Dopey 2019 Reflections: Logistics and (not) cheese

It’s the Wednesday morning after the Dopey Challenge. I’m going to milk this for all the blog posts it’s worth so there are a few more to come. This one is about the logistics, the race organisation and most importantly, the snack boxes you get at the end.

Disney races are unlike anything else of this size. The organisation is slick. I see grumbles on Facebook pages and I heard people complaining but I don’t quite see why. Disney can do logistics. They get it. So over the entire race weekend which actually starts on Wednesday with the Expo, things run pretty well and are well thought out. They have frequent and plenty of buses from resorts to the Expo and back, they have buses starting early to get you from the resorts to the races and the only slight glitch here was having to wait until the course cleared on 5k day. On half and full marathon day the monorail runs from the monorail linked resorts and it runs frequently.

I loved the fact that this time the monorail exit linked straight into the race village thus bypassing the main security bag check making this much calmer and taking the pressure off all areas. The start area is big enough for everyone with plenty of quieter corners to hide in. You can choose to be pumped up by the main stage or focused somewhere at the back tucked away. The corrals are easily identified and there are staff and volunteers everywhere telling you where to go and by when. You don’t need your brain, you can just focus on doing your race thing and follow instructions (and crowds).

Here’s the big one: toilets. There are porta potties everywhere. Queues are always fairly short, the potties are well stocked and re-stocked with toilet rolls and the loos are not limited to the start area. There are some along the corrals and then plenty on the course for each of the runs too. Race organisers take note. This is how you do toilets at a race event! The picture shows a tiny selection in one area.

The courses are extremely well marked and marshalled with volunteers, signs and announcements everywhere. In fact I suspect that ‘Caution Runners! Course narrows ahead’ will be stuck in my head for a while! While it’s still dark volunteers point out any corners or turns with glow sticks that remind me of lightsabres. Volunteers are also strategically placed along the course to cheer you on and shout encouragement.

Water and aid stations Are plentiful and have water or Powerade and Vaseline, biofreeze etc respectively. again they were staffed by fabulous volunteers and were set out on wide stretches of the course with both drinks at either side and plenty of room to keep going through the middle.Then there is the entertainment on course. I have read and heard a couple of grumbles about how limited and crap it was. I disagree. There was pretty much something every mile. There were character stops, music, DJs and then of course the very Disney mile markers themselves. That and of course actually running through the parks themselves. While you don’t spend much time in them, a mile max really, they do really lift you.

The finish line area is wide and the first thing you come to is the medals which are given out by enthusiastic volunteers ready to congratulate you on your achievement, then there were space blankets or cooling towels, then further on bottled water and more Powerade, then the mouse ears on marathon day and then the snack box and banana station.

So the snack box. I’m not sure what to make of it really. It was some nice bits and pieces in including tortilla chips, pretzels and some apple purée which I actually really like (but not immediately post run) and then there is this:

Despite its name this is not cheese. I don’t know what it is but it’s not cheese, not even anything remotely resembling cheese. Nothing should be dipped in it. This stuff, whatever it is should not pass your lips. Just no! The thing is, people have been saying this for years. Our Dopey 2016 boxes had ‘the cheese’. There were so many comments about it, the whole non cheese thing was named cheesegate. Well chessegate continues. But seriously, just no!

So if you want to organise an event, you can learn a lot from Disney, throw people at it, more people than you could ever imagine you might need, brief them well and then make sure you have enough space and enough toilets. Everything else runner’s are likely to forgive easily but insufficient toilets is a big no and so far Disney races are the only ones where I have actually seen enough! If you can’t make that happen, just make the bling ridiculous. Disney have that covered too!

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