Ok – last run of the 2015 Dopey Challenge…up and at ‘em! (see my quick report for the 5k, 10k and half marathon here)
So as a warning this report is long :-( But it has pictures :-) But lots of those pictures have me in them :-(
Again the wake up call and alarms go off at a time of night usually best seen when going to bed not getting up. But at least I got a good 6 hours of sleep – kind of nice to not go into the hardest run feeling like an utter zombie!
Got dressed and grabbed my gear. Double checked to make sure my repairs on by bib that broke the day before were holding up then downed a quick bit of caffeine and some food…well really some coke and pecan clusters…
The full day was forecast to be warmer than the past 3 days so it was finally a day without several thermal layers! Baggy shorts over compression shorts because ain’t nobody needs to see that, compression calf sleeves, Hoka One One Cliftons, long sleeve shirt (more to prevent any chance of sunburn) and my hydration backpack.
I was taking the hydration backpack because I have finally learned my lesson that Gatoraid / Powerade just does not work for me – so I was bringing my own liquid fuel (flat Coke) and avoiding any on course electrolyte drinks. I was also using the backpack to clip my point and shoot camera to (more on that later).
Out the door of the hotel a bit later than I had planned meaning there was a bit more of a wait at the buses than there had been the past few days. Still, the buses got me to the staging area with plenty of time.
Again I met up with Bill (who blogs over at rillaruns.wordpress.com and on twitter at @rilla6969) and we chatted about previous races and strategies as we wandered out to our respective corals. After a quick good luck I headed off to coral D to get my mind in the correct frame of mind.
My intention was to hit multiple photo stops, take it easy, finish happy and around the 5 hour mark. Basically this is likely to be my last Disney Challenge race for a while so I wanted to just finish strong and really enjoy myself.
A little while before it was time to head off I dropped my jacket and went to put on my backpack…and discovered my point and shoot camera was no longer attached to the backpack…CRAP!!!!
After a couple minutes of kicking myself I realized that I had to just deal with it and hope it was sitting back in the room and hadn’t been lost on the long walk out to the corals. I had been planning to get the MarathonFoto package of shots anyway so told myself I was going to have to make sure I got good shots with the characters with the professional photographers. I also had my smartphone on me but with its newly cracked screen (from the 5k) so I could take some other shots if I wanted but I wouldn’t be handing it off to other people to take shots of me. The fewer times it came out the holster the better.
So one minor crisis passed and we were quickly off and moving!
I took it fairly easy in the crowd at the start and like most folks just tried to find a clear path to run for the first while.
And then coming up on the first character stop – gut check time…could I actually do a marathon as a string of photo ops? I had never done it before and I wasn’t sure if I could sustain that or if I would regret not pushing harder….
Deep breath and stop…no lightning strike or earthquakes…maybe I could do this…
First photo stop was Captain Jack Sparrow at around mile 2.
Then very quickly after that another stop to take a photo on my cell phone of the Magic Kingdom entrance gate.
Settled into a bit of a groove through a water stop and then stopped for a picture with Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope.
Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope
Off running again and very quickly at the next photo stop – Jack Skellington and Sally. A bit more of a wait for these characters but at this point I was getting into the swing of things with these photo stops. This one stop was themed pretty well too – very cool.
Jack Skellington and Sally
From there off toward the Ticket and Transportation Center – at this point I ran past Sean Astin and wished him good luck.
At mile 4 (yes only mile 4!) I took my first solid fuel break before heading off toward the Contemporary Resort and the mile 5 marker. Along the way there is a long underpass with a good climb as you go under one of Disney’s canal ways.
Then mile 5 and on to the Magic Kingdom. Hit the 5 mile marker at 50:06 – not too bad – definitely in the right range to make sure I hit 5 hours or less.
Shortly before the heading out of the backstage area and out onto Main Street USA I took out my phone to try to take some video but without image stabilization it was looking pretty awful…so I stopped that!
I then quickly stopped for a pic of the Christmas tree that was still up before heading down Main Street, stopping a couple times to take pics of Cinderella’s Castle all lit up with the Elsa / Frozen lights.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree
Just before heading into Tomorrowland I stopped for a pic with the castle done by the professionals of MarathonFoto.
Then part way across the bridge into Tomorrowland I stopped to take a pic of scenery before continuing on to a stop to see Buzz Lightyear.
Off and running again and missed the picture stop with the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland by the Tea Cups – whoops! Must keep moving forward! Just to stop for a quick stop with the big mime guy from Tangled. Awesome!
Just a short jog from there to come up on Cinderella’s Castle from the back side – pulled over to the site to take a quick pic and vid of Anna, Else and Kristoff who were hanging out on the balcony of the castle over the arch way that the runners head through. Very cool!
Elsa, Anna and Kristoff
I also grabbed a short video of them talking to the runners. The audio in this one sounds like “…a little goofy. It looks good on you…” It wasn’t directed at me but is vaguely appropriate.
