Could you run 48.6 miles over four days? In January 2016, 10 Team Fox members trained for months to compete in the Dopey Challenge — a four-day goliath event during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in Orlando, Florida. Team Fox member Lauren Everly tells us why she decided to take on the challenge and passes on words of wisdom to anyone “dopey” enough to join Team Fox for the Dopey Challenge in 2017.
Imagine running a marathon. Now imagine running those 26.2 miles AFTER running a half marathon, 10K and 5K in the three days prior. We call that “dopey.” The Dopey Challenge (a four-day, four-race event that passes through the Walt Disney parks in Florida) is an incredible feat, and to run it with Team Fox makes it all the more memorable.
I’d run half marathons before, but only completed my first full marathon in 2015. It was also my first race with Team Fox, and there was no question it had to be Disney. I fundraise in memory of my father, Lewis Everly, who lived with Parkinson’s for six years before passing away in 1998. Some of my last memories of Dad are from our trip to Disney World in Orlando, the month before he passed away. It felt like the perfect race to honor him.
I’d hardly caught my breath after crossing the 2015 finish line when my Team Fox family encouraged me to sign up for the Dopey Challenge in January 2016.
In January, I proudly finished all four races of the Dopey Challenge, and I got my mom to lace up, too! She joined me for the half and became the latest from my family to join Team Fox in the process.
Running 48.6 miles gives you a unique perspective. Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I have some useful tips for anyone interested in joining our “dopey” crew:
- Commit to your training: I tried hard to follow my training plan of two to three short runs during the week and one to two long runs on the weekend. Do everything in your power not to miss your long runs. They are key to improving endurance.
- Fuel properly: Consider the training a lifestyle change. Fueling your body well is just as important as increasing mileage.
- Mix it up: I’ll be honest. I got burned out on running. When that happened, I would trade weekday runs for yoga classes or circuit training.
- Sign up for a shorter race: I ran a half in November (two months before Disney) and it gave me a good idea of my endurance and fitness levels.
- Beware the holiday season and the temptations: The Disney Marathon falls on the first weekend after New Year’s Eve. And don’t go too crazy on Mickey ice cream bars and corn dogs. There are plenty of post-race festivities to enjoy a treat.
- Don’t sprint every race: Give yourself grace and time. You can’t charge the 5K and 10K too hard, because the marathons quickly follow. For the half, I walked eight miles with my mom. I’m convinced that taking it easy that day allowed me to push through the full marathon.
- Use race-day transportation: If you stay at a Disney hotel, use the provided transportation from your hotel to the start line. Because of the traffic, it was a huge relief to roll out of bed and zombie walk to the shuttle each morning at 3 a.m. (Yes, 3 a.m.)
Sometimes I look back in disbelief that I survived those four days. But then I remember huddling with Team Fox members before each race, watching my mom cross the finish line wearing her “Outrun Parkinson’s” Team Fox shirt and seeing Team Fox staffers cheering and holding signs. No wonder I was able to cross the finish line.
If you’re thinking about running the Dopey Challenge or any one of the Disney races, just GO FOR IT. After racing two years in a row, I‘m convinced there’s no better way to run a marathon than with a family of foxes (and a mouse).
Ready to take on the Disney Dopey Challenge in 2017? Or want to try a 10K first? Check out the race options and sign up today to run Disney with Team Fox!