Why I Will Not be Running the Dopey Challenge.

I don’t know about all of you, but following Social Media on all the #WDWMarathon Weekend events has been a positively INCREDIBLE experience! Between virtual cheering and taking part in the #Minnie10K raceΒ on Friday, I definitely am motivated by so many wonderful stories, experiences and amazing photos of the thousands of runners who took on challenges beyond their imaginations.

My amazing pals, C and P from We Run Disney.
My amazing pals, C and P from We Run Disney.

Whether triumphs were in the form of a 5K race, or the whole enchilada – 48.6 miles of magic in the Dopey Challenge, simply putting in the training and dedication to get safely to the finish line is something to admire in itself. I cannot express how incredibly proud I am of friends – new and old – that put their mind and bodies to the ultimate test(s) this weekend, and as inspired as I feel right now, I can definitively state this, just as I did when I first heard of the challenge last year, “I will not be running the Dopey Challenge.” And, I really mean it.

This list, that has been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks, is in no way a criticism or argument against the reasons people chose to (and will choose again to) run this thrilling challenge, but simply, my personal thoughts.

So, here goes…

1. I love running.

Okay, this one sounds weird, right? But hear me out: I love running so much, and I love training – but I do NOT want to get that nagging feeling of “having” to go out on a training run, or bringing upon that dreaded burnout on myself. As my disclaimer said, this is just me. Tons of people can, and did endure training with fantastic results – that was proven today. I just know myself enough to know that I simply don’t want to lose my love for the sport, even temporarily.

2. It’s too expensive.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 11.55.27 AM


This one doesn’t require too much explanation…but yeah. These were the prices for 2014, and as they always do, they will rise. No one ever said running was a cheap sport, but $500? That’s a whole lotta dough. And I could run at least 5 full marathons with that.

While our expenses have been cut significantly by moving to Florida (and it’s a drive up to Orlando instead of a flight) there are lots of extra costs to consider, and frankly, the value isn’t there for me.

3. I love sleeping.

Disney advises runners to board the busses for the 5:30 AM start of the longer distance races (10K, 13.1 and 26.2) no later than 4 AM. I can handle that – to a certain extent. I returned home from the 10K on Friday, and felt soo sleepy from my restless night of just ONE non-full night of sleep. So, there’s that.

4. There are so many races yet to run.

Cheesin' at the Minnie 10K.
Cheesin’ at the Minnie 10K.

Here in Florida, the race season is SHORT. And, there are SO many races I want to run, not only on the same weekend of WDW Marathon, but the weekends flanking it – so it’s hard to justify repeating the same race over and over again, with increasing costs.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never trade my 13.1 or 26.2 experiences at WDW, but frankly, it’s the same course. Over and over. Princess, too! Until Disney mixes up the course a bit (I am sure it can be done, somehow) I feel that (again, for me) running 4 races in a row will feel more like deja vu, or really, sleepwalking, given my reason #3 πŸ˜‰

5. I love running.

No, this is not a repeat – just a declaration I will repeat – hopefully – until I die. I love running; the sport of it, the camaraderie and energy – everything. I realize that with my new foray into online coaching, there is a good chance that I will be coaching runners interested in taking on Dopey, or similar challenges – and for that, I am excited to share my advice and experience, however, I know my own limits. Accomplishing 48.6 miles over the span of four days is an amazing accomplishment – one that I am so incredibly proud of my friends for, and will encourage others to pursue, but it is not anything I want to do. And personally, I don’t think you should ever do anything YOU don’t have your heart in.

All this being said (or written), I can state this: I am interested in the 2015 Goofy Challenge. Wait…what? Yeah, it might sound weird, especially since that’s just 9.3 miles more, but that’s also two wake up calls more (reference #3) but yeah. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Did you run Dopey 2014? Is it in your future runDisney plans?Β 


  1. I am with you. I’ve done a few races, and cheered on many more (including today which was beyond words can describe). I want to enjoy the sport while I am able to and I don’t forsee giving up my mornings, money, or time to devote to Dopey. I will forever admire those who do. I believe my challenges will come in other ways. Who knows, some day that might even be Goofy.

