The Dopey challenge is dopey. 48.6 miles in 4 days is no joke. Here are 12 tips to help you survive:
- Get the miles in: Training through the winter sucks, especially during the holidays, but it is important to get the miles in if you want to be standing after the marathon. Make sure you include back-to-back runs in your training. You can find training plans from US Olympian, Jeff Galloway here.
- Be Prepared for all types of weather: Pack for EVERYTHING… cold weather, rainy weather, hot weather, etc. When I was there, it was 80 degrees and sunny on Thursday and Friday, raining on Saturday, and in the 30s on Sunday morning. Also, make sure to plan alternatives for each of your running costumes. I planned to wear a tank top and skirt for my Minnie Mouse costume for the full marathon, but it was 38 degrees at the start of the race, so I ended up wearing tights and a long sleeve shirt instead.
- Pack at least two pairs of shoes: This way, you’ll have back-up in case it rains during one of the races and your shoes get wet.
- Don’t forget your recovery shoes: I love my Oofos!* Your feet will thank you 🙂
- Stretch and foam roll: I packed my foam roller in my suitcase. Make sure you stretch and foam roll after every race to stay injury free!
- Stay hydrated: I packed an empty 32 oz. water bottle in my suitcase and carried it with me everywhere. There were plenty of places to fill it up. You can take a water bottle into the parks, as long as it’s not glass.
- Nutrition is important: Limit your alcohol consumption and save the Mickey ice cream bar until after the marathon 🙂 A lot of the quick service restaurants offer runner-friendly meals (i.e. pasta) and a Runner Box for breakfast, which contains a plain bagel, peanut butter, granola bar, banana, and a bottle of water.
- Stay on Disney property: Disney offers free race weekend transportation from the resorts to the races and the Expo. The deluxe resorts can get expensive, but the value resorts (All-Star, Art of Animation, Pop Century) are really reasonably priced!
- Visit the Expo on the first day it is open: Merchandise tends to run out and it is typically less crowded on the first day. Also, make sure you print out and bring your signed waiver to the Expo with you. They have computers and printers there if you forget, but you may have to wait in line,
- Go to the parks, but be smart about it: I can’t imagine going to Disney World and not visiting the parks. We made sure to go to the parks earlier in our trip. We went to Epcot after the 5k and Universal Studios after the 10k. but stayed off our feet after the half marathon on Saturday.
- Watch your time: All runners are required to maintain a 16-minute-per-mile pace for the 10k, half marathon, and marathon. If you are unable to maintain the pace, you will be picked up and transported to the finish line. runDisney recommends a training pace of 15-minutes-per-mile. You also need to be careful about how many times you stop for pictures!
- Leave earlier on marathon days: The walk from the staging area to the half marathon and marathon corrals is pretty far. Make sure you give yourself enough time!
- Organize your race gear: I like to lay everything out that I’ll need for a race the night before. That way, I’m not rummaging around at 3AM looking for something in the dark.
- Go to bed early: runDisney races start at 5:30AM, except for the 5k (it starts at 6AM). I set my alarm for 3AM each day so that I had time to get dressed in my costume, eat breakfast, and take the bus over to Epcot. We were in bed by 8PM every night.
I had so much fun at the 2017 Dopey Challenge! You can read my race recap here.