On May 5, 2012, Derek and I conquered the Expedition Everest Challenge and defeated the Yeti!!! We first got interested in this race a little over a year ago. We were heading to WDW for the D23 Scavenger Hunt and our ideal plan was to do both the D23 Scavenger Hunt and the EEC, but we couldn’t stay for the 10 days that we would need to, to be able to do both – so we chose the D23 Scavenger Hunt. Come January 2012, my Team Peacock running teammates convinced us to plan another trip to the World for this year’s EEC. So we were in!
The EEC is a 5K race with some obstacles along the way (this year’s were jumping over hay bales, running through tires, and crawling under a cargo net) plus a “scavenger” hunt which consists of getting and answering 5 clues (really puzzles) and then running to the next location. It sounded like a ton of fun and we love Animal Kingdom and Expedition Everest.
The trip and race were really to meet up with friends – but, we also figured, we’re okay runners and we’re pretty good at clues/puzzles – so heck, maybe we could do well in the race. This newfound “competitive” hope did not stop us from having fun – as we “fueled” up on pizza, gelato, and wine the day of the race with our friend Beth (these photos are courtesy of Beth who had a much nicer camera with her than we did).
Hey – carbo loading and hydration are important, right?
We did go back and rest just for a bit before heading out to the race staging area around 7:30pm. I love Disney races, but I have to admit, this staging area was a bit chaotic. The maps didn’t indicate anything – so we had to guess where the bag drop-off was. And when they said for wave 1 to go to the loading zone – Beth headed in the wrong direction (and then we followed her). Waves were assigned by competitor type (individual, male team, co-ed team, female team) and when you registered – so we were happy and lucky to be in wave 3 (out of 8). The weather was brutally hot – 80 degrees and close to 80% humidity – so no PR pace for us.
Actually – we had developed a plan. Derek has been running much faster than me – so I knew that I would be the gating factor in this race, speed-wise. So my job was to manage the pace (and breathe) and Derek’s was to be the observant one and then pick up the clues when we got to that point. The rules said that we had to stay together – so he would be running at a pretty comfortable pace for him.
The race itself was pretty fun – the hay bales were fun to jump over (I used a light step on the hay bale, as I wasn’t confident my short legs would land me safely on the other side). We were quickly in the front and clear of wave 3 – but before we hit mile 1, we had met up with the back of wave 2. As a result, we had to walk through the tires, because they were quite congested – but that was ok, since I was a little worried about tripping and falling anyway – and it gave me a chance to catch my breath.
After we crossed the 5k finish – we got the first clue. Derek had it solved before I even had a chance to catch my breath and read the card! So off we ran to the first stop. Again – Derek was a rockstar and solved that one lickety-split so then we ran to Camp Mickey-Minnie – which was surprisingly far. I did help with clues 3-5, so I wasn’t a total drag on him! Unfortunately, the scavenger hunt path required you to feed into and cross the 5k running route – so that made things a lot harder. Once we got the final clue – we ran to turn it in and then sprinted to the finish! There weren’t that many people at the finish line, so we felt we had done decently. We looked around for Beth and were lucky enough to see her finish just a minute or two behind us – somehow we had passed her during the race without knowing it.
Then it was the party! We hopped on Expedition Everest right away – no line, and the train wasn’t even full! We got on a second time and then decided to go get our bags. Bags claimed, we rode on Dinosaur for Beth (not Derek’s favorite ride) and then got some beer and sweet potato fries at Restaurantosaurus. I suggested that we stay for the awards ceremony, just to see if we had managed to do really well.
Because I am a dummy – we didn’t know what our finishing time was. I had a watch on – but I stopped the timer when we finished the 5k portion – so we didn’t know what our total race time was. Derek said he remembered the clock saying 50 minutes when we finished, minus the 12 minutes between the start of the race and when wave 3 started – that should put our net time at 38 minutes. They started announcing the winning times for men’s individual, women’s individual, and male team – and if our time was 38 minutes, it would definitely put us in the running – as the only times faster were the top two men’s individuals. So I was getting pretty excited. Of course, this is when Derek decides to say that maybe he was wrong about seeing 50 at the finish line… Well – they started announcing the co-ed team results. Third place was something over 40 minutes, second place was just about 40 minutes…then they announced the winner in 37:56 – and our team name!!! I was so excited – I couldn’t believe we had won a Disney race. I jumped up and down and probably ran to the stage – I don’t remember, it was all such a blur. We got these cool light-up trophies and were floating on cloud 9. Beth got some great shots – of us coming back from the stage after our award, of the trophies themselves, and of us with characters with our trophies (of course I wanted a character photo once we got our trophies!).
We couldn’t sleep that night, because we were so excited. I’m still amazed and thrilled by it – and even more so because we did it together. Derek was a total rockstar during the whole race and I’m glad that I didn’t slow us down too much.