Now – through the castle! Always very cool to enter and see Main Street all lit up on the other side.
Once I was through the castle I stopped to get another photo in front of the castle before continuing on.
Damn – missed another photo stop as I headed past the big crocodile from The Princess and the Frog before I noticed him.
Didn’t miss the next stop though – Woody!
Wow…only mile 6…feeling good but not definitely not moving fast!
I deliberately skipped stopping for the steam train but it was cool to see as I ran past heading toward the next stop – Snow White, her Prince and Rapunzel with Flynn – this was the longest wait of any of the photo stops but very cool. Too bad the pic is a bit blurry.
Ok – now maybe time to move a little…
Heading out of Magic Kingdom onto Cone Alley (nicknamed by runners because of the steady stream of miles upon miles of cones with no breaks between them). This stretch is always a bit tight to move but I did get some speed going and felt good.
I made a quick stop to get my picture taken with Mary Poppins, Burt and the penguins before I realized that there didn’t seem to be a professional photographer there? Odd – like I mentioned near the top I didn’t want to be handing my broken phone around to folks in case it got worse so I headed off without a picture.
Shortly after that it was I hit the picture stop for Abu and the Genie from Alladin just before mile 8 and my second solid fuel stop.
Abu and Genie
Then into the Speedway (after the frighteningly steep ramp down and then back up to the track…
I was a bit disappointed this year that McQueen and/or Mater weren’t there for a photo stop like they were in a previous year.
Oh well – out of the Speedway and past mile 9. And this point could not deny a nature call any longer so I quickly hit a porta potty before continuing on.
Around mile 10 or so I ran into the villians photo stop – Cruela, the voodoo guy from The Princess and the Frog, the Queen of Hearts and the Evil Queen…
I would check the photo but unfortunately it looks like it is not showing up in my photos package. Crap!!! I have to say I am pissed about that. Hopefully it gets found and posted soon as MarathonFoto says they are still sorting through the images from the race. This was also the second longest photo stop of the race at around 4 minutes.
Edit January 16th – got the photo!
I hit the 10 mile mark at about 1:53:28 – so over 63 minutes to do the second 5 miles of the race – kind of understandable with all the stops and a few crowded areas.
After coming off of this character stop I was feeling damned good. I found I was passing people like crazy here – looked down at the Garmin and it said I was doing 10 mph…? Looking at my phone GPS app after it was probably closer to 9 mph but still – crazy to get that kind of a burst of energy at about mile 10 of a marathon!
Edit January 16th – I forgot about a character stop? Found the orphaned photo while looking for the villains pic! Hanging out with the big bears. I can’t remember it if it came before the villains stop above or the Robin Hood stop below.
Continuing onwards I ran into Robin Hood, Little John and Friar Tuck and got a quick photo.
Robin Hood and friends
At this point things had opened up a bit I got some room to move and my average pace was significantly quicker than it was in the first hour or so.
I then ran into Jiminy Cricket just on the edge of Animal Kingdom. Matching his pose was a fluke and not planned at all.
It would have been about this time that I took my mile 12 solid fuel stop.
Into Animal Kingdom – not particularly exiting this year – there were so many construction barricades up blocking the cool views everywhere. Too bad really.
The sun did come up and out of the clouds though at this point and that was pretty awesome.
Also Expedition Everest wasn’t open when I went through so I couldn’t do the ride like many others have managed to do in the past. Oh well.
Right before leaving Animal Kingdom, I ran into Minnie and Daisy in safari gear and got a quick photo before heading out to the parking lot and the half way point of the race!
Minnie and Daisy
Hit the half way point at just around the 2:24 mark – the 3.1 mile since the 10 mile marker done in 30.5 minutes – pace definitely came back up a bit. Still well on track to hit 5 hours or under.
I realized that there would be fewer character stops in the second half but I also knew I would have to stay focused to keep moving well and make sure I hit the goal.
Shortly after the half way marker I came upon Mickey in his safari gear and grabbed a shot with him – a bit more of a wait for Mickey of course but worth it.
Just a short run from there to run into the grave diggers / Haunted Mansion folks with the graveyard. I didn’t stop to lay down and have my picture taken but I did grab a quick pic on my phone before moving on. This was just past mile 14.
I think at this point I passed Sean Astin again – he had obviously gotten ahead of me at one of my many stops and I caught up with him again.
In the mile 15-16 range Phineas and Ferb were waiting and I definitely needed a picture with those guys!
Phineas and Ferb
Interestingly after heading out from this photo stop I noticed how comfortable my feet were – I felt like I was still running fresh. These Hoka’s are really working for me.
Then continued on toward mile 17 and the ESPN World of Sports – at this point I was moving a pretty steady 7.2 mph but the back of my left thigh kept cramping a bit. So I made sure to get some water at the next couple water stops and to keep the speed down a bit.
Unfortunately the clouds came in at this point which was kind of disappointing.
