I am a huge fan of all things Disney. The first time I visited Disney World was in the 90’s when I was pregnant with my daughter. It was a holiday surprise. At that time I visited as a tourist, and marvelled at all the Disney characters and how cute and magical Disneyworld was. I remember going to buy one these autograph books to get signatures from all the Disney characters that made appearances around the park (usually this was an activity meant for little kids, but I was more excited than all of the kids around me!)
Little did I know that I would return over 2 decades later to run my first Disney Goofy Challenge in 2014, which is a two-day race of a half-marathon and marathon. I would subsequently return each year to run the Dopey Challenge (2015, 2016, and this year in 2017), which is another one of the events that you can participate in during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Anyone who has experienced a Disney race can tell you how much fun they had. Each year, the fun gets bigger and better.
The Dopey Challenge is multi-day race starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday. This year I arrived at the race expo on Wednesday morning. When my husband and I got there, there were tons of people at the expo already. But prior to getting in, Disney set up huge placards displaying different characters corresponding to the finishers medals we would get. For example, the 5K race theme was Pluto, so the placard was Pluto. So when the line was relatively un-busy, I lined up and took a picture in front of every single placard! Like my first time visiting Disneyworld many years ago, my heart was beating faster than these little kids visiting the park for the first time.
Upon entering the expo, there were so many bib pick-up booths set up on the floor. Corrals A through P. But the organizers of all Disney races make sure that the race operations are extremely efficient, so within minutes, I was able to get my bib. Just for verification reasons, the ones doing the Dopey Challenge required having their picture taken, so that medals (you get 6 total!) are handed out based on your photo ID, which ensures that no one cheats in completing the Challenge.
Once we collected our bibs, we had to exit the first building and walk to another building for the products expo. I saw the exclusive New Balance designed Dopey collection running shoes. The colours were so happy – bright yellow, mint green, baby blue, princess pink. Runners were buying them like crazy. We bypassed that and onto the Disney merchandise line-up. The lines were long but moved very quickly. Each year, I buy a Dopey car magnet, a Run Disney Mickey doll, a Dopey headband and a Dopey jacket, so keeping with tradition I made the same purchases. That along with the 6 race shirts I received from registering for the Dopey Challenge was enough to get me out of the expo. Plus, my tummy was growling. We left and went for lunch.
From the parking lot to the 2 expos, we probably walked a good 3K. Disneyworld is huge, so if it’s your first time participating in the Walt Disneyworld Race Weekend, do not underestimate the amount of walking getting around the park requires!
This was my first day in Orlando (the pre-Dopey race)… stay tuned for my recap of the actual Dopey races 🙂