Expedition Everest Challenge at Animal Kingdom

Several months ago, Liz asked me to do the Expedition Everest Challenge with her at Animal Kingdom. EE is a 5K run with obstacles followed by a scavenger hunt in the park. They have an option for single runners, but most of the participants are 2-person teams. The race was this past Saturday (May 7).

I went to packet pick up on Friday and stayed for the “Course Talk.” Normally, I wouldn’t stick around for those kinds of things, but in this case I’m glad I did. They explained how the scavenger hunt clues would work and also explained some other pertinent race info. They also had a sample clue to give an idea of what the scavenger hunt would be like. That sample clue was impossible. I still don’t understand the alleged answer. It kind of worried us for the actual clues.

Saturday night Liz and I “carbed up” at Macaroni Grill and then got ready for the race. After much debate, we decided on yellow tank tops and black shorts as our team uniform. We headed over to Animal Kingdom and, after a bit of a scenic tour, found ourselves in the Butterfly Parking Lot with the 3,598 other participants. We checked a bag at the bag drop and then hung out until it was time to get lined up. We were in the last wave, but we got ourselves right at the front of the line for our section. There were seven waves total, each started five minutes after the one before. That meant our start was around 9:00pm. The time went by really fast. In true Disney fashion, there were fireworks at the start of each wave and great music playing for those of us left waiting to start.

When it was our turn to start, Liz and I decided to take off. This goes against my normal race strategy, but when you’re at the front of the pack it’s kind of exhilarating and adrenaline goes into overdrive it seems. Two other teams passed us after the first turn of the race, but that’s it (as far as we know). We were flying…setting ourselves up for an incredible personal best in a 5K race. The miles were clearly marked on the course, but there were no clocks (not that it would have done us any good since we started 30 minutes after the clock did). Right after the first mile, we found the first obstacle–hay bales set up kind of like hurdles. I think there were four total, but each was only one hay bale high. Shortly after that, we entered the park.

Because the waves were set up for team type (single runners, male teams, coed teams, women teams) rather than pace, there were walkers all along the route. Not to mention, when we entered the park, there were teams who’d finished the 5K and were now reentering the park for the scavenger hunt. Mixing runners, walkers and walkers trying to read clues with very little light is far from ideal. At that point, I had several “I’m-Never-Going-To-Do-This-Race-Again” thoughts. I just wish they’d split the waves by pace and also had the scavenger hunt enter at a different point than the race.

Right after mile 2 we found the next obstacle–tires. It was right after mile 2 that we also saw some folks we knew that were in wave 5. We kicked it into high gear and passed them–still on track for a VERY good personal best. Just around the corner from the third mile marker, we encountered the last obstacle. There was a choice to be made–either climb over a net or crawl under one in the sand. I asked Liz what she wanted to do and she said, “Over!” I saw the line to go over and knowing it would slow us down, I said, “No! Look at that line! We’re going under. Come on!” We made it through quickly, but then…Liz realized her phone was missing. We searched and searched for it in the sand pit (truthfully, Liz searched more than I did, but I did crawl through the sand one more time for her). After three minutes (according to RunKeeper), we gave up and went on to transition for the scavenger hunt. Our official finish time for the 5K was 29:12. Still a personal best for me in a 5K race, but you can do the math and figure out what it could have been. šŸ™‚

Next up was the scavenger hunt. We were each given a little flashlight and sharpie marker. Each clue sent you to a section of the park where you showed your answer. If it was correct, you were given the next clue. I restarted my RunKeeper at the beginning of the scavenger hunt. We ended up traveling about a mile during the scavenger hunt. With the exception of one, the clues weren’t incredibly hard. Our second clue seemed impossible, but we finally got it. The rest did take some thinking, but we got them pretty quickly. We finished the scavenger hunt in 24:19.

Our overall time was 53:30 and we came in 9th place for the women’s team division. Our goal was top ten, so we certainly achieved that.

After the race, we got our medals and some refreshments (Powerade, water, bananas and Clif bars). We went to get our bag from bag check and then went on a hunt for Liz’s phone. We saw an employee with a “RunDisney” shirt on and asked her if we could go back to look for the phone. She made a couple of phone calls and actually found Liz’s phone! The second guy she called had the phone in his pocket! Unbelievable! Isn’t Disney the best?!

After Liz was reunited with her phone, we rode Expedition Everest (my first time) and then went to the after party. Disney had a DJ who led the crowd in dance moves. It was lots of fun! After the awards were given out, we decided to call it a night and head home.

We’ve already decided we want to do this race again next year. It really was fun…and we want to beat our time. Who wants to do it with us? Next year, only phones attached to your body will be allowed on our team. šŸ˜‰

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2 Responses to “Expedition Everest Challenge at Animal Kingdom”

  1. sunshinekmp Says:

    Sounds like you had fun…bad for the phone…time for Liz to get an armband for her phone! šŸ™‚ Did you get a prize for being 9th?

  2. Cheryl Says:

    Congrats, Amy and Liz! It sounds like it was a blast!

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