This year marked the 21st Walt Disney World Marathon. There was also a Half Marathon, a 5K and the first ever WDW 10k. Around 30,000 runners descended upon Walt Disney World last weekend to take part in one or more of those runs. Those who completed both the half and the full achieved the Goofy Challenge. And over 7,000 of those where insane enough to run all four races over four consecutive days to earn the coveted Inaugural Dopey Challenge finishers medal.
The week stared with the Run Disney Race Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports where guests picked up their race bibs and shopped for merchandise. There were a variety of exhibitors on hand selling everything from clothing to food to displays for your medals. There was also a large official Disney Merchandise section that had shirts, hats, magnets, mugs, pins, Vinylmation and more for the various races. New Balance was also on hand, and for the second year in a row, had character inspired running shoes that may have been the most coveted piece of merchandise at the event. Runners and couch potatoes alike stormed the baseball stadium early Wednesday morning to sign up for a time to come back and try on and purchase the new kicks.
The designs included Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie, Cinderella and Goofy. These highly detailed, and very comfortable running shoes, retailed for $72-$125. I picked up the Sorcerer Mickey pair and actually ran all four events in them. I only wear New Balance anyway, but they fit and performed extremely well. I look forward to some new designs next year. There was talk from the sales associate of a new princess shoe each year, with 2015 being Snow White. My fingers are crossed for a certain duck as well.
Thursday, the first race day, was the 5K. A 3.1 mile course that took runners from the Epcot parking lot, through some back lot, around the World Showcase and back into the parking lot. It was a very short race, so character photo ops were non-existent however Pluto and the rest of the Fab 5 were at the finish line. Pluto is the mascot of this race, and finishers received a rubber medal with the pup in front of his dog house. Later that morning were the kids races at the Wide World of Sports.
Friday morning was the Inaugural 10K. This was a 6.2 mile course that wound out of the Epcot lot and down the street before looping back toward Epcot and once again around the World Showcase and some back lot areas before winding up back in the parking lot. It was a rainy morning, but not cold. There were a few character stops inside Epcot such as Mushu, Dopey and some princes and princesses. The mascot of the 10K is Minnie Mouse, so she adorned the first ever finishers medal for this event.
The mile markers were new this year. They had characters from various Disney and Pixar animated films as well as the Fab 5. People always enjoy posing for photos in front of these. I was impressed that they already had a Frozen one for the event. Here were some of my favorites.
Saturday was the Half Marathon. 13.1 miles that started at Epcot, continued up towards the Contemporary Resort, then into the Magic Kingdom back lot, up Main Street USA, around Fantasyland and out through the back of Frontierland, then we made our way back to Epcot for a jog around Spaceship Earth, before ending up in (you guessed it) the parking lot. Donald Duck is the face of this race and the finishers medal glistened with his image.
The final race was the WDW Full Marathon. 26.2 miles that wound around all four parks, the WDW Speedway and ESPN Wide World of Sports. The mascot for this race was Mickey of course.
For those who ran both the half and the full had completed the Goofy challenge and the ones who ran all four completed the first ever Dopey Challenge.
Like most Run Disney events that I have been a part of, I was happy with the way the races were organized. It was easy to park and find my corral. The staff at the end of the race were attentive with the food and medical care. It was also easy to find where I had to go for my medals and wristbands (proof of race completion). As for the course itself, I found a positive and a negative as compared to previous runs.
The positive was the water stops. The tables seemed to stretch further than before, with more volunteers to hand out the drinks, meaning there was never a hold up. They also did not run out of water, as I had seen in years past.
The negative was the character stops. I am a newbie, only taking part in Run Disney events for two years. I also may have been spoiled by the amount of entertainment that was on the 15th anniversary half and 20th anniversary full, but there seemed to be a real lack of entertainment this weekend. And a majority of the characters out there, were not completely special. That being said, there were some great photo opportunities. Here are some of the highlights.
From my point of view, the inaugural Dopey Challenge was a success. It was extremely fun to take part in a full weekend worth of runs and activities around Walt Disney World. The price, coming in at around $450, could be an issue with participating every year. I may have to pick and choose. I may also cut the Tower of Terror and Wine and Dine runs out of my calendar due to cost. But with the 15th anniversary of the Goofy Challenge next year (and a special medal) I do look forward to adding the two shorter races and completing the Dopey again in 2015.