One of the unique aspects of the Walt Disney World Marathon is the ability to take part in more than just one race. In fact, this year runDisney is celebrating the 10th running of the Goofy Challenge, which combines the half marathon on Saturday with the full marathon on Sunday. Last year they added a 5k on Thursday and a 10k on Friday to form the Dopey Challenge. The multi-day races have proven very popular and lots of runners will be taking part for the first time.
The most important advice I can give is that you cannot expect to run all four races at your normal speed. You will wear yourself out too soon. I did this in my first Goofy Challenge a few years ago. I went too fast in the half and paid dearly for it the next morning in the full. Due to an injury last year I wasn’t able to run any races at full speed, but this ended up working to my advantage, as I was much more comfortable in the full marathon than I would have otherwise been.
Here is my strategy for this year’s Dopey Challenge.
- 5K – Run at almost normal pace. This race is short enough not to have any long lasting effects for the rest of the week. I will slow down if I feel I need to though, no pushing through for this one.
- 10k – More of a jog than a run. I am thinking pull about a minute per mile off my normal pace for this distance. Maybe even more depending on how I feel that morning.
- Half Marathon – This is the one to sacrifice. It is the day before the full marathon, and you will already be tired by this point. Do not run the half like a normal half. I will treat this as a run/walk, and most likely finish nearly an hour over my standard half marathon finish time. And that is fine. Seriously you can really ruin it here. A great strategy is to use the half marathon as your photo race. I will stop for many photos along the course. Since I am already sacrificing the race anyway, the extra time really doesn’t matter. This way I don’t need to lose time the next morning.
- Marathon – Back to full speed and hopefully it all pays off. If not I may ride Everest again. If it’s open when I am passing it that means I am off pace anyway.
A general tip that I cannot emphasize enough is to sleep. These races start early. For most you will be getting up around 3am to get to the start on time. And get there on time. You don’t want the added stress of possibly not making it. If you are still on your way to Epcot after 4am you very well may be late. If it is after 5am it is almost assured.
The Disney races can get somewhat congested. In particular at the start line, through the Magic Kingdom, and definitely when exiting out the back of that park (the Mickey Miles Podcast refers to this part of the course as Cone Alley. It will make sense once you see it). Do not waste energy trying to zigzag around people here. You will end up spending way more energy than you should and it can easily come back to haunt you later. It will open up faster than you think, don’t worry.
Hydrate, especially if it is hot. A large portion of the course is on the highway in the sun (now you understand why this race is in January). Disney is pretty good about the water stations, but I would not skip many, if any.
Be sure to properly stretch after the race is over. Go to the medical area if you need to. It is massive and packed with volunteers. Almost as soon as you sit down someone will be attaching ice to you ankle, knee, or wherever you need it.
And most of all, enjoy the races. This is supposed to be fun after all.