This is our second year doing the Dopey Challenge, RunDisney's race challenge that comprises a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon on four consecutive days. We'll be recapping all the races, so here's the 5K to start.
The 5K can be the toughest part of Dopey. Maybe you traveled the day before, or maybe you've been having fun in Disney for some days now. Whatever the case, you're likely not ready to be on a bus by 4:30AM. RunDisney tells you to get on the bus between 4AM and 4:30 for the 6AM start. I can't confirm, but I suspect you could get on at about 5 and still make your corral. Any later and you might start farther back. Some tweets indicate corral F started at 6:39. We left and hopped right on a bus at about 4:15 and arrived at 4:30. Last year we had huge waits for buses, so it was nice to see that not be an issue.
There's really not much to do between arrival and race start. They've got a DJ who will play things like the Cupid shuffle, and there is food and drink available for purchase. If you arrive and have to use the restroom, get into the staging area first. You'll see lines 20 deep for two porta-pottys when you enter, but in the rest of the staging area and by the corrals there are a ton with no lines.
We waited about 20 minutes for a photo with Pluto. The big perk of this was the crowd kept us warm. Corrals start being led into the race chute around 5:45, so those in early corrals will want to be sure to be in their corral by then.
The start changed this year to "mini" waves every two minutes instead of starting entire corrals together. We didn't notice much of a difference, except the fireworks only went off at the start of the wheelchair athletes and the start of corral A. This is probably a bummer for people farther back looking for good start photos.
Don't worry, I'll cover the rest of the race, but a note on costumes. We thought there were many fewer this year than last. My leading hypothesis is that there are more Dopey runners and fewer just 5K runners. Since the 5Kers are typically families or fun runners and the Dopey runners are typically more serious, that would cause fewer costumes.
Regardless, we were Slink from Toy Story. Pair/group costumes are fun, but the added complexity of this one was carrying an actual slinky. For the most part, we'd hold it for character photos and photo pass photographers (more on all that later).
The 5K course is nothing special if you're doing the other races, but I'm sure it's great otherwise. It starts in a parking lot (ugh) before heading into Epcot behind Test Track and into the world showcase, which you get to run around. You'll see some "backstage" areas, which is kind of cool. The showcase is beautiful, and you can stop for pictures as you please. You'll run through some of future world and then out the backstage area of the park after you pass Spaceship earth.
There was only one water stop (no other fuel), which to my mind is okay for a 5K. You could also stop to use the drinking fountains in the park. Bathrooms are also open in the park.
There were six characters on course, pretty evenly spread out: Thumper and Bunny, Viking, Minnie, Chip and Dale, Donald, and Goofy
We waited about 15 minutes in line for Minnie and 10 for Donald and Thumper. A Grumpy request for future runners: please be ready to get your photo and get out. They have both photopass and cell phone staff to get you your picture, so be prepared to hand off your phone. The characters are themed (e.g. Italian Minnie, Canadian Donald, Future Goofy), so be aware if you're a collector of exotic character photos.
A quick note on the photos. While the Disney staff will take photos of you on your devices with the characters, they also have their photopass team there to take photos with the characters and on the course. We haven't yet gotten to downloading these, but if you're going to the parks, you'll strongly want to consider getting Memory Maker since it will include both the photos you take at the parks and your race photos.
We wound up taking 1:11 with a total of three character stops and a very slow pace. The medal was metal this year (rubber in the past), which was a welcome change. You can snag a finisher photo with your medal shortly after you finish (head to the back, shorter lines). The finish comes with an awesome snack box.
The line for our bus was long, but they were arriving at a pretty decent clip, so we were back at the hotel at about 8AM. Check back in the coming days for the rest of our #rundisney posts!