Yesterday, Lisa shared her Expedition Everest Challenge experience – and it was so much fun, we’re back for a round two of recaps – this time, with guest poster Tyler J!
My first Expedition Everest 5k Challenge weekend started on Friday May 3rd, with packet pick-up at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Packet pick-up didn’t actually start till 12pm, but I got there around 11am, because I had one mission: “Get The Limited Edition Run Disney New Balance Shoes!”
In the coming months prior to the weekend, there was a lot of talk about whether the Run Disney New Balance shoes would be available at the Expedition Everest 5k Challenge packet pick-up due to it not actually being a Health & Fitness Expo like all the other Run Disney events have. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the event but with our virtual goodie bag, we were given a confirmation that New Balance would be there selling the shoes, but sadly we had no clue how many there were going to be. I had heard from WDW Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends that there was only a select number of shoes available and that some people who waited 3 hours in line weren’t able to get them. Luckily for me, when I got to ESPN at 11am there was only about 20 people ahead of me. At around 11:40, the crew from New Balance started going down the line giving out light blue and red cards with shoe sizes for the different shoes. One tip I would like to suggest is that, if you are serious about getting the Run Disney New Balance shoes, is to go to a New Balance store prior to the trip, and get your shoe sized trying on the 860 series shoe, trust me this will come in handy when the Expo opens.
Packet pick-up opened right around 12pm and as everyone else was rushing to go pick up their bib’s, I rushed straight to the New Balance booth to pick up my shoes. Even though I had a confirmation that I would receive the Mickey shoe in my size, I did not want to wait in the long check out line.
Going back to my original tip, if you don’t know your shoe size, you will have to wait in a separate long line to try on the shoe, it’s just best to know ahead. Expedition Everest 5k Challenge will probably be the best and easiest place to get the Run Disney shoes for the next couple of years; there’s just not as many people as there usually is at the other events around the year. After paying for my shoes($125.00), I quickly hurried to the event merchandise store, where I bought the official “I Did It” shirt and Run Disney vinylmation. Sadly they didn’t have a medal to buy for the vinylmation, like they have had at the previous events so far this year, but I look forward to getting one at Tower of Terror 10 Miler weekend. Waited about 10 minutes to pick up my bib and pre ordered limited edition event pin and then headed off for the day.
Though the packet pick-up wasn’t as cool as the Health & Fitness Expo, there was a lot of cool photo opportunities, and some shopping to be done. The perfect way to start the race weekend!
Early Saturday morning, the day of the race, my mom and I headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to have a wonderful breakfast at Boma: Flavors of Africa. This was something I was introduced to at the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler weekend and now has come to be a race weekend tradition. I would suggest going the morning of a night race, it’s the perfect way to carb up for the day. The restaurant is very busy during the early hours of it being open, so I would suggest going at around 9:30. This allows all the guests who are heading to the park to be able fuel up and leave. Like all other Disney World restaurants try to make a reservation so you don’t have to wait at all, trust me you don’t want anything standing in your way between you and the food. Boma is set up as a breakfast buffet, with the section all the way to the right just being breakfast foods from Africa. All the rest is your common American breakfast foods like bacon, eggs, pancakes, and sausage; but done right. It’s about $22 per adult with delicious coffee and jungle juice. Once you have had your first taste of Boma, you will always go back!
After having our delicious breakfast, we headed over to check into the Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort. Growing up, we always stayed at the very nice value resorts that Walt Disney World offers but with this trip also being a celebration of my 21st birthday, we decided to stay at this wonderful moderate resort. The resort itself is very big, its separated into six different “islands” which make up this 45-acre resort. Each island has a different feel to the rooms, like ours was Finding Nemo based and a shuttle to help transport you throughout the resort. My mom and I spent a majority of the day walking around the resort, relaxing at the pool, and watching old school Disney cartoons on the television in the room. One of the conveniences of staying at one of the host resorts during the race weekend, is that you are given transport to and from the expo’s and runs. Around 7:30, I headed out to wait at the bus stop, to find about 10 other runners waiting as well. 30 minutes went by and everyone seemed to be confused on what to do, we had seen a couple regular Disney transport buses to Animal Kingdom, but not the regular coach buses that normally pick up runners during race weekend. After another round of buses went by, about 40 of us runners got on a regular Disney bus to Animal Kingdom, where we walked from the entrance of the park to the butterfly parking lot. Now, I think I may know what have possibly happened, at the same weekend of Expedition Everest 5k Challenge, there was some kind Summit cheerleading competition, which were using the same kind of bus system for their event. I think there was just some confusion in the transportation system. We got to the butterfly parking lot at Animal Kingdom in good timing, allowing us to have the chance to stretch, and check in our bag. Took some photos with my friends and as the time ticked towards to 10pm, we got into our separate corrals.
