Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 Dopey Challenge, Part 1 of many!

Part one of our 2016 Dopey Challenge experience: The one with no actual race reports.

It's hard to believe that we left for Florida and the Dopey Challenge a week ago- the time absolutely flew by! If I was a better blogger I probably would have blogged, or live tweeted the entire event but I did not.

I am going to try to recap the 5 days we were there and the 4 races, and 48.6 miles as well as I can, and hopefully as helpfully too. While planning for this event I found that not only does the runDisney website blow goats but there just aren't many/any informative blogs on the subject. Hopefully, if you are considering the Dopey/Goofy/WDW Marathon this might help.

We started planing early for this as sign up was in April. As discussed we missed the deadline to declare our race times for corral placement (read on to see how this played out.) We booked flights on JetBlue the day they became available. After MUCH thought and considerations we booked 5 nights at Port Orleans French Quarter, a "moderate" resort on WDW property. The tl/dr version is that there was a lot of research done and not only did we think we had made a good choice beforehand but now that it is over we would not have changed a thing! Yes, you can find more spacious accommodations off property but the bus service to and from the races was worth it, it was reliable, predictable, comfortable, fast and on time, it was worth it's weight in fucking gold and you would be really dumb to do anything else unless someone was literally paying you to do it. We also made full use of the buses and boats to the parks and to Disney Springs. The nice thing about POFQ is that it is comfortable, has fewer kids, isn't screaming "DISNEY" with characters and is really quite lovely. It also has a kick-ass hot tub which we basically got our money's worth out of.

Since this trip was during a non school vacation period I began the planning process to keep my business running smoothly as soon as we signed up. The details are boring but it is challenging for me to be gone for a week when my normal back-up staff are all at school teaching! Luckily, I have some other trustworthy people that I can recruit and with only a few minor bumps in the road the schedule was 90% locked down back in July.  (for anyone who thinks running an equestrian business is a simple process, this should make you think twice!)

Once I got through the professional end of things it was like getting ready for any other long trip that includes a lot of running in unpredictable conditions. Packing took a while. All of us packed for everything which was lucky! A few things that were lifesavers were packing throwaway shirts and pants, emergency Mylar blankets (dirt cheap on amazon), tons of plastic bags and a tremendous amount of food. When the alarm goes off at 3AM there isn't anyone to make you breakfast so having our own things was key. We basically brought staples like bread, pb, jelly, granola bars, crackers, gatorade powder (disney only has powerade so if you are picky this is smart) ramen, and wine in a box. I am not lying. We packed everything that you don't want to spend $10,000,000 on in Disney, Advil, a variety of stomach meds, bandaids, sunscreen (didn't need it) stuff for blisters, umbrellas, ponchos (needed them.) We saved a ton of money by bringing all of those things because we are smart people.

This isn't even all of it.
We traveled uneventfully on Tuesday, departing Portland around 3:00 and getting into Orlando around 10:30. Finally! It was time to GO!!!

Time to GO!!!!
We did all the smart airport things like eating pizza and having shots. It should be duly notes that this was probably the *craziest* vacation day!

We hopped directly on the Magical Express bus upon arrival. It was basically sitting there waiting for us. #score

We were at the resort, dealing with the only crappy customer service I have ever had at Disney around 11:30pm. Apparently, the night staff gives zero fucks. Luckily, for the rest of our stay the staff exceeded my expectations. (Disney and I got off to a rough start. Not only was the front desk employee a complete douche but then their soda machine ran out of water and regurgitated $4 of dimes back at me. And what do their soda machines not accept? DIMES.)
Anyway. After that it was smooth sailing after a very late night.
We all went to bed around 12:30 and I proceeded to sleep not at all which is normal.

We all awoke on Wednesday around 7:00 (or, if you were me this is when you gave up on trying to sleep and got up.)
It was raining.
We didn't care and we headed out to the Magic Kingdom to find NOBODY!!

We spent an hour doing everything that we could (quite a bit.) Nobody in the park is the correct number.

I always ride Thunder Mt Railroad first!
After that we walked to the Contemporary and took a bus to the Expo.
Everyone who had NOT been in the park WAS at the expo.
Despite the big crowd we breezed through packet and shirt pick up fast, REALLY fast like less than 10 minutes. (spoiler: this is the luck we would have with lines all week. For all things running anyway! If Disney is good at one thing, it is moving people around! And they did an AMAZING job!)
At that point we headed over to the trade show part of the expo and it was the biggest clusterfudge ever. Elbow to elbow people and basically zero fun (so we peaced out).

We ate some PB&J back at the resort and then one by one headed back to the Magic Kingdom to make the most of our park tickets. I decided that the best use of my time was to ride the people mover, on which I got stuck for an hour and subsequently evacuated off of. This was delightful as I have never been able to walk off a ride and it was really great fun, although a bit time consuming. 

Eric captured this special moment of me being trapped!
From there the 3 of us rode the Mine Train (why people stand in line for 120 minutes to ride that 3 minute ride I will never understand....) The Haunted Mansion (my favorite) Splash Mountain (even thought it was cold) and we had dinner at Tony's which was just as mediocre as expected.

Knowing that we had a 3AM wake up call we made our way back to the resort early (early on this day was around 8:00) and we had a beer at the bar while playing the most hysterical game of Disney trivia that you can imagine.
We learned that the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse has 600 branches not 4, or 8 as guessed by Eric and Me.
We also learned, through gales of laughter that Pocahontas' fathers name was Powhatan, and not Mr. Hontas as I guessed.
*You had to be there.*
In other news, the bartenders at POFQ are some of my favorite cast members in Disney- despite our not so crazy week we were basically on a first name basis by Sunday. 

We were in bed, not sleeping (AGAIN) around 9:00 and we were all excited to see how we would feel about waking up ridiculously early the next day....


1 comment:

  1. The first WDW race I did was Princess in 2011 (back when it was still and actual race. I ran it again in 2014 and it's a total shit show. And I say that as a pretty slow runner.) we stayed at POFQ. I loved that resort. It's really cute and not too Disney.

    I literally LOLed at the part about getting $4 worth of dimes from a machine that doesn't accept dimes. WTF?!