Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Expedition Everest Challenge, 2014

A race repcap, six months later? Why not? Better late than never. Plus, registration for the 2015 Expedition Everest Challenge opens in just a few short weeks! I'll try my best to hit the highlights, because this race was unique, exciting, and F-U-N...

Expedition Everest Challenge is a combination 5K, with obstacles along the route, immediately followed by a scavenger hunt through Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here's the course map:

The course map

The Everest-themed race bib, one of the items we received at packet pick-up...

On the evening of the race, the forecast called for damp, chilly temps. That turned out to be an understatement. It was cold and very wet. Standing around pre-race, especially after entering corrals, was quite awful at times. Corrals are crowded enough, but there was so much rain, mixed with uneven parking lot ground, that some corrals were half flooded. People had to keep moving over and keep squeezing in to smaller and smaller spaces, all the while, shivering and soaked to the bone. I couldn't wait to start running, just so I could warm up a bit. The race began at 10:00pm. Corral release was staggered, and since I was way in the back (corral G, I believe), it seemed to take forever. Finally, after spending almost an hour waiting- we were off! 

The whole first mile of this race is through the parking lot. About a half mile in, we came to the first obstacle: hay bales! A long line of bales was set up, and we had to hurdle over several sets. Pretty straightforward. Several people bypassed the hay bails, and just walked or ran past them- but most people hurdled them as they were supposed to. Pretty soon, we were entering the park! It's always exciting to cross through that park entrance. The run up the hill toward the Tree of Life was a challenge for me- I'm used to running on flat ground. We raced throughout the park, and before I knew it, we were running out through a Cast Member only gate. The next mile was all backstage. 

You've heard of "the backside of water"? How about the backside of Expedition Everest?!
(This shot was taken during a different race, as it was very dark here during the Everest Challenge...)

Our next obstacle was out beyond the park gates, close to the back of  Expedition Everest. This was a classic tire run. At this point in the run, I was a bit nervous about twisting an ankle, since everything was slick and I was starting to feel fatigued. The tires were big, and I had to really take my time. The race continued backstage, until we reached the final obstacle, shortly before the finish- a cargo net crawl. This was a tough one, due mostly to the artificial turf under the cargo net. Murder on the knees! The finish line was in sight! Despite the rain and the obstacles, I had my fastest 5K time to date. (I later heard rumblings about this course possibly being a bit short...which could explain my PR despite rain and obstacles...)

Immediately after crossing the finish line, we were given these beauties....

...and then we were handed our first clue for the scavenger hunt, along with a small marker/flashlight. Time to head back into the park!

(Details on the clues can be found after the jump, for those who don't want spoilers...) 


The first clue was definitely a challenge! This was the hardest of the bunch for me. After spending quite a bit of time trying to figure this out, I ended up needing a hint from one of the race volunteers.

I won't totally give it away, but I was hung up on "use another item you've been given for the race". I had my mind set on a particular thing I was given for the race, and I spent the whole time trying to figure out how that thing could uncover this answer. It turned out that I was completely overlooking something ELSE I was given for the race. I won't make that mistake again!

Clue 2 was a bit easier to figure out, once you knew the correct answer to Clue 1...

Clue 3 was a straightforward fill-in-the-blank, with some trial and error thrown in for good measure...

Clues 4 and 5 went together, starting with a simple graphic challenge, and ending with some vintage-style code-breaking fun...

The conclusion of the scavenger hunt brought us back to the finish line, and straight back into the park for the after party! The party took place in the  Dinoland section of the park, with lots of music, dancing, food & drink, and characters mingling with runners. Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids were all open and running until the wee hours of the morning. 

Expedition Everest Challenge was an exciting, unique race- the obstacles added an extra element without being overly taxing, and the scavenger hunt portion was really challenging, and a ton of fun!  I look forward to returning to do this challenge again next year!

Have you experienced runDisney's Expedition Everest Challenge? Tell us about it in the comments...

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