The Dopey Challenge is the real deal!


Okay, so the ink hadn't even dried on my previous article before Disney made the big announcement (it is only a guess but I bet they had to speed up their timetable on the announcement after the 'cat was let out of the bag' so-to-speak). Run Disney updated their website at 3:00pm EST Today with information about the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2014, announcing to the world that they were adding two new offerings! The Minnie 10K Race and the Dopey Challenge!

The new 10K will debut in Disneyland at the end of August, and is part of the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare event over the Labor Day Weekend. What is new about the announcement is that the race is also going to be held at Walt Disney World and centered upon Epcot. The race will be a timed race with a Finisher's Medal (that I assume will have Minnie Mouse on it but no designs have been released at this time). The 10K race fee will start at $95 (fees increase as it gets closer to race day). And, it will also be part of the Dopey Challenge.

The big news, however, is the Dopey Challenge. Runners have been using the term "Dopey" for years, referring to running all three Disney races during the Marathon Weekend -- the 5K, the Half Marathon, and the Full Marathon. There was never a formal recognition of this by Disney, even though cast members were familiar with the term and would use it when congratulating runners as they enjoyed the parks afterwards.

But now, Disney has changed the game. Something they are very good at (in a good way)! Now in my earlier article, I expressed my personal questions about what this race would include, the fee structure, and its impact upon the current Goofy Challenge. Since the news of a possible Dopey race was leaked, all we were left with were questions. I chose to articulate the questions that this new race raised in my mind, knowing full well that without any information from Disney, I might be worried for no good reason.

Well, all my questions were answered today. And, for the most part, my worries were unfounded. I am pleased with those answers (although I still feel the pricing for Disney races are pretty high). And I am happy to share those answers and information with my readers in order to bring those musings to a close.

The Dopey is a four race 'challenge' across four consecutive days. That's right! Marathon Weekend just went from a three-day event to a four-day event. The four races start on Thursday morning with the Family 5K. The Minnie 10K will take place on Friday (I am assuming in the morning but the web site shows no start time at this moment). The Half Marathon and Full Marathon will take place on their usual Saturday and Sunday schedules, respectively.

Each race will have a race shirt in the race packet (the 5K will still be a t-shirt whereas the other three will be technical shirts) and a Finisher's Medal when you cross the finish line (the 5K will still be a medallion). Runners who sign up for the Dopey will also receive technical shirts for the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. Runners who complete both the Half and the Full will receive the Goofy Challenge Finisher's Medal. Runners who complete all four races will receive the Dopey Challenge Finisher's Medal. And as it has been for the Goofy Challenge, you must sign up for the Goofy or the Dopey to receive their corresponding 'challenge' medal. Signing up for the four races individually does not qualify you to receive the Goofy and Dopey bibs, medals, or race shirts.

Historically, the Family 5K has been an untimed race (no timing chips/B-tags). Given that you must complete all four races to receive the Dopey Medal, one could assume that the 5K will now be a chip-timed event (or at least for those wearing their Dopey Bibs). This is not explained on the Run Disney web site at the moment, so I do not know how they will be verifying completion of the 5K race.

As for the pricing, the cost of the Dopey Challenge stands at $495. This is likely calculated by adding up the race fees for all four races ($60+$95+$160+$160=$475) plus an additional $20 to cover the "Dopey & Goofy extras" (the 2 technical shirts and 2 Challenge medals). So by Sunday afternoon, Dopey runners will have six shirts, six medals, and huge bragging rights on this inaugural race.

So the difference between running the old unofficial "Dopey" and this new, official 'challenge' is $115, which is basically just the cost for the 10K race and the extras. So I do not really have a complaint against the cost of the challenge race itself. The real pricing debate should legitimately be focused upon the cost of the individual races and how they compare to comparable races (if we can even agree that comparable races even exist). That debate is better left for a future article.

So! Is the Dopey Challenge something that excites you? Will the new Minnie 10K be an enticement for newer runners to return to Disney for another chance at glory and personal satisfaction? Does the idea of the Dopey make you want to plunk down that credit card to the tune of $495.00?

I think Disney has once again shown that they are masters at marketing. They know what their customers are looking for, and they plan out their cool new offerings in such a way as to entice their customers to return year after year. Disney parks are always evolving and changing so that visitors who come year after year will never become bored or jaded. So of course, Run Disney will follow that same successful strategy. Personally, I think they're geniuses. I just wish they would lower their prices and, instead, place race 'caps' on their races. But I suppose as long as people pay the higher race fees (even while they complain), then Disney will keep doing what they're doing.

So what am I going to do? Well, I hadn't planned to return to WDW Marathon Weekend in 2014 because I figured there wasn't going to be anything really new to do. So why not save some money for other things. Let's face it; going to Disney is an expensive proposition, especially if you are bringing family. But then Disney pulls something like this! And now, I am reconsidering. Why? Because I love Disney; I love new challenges; I love to run inaugural races; and I love new, unique bling. Disney just hit all those buttons!

So when Disney registration for Marathon Weekend opens on April 9th, you will probably find me on my iPad using the Active.COM App to sign up! It will mean making changes in my race plans for 2014 in order to find the funds, but hey, life is all about making prudent choices, being flexible, and managing risk.

So, I may be seeing some of you on the race course at WDW in 2014. "Runners, get Ready!"

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