Don’t be dopey about Dopey

I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued.

Much of me wants to run the inaugural runDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014, which was announced last week. That’s four races totaling 48.6 miles over four days of the annual Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January.

The challenge includes a 5k race on Thursday, a new 10K race on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

I’d like to run it. But should I?

My concern – training.

Yes, some runners will simply register for Dopey because they adore runDisney events and its accompanying medals. Dopey will reward finishers with six medals. Six. That’s a lot of bling for a long weekend.

But runners will also need to log a lot of miles to gain that prize.

But all runners – novice through experienced distance runners – must do one thing to prepare for such a mission. They must respect the distance. They must prepare properly for the race.

Earlier this year, I ran the Goofy Challenge – a marathon and a half over two days. The experience was just that – a challenge. But I trained for months. I ran slowly. And I walked far more of the course than ever before.

And it was fabulous. 39.3 miles followed by another half-marathon one week later. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.

I don’t know if I should say the same about 48.6. I’d like to. But should I?

Former Olympian and distance runner Jeff Galloway, who is also a marathon and endurance training consultant for runDisney, said he is creating a training plan for runners wishing to attempt the new series of races.

“While almost anyone can adapt to this series of runs, it helps to have been running regularly, starting April 1,” he said.

Galloway said his Dopey training plan will alternate between minimal running one week and four running days in a row the subsequent week.

Minimal: This week will include 30 minutes of running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 30 to 45 minutes on one weekend day.

Four-day prep week: Mileage will start with minimal amounts and build every two or three weeks, to race distances in December.  The first three days of these weeks will be mostly walking.

“The Dopey has created an amazing response,” Galloway said. “I’m already looking forward to the weekend.”


Jeff Galloway in January, as he runs the WDW Marathon using his run-walk-run method. I ran into him on the course.

Runners considering Dopey should also consider whether they can finish each race within the challenge within the allotted time frame. Disney races give runners a more generous cushion than most distance events of up to 16-minute miles.

Galloway offered a training tool, his magic mile formula, to help a runner  to determine his or her predicted race times, based on a one-mile run. While obviously the tool does not factor in stops to pose with dozens of Disney characters along the course, it gives runners a basic idea of her or her finish time – and a glimpse at whether or not the runner should attempt the challenge.

Upon running the Goofy Challenge in January, Galloway offered some advice: Walk as much as possible, drink lots of water, and slow down.

It’s not about speed, he said. It’s about completing all 39.3 miles.

The same is true for Dopey.

Registration opens April 9 and Dopey’s registration fees starts at $495.

Will you be participating in the new Dopey Challenge? Why or why not?

0 thoughts on “Don’t be dopey about Dopey

  1. I don’t think I’ll be participating in Dopey – for a couple of reasons (list form? Sure – we love lists!).

    1. I’m not sure I’d be physically ready for it. Could I do it? Sure. Would I get through? Yes. But would I be hurting after? I can almost guarantee it. Maybe I should tackle a single marathon first (I would love to make Disney’s marathon weekend my first – in 2015).

    2. I’ll be down there for the Wine & Dine which is in November. January is pretty close after that and with the holidays in December, I don’t think I’ll have the funds – even if I had the inclination.

    3. The medals are pretty sweet and I’d love to say that I participated in the FIRST Dopey. But I’m looking at it logically and right now, I don’t think it would be the wisest choice for me. I’ll just have to live vicariously through others for now. 🙂

    • Those are three solid, well-thought out reasons to wait. I’ve got a few reasons too — the cost and timing of the race (which of course links back to the cost with travel). We’ll see what happens.

      And YES! 2015 Disney Marathon would be a perfect first full marathon for you! roadtrip!

  2. No Dopey here. For Meri’s number one reason, and also because I’d rather spend that amount on running a non-Disney race, probably because I live here. But I knew you’d be considering it as soon as I heard about it! Hope you decide to come down again.

    Is Galloway’s training program specifically run-walk-run?

      • I’ve seen bloggers do 10 minute mile averages with run-walk-run! I’m sure there are faster people out there too. It’s probably ideal for this challenge.