    • Glad you understand, K! πŸ™‚ Heh…I am stoked for everyone that did it (and did it healthily, trained properly, etc) but my heart breaks for those stories I hear of people getting swept, getting sick, injured, etc and were not able to enjoy their vacation.

  2. I have to say Dopey was a “one and done” for me! It was fabulous, but all those reasons above (especially the early mornings) will prevent me from coming back. One reason to add that kind of goes with your “I love running”–“I love my family.”. I found it very difficult to juggle the training with work and having a life. The past 4 months have left very little time for fun that was not related to running.

    • Great point! Thanks for sharing your experience; this kind of training definitely takes a fair amount of sacrifice, and you are right – each person has to weigh how that will impact them.

  3. I did the Dopey and definitely want to do it again. I agree waking up early 4 days in a row got tiring, but I love a challenge and my heart was completely in it and I looked forward to the new challenge each day brought.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, Michelle! Your passion is exactly the reason I know it’s right for some people, just not me! Hope I can meet you WDW Marathon Weekend 2015, or sooner! πŸ™‚

      Let me know if you’d be interested in expanding on your experience as a guest post for this event

  4. Great post; I did the Dopey Challenge, and to be honest, I absolutely would do it again. Like you said, it’s an enormous commitment and training for it has completely taken over my life for the past several months…your heart really has to be in it, so it’s great that you recognized that it wasn’t for you and rocked the 10K, instead! It was my first full marathon so it definitely wasn’t an easy challenge (and I share your complaints about the course(s)!), but it was so incredibly rewarding and fun and, of course, magical! πŸ™‚

    • I am so glad to hear all perspectives on the topic!! I hope to see you out there at another event soon ❀

  5. oof! I thought about Dopey for all of 3.9 seconds before deciding it was a bad idea for me. The shorter races would have been fine but after the half, I prolly would have been done. The full was my main event. I did my own little challenge…. the 10k and the full (my first) and I have to say a few things: 1) Thank you to you for the virtual cheering! While I didn’t see it during, I got it after and it lifted my spirits! 2) The 10k and the full were a lot and had I not hooked up with Linzie, Kat and Jill and did intervals (for the first time in my life), my body might have been protesting the full come sunday… hehe 3) I don’t mind the early wakeups and I like the idea of a challenge but for my first full, the idea of that kind of challenge was terrifying. I had no idea how my body was going to react (my knees crapped out around mile 19.. need more strength training for adductors/abductors) but I do have a large amount of respect for those who did dopey. It was definitely impressive. Just (like you, but for different reasons) not for me. I had no running buddy on the full and the last 7 miles crawled by for me.

  6. Totally agree with this. I think some people might look at these challenges and go for them as if not doing them might make them less of a Run Disney fan or something. Just like some are also simply undertaking the challenges out of peer pressure. We are supposed to run because we love it. If you do anything that takes away from that then you shouldn’t do it. However, if you do intend to coach people to accomplish said challenge, you can safely bet that the first question they will ask is: “Have/When you done it?”

    • Hi Frank! Thank you so much for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts πŸ™‚

      My favorite statement of yours was, “We are supposed to run because we love it.” SO agree.

      And I TOTALLY agree about the coaching scenario! It was one of the reasons I decided to answer this question way before anyone asks, lol! πŸ˜€

      I think from this, we have several learning opportunities:
      (1) The importance of setting personal goals
      (2) The necessity to make your own decisions that are best for us (our current fitness level/goals
      (3) Our ability to support others in their pursuits without letting it negatively influence ourselves.

      I’ve received a few inquiries about Challenge plans (Dumbo, Dopey, Goofy) and I am excited to work with those that have these goals, and yes, it is their discretion to move forward with a coach that has not embarked upon them all herself πŸ™‚

  7. I missed this post in January while I was on my post Dopey cruise. Thanks for the shout out….it really was a fun experience, but the four early mornings killed me. I would not do Dopey again (although never say never), but will consider Goofy for 2015. The training close to Christmas was tough, especially the 4 day simulation of Dopey. I will gladly pass that up this year! I also agree that the cost of these races is getting out of hand. I have a feeling Dopey will be close to $600 with fees next year.