At 10pm the 6th annual Expedition Everest 5k Challenge commenced! I was in corral B which started at 10:06, sadly there wasn’t any kind of fireworks to start us on a journey, but there was a jet stream of fog instead. The first mile of the course is really just going around the edge of the parking lot leading us into the entrance of the park. At about three quarters into the first mile we faced our first obstacle, hay bales. The hay bales weren’t tricky to get over and I was able to keep a steady pace jumping over them. At the end of the first mile, we were heading into Animal Kingdom, making sure to watch out for the dangerous Yeti. The one bad thing about the park itself, is that on a normal day the park closes right as the sun is setting. Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park to run through at night, as you can see all the detail the park builders put in, plus it has a mysterious feeling to it. Now after a while, I was trying to figure out where the 2nd mile marker was going to show up. I kept running and running and I never saw it. We went through Africa, Asia, and then headed out to the backstage portion of the park, where we faced our second obstacle, the tires. At this point I was starting to get worn out and I didn’t want to risk planting my face on the ground trying to run through the tires, so I just walked through them. At this point I still thought we were heading towards the second mile marker, so when I finally saw the mile 3 marker, I was happy to know that the scavenger hunt portion would be starting soon. But, before we could do that we had to face the final obstacle, crawling under a net. I flung myself down and quickly crawled under the net, not a problem for me, but for some could be a major problem. After crossing the finish line, it was time to start the scavenger hunt portion of Expedition Everest 5k Challenge.
Now prior to the race, I had done some research on what some of the past year’s clues were, just to get an idea on what to expect leading into the scavenger hunt portion. Now one thing you will read about when researching the Expedition Everest 5k Challenge, is that after running three miles your brain really isn’t ready to have to solve riddles, and think outside the box; this is very true.
When I grabbed the first clue, it took me a minute to realize what it was trying to say. Prior to the race, we were told that we were trying to find the “direction”, so I assumed that most of our answers to the clues would be direction based. With the first clue, you have to connect all the 0’s to make out NW or north west.
Then I headed back into the park towards Camp Minnie/Mickey, to solve the second clue. We were told to ask the volunteer to help us out with the clue, where he asked us, “if what he is wearing is not a a hat it’s a ?” I said cap, which then he said NO, which is supposed to lead you to look at the letters to get north east, because they are all in capital letters.
The third clue led me to Africa, where you had to think of the alphabet because you take the 19th letter and the 23rd letter to figure out your next coordinate is. The answer being NW or north west.
Then we get to the fourth clue in Asia, this one I don’t understand how you are supposed to figure out how to solve. It seemed like the volunteers, were pretty much having to serve this answer on a platter to all the runners. My clue was that it was between north and east, so north east was the answer.
Now we come to the fifth and final clue, for this clue we had to flip all of the previous clues around to try to make one of the symbols on our bib. At first this seems easy, you just use the directions given to you to make a symbol, but because it doesn’t go in any particular order, it really is more like lucky guessing. I ended up just trying to make a symbol that was on the bib, with the directions given in the previous clues, that came out to it being the symbol on the white flag. This clue took me about 10-15 minutes and was a big frustration to most of the runners there.
Once I knew the answer I started running towards the finish line, I pointed to the symbol on my bib to the volunteer, crossed the finish line, and I had just finished my first Expedition Everest 5k Challenge.
Now that the race was over and medal around my neck, it was time for the post race party inside Animal Kingdom. If I were to suggest what first Run Disney event someone should do, I would easily suggest one that has an after party in one of the parks, like Expedition Everest 5k Challenge, Tower of Terror 10 Miler or Wine & Dine Half Marathon. It’s the perfect way to finish a Run Disney race, plus it’s included with the price of race registration. I met up with my friends and we rode all the rides like Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Dinosaur. We partied all they way till 3am and then called it a night. Expedition Everest 5k Challenge was absolutely wonderful and I plan on doing it again next year. I look forward to running the Tower of Terror 10 Miler again this October and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon for the first time come November. I hope this guide helps you for any coming year of Expedition Everest 5k Challenge and I would like to thank Krissy with Outrunning the Monorail for allowing me to tell you my story.
Thank YOU, Tyler, for sharing your pictures, story and awesome tips! I am a lot less intimidated by this event now, and I don’t know about all of you, but between this and Lisa’s recap, I am ready to register for 2014!
Please leave any questions or comments you might have for Tyler in the comments and I will be sure to pass them along!
Tyler J is from Atlanta, GA and an avid runDisney fan! Along with the EEC, he has completed the 2012 Haunted 5K Trail Run as well as the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler. His favorite character is Simba (from the Lion King) and he just might have been your skipper on the World Famous Jungle Cruise, where he worked on his WDW College Program.