        I can’t believe the cost, V. Disney puts on an awesome race though.

        PS. I totally think you’ll do it.

      • My friend Aaron did a sub-2 hour half last year using the method. I agree that the run-walk-run method is the only way to tackle Dopey.

        Cost is completely out of my range! I need a sponsor!

        PS. yeah, I might …

  3. This challenge seems really enticing to many people, but I look at it knowing the insane level of preparation that will be necessary. Essentially people will need to be training for a 50 mile race, and the fact that it’s 4 consecutive days instead of all at once might actually make it more of a challenge because of recovery and stiffness. I just hope that everyone that does decide to do it will put in the time necessary to prepare. I think this post is a REALLY good one, and I hope people heed your advice. If people are going to pay $495 for something, it would be a shame to not prepare properly and then not finish the whole challenge and lose the opportunity to get the medal at the end.

    I ran the Disney Marathon this year, and I trained for the race following a training plan strictly. It was my first 26.2. The marathon is an insane distance on its own, and to think that it is the last distance of the weekend makes this challenge even MORE of a challenge. I think for people who want to train and prepare, more power to you! But I know that there will be people who want to do it just to say they did it and will plan to walk it (which there’s nothing wrong with), but I fear that they won’t prepare because they won’t think if they’re going to walk it that they’ll need to prepare in the same way as running it. Even WALKING that far is going to require training, and because that’s a pretty speedy walking pace to keep, it’s going to be difficult to push that marathon at that speed if there’s no training. So yes, I second everything you said in this post. People REALLY have to train to do this distance. I’m so intrigued by what this challenge is going to bring out, but I won’t be there to see it. $495 is too rich for my blood.

    Thanks for this great post.

    • Thanks so much for your support and kind words, Meghan.

      I absolutely think you are correct, that some people will be enticed by the draw of the inaugural event and its medals and not quite consider the miles they’re signing up for. Walkers need to be prepated too! They’ll be out there just as many miles. Going slower does not make it easier. We shall see how quickly it sells out and how the event plays out overall!

      • Opps… I just realized my reply got attached to your response to the message I meant to reply to. I have a couple young girls that need to grow a couple more inches before we head across the country to WDW. If I went alone to race I would never hear the end of it.

  4. As intriguing as it may seem, I don’t think I would attempt it. Besides the fact that I’ve never even run a full marathon, that seems like a lot of mileage for 4 days. Not to mention all the walking you would do that the parks during the day as well…that would be exhausting! I think my biggest caveat would be price. There is no way, regardless of the race, that I could ever justify spending almost $500 on 4 races. Disney prices are already sky high and while they put on a good race, I was finding it very difficult to justify paying for Tink. Besides the crazy high costs of registrations- there is also travel, lodging, park tickets, food…it adds up fast. As it is, my next Disney race will likely be one of my last just due to their pricing- they are pricing me out of the running! I signed up for another half recently and while it isn’t Disney, it’s half the cost with a lot of the same amenities (live bands on course, tech shirt, after party, ect…) and I get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge! I do hope that people will take the training seriously though. That is a lot of miles to log and a lot of potential for injury.

    • Nicole, the cost factor is a great point. While Disney races are so well done, organized and entertaining, they’re also pricey. Add on the travel expenses, lodging and park tickets for a 4-day race and we’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag. I love them, but am not sure how often I can swing the racecation!

      I love that you’re running some less-expensive but equally cool events! I’d LOVE to run across the Golden Gate bridge. One of my fave races to date is a 10K in NJ with a fee around $35. Runners run across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Philly and back, then another 3 mile loop around Camden NJ, ending at a minor league ball park. Great post-race party AND you get medals! Best deal ever!

  5. I looked at this when it was first launched and it definitely intrigued me too but for that price? Please… I don’t do races for the swag and hype and this race is not going to be one I want to pay that much for personally.

    • The price tag is steep. Unless I can find a sponsor (HAHAHA!) I’ll likely be sitting this out, but I’m curious how the new challenge will go.

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  8. Jeff’s training methods sound like perfect   preparation for any marathon.

    It sounds like a great way to keep your energy, so you aren’t too exhausted at the end.

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