Expedition Everest Challenge

Last weekend I ran my first big race. Unlike the Ribeye Run this was a large scale race with corrals and finisher medals and everything that one would expect from a race.

But this race was also unique. RunDisney’s Expedition Everest Challenge is unlike any other runDisney event.

Unlike other runDisney events, Everest didn’t really have a proper expo (although I gathered from runners who have done this event in years past that it has pretty much always been this way). It was just a few tents set up in the Butterfly section of the Animal Kingdom parking lot. Fit2Run and New Balance both had tents. There was also a small table set up where one of the sponsors was handing out gel packs and free samples of acetaminophen, as well as a trailer set up where they were selling the “I Did It” shirts and a very limited amount of merchandise (RunDisney Hats, the race Pin, and lanyards).
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The shirts sold out pretty quickly, by mid-day on race day they were gone. Thankfully we picked up our packets before they had sold out, so I was able to purchase one (and for those of you who are wondering, I was able to use my AP discount on that purchase). Once they sold out they started doing on demand printing on white tee shirts, which in my opinion were not nearly as nice.

Packet pickup up was painless. We had printed off our wavers at the hotel so we were able to walk right up to the booth and get our bibs, however they did have 2 or 3 computers with printers for those who had forgotten their wavers, and there was more of a line for that than there was at the booths. Hubby and I ran as a team, so we both had to be there to pick up our packets, even though only one of us would have a timing chip, since we were expected to run and finish together. Once we got our packets and the pin I pre-ordered
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we went to the other side of the tent to get our gEAR check bags and race shirts.
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Our gEAR bag had a few things in it: a mini CliffBar and a few coupons/fliers for some of the sponsors, and the final race instructions (which I had already read, as they were available online about 30 days before the event).

We stopped for a picture
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And solved the practice clue
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Then headed back to our hotel.

Unlike most RunDisney Events, the Expedition Everest Challenge was a night race. Because we were staying off property, we decided to arrive just after sunset so we didn’t feel rushed, even though the recommended arrival time was 9pm. I’m glad we made that decision, as it gave us plenty of time to get pre-race pictures and to sign the race wall; plus by about 8:30 the parking lot was a mad house and everyone was rushing to get to where they needed to be while we sat comfortably in our corral waiting for the race to start.
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Once the sun set it was surprisingly chilly for a late-spring evening in Florida. I had planned on putting my jacket in my gEAR check bag to wear after the race, but I ended up wearing it instead. It was in the low 60s which made for plesant running weather, but because I was in a tank top I was cold while waiting. But about a mile and a half into the race I took it off and tied it around my waist because I was getting too warm.

The start of a Disney race is always a treat. Usually there are fireworks to set off every corral (which happens every 10 minutes), but for Everest there was smoke instead.
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It was pretty cool and fit with the theme, but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t fireworks (although at the same time a bit relieved as fireworks set off my anxiety like you won’t believe…it borders on a pathological fear, but thankfully I’m starting to get over it).
At long last, almost a hour after the first corral set off it my my corral’s time to start. And before I knew it we were off.
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The most unique thing about Everest is that it is not just a normal 5k. It is a 5k obstacle course with a scavenger hunt.

The first obstacle was about a half a mile in. Hay Bail Hurdles. They were only 1 bail high, so they were pretty easy to get over, however for those with limited mobility there was the option to go around all the obstacles. The first mile marker was just after we entered the park and just past that was the first character stop: Chip and Dale.
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Once we got through the entrance we were greeted with a rare but absolutely gorgeous view: The Tree of Life after dark.
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It was absolutely beautiful, but we didn’t have much time to appreciate the view, as we then turned to head towards Harambe Villiage. There we could see one of the stations for the scavenger hunt clues but we were directed to go a different way. From there we turned and headed towards Anandapur, along the way we passed two more character stops (Timon and King Louie), but I was just in my groove and didn’t want to stop for either of them.

We ran past Expedition Everest and headed backstage. Which is where I got to see the back side of Expedition Everest

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Just past the mile marker for mile 2 was our second obstacle: army crawling under a net. Because I had my jacket around my waist and my water bottle and phone in my hands I did more of a bear crawl than an army crawl, but I got through it. My body wasn’t too happy with me for that one though, as just a yard or so past the obstacle I started to have a gagging fit. So we pulled over into the grass and I got my heart rate back under control then we started walking. Soon enough I was feeling fine and back to running without ever having puked!

Just before mile marker 3 was our final obstacle: a tire run. This was the one I was most looking forward to, as this is something I loved to do as a kid. And of course, I tripped and fell on the second tire. No major injury, though, so I walked it off briefly then we ran across the 5k finish line.

But we were far from done. Instead of our medals, Powerade and a banana; we were given water, a cool cloth, and our first scavenger hunt clue with a mini sharpie and a key chain flashlight.
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“Only time will tell if you make it to the summit of Mt. Everest. If climbing for 24 hours straight, how many times will at least 3 digits in the row be the same on your analog watch? This is not boot camp so don’t use military time”

This first clue proved the hardest…but that was because there was a rather large error on the clue. It should have said digital instead of analog. Once one of the clue givers explained that, then it was easier. We gave the answer of “34” and received our next clue.

 

“When climbing, you don’t want to spin in circles. But for this clue you must in order to solve it. Start with C and turn from there the number of years Expedition Everest has been run. Continue spinning for the solution to appear”

This clue was pretty easy, but it required knowing that Everest has been run for 7 years, not including this year. Once we got “Carabiner” as the answer we headed to Harambe for our next clue.

 

“When dressing for your expedition it is important to layer with the right thing on top ERS INE NTA MOU”

This one we got almost instantly. The next clue was also in Harambe so we very quickly gave “Mountaineers” as our answer and received our 4th clue.

 

“L + live + A + Sh + N =”

I’m ashamed to say that this one stumped us a bit, thankfully we had some friends who were following along with our adventure on facebook who helped us get the answer “Elevation”

From there it was on to our final clue, which was located in Asia

 

“We have finally found the Yeti and you will too, but where? Solve the word search and you will know where he is hiding. Use this cipher and the previous four answers to help you in this quest. Clue #1 x3, Clue #2 x4, Clue #3 x2, Clue #4 x3 The leftover letters will tell you where the yeti is and what you need to do at the finish line”

 
 This was time consuming but fairly easy to solve. We had to find the words that were the answers to the previous clues. Once we crossed out those out we were left with “Go find the hidden yeti on a clue card and hold it up at the finish”

So I turned over all the clue cards, and sure enough there was the Yeti.


We ran to the finish, held up the card, and triumphantly completed the race. Our total time was 1:37:01 and our 5k time was 45:11

We got our medals, and our bananas and Powerade.
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Then we picked up our gEAR check bags and changed clothes.

From there we headed into the after party. Dinoland USA and Expedition Everest were open for the runners and those who bought tickets for the party until 2:30 am. Hubby rode Everest (which he says is more fun at night than during the day) and we walked around Dinoland a bit. There were a few characters to meet, and places to buy food, and all the rides in Dinoland, but at this point it was 1 am and we were both exhausted and we still had to drive back to our hotel.

Sadly, this was the last time the Expedition Everest Challenge will be held. It was a great race, but I’m sure runDisney has something fantastic in store to replace it.

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