Calling all Disney Runners: I need to pick your crazy, CRAZY brains.

So I mentioned here the other day that I have a wee bit of an obsession with the Dopey Challenge. Over the course of last weekend I learned that I was in good company. Apparently Dopey is a dream shared by many. Thank you for making me feel more sane.

You might also be aware that I have a toddler. Fun fact about her: she freaking LOVES Mickey Mouse. Like gets super screamy (“HI MICKEY!!”) and excited when she sees him on television and offers him some of whatever she’s drinking or eating at the time. So the other night I was thinking…what a fun Christmas present it would be this year to treat ourselves to a little Disney vacation in January. It would be a great Mickey-filled vacation for B, a well-deserved break for my husband who never gets to go on vacations EVER – seriously the last time we flew on a plane together was in 2010 when we got married –  and for me…well we all know what else happens in January down at Disney.

I know. Total pipe dream. I was going to mention it to my husband and he was going to chuckle like I just told him a cute joke. He would label me insane just like every other non-runner has when I talk to them about Dopey Challenge. He wouldn’t be able to get off work. We wouldn’t be able to afford a Disney vacation. Why don’t I get in the kitchen and bake him a pie or something.

Well the other night I brought it up and none of those reactions happened. Especially not that last one because he would never talk to me like that.

In fact, he seems to think it’s a GOOD IDEA. WHAT!?

It’s kind of rare that I get a large sum of extra money to spend just on me and instead Betty gets more Bubble Guppies, but I got an extra bonus at Christmastime that I had planned on using to do something fun for myself. And what a more fun thing to spend it on than Dopey registration? Okay that might be debatable to a lot of people, but it sure sounds like the most fun thing to me. We could lighten up on the Christmas shopping this year and make the trip our big present instead. This is a win-win for everyone anyway because not only do we get to go to Disney, but our house won’t look like an Toys R Us threw up in it. He even started planning out ways to save money over the year to make this happen. How cool is he!?

So now that my dear, sweet, supportive, WONDERFUL husband has given me the go for the Dopey Challenge, I have a lot of questions. Here are just a couple of them. I’m going to have way more later, trust me.

If you have run at Disney in the past, did you do a package deal or did you just kind of wing it with hotels and stuff? How did either of these things work out for you? 

If you ran Dopey…how did you feel during the day after each race? Were you exhausted? Did you walk around the parks or could you have if you wanted to? I tend to bounce back really quickly from my long runs and think I’ll be okay to go after the first three days especially if I’m not trying to PR, but I’m certain that the full marathon is going to hurt me.

Basically I’m just trying to make sure that I’m not going to be a total sack of useless for the whole trip. While I want to do this SO SO SO BADLY, first and foremost this is a chance to take my daughter to Disney World and I want to watch her enjoy herself. And I want to enjoy MYself. I love Disney World and haven’t been in nearly 14 years.

Any and all comments and advice are welcome! For now it looks like it’s



He’s kind of scary, but I get it. I want that bling too.

~ Salt

PS (I’ll be doing these all week, folks!) Bondi Band giveaway is still in full effect! Enter here if you haven’t already!


41 thoughts on “Calling all Disney Runners: I need to pick your crazy, CRAZY brains.

  1. txa1265 says:

    Awesome! I hope you guys make it happen! We did that a few years ago – took an extra vacation and headed to Disney over Christmas with my wife’s sister and her family. We were supposed to cut back on Christmas … but we wanted the kids to have iPods for the plane, and some new clothes and they wanted stuff … ugh!

    So my only suggestion would be to make a plan to make the budget work. Because our memories are mixed between the fun times and the massive expense of over-doing Christmas and traveling with a family for whom a ‘budget’ is more like a ‘starting point’!

    • runsaltrun says:

      This is great advice! My husband is pretty good with making money plans so I think as long as we start working on it right now, we can make it work! I cannot wait to see Betty’s face at Disney. 🙂

  2. Lindsay says:

    I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!! There is no possible way that I could do the Dopey Challenge, but I am am so excited for you and this part of your journey! She is going to squeal with delight when she gets to see see Mickey in person (Heck, I did when I was in my 20’s & went to Disney for the first time! ❤ 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you, my friend!! I can’t believe I’m actually going to attempt this. And I can’t wait to see her face either. It’s going to be epic. She is going to LOVE it.

      You need to pick a race down there that weekend and come on down!!

  3. krissy m. murphy says:

    Hi Lauren/Salt 😉 My friend Theresa sent me over, and I am glad that she did!

    First of all, congrats on deciding on the Dopey Challenge! In general, my best advice for multi-day challenges (and from my friends that did this recently would agree) is to take each slower than normal and just enjoy, so you can save your legs for the marathon. After each race too, keeping moving (walking around the parks) is a great idea to keep everything loose.

