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Tyrand Williams' Journey to Orlando

Q: When was your first Dopey Challenge, and what made you decide to do it? How many have you ran since?

I ran my first Dopey Challenge in January of 2022. I paced CES South Loop in the summer of 2021 and during one of our long run conversations the point that I had never been to Disney World came up. Coincidentally two members of my group mentioned the Dopey challenge to me, which initially sounded crazy (a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon in 4 days sounded insane). After a few weeks of them telling me that registration was still open (now registration sells out in an hour) I decided it would be a good physical/mental challenge, and would allow me to see all of the Disney World Parks in one “vacation”. I also thought it would be a one and done event, and this year makes my third dopey in a row (and eying a fourth next year). 

Q: What's the hardest part of the challenge? Is it mental, physical, or both? 

The hardest part of the challenge a combination of the mental and physical aspect. Most races you only have to prepare for a single day, you race, then it is over. With Dopey, it’s physically tough to wake up at 2 AM EST to make it to the park by 3 AM, then to your start corrals by 4 AM to run by 5 AM four consecutive days. It’s physically tough to run a length that doubles 4 times in a row and ends with a marathon. It’s mentally tough to think about all of the work that goes into the races (i.e. including proper pacing to not burn out, planning your meals to properly fuel, what to wear for each race, and any other variables that may be thrown at you). It’s also tough to not be intimidated by the totality of the Challenge.

Q: What about the race series makes you keep coming back? 

What keeps me coming back is the run is the most fun I’ve ever had while running races. From the character stops, the costumes that other runners wear, the parks themselves, and the culmination of a the worlds funnest marathon, which this year included riding 7 rides, eating, and drinking my way around the world all before crossing th finish line). It’s an unbelievable experience! It helps remind me that running can be fun and that you don’t have to put all your effort into “racing” every race. I’ve also met some of the greatest people (first timers, parents running with children/their parents, guide runners, even random strangers) who all want to help other runners experience their best Dopey (whatever that may mean to them). Also there’s no other race that includes 6 medals for 4 races (5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Goofy Challenge = half and full, and Dopey challenge = all four races).

Q: Anything else you want to share?

My Girlfriend became a runner seeing me dive deeper into the sport after running my first marathon in 2018 (Chicago). Since then she’s run several half marathons and a couple full marathons. She had also never been to Disney World before and decided to join this year. I originally planned to propose during the half marathon at Cinderella’s castle, however, the half was cut short due to weather. Since we’re going to Paris for the Olympics this year I pivoted my plan to propose after the marathon during lunch at Chefs de France, which allow her to explore Disney World while seeing me multiple times on the route. The hardest part of the challenge this year was getting down on one knee after running 48.6 miles, but I received the greatest reward after!

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