    • I am so proud of your accomplishments at Dopey, Pam! Especially that marathon PR, dang!!! πŸ˜€ I can’t wait to see you again.

  8. Totally agree here. I seriously considered the Dopey because I figured with 39.3 for the Goofy, 9.3 wasn’t that much more. But I definitely couldn’t justify $500 and waking up that early 4 days in a row did not seem like something I wanted to do. In fact, after running 2 challenge weekends already this year (Goofy and Glass Slipper), I doubt if I’ll do another. I was super tired the night of the Princess half.

  9. I ran Dopey, had some fun, and don’t plan on doing it again for similar reasons to what you stated. I live 45 min away so I commuted in – which required me to get up at 2 am each day. By the 4th day I was pretty cooked. Disney races are getting expensive, they are crowded, and after running 3 half’s, 2 fulls, 2 Goofy’s, and 1 Dopey (not double counting here) along with a the only Marathon relay and two Wine and Dine Relays, I am Disney’d out (and out of money). Unless I have family coming to town to run the races I don’t plan on running any more Disney races – branching out to some smaller races instead! I like sleeping in until 5 am on race day. Good post!

    • I can imagine the commuting part started to feel pretty “Groundhogs Day” too! Yikes!! Thanks for stopping by to comment, Chris.

  10. I ran Dopey, the entire race and stopped once during the marathon for a restroom break. I had a blast, and it was my first marathon. Disney went all out! I am planning on running the Avengers Half at Disneyland, but no more Dopey and probably no more Disney World or Disneyland races for a while. I live in South Florida, so driving up isn’t too expensive, but hotels, etc., add up.

    You’re right, Florida’s race season is too short, and this season (roughly September to May, if you include one or two races) I’m taking full advantage, and even going out of state to the Asheville Marathon. So many races, so little time!

  11. Excellent points. I did Dopey this past year and although I don’t have plans to do it again in 2015, I think I will do it again in the future. I do plan on doing the 2015 Goofy Challenge though, so I’ll see you there. My biggest reason for not doing Dopey in 2015 is 1) the cost and 2) the 4 consecutive early morning wakeup calls. I found that the toughest part of the 5k and 10k were getting up so early and being done before the sun came out. Not sure if it’s really worth it. Dopey was also my first marathon and I have to admit…I loved doing the training. It actually got me more into running than I was before. I guess knowing that the commitment that I signed up for had to be taken very seriously, so I researched everything (from avoiding the “wall”, nutrition, hydration, etc). I feel like I am a runner now!

  12. I did the Dopey this year. And no, I will NOT be doing it again for reasons #1 and #2. I started training over the summer, and late fall when the mileage got intense, so did the social schedules of my family (2 daughters age 7 and 3). It’s really tough to train through football season, gymnastics practice, Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas events, etc. I would have to train during lunch, after work, late at night when the kids slept. It got very overwhelming and I began to DREAD running. And it really took a toll on my body at the end.

    And the price. I did Dopey and my husband did Goofy which set us back nearly $1000 and that didn’t include hotel, airfare and food for my family of 4 for the week.

    No doubt – it was an AMAZING experience and definitely one of the best weeks of my life. I was so glad to be part of the inaugural Dopey, but will stick to the halfs from here on. I am already signed up for Wine and Dine!

    • Thanks for your comments, Janel! Congrats on conquering Dopey – I will see you at Wine and Dine πŸ˜€

  13. This blog was posted in a Facebook group, and I have to say, this post is pretty silly. Your criticisms aren’t really valid, and this is coming from someone who is a Dopey finisher.

