Dopey Challenge: Tips and Tricks

So now that all my Dopey Challenge write-ups are posted, I figured I would add a final wrap-up, tips and tricks, overall feelings post to the mix. In case you missed them, I have links included for the 5k, 10k, Pop Century Half, and the Marathon posts. They spell out the pretty awesome story of my own personal 2017 Dopey Challenge, and I think it’s a pretty great read.


So after Marathon Weekend was officially over, we spent two more days in Disney, and I greatly enjoyed them. Animal Kingdom on Monday and Magic Kingdom on Tuesday. It was a little chilly but was starting to warm up by the time we left – curse you Orlando! We sadly hopped back onto the Magical Express and headed for the airport, easily got to our plane, and just waited around. Pennsylvania was quite cold by the time we got back.

Tips and Tricks

So do you want to do the Dopey Challenge? If you’re a runner of any sort, I totally think it’s doable. I’m usually a back of the pack kind of runner, but I never felt alone in these races. So, in a sort of order, here are some of my tips and tricks when it comes to the Dopey Challenge.

  • Start saving NOW. No matter when you plan on racing, start socking away money as soon as you can. I’ve known since freshman year of college I wanted to run this race, so I had money pulled from every paycheck into a separate savings account. It’s a fair chunk of change just for race fees alone, so be sure to start saving your pennies
  • Stay on-property. I know this one can be kind of divisive in the running community, but I say go for it. For me, this was also my first Disney vacation in almost ten years, so we wanted to take advantage of everything that offers. The shuttles from Pop Century were great for races, as well as for parks. I seriously recommend that resort just because of low cost but good proximity. In addition, book resorts as EARLY as you can, as they tend to fill up quickly.
  • Train to your style. My training for this race was thrown off due to moving the date of my fall marathon, so I didn’t do as many mini-Dopeys as I wanted to. However, I never really felt unprepared and knew I would finish within all the time limits.
  • Have another marathon under your belt. I don’t know how I would’ve fared without having two other marathons completed before Disney. It was a mental boost in ESPN because I knew I had covered all the distance in races prior. It is a magical experience, but I’d advise doing the marathon alone as your first if that’s your goal.

  • Take naps. This was my saving grace throughout Marathon Weekend. After every race, I would go back to the hotel room, take a shower, and take a quick nap (usually no more than an hour) while wearing compression socks. Then we would go out and enjoy the parks or Disney Springs, and we usually stayed out fairly late (by race weekend standards). After the half, I didn’t take a nap because I had gotten to sleep in, and that was a fail on my part. I got really grumpy and tired and hangry by the time we had dinner reservations at around 5:30. So the shower and nap routine definitely served me well.
  • Keep moving. This is another one that people tend to disagree with, but I feel it helped my recovery. I still utilized race weekend as a Disney vacation, so we did plenty of park-going and sightseeing. According to my FitBit, my daily mile totals for Thursday-Sunday were 12.14, 12.11, 17.8, and 34.23. Those are definitely more than were required for races on those days, and I really think it helped keep my legs from cramping or getting too tired. I really had no pain on Monday after the whole weekend, just a little slowness in general.
  • Bring a buddy. But not the whole fam-damily. Just my mom and I went on this trip, and it was such a blast. We’re both adults, we could split up and do our own thing (even though we rarely did), and we could take care of ourselves. Plus my mom is my best friend, and who doesn’t want to vacation in Disney World with their best friend for a week? She was always there to keep me calm and relaxed, and it was a blast. God bless the people who bring all their kids and still run the races, because I can’t imagine that level of insanity and chaos in the mornings.
  • Make dining reservations. We ate at one of the restaurants in Italy in World Showcase on Saturday night, and people strolled in around 5:3o without dining reservations. Sorry, but it’s an Italian place the night before a marathon – can you say carbo-loading? They got turned away and had to eat elsewhere. Seriously, we had the dining plan (which was great for us) so we ate a table meal every day, tried new things, but always knew where we’d eat dinner. For someone who’s an obsessive planner, that was nice to know months in advance.

  • Wear a costume. Seriously, it’s Disney. You’ve got to have fun. I know I couldn’t have gotten away with my costumes at almost any other race, so I had to take advantage of it while I could. There were some absolutely amazing costumes, some adorable ones, and some that really took my breath away. Like the guy painted blue, running shirtless in the marathon, who was dressed as the Genie. You go, dude.
  • Get excited. Seriously. It’s such an awesome atmosphere and a great race environment and you get to see so many cool things over the four days of Dopey, that you just have to soak it all in. I thought I was going to only do it once, so I was excited as hell. But now I think I may do it again on a big anniversary year… who knows??

So, there it is. My final Dopey post. If you have any more questions or your own advice, don’t be afraid to leave a comment!

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