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Lessons learned from running four races in four consecutive days

The Dopey Challenge: Lessons from running four races in four consecutive days

This January, I had the privilege to take on a new-to-me type of race: a multiple race weekend. I ran the runDisney Dopey Challenge  in Walt Disney World. “Dopey” consists of a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday.

I wanted to share some thoughts I had on the event in case anyone is considering running Dopey in the future or doing a similar race challenge.

It wasn’t any more difficult than “just” running a marathon.
I was nervous for the challenge. I ran my PR marathon two months earlier and I was incredibly sore for days. If I felt that way after “only” 26.2 miles, how would I feel after 48.6 miles? Heck, would I even be able to complete the challenge? But it honestly didn’t feel any harder on my body than if I had just run a marathon. If you can run a marathon, you can complete the Dopey Challenge.

Slow and steady wins the race.
I ran the 5K, 10K, and half marathon at a much slower pace than normal – and this is probably why my body fared well. I purposely held back for the first three races because I wanted my legs to be as fresh as possible for the marathon. And they were! The marathon was by far the most fun event – likely because I could run as fast as I wanted without worrying about saving my legs for the next day. I ran my second fastest marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge, which I was not expecting at all.

You really need more fuel.
Before Dopey, I wrote an article about fueling for a multiple race weekend. When researching the topic, every source said the same thing: you’ll need extra fuel. It’s true! I couldn’t believe that I already needed fuel between miles 4 and 5 of the marathon. I needed fuel earlier and more often than usual – I took two extra gels during the marathon – and I ate more calories between races.

An early bedtime is a must.
Disney races start early – 5:35 a.m. – and you have to board the bus to the race site hours before the start. I was in bed by 7:00 p.m. every night and this helped. But even if the races had a later start time, I’d argue that an early bedtime is key for optimal recovery in between races. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was actually well-rested for the marathon.

A buddy makes it more fun.
My husband and I ran the entire challenge together. It was fun having him there so we could talk strategy during each race. Plus, it was nice completing such an accomplishment alongside someone else.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
My husband and I are both PR junkies. When we registered for Dopey, we knew the races would all just be for fun, so we looked at Dopey as a one and done deal. But we enjoyed the event much more than we expected. And now I guess we have our Dopey Challenge PR. We added up our time for each event, and would love to beat that overall time one day.

I highly recommend the Dopey Challenge to anyone looking for a different type of race challenge. I definitely see more multiple race weekends in my future!

Written by Jen Matz.