Disney's Expedition Everest Challenge is still my favorite Disney race. Not because it's a short race (5K "adventure" race), but because it is just so much fun. You get to run through Animal Kingdom at night, have a few fun obstacles along the way, then get to solve clues thru the park to get to the finish line. And the best part? Getting to party in the park until the wee hours of the morning-which means you get to ride Expedition Everest at night!
This was my 4th year in a row participating in the Challenge. Just like the last several races I've done up at Walt Disney World, I volunteered for a couple of shifts before the race-once at the expo on Friday (I worked at one of the gear bag pickup booths), and once at the Family Edition race Saturday morning. I've mentioned before that I love volunteering at the runDisney events
, and this one was no exception...great group of people to work with, and of course the athletes are fantastic!
On race day, since I was up pretty early for my 6:30am volunteer shift, afterward I just took it easy back at my hotel (I sprung for Coronado Springs this time around, just love that place!) relaxing and trying-but failing-to take an afternoon nap since the race wasn't until 10pm. The weather wasn't really cooperating-in the morning we had rain and it was like that for most of the early evening as well. I headed over to Animal Kingdom just before 8pm, but with the constant misting rain and cooler temperatures-okay, cooler for Florida, it was in the upper 60s-I wound up hanging out in the car until about 45 minutes before race time. At that point the rain had kind of tapered off so I headed straight for the start corral. I decided to wear a jacket as with the breeze, misty on and off rain and "cooler" temperature I was kind of chilly.
Once the race started, we headed around the outer portion of the parking lot toward our first obstacle-the hay bales to hurdle over. This is my favorite obstacle, mostly because I can jump them pretty easily (although I usually look pretty silly when I do):
|Too bad they didn't get an airborne shot|
Right around the 1-mile point I had warmed up enough so tied my jacket around my waist for the remainder of the race. The cool air felt wonderful at that point, and the rest of the race was quite comfortable. The second obstacle were those big tires on the ground that you have to get through (you know, like you see football players doing at practice). At least I didn't wind up doing a face plant like some other people did:
|Yeah, running through these would have been disastrous with my clumsiness|
On toward the end of the 5K course where the final obstacle was a belly crawl under netting...yeah, I skipped that one again this year, so no funny pics for that one. So it was across the 5K finish and on to collect my map and first clue, then heading into the park. Clue #1:
|The answer was green-found by checking our bibs for the flag color on the right side of the bib.|
|On the first clue card that this clue refers you back to, you'll find the words three and one hidden-add them up to get the answer=four|
|I like word puzzle so I flew through this one-they told you how many of each of the letters listed you could use to finish the phrase above.|
|This was simple-using the answer to #3, you punched out the items that would keep you warm|
|You take Clue card #4 and place it over this to get your answer|
And so I crossed the finish line like this:
|Here's the answer to cross the finish!|
I swear I was smiling the whole time thru the finish chute so I could get a decent finish picture...and yet, I got this pic instead. Ah well, here's my own:
I finished the overall event in 1:31:54, a little under a minute faster than last year. Still not as good as two years ago (1:14 and change), but still a good job considering I walked the whole thing this time. And of course one of the best parts of this event? Getting to party in Animal Kingdom after dark! If you thought Expedition Everest was fun, you should try it after dark-it will become your favorite Disney "mountain" coaster! And be sure to ask for the front row-you may have to wait just a few minutes longer to ride, but it will be worth it---trust me ;-)
Until next year, keep on running, walking and enjoying Disney my friends :-)