Thursday morning was the first morning with a 2 am wake-up call for the 2023 Dopey Challenge where runners complete the WDW 5K. It’s definitely early, but it’s not a stressful morning because you “only” have to complete 5K, which is a normal weekly run for me. My goal was to be on one of the first buses out since I get worried about logistics. When I stayed with friends in the past, we would leave later, but I was worried about doing it on my own. The night before, I laid out everything that I would need.
One of my main concerns over Dopey was to avoid getting sick. This race is in January, there are big temperature changes, we are around a lot of people, and you expect your body to function with early mornings and high physical exertion, which all weakens your immune system. My plan was to take a sports Nuun with caffeine in the morning, a vitamin/recovery Nuun when I got back after the race, and then 2 Emergen-C before dinner. I think this plan helped me a lot, and I avoided getting sick during and after the race! Many people posted that they did get sick afterward, which is expected when you wear your body down so much.
Anyway, I had my Nuun while I got dressed in my Pluto-inspired costume. This was my first time doing a “costume” for each of the races. I didn’t do my first costume until the Princess 2022 Half Marathon when I dressed like Minnie Mouse. I love it when people wear costumes, but I don’t do them because 1. it can be expensive and 2. I’m not very clever.
This year, I decided to dress like the mascot for each of the races, with a few exceptions. For the 5K, I dressed in Pluto’s colors, which was hard because I don’t own a lot of clothes that are yellow. Many people wear skirts and hats from Sparkle Athletics, so I decided to get a yellow pair at the expo to match with a pair of pants and (luckily) we got a yellow race shirt with Pluto. To round it out, I made a green collar out of a ribbon I had at home, and voila, I was Pluto!
The 5K course for runDisney events is almost always the same, and I think the best course. You spend almost the whole time in Epcot, so there are just a lot of fun things to see. It is crowded, but the vibe is very calm and fun. This day is also when people where the craziest costumes because you can walk the entire race.
Essentially, you spend the first mile backstage and go into Epcot around Mexico then travel around the world. The lake has equipment from the evening show lit up with the marathon weekend logo, and it’s just really cool. They also play music from the speakers, so this year we listened to great 90s music and got to jam out!
Getting to the race early was a good idea, and something I would do again in the future. There are characters set up before the race where you can take pictures. In the past, I never tried to do this because the lines are so, so long. When I arrived, they were not long, and I was able to get a picture in 15-20 minutes. My goal was to get a picture with Dopey after each race, but he wasn’t around on 5K day (nor would he be there on any day!!). While I can’t remember exactly, I think Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy were there. Daisy had the shortest line, so I got my first character picture of the weekend with her. Definitely worth the early morning!
My friend Tina and I spent the 5K together, which was a lot of fun. This was her first runDisney experience, so I was excited to see her experience this fun time! We had to wait for a while for our corral to start, but eventually, it was our turn for the fireworks to take us out! The announcers are the same each year and provide a lot of entertainment. We actually didn’t have to wait too long for our corral (D) to go off, which was nice. I think we waited 40 minutes or so.
There were a ton of characters on the 5K course and all of them had a 90s theme!
The lines for the characters were so long! I regret not stopping for Tarzan. He was the first stop and the line wasn’t really that bad, but I was in too much of a rush. There is no reason to be because there isn’t a time limit, but at the same time, it is a race. The other lines could have been 30-40 minutes! And even though there isn’t a time limit, I heard they almost swept people because people were waiting in character lines for so long.
In addition to the awesome characters, they were also playing 90s music. The overall environment was just so exciting. We walked most of it and did some running here and there. There’s no reason to rush this race since it is the first of the 48.6-mile challenge and just a fun course; it’s important to savor each and every moment.
The finish line finally appeared in the distance and is always an exciting thing to see. This was the first finish line of the weekend, and it was just the beginning! I felt great and had a wonderful time doing the 5K with my friend.
Overall the course was busy, but everyone was friendly. There were a lot of Dopeys out on the course, so I think everyone was feeling the fun vibes.
After the race was over, I was able to get a picture of me at the “photo booth” with my first medal. I really liked this Pluto medal – Pluto moves across the bottom, and it is just fun! It’s bright yellow and just smiles when you see it!
Post Race – Animal Kingdom
After the race was over, I went back to Pop Century to shower and go to Animal Kingdom. There is a good amount of walking at Animal Kingdom, but it’s also a park where you can see a lot and not spend all day. I was able to go on the safari, watch the festival of the Lion King, and even as brave enough to ride Everest.
One of the main reasons I like to go to parks after the race (besides get walking in) is to get pictures with characters. I was really sad that I didn’t see many characters at Animal Kingdom. I did, however, get to visit with Donald and Daisy. Donald was very impressed with my Pluto medal.
I think I got a Genie Pass this day because I really wanted to ride Flights of Passage, which is my favorite ride at Animal Kingdom. While I was waiting for my Fast Pass, I couldn’t believe what I saw! During this training cycle, I learned about YouTube videos of people who run and record Disney races. The first channel I came across was RezRuns, and I binged on all of his videos. Lo-and-behold, there was RezRuns standing right in front of me!
He was absolutely the nicest person, even when I asked to get a picture with him. Not only did they stay and chat for a while, he and his friend even asked if I wanted to go on the ride with them! Of course, I said yes, and had a fun time talking to them about the race weekend and how they were feeling about Dopey. It was quite a highlight of the weekend – like meeting a celebrity!
To cap off the afternoon, I was able to get a picture with the Tree of Life and watch It’s Fun to be a Bug. Then it was time to take the bus back to Pop Century and get ready for bed to do the 10K the next morning. While I was done with 25% of the wake-ups, the miles were just starting…