Travel Run: Dopey Disney Florida Whimsy (Part One)

Way back at the beginning of 2014 I found myself standing on a strip of asphalt road outside of Epcot center in Walt Disney World in Florida preparing to run a series of four consecutive races across four days.

How I had decided many months earlier to take on the Dopey Challenge, a four race series consisting of a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon in four days, is a long, winding tale full of hubris and running confidence tangled up in my wife’s love of all things Disney.

In retrospect, and now knowing numerous people who routinely run eighty-plus kilometer single-day ultra races, my seventy-eight point two kilometers of theme park jogging hardly seems as epic in comparison.

Yet, for me, running through Disney World (four times) was probably one of the highlights of my running life.

A five kilometer run with my family around the walkways of Epcot.

A ten kilometer jog in the rain on a similar but longer path a day later.

A half marathon that led us all to the Magic Kingdom and back with poses in front of the castle and along roadways cluttered with a dizzying array of Disney decor.

And on the last day, a full marathon through all four Disney World theme parks, a race track, a ball diamond, taking dozens of photos, and crashing across the finish line to hang multiple finisher medals over my neck.

I rested with a much slower, much more meandering wander through Disney World over the following days.

Fast forward to early twenty-twenty and with no intention of running on another vacation, we had booked a two week Florida trip over spring break… due to leave just days following rumblings that a global panic had started to emerge around a novel coronavirus and a contagious outbreak was leaping from country to country.

Disney World closed the Friday before our flights were due to leave.

The Canada-US border slammed shut a few days later.

Our flights were cancelled for credits.

Our hotel was spun into a chaotic series of emails and phone calls and future stay vouchers.

Our park tickets were suspended indefinitely.

We obviously never went to Florida in spring 2020, and we have been sitting on a heap of travel credits for the better part of two years since.

Time definitely does not fly when you’re sitting around not travelling.

Registration for the 2022 Disney World Marathon series is pretty much full up now.

While I am in no shape anymore (thanks, COVID.) to run the Dopey Challenge, at least one of those races would be another exciting way to kick off 2022, right?

So, if, say, I had been on the ball and had registered for, for example, a half marathon in Florida in January… and, say, I found an excuse to use a bunch of those travel credits… and, say, I was fully vaccinated for travel across international borders… that would make a much more interesting part two to this post, wouldn’t it?

Just saying