Well, they’ve finally done it. They’ve gone too far. I knew something like this was bound to happen but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon.
runDisney has made the announcement on the Disney Parks Blog of a new race and a new challenge for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. The Goofy’s Race and a half Challenge (running both the half and full) has been around since 2006. At some point along the way runners added the 5K to the mix for an “unofficial” challenge referred to as the Dopey Challenge, since if running a half and full marathon back to back is Goofy than surely running a 5K, half and then full back to back to back had to be “Dopey”.
Well, Disney has now made the Dopey challenge official… with a twist. They’ve added a 10K to the mix (who’s “host” and medal will be Minnie Mouse) and instead of the Dopey being a 3 race challenge they went ahead and jumped to a four race challenge and made it the 5K, 10K, Half and then Full back to back to back to back. The haul for this is 6 medals – 5K, 10K, Half, Full, Goofy and Dopey. You get credit for the Goofy challenge for doing the Dopey, which I imagine is only fair.
I don’t like this for a myriad of reasons. First, this pushes the 5K to Thursday, which complicated travel plans (and days off for those of us who, ya know, work for a living) and lodging. If you want to come in on Saturday just to run the Full marathon only on Sunday? HA… good luck. Second, the 5K starts at 6:30AM, and the 10K start at 5:30AM just like the half and the full, so you are looking at four mornings in a row of getting up at 2AM or so to get to the start, even if you are staying on park property. I don’t see how this is fun. It was bad enough doing it for one race like I did. Last, it’s a money grab… pure and simple. I love Disney, I really do, but this goes too far. How much does it cost for the “honor” of four days of torture. A cool five Benjamins ($495 until June 18).
This past year I paid $150 to run the half marathon by registering for it as soon as it opened. This year the opening registration is $160. Ok, so it’s only $10, what’s the big deal. The big deal is it goes up every year. Until they reach the point of diminishing returns (i.e. the price gets so high the race does not sell out) it will continue to go up. That means in 10 years the Disney half marathon will cost $250. Think about that. I saw someone who posted on the Half Fanatics facebook page that the Dopey was only $20 more than the combined prices of all four races. Wait… $20 MORE? You don’t even get a discount for registering for multiple races? Damn the extra medals and the extra shirt, most other places with race combos (like the Flying Pirate or the St Leo’s this year) the price for the double is LESS than the individual prices.
Thinking back to this past year’s race experience I shudder to think what next year will be like. Almost 60,000 runners between the three races. The expo was MOBBED even when I went on it’s second day. The race course was MOBBED or as one of my fellow racers so eloquently put it “We were ass-to-elbow the entire time”. Adding an extra race and an extra day is only going to make this worse. Now that the shorter races are part of the challenge, they are going to sell out faster and they are going to fill up with people who are doing the challenge rather than who just want to do only the 5K, or only the 10K. Will they cap it like the Goofy so that the 5K and 10K are not 100% full of Dopey participants, yes, I’m sure they will, but it will still take a huge chunk out of both of those races. 25%? 50%? Where will they cap it?
I have other Disney races I want to run. I’d like to run the Disneyland half in California (or even the Tink). Lisa wants to run the Wine and Dine Half, and I love EPCOT so how can I say no to that, and her and a whole host of her friends want to do the Expedition Everest Challenge. But, do I want to go back to the circus that the Marathon Weekend has become? Hell no. Not even close. You won’t see me there unless Lisa is just dying to run the Half (or the new Minnie Mouse 10K).
I know this will be an unpopular opinion, most people seem to be all “HECK YEAH!” and “BRING IT ON!” but I don’t like it. That’s just me. If you wanna go be Dopey for a week and spend $5000 in Central Florida in the off season, go right ahead.