pole, in line, by the bathroom…. everywhere.
I was not prepared for this.
We skipped a few characters at this point that we already had. Heaven forbid that I get back in line with that Tinkerbell! The sun broke the horizon as we were finishing up the race. We stopped to see some really neat coral characters.
My costume is literally falling apart in this picture
We finished out the turn at the ball and crossed the finish line together for the first of hopefully many times. Beth had a great time and we made it back to the hotel before breakfast was over.
Up next…..The Enchanted 10K
Walt Disney World 5K
A cold, wet start to the weekend.
This has been on my radar for four years now. In the mean time, the race grew to what is now the Dopey Challenge. It’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon all back to back. I’ve been saving money for two years and training for over a year. It was time to kick off this challenge of ultimately doing every Disney race in the US in a year.
The 5K was not the nice, lovely race weather that you would hope to start out on. It was cold, it was misting and the wind kept picking up. I got there way too early (again) but some of the WDW Radio Team were already starting to show up too. We hung out a while before heading off to the corals to start the race.
The course itself stayed in Epcot for the most part. You start in the parking lot, go around the back and enter in to park near China. I made a commitment to myself that I would only stop for characters that I didn’t have or needed a better picture with. I needed any buffer I could get and it would take me forever if I stopped at every picture spot. There weren’t a bunch of characters out for the first race. They did have Chip and Dale and the Incredibles around the first mile.
I’ll say it was neat to turn the corner into Epcot proper and see it lit up by the giant fire torches and cast members cheering you on. My first character stop was a good one…Mittens! (from Bolt) She hasn’t been out in forever and I was super excited to see her. It was funny because there wasn’t really a line and no one knew who she was. The person in front of me asked the cast member who it was and they didn’t know either.
“It’s Mittens!” I said.
“I don’t know…” as the cast member shrugged.
“No, it’s Mittens, from Bolt!” I said again.
“Hmmm… it’s some cat from one of the movies.” They responded.
I stepped up, got my picture, and moved on.
She was the only uniquely new one that I needed for that race. I stopped to get pictures with Marie because she’s one of Beth’s favorite characters. I also stopped for a picture with Lilo because no one was stopping to get a picture with her. I heard that Phineas and Ferb were on the course, but they were not out yet, when I passed through the area.
I finished off the race with a decent time, even though I wasn’t pushing myself. I was also able to get a picture with Pluto since it was his race that day. Besides the weather, it was a great start to weekend!
After the race I had breakfast with Bart Yasso and the Runners World crew. They were fun to hang out with and I was able meet the team that works on the magazine.
Check back tomorrow for the 1oK Recap!
Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K
The morning I threw all sense out the window……
I’ve done a lot of races before, but this was my first Disney race. This is the race weekend that should have never been, but I wanted to learn as much I could before the big kickoff in January. I definitely learned a lot!
Half past too early!
First Lesson: Timing. We are usually pretty intentional on getting to places early. I’ve shown up to a race 1 1/2 hrs. early and by the time I parked, checked in and made it to the corral to start, I only had minutes to spare. Well this time we left early since we had no idea what parking would be like….and we were the first ones there.
Being first, we decided to wait in the car for awhile and made our first mistake: Get out of the car and go on in. There are characters before the race!
I live in two different subcultures of Disney and they don’t intersect like you think that they would. There is a reasonably large group of character hunters out there. These people enjoy finding all the rare characters and even the fab 5 in their different costumes. They can tell when who is where and even where the secret training spots are. It’s also widely known in that circle that there are super rare characters at some of the races. You would think that those characters would motive that group to get out and do some races, but it doesn’t.
The second group is obviously the runners. They enjoy the fun atmosphere and social aspect of the races. You have people that dress up and have fun with their friends and runners that are trying to make good time. People in this group enjoy seeing the character stops but will rarely stop at most of them for a few reasons. #1 They just aren’t into meeting characters but like to see them. #2 lines form on the popular ones and many people just don’t want to wait in a bunch of lines during a race. Simply put, they aren’t there just for the characters.
For all of the above reasons, it’s very hard to find a place with good info on characters at the races.
The line gets super long to meet the characters before a race.
We got in line to meet Mickey and Minnie and had fun seeing all the people dressed up for the event. I also met up with my new running team the WDW Radio Running Team. They had my shirt waiting for me and it was great to make some new friends.
I soon headed out to my corral where I was about to make a mistake that lead to my next learning point.
Second Lesson: Stick to your plan and don’t try to beat everyone….not even the little kids. Have you figured out that I’m a bit competitive? Even when I don’t mean to be sometimes! I made my way up in Corral A so I could talk to Sharon and the kids before the race. Then I saw a trigger that flipped a switch in my mind: it was the starting line ribbon. I look around and my mind is telling me, “You are going to try to win this race.” Now, rational me says that’s stupid and I’m here to have fun and meet characters, not destroy folks at a 5K.
Mile 1. (with the wheelchairs getting a 30 sec. head start)
The wheelchair group goes off before us and my mind is still messing with me. “You can try to win this and get all the characters. There won’t be any lines.” Again rational me thinks that is totally dumb, but the fireworks go off and I’m running a sub 7 minute mile. I cross mile 1 and I run over to my first character stop. Flick! The cast members were awesome at the stops. They treated the first group almost like a relay, where you passed the baton from one runner to another. It was just my phone instead of a baton.
It definitely was fun to run in the park before it was opened to the public. The good thing about being out in front is that I think it gave me a far difference experience. The whole run it really felt like it was me and about 10 other people out there running. At one point the course turned in on itself and you ran close to the people coming in to the park. It was packed! It was far different scene. Long lines just to get your picture with the Tree of Life in the background.
I didn’t get any first find characters on this race, but I did get a chance to meet a bunch of characters in their race exclusive costumes….and I’m not sure why I was peace signing the whole time.
Yes, it bugged me when people passed me while taking pictures.
I ended up finishing in the top 20 overall. It was a great race, and gave me something to look forward to that night.