Waking up on the third day of the Dopey Challenge for the half marathon is unquestionably the hardest thing to do. By the time the third day rolls around, burnout from the early mornings is starting to set in, especially since you really have to be up earlier than the previous two days because of the longer walk to the starting corrals.
The morning of the half had warmed up slightly from the previous two days, but at 4AM any chill just feels way colder than it actually is.
For the half, I had my wife coming with me as she was taking on her first Goofy Challenge. Before the race, we met up with some of our teammates from Ragnar Cape Cod, then made our way down the long trek to the starting line. The walk to the starting corrals sort of has that feeling of cattle being led to slaughter. 24,000 runners are all packed in to a pretty small space, huddling together for warmth while half asleep with each thinking to themselves, “Man, should I find a port-a-potty now, or just wait until the race starts?” (Just a tip, lines for the port-o-lets are usually shorter down by the starting line, and if you can, wait until the race starts and use the first set that is just about a mile in)
This was now my 4th year running the Disney World Half Marathon, and the start of the race never gets old. Donald, Mickey and Goofy all take the stage to count the runners off.
Then the fireworks blast off and send runners on their way. I was lucky enough to be in Corral B, so the two minute wait after the first set of runners left flew by.
This year, I opted to run the half wearing the hydration pack that I picked up for my ultra back in October. I didn’t have a chance to test it during a road race, only on the trails, so I wanted to see how it would feel at a faster pace since I planned on wearing it during the full. It also gave me the opportunity to play with a new GoPro that I picked up as I was able to secure it to my chest straps. Unfortunately it didn’t give the smoothest video, but I refuse to wear a headband, or worse, carry a self-stick!
The course was the exact same as previous years’ races, but the entertainment on the course helped the miles pass quickly. There were also some different characters out cheering runners on than previous years.
Running down Main Street USA coming into the Magic Kingdom is just simply something that can’t be beat. The castle is all lit up, the crowd is electric, it’s an unbeatable feeling. And when you couple that with being able to run through the completely finished New Fantasyland for the first time before booking through the castle, and it’s what makes running this half so worth it.
The rest of the race passed by pretty uneventfully. Having run this course so many times now, it makes me wish they’d change it up a bit. The second half of the race between Magic Kingdom and Epcot gets to be a really long stretch of nothing much to see.
Passing back into Epcot at the end is always a great feeling. The loop in and around Future World is such a great feeling because you know the end is near. As runners come to the Mile 13 marker, they’re greeted by a gospel choir, singing the praises of the runners through that last .1 mile.
I ended up finishing in 1:45 which gave me some time to head over and cheer on other runners as they finished.
With 3 races down, only 26.2 miles stood between me and my second Dopey Challenge medal.