    I’ve run 8 marathons, am currently training to qualify for Boston, and am certified as an RRCA Running Coach, but I also am a huge runDisney fan and started a blog about it here ( and will also be launching online coaching this year, though I am available for general free advice anytime 🙂

    If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out some runDisney Facebook groups too, there are lots of great people to connect with, and can share their opinions on traveling/ vacation plans, too.

    ~ Krissy

    • runsaltrun says:

      Hey Krissy!! Thank you so much for coming over to help me. 🙂 I am going to check out your blog and have been seriously considering looking for online coaching as well. I haven’t run a full marathon yet, but by the time this rolls around I will have run 2 (I’m doing Bob Potts in May and Baltimore in October).

      I was so hoping that someone would say that walking around the parks was a GOOD idea. 🙂 I figured that it would be a great way to stay loose, but it’s always good to hear it first hand too! I joined the runDisney Facebook last night and I will definitely be checking it out more tonight.

      You are so awesome. Thank you so much and good luck with getting your BQ! (That will be another big dream of mine for one day, but let’s just see how I get through this first marathon in May before I get too ahead of myself haha.)

  4. Kelly @ Turned up to Eleven says:

    I think this is an amazing idea!!! And what a great thing to plan THIS far in advance. Saving money will be a breeze with this goal to work toward and trust me, having a fun trip at the end of the year really makes the entire year exciting!!!

    (When we planned to go to Colorado for Christmas two years ago it was such an awesome thing to have an entire year to plan!!!)

    • runsaltrun says:

      I totally agree! It was this way for our wedding too. In a way waiting for the whole year to get married sucked, but we never would have been able to get everything worked out so well if we had just hopped on a plane and went. 🙂

  5. onedreamymess says:

    That sounds soooooo stinking cute that your daughter offers Mickey her food! haha. I have been really interested in doing a Disney race for awhile. I love the idea of making a whole vacation out of a race! You guys will have such an awesome time… especially being some place warm for Christmas 🙂

  6. michelle k says:

    Yay! So exciting! I could never survive the Dopey, but I am jealous all the same.

    We did the Disney Resort for the first time during Wine and Dine and I think we will continue to stay at Disney Resorts in the future. The prices range from about 99/night and up depending on the resort and I think they should put some resorts on sale for the event. We paid about 150/night after taxes. We could have found a nicer room for less off Disney property (it wasn’t bad, just not as new as I thought it would be) but all of the other extras made it totally worth it. First, you don’t even have to pick up your luggage, Disney gets it before it goes to baggage claim, so you just get off the plane and go down to the Magical Express (their shuttle) and they take you to the resort. They deliver your bags to your room later. So convenient, especially with a toddler. You can get a bus to anywhere you want to go on Disney property, so you don’t have to pay for parking at the parks. We felt the price of the room was well worth it when you look at the convenience and not having to pay for car and parking. Also getting to the expo to register and the race was super easy. On the way back we were surprised to find Disney had printed our boarding passes for us before we left. We gave them our luggage at the resort and they checked it for us at airport. We didn’t have to check in at all at the airport since we had our boarding passes already and went straight to the gate- another huge bonus. Their operation is really impressive! We got the ESPN Sports discount on our tix, I would think they would do it for all races. I can’t remember the price exactly but it was really, really good. And if B is still under 3, she should be Mickey’s Guest 🙂

    Some of this may be too much too soon, but if you haven’t seen these. . .

    We did not use them, but if you need a sitter, they book up fast for races

    We use this to try to find the best days for each park

    Some good tips

    and a few more…

    If you go to Animal Kingdom, try to get there when they open and do the Safari first – the animals are more active in the morning so you will see more and hopefully have little to no wait.

    There are Disney photographers all around the parks to take your pictures and you can buy them later. Don’t be shy about handing them your own camera, they will gladly take a picture with yours.

    I’m sure you won’t, but I won’t forgive myself if I don’t say to make sure you meet Mickey at the Town Hall in Magic Kingdom. I don’t want to spoil anything if you don’t know, but Mickey is a bit different. It was a surprise for me and it really was magical.

    I promise I do not work for Disney! Just a huge Disney fan 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh my gosh THANK YOU!!! This is all so so so helpful! Those prices are really reasonable. I was thinking the same thing about staying on resort, especially since the races are so early in the AM. For the shorter ones, I don’t want to have to wake everyone up and drag them out of bed so I can just go and be back in time for everyone to go to breakfast together since they have transportation to and from or they can meet me there. And then for the marathon, Mike and Betty can just take their times meandering over.

      Betty will be just shy of 3 years old so that will be AWESOME! I’m a HUGE fan of Disney too and I can’t wait to see her reaction to all of it.

      You have given me so much great stuff to go over! You are awesome! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      The price is definitely more than a little daunting, though I guess it makes sense if you think about everything you would be getting for it. If not for the extra Christmas money I’m not sure we would be able to make it happen. I hope you can convince him!