I continued on through the ball diamond around mile 19. Much of the trail through ESPN seemed new to me, which was strange as I have run the same course 3 times now so it should all be familiar – kind of speaks to the fact that I was feeling much more coherent and in control in this race compared to previous races.
Right before the ball diamond Chip and Dale were out and I stopped and they realized there was no professional photographer again (just like Mary Poppins) – strange. Oh well – no photo for me here.
After the obligatory stop to take rocks out of my shoes after the ball diamond, I continued on toward mile 20 where I had my final solid fuel break.
I hit the 20 mile mark at 3:35:01 – very solid to be well under goal pace of 5 hours. I did the 6.9 miles from the half point to here in 1:11:02 – definitely not bad with some character stops and a break to get rocks out of my shoes.
At about mile 20.4 or so they had up a big video camera projecting the runners on giant screen – I caught a look at myself and thought “man…I still look strong!” Awesome!
Then hardest part of the Walt Disneyworld Marathon begins – the stretch between that point and about mile 22.5 – those couple miles of highway and overpasses and up and downs can kind of wear on you. The only real entertainment in that area is the green army man at just past mile 21 on the onramp. He definitely provides solid encouragement but this area can be kind of dull.
But then into Hollywood Studios!
In previous years they have had some character to get a photo stop with just as you enter the backstage area but I didn’t see that this year – maybe I missed it.
A big change this year from previous years was the tunnel where on the Backlot Tour you could see where character costumes were made. With the closing of the Backlot Tour, Disney must be doing some refurbs in this area and the windows were all blacked out. To make this section not just be a dark tunnel they added fog and disco lighting! It was kind of cool and brought a smile to my face – there was an issue with people stopping dead to take pictures though…
Anyway – onwards!
Mike and Sully! Got in line to see these guys but just before it was my turn they took Sully off for his break. So I didn’t get both of the Monsters, Inc guys but still, it was cool.
From there it was quick tour through Hollywood Studios.
And then out toward the walking path to the Boardwalk Resort. I love this area around the Boardwalk, Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts and was feeling great as I hit mile 24.
At about mile 24.5 I stopped to walk and tweet that I was at my happy place – in front of the Yacht / Beach Club pool area (Stormalong Bay). I figured this would also let my wife know how far out I was so she could try to catch me on the live finish feed that Disney had set up.
From there on toward International Gateway and into Epcot by the England pavilion, quickly followed by mile 25! Still feeling great – even if it had decided to start raining.
Just a few steps away I ran into Aladdin at the Morocco pavilion and got a picture with him. Last character stop!
Next up a quick tour through the World Showcase.
And onto the run toward the fountains and Spaceship Earth – I love that straight shot toward the big ball – that stretch of the run always lifts me up!
Just as you get up to the ball there is a quick jog right to head toward mile 26 and the choir. Just 0.2 miles to go!
A few bobs and weaves and then continue on the final stretch to the finish line for the 4th time in 4 days – and with that Dopey Challenge is done!
Cross the line
1st Dopey Challenge, 5th Goofy Challenge, 10th marathon, 15 half marathon all finished over the course of this challenge. Awesome!
Done and happy
4:40:36 – definitely beat my goal pace for the race. Meaning that I was faster than my goal for each of the 4 races this weekend. I will take that as a solid victory!
I figure with all the stops I made I ran most of that race at marathon PR pace and never felt like I was falling apart. I am simply giddy about that.
From there I got my finishers medal and did the walk toward the photo stop and then checked into the Goofy/Dopey Challenge tent to get verified before getting my final 2 medals for the weekend. Then one more photo stop with 3 medals and off to find a beer.
3 medals – they multiplied
Had a good beer and a bit of a snack and then headed toward the bus and hotel. On the walk to the bus I walked past Sean Astin again and congratulated him quickly. Strange that of all the multiple thousands of people out there running that day it would be him that I saw so frequently. Life is strange.
Quick bus ride to the hotel and a shower before calling the wife and grabbing my brother to go get lunch. At Epcot of course!
We spent a few hours there before heading back to the hotel to figure out supper. Best we could find was back at Epcot (Tokyo Dining) – it was very good and we hung out and hit Soarin’ before fireworks.
Illuminations at Epcot
Then back to the hotel for a quick beer and a well deserved rest. Felt awesome the next day too – whoohoo! Dopey was conquered in style!
It looks like my full total for all 4 races was 7:58:44 – wicked!
Interestingly it looks like I may have also been the top Dopey Challenge finisher from Winnipeg this year (I could find 11 Dopey finishers in the stats). It is kind of a silly thing to look at really since everyone ran those 4 races with a different strategy so it really doesn’t mean anything. But it is a cool statistic to see. Surprisingly that also puts me at the 4th fastest overall time for the Goofy Challenge for Winnipeg finishers as well. Again – doesn’t mean much but cool to see.
ps – the missing camera was in the room