After two days of volunteering and a mostly rained-out attempt at the Magic Kingdom Friday night, I decided to chill out in my room Saturday afternoon instead of heading to a park. I thought I might take a nap, but I might have fallen asleep for maybe 20-30 minutes max...I spent most of the time eating lunch and then reading instead.
Headed to the start area not too early--this year it was a 10pm start. The weather was pretty good for this time of the year-71 with a little breeze and not too humid (for Florida...it's all relative anyway). I arrived and just wandered around until I saw Steve, Katie and their daughter (Running of the Ears friends), then I hung out with them for a bit. I didn’t see any other ROTErs (though I knew some were there), but some of my local friends arrived and we got a quick pic before heading over to the corrals (borrowed the pic from my friend Amy at The Point One Will Getcha! since mine had icky lighting, thanks Amy!).
This year for the corrals, instead of the individuals going in the first corral and the teams coming after, we were assigned corrals by pace. There were corrals A-H; I was in F...kind of a bummer after getting to start in the first corral the last two years. The corrals themselves were not big enough to fit everyone so we were spilling out the back of it. As each wave was sent off and we moved closer to the front, we were finally able to fit into the chute...also the closer to the front, they had “snow” falling onto us from high above. Our wave wound up starting at 10:30pm.
One thing that bugged many of us-even though corrals were supposedly assigned by pace (you had to indicate your anticipated pace when you registered), as each corral was sent off, you could see that every single corral (even corral A) had people at the very back walking-and not necessarily a fast walk either. I had been honest about my pace when I registered-I was thinking they’d still have individuals first, probably ordered by pace, then teams the same way so I figured I still wouldn’t be at the back, even indicating that I would be one of the slowest paces...I didn’t know they would put individuals and teams mixed into every corral based on pace. While I wasn’t put in the last corral, I thought they may have moved me up based on my times (5K and scavenger hunt) from last year.
Since I hadn’t done much running-mostly walking-in the months leading up to the race, I started off at a brisk walk and figured I’d add in running if I felt up to it. The course started off like the last two years, around the parking lot until we came to the first obstacles-the hay bales to hurdle over. I did run through this-it’s a lot easier to hurdle hay bales when you’re running than when you’re walking.
Then on into the park for a bit before heading backstage. They changed up the course a bit so we saw some different backstage portions than before. The second obstacle was the tires. They had a long line of tires set up (like what you used to see football players go through) and by the time I got there, it was a sea of people one after the other in a big line going thru them. There were about 7 or 8 people waiting to start the tires in each line, and since I’m a clumsy one, I skipped it and went off-road around them. The final obstacle was the net to crawl under, but again this year I couldn’t fathom crawling down there with the dirt being kicked up--I have enough problems with my allergies as it is...and so I went around this one too. I probably would’ve gotten through it faster if I crawled since the sand around it was soft and not conducive to any kind of fast pace at all.
After crossing the 5K finish which was back outside of the park (not my slowest 5K time ever, but still pretty slow for me at 54:40, a 17:35 pace...but I did walk almost the whole thing), I got my first clue. I was only handed the clue card and flashlight, and asked about a marker, but was told I wouldn’t need one. Here’s Clue #1:
“Zero in” told me to look for the zeroes and once I did, you could see they made the letters “NW” for Northwest. Told the volunteer at the first station just outside the entrance to the park my answer and I was given Clue #2:
“Heads up”-start at the top, “high and low”, go up and down...to get Northeast. On to Camp Minnie-Mickey, gave my answer and got Clue #3:
This one I got immediately. 26--easy, that’s the number of letters in the alphabet, 19 and 23 are the letters S and W for Southwest. Hurried to Africa, gave my answer and got Clue #4:
Okay, this one stumped me for a bit (and many other people). I understood from the hints that I should start at the top line and look down the rows to get the answer but for the life of me I couldn’t see where in the top line to start. Finally saw “nor” from normally, next line right below that was “the”, then right under that was the “ast” from “fast” which gives you Nor-the-ast...Northeast...and on to Asia for the Final Clue (#5). When I got there, tons of runners were sitting all over the ground trying to figure out this clue:
So basically we had to put the other 4 clues together, turning them the correct way based on each clue’s answer to get this:
See the symbol in the middle? We were supposed to point at the flag on our bib that had that symbol after we crossed the finish so the volunteer would know we solved it before we got our medal. Me? Yeah, I had no idea...just like all those other people who were sprawled everywhere trying to figure it out. Since I knew we had to use the previous clues to solve the final one, I kept looking at them and the only thing that popped out at me was the colors the clues were printed on-blue for the first one, white for the second, red for the third and green for the fourth. My not-so brilliant idea was, hey, we didn’t use yellow for those...and the final clue was on yellow, so I’ll just point to the yellow flag, right? Yeah, not so much. I headed to the finish line.
The volunteer I went to for my medal was one that I had worked with that morning at the refreshments table, and when I pointed to the yellow flag, she said, “ah, no...um, rhymes with right...”. Oh. Okay. So I pointed to the white flag with a silly grin and she draped my medal around my neck. White? Huh? I got my banana, Clif Bar and Powerade and hung out after the finish chute waiting for Amy and her hubby (our other friends are way faster than us and were already done and back in the park). She explained how the last clue was supposed to work. I wasn’t about to try to figure it out again then, so we headed on into the park for the After-Party.
In addition to the rides in Dino-Land being open, they also had Kali River Rapids and the headliner, Expedition Everest available to ride. I had been looking forward to that all night! And what’s even better than riding Expedition Everest at night (the absolute best time to ride it!)? Sitting in the front row of course! We rode twice before I decided to call it a night.
Overall I had a great time-this is still my favorite Disney race and I’ll keep coming back every year if I’m able. My overall time this year was slower, in part due to my much slower 5K portion (2011 I did 47:17 and 2012 I did 48:44 for the 5K part) but also due to the difficulty of this year’s clues. My final overall time? 1:32:42. Women, 355/608; 599/954 overall in the individuals. The 5K portion was of course 3.1 miles; the scavenger hunt added another 1.73 miles for a total of 4.83 miles for the entire race. And for those interested, here’s the crazy overall map from my Garmin:
Have you ever done a 5K “Adventure” race like this? Would you ever want to try the Expedition Everest Challenge?
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