  7. Mark W. says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I was also sent here by Theresa 🙂 Congrats on wanting to do the Dopey!! Having just done it, it’s a ton of fun, and I would highly recommend it if you’re willing to commit to the training.

    I’ve done a bunch of different runDisney events. Specifically at Walt Disney World, I’ve done the 2011 WDW Marathon, 2012 “Unofficial Dopey” (5k + Goofy Challenge before 10k/Dopey existed), 2012 Tower of Terror 10 Miler, 2013 Goofy Challenge, and 2014 Dopey Challenge. I’ll try to share what I’ve learned from those.

    I can’t really comment on package deals/hotels/tickets, as I am an Annual Passholder and stay on DVC so that’s a totally different animal. Unfortunately I haven’t really looked into the running-specific packages as it wouldn’t apply to me. I do know that, in general, Disney uses a lot of very slick marketing to try to get people to buy into packages that in some cases wouldn’t save them money vs. doing things a la carte. It can be very worth it to check into different discounts you may get purchasing things separately or in packages both directly from Disney and through travel agents. For park tickets, I know is very reputable and can often offer modest ticket discounts. The Disney Dining Plan is somewhat controversial, but my personal opinion is that it is *not* a good deal at all for most people and you will likely both save money and have more freedom to eat what/where you want if you just pay for your food a la carte. You’ll find a very good write-up on that here:

    In terms of hotels, the one thing I can strongly recommend is that you do stay on property at a Disney resort. This will be a *huge* advantage in terms of race transportation because you will 1) be a lot closer to the races and 2) be driven by Disney transportation and not have to worry about dealing with all the traffic yourself (traffic can be a REALLY big issue on marathon and half marathon days). I think there are lots of other non-running reasons to stay on property, but in terms of the races, race day transportation is enough of a reason by itself to stay on property in my opinion. Staying on property can be the difference between waking up at 3am vs. 12am. If you’re going to be doing it four days in a row, 3am is very preferable 🙂

    As far as the running goes… I agree with those who have said to take the earlier races slow and save yourself for the full marathon. It’s obviously also important to recover smart – I’ve personally found recovery tights to be very helpful (even though I’m a guy and look ridiculous wearing recovery tights and shorts in the parks). Recovery nutrition is obviously key too. Disney will give you lots of Powerade on/after the course, and a post-race box full of recovery snacks, but if you have particular preferences as far as recovery nutrition (as most of us do, I would think), you’ll obviously want to bring that with you for bag check.

    That said, even though I’ve got a pretty good recovery strategy, running events four days in a row (and getting up way too early to do it) does get tiring eventually. I tend to do *light* days in the parks after each race. Walk slow instead of rushing around everywhere, and head back for bed sometime between 7-9. I haven’t had young children with me when I’ve been doing this, so I’m not sure how much of a damper that would put on a desire to do a “light” day.

    As far as training, having done it myself, I recommend the Galloway training plan for the Dopey, which will be made available for free on the runDisney web site sometime after registration opens. I’m not sure anyone else of Galloway’s caliber has really thought about how to prepare for something like this, so unless you have other training plans, I’d go with that 🙂

    Other than that, have fun! Disney races are a blast and especially for something like the Dopey, a great excuse to just enjoy running and being around other runners and the environment provided without obsessing over times. If you have any other questions, just ask!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Hi Mark!! Thank you IMMENSELY for all this great advice! I think all signs are pointing to us staying on the resort now. It definitely seems like the way to go. (And I definitely would rather wake up at 3am than midnight.)

      I’ve heard a lot about the Galloway plan the past couple days so I think that will be the one to use. I also like the fact that this is a low pressure situation where I just want to finish on my own time and PRs don’t matter.

      Luckily my daughter won’t be quite three years old and doesn’t stay up late, so getting back to the hotel for bed will totally be happening around 7pm. 🙂

      I’m sure I will have lots of questions coming up! I learned yesterday that registration opens up on April 22 so I’m just looking forward to that part next. Thank you so much again for all of this!

  8. Meghan says:

    I’ve been terrible about commenting, but I have been following your running journey, and DAMN GIRL! You are fierce! I think the Dopey Challenge is an incredible goal that you will no doubt ROCK. Thanks for being such an inspiration to a fellow mama getting her groove back!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Meghan!!!! Thank you so much!! I just want YOU to know that I think you were hugely inspiring with your running through your pregnancy! I didn’t start running until after B was born and now that I do I have an even greater appreciation and awe for moms that do it. You are amazing!

  9. Diann says:

    That’s so cool!! (Esp. the going south right now part. We had our first day of sunshine yesterday in what felt like forever!)

