Dopey 2023 – whew! I’m finally writing this summary in mid-February even though the challenge was at the beginning of January. This trip was fantastic and everything that I wanted it to be. After completing the 2020 Dopey Challenge, I made a goal to complete it again in 2023. This would be the 10th anniversary of Dopey and 30th anniversary of the marathon.
The 90s theme made this weekend even better than imagined – there were bright colors, fun music you hadn’t heard in ages, and characters from when I was a kid. With people in their 30s being the main demographic for runDisney, it was a hit with almost everyone! RunDisney is a positive environment anyway, but there was something about this weekend that made it even more memorable. I wish I could describe it more, but I’m not sure how to. I recently bought a video camera so I can record my journeys to try to share some of the fun.
What is the Dopey Challenge?
RunDisney currently has 4 event weekends throughout the year: Wine & Dine, Marathon Weekend, Princess Weekend, and Springtime Surprise. Marathon Weekend is held in January, and consists of 4 events:
- Thursday – 5K (mascot is usually Pluto)
- Friday – 10K (this year it was Chip and Dale!!)
- Saturday – Half Marathon (mascots are Donald and Daisy)
- Sunday – Marathon (mascots are Mickey and Minnie)
The Goofy Challenge is when participants complete both the Half and Marathon. Ten years ago, runDisney said, “what is more ridiculous than the Goofy Challenge?” They came up with the Dopey Challenge, which is when someone completes all four of these events. It is an incredibly popular challenge and has about 500 people who are “perfect” meaning they have done all 10 challenges. Just blows my mind!
How to Prepare for the Dopey Challenge
This is obviously a very physical challenge. Training not only makes the event more enjoyable, but the training actually makes it more fun! I learned so much about myself and running during this 6-month training period. I’m so proud of myself. I improved as a runner by getting faster and completing 2 extra marathons which allowed me to qualify for Marathon Maniacs! I trained with Coach Twiggs in Galloway’s Customized Training program, and I cannot recommend this program enough!
When I started training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon, I learned about blogs. My evening activity would be reading people’s stories about their running journeys. This was really great motivation for me, and it helped me get excited about the event and learned a lot. In that research, I stumbled upon running podcasts and started listening to Marathon Training Academy and Run4PRs.
Somewhere around the 2022 Princess Weekend, I stumbled upon a podcast called Rise and Run. This podcast is with a gang of people who love runDisney. It was so fun to listen to people talk about training for the same thing as me. They have a Facebook group and host bi-weekly Zoom calls. Through their conversations, I learned there was a whole world and community of people via Facebook groups, YouTube channels, and blogs. I really dove into this, and all of a sudden I found a tribe of people who had a similar interest. I love this community and being able to nerd about in this space.
Travel to Disney World
I planned a week for my trip because I wanted to have a chance to go to different parks and get pictures with characters. This was my first week-long vacation since Dopey 2020, so I was really, really excited for this trip. My teammate and I were joking around because his idea of a vacation is sitting on a beach; Dopey is my kind of vacation.
- Wednesday: Fly to MCO, check into POP Century, go to the expo, have dinner with friends at Ale & Compass, then have an early bedtime.
- Thursday: 5K and Animal Kingdom
- Friday: 10K and Hollywood Studios
- Saturday: Half Marathon, relaxing, and Rise and Run Meetup
- Sunday: Marathon and celebration in Epcot
- Monday: Magic Kingdom for fun pictures then dinner with Dopey at Storybook Dining in Wilderness Lodge
- Tuesday: Fly home
This was a wonderful trip, and even though I was tired on Sunday, I am looking forward to doing it again one day. I am not planning to do Dopey in 2024 because it was a lot to do with training, but I would definitely do it again one day. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the weekend, and these are the things I would change in the future:
- I need to incorporate strength training and more yoga into my training. I’ve been doing strength training for the last month, and I do think this is making a difference in my running.
- Ride Everest during the marathon. I was too nervous that I would get picked up by the balloon ladies if I did because it’s a long ride, and I didn’t know how long I would have to wait in line, even though they were letting runners go in the single-rider line.
- Don’t go to parks every day. The parks are really expensive, and with shortened days, I’m not sure I get my money’s worth. I went to a meetup on Saturday which kept me on my feet a lot longer than planned because I was standing at the event and then had to stand for an extra hour until the bus came to pick me up from Disney Springs. I think this is one of the reasons the marathon did not go as well as I wanted it to go.
- I did a good job packing and making a routine for each day. I felt prepared and had everything that I needed for the trip. Dopey requires a lot of things, but I remembered everything for my costumes, vitamins to prevent me from getting sick, and all of my recovery tools.
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