    • Well, that’s why it’s a post about MY opinion πŸ™‚ I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  14. For a lot of the reasons you gave, I wasn’t going to do the Dopey either. I’ve done Goofy plus the 5K a few times, lots of marathons and 5 Ironman races and agree that you really have to “want” it! Nevertheless Disney Marathon Weekend has become an annual vacation for me and some members of my family. I always run, just not always every race. What I didn’t factor in was that my 27 year old nephew would want to do it! That’s all it took for me to sign up. I can’t you what a great feeling it is to run and finish with your “kid”, particularly one that is a hockey player not a runner. We did the inaugural Tower of Terror run and had a blast. In spite of the pain, yes it absolutely hurts on so many levels, we both finished and added the 6 medals to our collections. Funny enough, I’m planning on Dopey again for 2015, and probably again until I do it better. Ironman is so much easier to do well!

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Linda! I do have to say, if I had someone special in my life that wanted to do it, that might be enough to convince me, too! πŸ™‚

  15. To be honest, I think I understand where you’re coming from… but the writing in this post did not successfully communicate your points and concerns in the most clear and salient way. Which is really a shame. And this probably why you’re getting mildly scrutinized. This is what your blog post read like:

    “I ate a Denver omelet this week. And I loved it and had a great egg-eating experience. But I don’t think I’m going to eat a Denver omelet again. Because it takes too much time to make it. And the ingredients were more expensive than ingredients of a normal omelet. And I’ve had so many omelets in my life, and I want to try other omelets as well. But this is just my own opinion about Denver omelets even though I’m billing myself as the omelet expert. This is why I will not eat a Denver omelet next year. But I am happy to announce that I will eat an omelet made of ham, onions, and peppers next year! BUT I will be offering my omelet expertise and help YOU make a Denver omelet if you pay me $$$.”


    It seems like you were holding back – and trying to be as pleasant as possible, and trying not to offend everyone with how you actually feel. However, this eggshell approach made your post read like a passive and windy, and not get your main point across without contradicting yourself. And prefacing everything with “well, this is my own personal opinion” all the time detracts readers. You’re a smart and experienced lady – have your opinion and confidently back it up!

    • Karen –

      Thank you for your constructive criticism! Here’s the thing: I love runDisney, and I do agree, I am biased because I love Disney, but when I write a post that says why “I” will not be running it, that’s what I set out to do. Also, I don’t really feel like I’ve received much criticism (at least not on the blog – elsewhere on the Internet could be a different story though).

      Your example made me laugh, though I don’t think it quite hit the mark…for me, it’d be more like this:

      1. I love omelets (rundisney)
      2. Sometimes, omelets are made with a lot of eggs (multirace challenges) which is great for some people, but I prefer less eggs (shorter distance races) because too many eggs could give me high cholesterol (burnout) AND I don’t have enough money to pay for that many eggs (literal).
      3. I don’t judge other people that eat multi-egg omelets. I will support anyone who wants to eat multi-egg omelets. I will help other people achieve their omelet eating dreams.

      Haha, I am getting hungry reading this πŸ˜‰

      Really though, I am taking your comment and processing it, and taking it to heart, but this is the only thing I can’t get down with:

      “But this is just my own opinion about Denver omelets even though I’m billing myself as the omelet expert. BUT I will be offering my omelet expertise and help YOU make a Denver omelet if you pay me $$$.”

      I have run multi-race challenges, as well as my first ultra marathon, so yes, I do think I am qualified to help people with their goals. And, if someone is seeking my assistance, the chances that they have not ever read my blog, or checked up on my personal race experience are pretty slim.

      I don’t pretend to be someone I am not. I share everything, and am an open book – I started the same place everyone does: from the bottom – and I want to help others find out what THEIR next steps are. I don’t see anywhere in my blog (this one, or the other) that ever proclaims myself as an expert, either. Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if you meant expert on running or runDisney…because I am neither…just someone that wants to share my experience and passion on both subjects πŸ™‚

      I don’t know if you denoted “$$$” just as cash, or the idea that I somehow will make lots of cash off of coaching, because that is definitely not the case. $170 for 18 weeks, which breaks to less than $9/wk is not only what someone is paying, but how much I would be “making.” I’ve spent several hundred dollars in certification and training, which means it’ll take at least two seasons of coaching to even break even.

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