    I’ve never done any Disney races, but it might be helpful to check out Karla Bruning’s blog at

    She’s done tons, and also may have some advice.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks for the link, friend! I’m heading over to check her out. 🙂
      It was actually sunny here today and even though it was cold, I took full advantage of it. I’m not running at Disney next month but man am I looking forward to some warm Florida temps.

  10. piratebobcat says:

    Awesome!! BTW, last year it sold out in 2 days, so get on it as soon as registration opens!!!! I’m still working on my recaps – but my goal running the Dopey was to PR the full. I did, but still bonked the last 5 miles. I think the previous days mileage finally kicked in. That said, I took it REAL easy the first 3 races. I didn’t walk, but I ran a few minutes slower per mile than usual. If you don’t care about times, then you’ll be fine visiting parks in between, however, I did not as I was saving my legs for the full. Walking the parks can take it’s toll on your legs as I learned a couple years ago… It was hard for the boy though. Every day he asked if he could ride the Buzz Lightyear ride. He did get to run the kids race though. And we took him into Epcot right after the Full, then spent a few days after just letting him go wild in the parks.
    As for where to stay, this time we stayed 2 days in a hotel as we needed a babysitter and they only come to hotels. The other days we stayed wit my sister. Last year we stayed at a resort and took the shuttles. Year before that in a condo thing.
    Anyway, I feel like I’m getting scatter brained here. Did I answer anything? Message me and I can answer your questions better –

    • runsaltrun says:

      YES I was hoping you would see this post! Thank you for this wonderful info! I am so stoked to read all your recaps and since you are one of my favorite bloggers I will probably have lotsa questions for you. 🙂

      2 DAYS!? Okay now that I know what I’m up against I’m going to be treating this registration like the time I was trying to get Lady Gaga tickets. Talk about selling out fast, but I got those (and for not too much cheaper than Dopey). I already set an alarm reminder to start going off on April 21st so I won’t forget.

  11. runcolbyrun says:

    Hmmmmmm. Dopey. Now you’ve got me thinking….
    That sounds EPIC! I’m stoked for you. And Christ. I don’t even know you— but I am super fly stoked I found your corner of the blogosphere. Good stuff here.
    🙂 Dopey On!!!

  12. Sara says:

    I would love to do Dopey and have been jealous of all the people walking through the Airport with their medals. I did Disney half a few years back and staying at the resort is the way to go. Race times are early, and you line up a a couple hours before that. I think we shuttled over and lined up at 3:30 for a 5:30 start time. The weather can vary greatly, but January race in the cold is no big deal for you…I was huddled in a trash bag convinced I was going to freeze to death.

    Good luck! So exciting!!!

  13. James Hansen says:

    So, I’m a few days late to the party… just trying to find time to give my 2 cents. Theresa sent me too, and I’m happy we’re following each other on twitter now 🙂

    So, my story… I hate running. But I love Disney races. I set out to do the 2011 Marathon as a bucket list item. That soon turned into Goofy because I didn’t want to stop short of the “full deal”. Since then, I make more trips to Disney for races than for anything else. I did Dopey this year, and I’ll do it again next year.

    I run a race or two at home during the year to get decent qualifying times for a good corral, but come race day, my goals are simply 1) finish within the allotted time and 2) take as many pictures as possible. I can run any day of the year, whether it be a race or not, and run for speed. But this is a memorable occasion and I want to take full advantage of it. I run with headphones for other races or when training, but I don’t at a Disney event. There’s too much to take in (plus there’s alot of people so it’s good to be a bit more aware of what’s going on around you).

    I also generally stay at a Disney resort for the convenience of race transportation, though I ended up driving to the 5k and 10k anyway. There are far fewer road closures those days and so it’s not as hard to get around. I am a passholder so I can sometimes get good rates but a good travel agent can watch for good prices too.

    If by chance you have a way to stay for cheap at a non-Disney property, I wouldn’t completely rule it out, just plan a little extra time to get there. The earlier you go, the less traffic there will be.

    I was really happy with the way I planned my trip this time. I had 4 full days to experience the parks (essentially 1 day per park) before the races began. This way, i felt no need to rush around and try to fit stuff in after races and could take it much easier. I’d recommend taking an ice bath after each race (actually I prefer a cold water bath instead of ice – and leave your shorts on, that makes it so it doesn’t feel as cold where you don’t want it to)… that will give your legs some good recovery. But once that happens, I find it good to keep moving, so being in the park is good.

    I can honestly say I trained better for my first Goofy than I do today, but come marathon morning, I didn’t feel like I’d run at all the day before. I had recovered that well.

    I have friends that like pool time all day after the races, but that wouldn’t work well for me.

    And to be honest, though it may sound silly, Dopey really wasn’t all that hard. Again, I took it easy, but when I initially signed up, I really was thinking ‘what have I gotten myself into’. And in the end, it worked out to be fine.

    Feel free to ping me with any more questions you have. But I’m all in favor of you doing it 🙂


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