IT IS TIME…for the last installment of my 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend recaps! If you haven’t guessed, The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie of all time.
Flashback to January 7, 2018…..
I woke up for my fifth and final early morning of the weekend. Jenna and I brushed our teeth, washed our faces, and put on some sunscreen. Then, we checked the weather, which was surprisingly looking fantastic – it was going to be the best day of marathon weekend! We quickly got dressed into our costumes, grabbed our breakfasts, and headed toward the bus stop.
We arrived at the race area and headed straight for the merchandise tent. Due to my crazy expo experience, I wanted to see if there was anything left over. I wasn’t expecting much. We waited for about 15 minutes before we were let into the tent. I quickly searched up and down the aisles to see what was left, and, as I had guessed, nothing was left. But, it was warm, so we did a few more loops before exiting the tent.
We then headed over to the DJ to watch some of the pre-race entertainment. We knew that we wanted to get into the corral pretty early since Jenna had never experienced a runDisney weekend. We then quickly used the restroom and made our way to bag check. This was the first morning that I brought a bag. Jenna and I wanted to ditch some of our outer layers and extra food before the race, so we thought that a bag would be a great idea. I marked my number on the bag and then handed it to the cast members working the bag check.
Jenna and I began our long walk to the corrals. We chatted about our race strategy (stop for shorter character lines and do 4:1 intervals). As we reached Corral C, I noticed that my sunglasses were missing. NO! My brand new sunglasses that I had worn once! I traced my steps in my mind, and then it came to me….I set my glasses down to write on my bag for bag check! By the time I realized this, it was too late to go back. The race was starting in 15 minutes. I quickly texted Steve and asked him to stop by the bag check table to see if my glasses were there. He and Logan were just arriving on the spectator buses at that moment, so I knew that there was a slim chance that he would find them sitting on the table. But, to my surprise, he texted me 5 minutes later saying that he found them! I WAS SO HAPPY!
Ok…back to the race….
We watched the pre-race entertainment, and, before we knew it, the wheelchair athletes and elite runners were off! Because it was the 25th anniversary of the marathon weekend, runDisney was playing hit pop and Disney songs from each year that the marathon was run (1994-2018). We heard plenty of Backstreet Boys, Britney, Boys 2 Men, etc. It was awesome! Because we were lucky enough to be in Corral C, we were able to start within a few minutes of the official race start, which was awesome!
The first few miles followed the same course as the half marathon, so I won’t bore you with details. Similar to the day before, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom around mile 5. Jenna and I were making great time, and we texted the boys to see where they were. We knew that they were on their way to the Magic Kingdom to see us. As we continued down Main Street, we received a text that they were still on the monorail. So, in an effort to wait for them, we decided to stop for a bunch of photos within the Magic Kingdom!
After snapping a few photos in front of the castle, we heard our names being called. It was Steve and Logan – they had made it in time to see us! We waved to them and then continued on our way through the rest of Magic Kingdom.
We continued on the same course as the half marathon for a few more miles – passed the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and the golf course.
Just after this photo (I believe), we started to make our way to Animal Kingdom. Jenna and I were having a blast and had so much energy. And, the sun was starting to come up, which made us super happy!
Hehe. This picture makes me laugh! If you know Steve and I at all, then you know that we’re obsessed with Pain and Panic from Hercules. So, when I saw this photo opportunity just before Animal Kingdom, I begged Jenna to stop. There was no line, and she happily agreed. The cast member took the photo on “2” both times instead of “3”…so this is the best photo that we got. HA!
We quickly made it into Animal Kingdom and enjoyed the shade and peaceful atmosphere. This park has definitely grown into something spectacular!
I snapped my traditional park icon photo, and we made our way towards ESPN Wide World of Sports. Usually, I start to hit the wall around miles 17-19, but I was feeling fantastic! Jenna really helped to keep my busy as the miles flew by. I honestly didn’t pay too much attention from Animal Kingdom until the end of Wide World of Sports. We chatted about life and our running goals for the year.
I will say that Wide World of Sports lasted A LOT longer than it did the last time I did the marathon. We ran 3 miles in there! WHAT! I don’t think there was a road or sidewalk that we didn’t use! Around mile 20, we were happy to be done with it. We then ran down the long stretch and slight hill to Hollywood Studios. Surprisingly, we were still in good spirits! My legs were feeling great, and Jenna’s first marathon was going better than she imagined!
We entered the back of Hollywood Studios and made a quick loop through the park. As we were exiting, I heard my name being called. It was one of my cousin’s friends from home. She was visiting with her family, and she was tracking me so that she could cheer for me. How sweet!
After Hollywood, I told Jenna that we just needed to run to Epcot and around the World Showcase. We kicked it into gear and started singing every time we passed a speaker that was playing Disney songs.
We ran along the pathway to Epcot and the Boardwalk before entering the World Showcase. Although we were making good time, we decided to stop for the many photo opportunities within Epcot. There were NO lines! We decided that we must have been towards the front of the pack to see no lines for popular characters (and, by front, I mean the first half of finishers 🙂 – NOT the first runners)!
We were smiling from ear to ear and singing our hearts out! And, as we approached the mile 26 marker, it really started to sink in. I was going to finish the Dopey Challenge, and Jenna was going to finish her first marathon! We full out sprinted towards the finish line. As soon as we crossed, we turned and immediately hugged each other. We did it!
After tearing up and having our moment, we grabbed our medals, food boxes, and water. Of course, we also had to have a selfie session with our hard-earned bling!
After celebrating with Champagne with the group, I texted my parents and in-laws to let them know how I did. In return, I received this sweet photo of my pup!
My family is the best!
When we finally finished our celebrations at the finish area, we headed to the bus stop to go back to the resort. We had early fast passes for Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster, so we quickly got ready and headed to Hollywood Studios. We rode those two rides, and then took a bus to Epcot to spend the rest of the day eating and drinking around the World Showcase. We deserved it!
Of course, we had to get a photo in front of the 25th anniversary banner!
Overall, my Dopey Challenge experience was absolutely amazing. I still can’t believe how fabulous I felt the entire time. No pain and no exhaustion! So, would I do it again? YES! Will I ever have the opportunity again? Probably not. But, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.
Have you ever completed the Dopey Challenge? Share your experience with me!