What a blast!
Last night, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2014 runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge, an adventure 5K which blends running with obstacles and a park-wide scavenger hunt. Although the EEC has been running since 2008, this was the very first time I have been able to compete in the challenge, so it was an awesome experience to share with my good friend Theresa (it was her very first runDisney)!
The event, like the other night events (Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon), the festivities kicked off at 10 PM, which meant a day of relaxing leading up to the race. Since we were staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we planned on leaving via host resort transportation by 8:20 PM, as we were supposed to be on site, and in our corrals around 9 PM.
Now, when we first planned on running EEC many months ago, we never would have imagined that in May, in Florida, the temperatures would be peaking under 60 degrees. Now, that might sound a bit warm for most Northerners, but it was also raining, and windy – and of course, just a few days ago, we were hovering in the 90s. Needless to say, our corral wait (we were in “F”) was a bit cold and wet. Thankfully, our fellow runners seemed okay with our strategy of huddling 😉
Corrals set off on time, and in an orderly fashion – and we had to crack up, because we could see the earlier corrals already finish the run portion of the race before our corral was even let go – but the wait was worth it because once we set off, the rain slowed a bit and we were on our way!
Since it was Theresa’s first race, it was all about her comfort level. Our pace was easy and controlled – and it didn’t hurt that her legs were oh, about double the length of mine 😉 Hehe! But really, she was doing awesome, and we even participated in 2 out of the 3 the obstacles (hay bales and tires – we skipped the crawling net thing near the end) without them slowing us down too much. Even with character stops, we crossed the race portion in 35:09 – woot!
After passing through that “first” finish, we ventured back into the park, with our clues, our mini-Sharpies and keychain flashlights. Without giving TOO much away – let’s just say the clues are challenging, but not impossible. (Let’s also say – I am so glad that Theresa was my partner because she rocks at the kind of stuff).
After conquering the four clues, and making our way back through the park (the paths are separated by cones in the park) we strode out in triumph, completing the second leg of the portion and crossing the finish of the combined challenge in 1:10:25! (Did you run? Check your results here) We even got a shout out from the awesome Carissa!
The medal is pretty darn neat – it opens up as a compass, and the medal followed the scheme of the bib. Bonus? The tech finisher shirt is not only attractive, but comfortable, too! I wore it today as we celebrated in Downtown Disney.
I really enjoyed this event, and am glad I had a chance to experience it – the best part was spending time with Theresa, and seeing her accomplish something awesome.
If you’re thinking about adding this race to your schedule in the future, here are just a few tips I’d recommend:
- Pack lots of layers/options for this race. I usually do this, but was almost certain it’d be a warm or hot race – not a cold one. Bring throwaways or easy pieces (like armwarmers/hats/long sleeves) JUST IN CASE. I really wish I had!
- Don’t stress. Of course, you never should unnecessarily stress, but this one, especially – you see, we had no idea what corral we’d be in, and once we found out we had “F” – we had no idea how we were assigned this. Although it was Theresa’s first race, she also had trained well and was fully able to run the entire distance – and many of our corral mates (as well as in corrals ahead of us) were walkers. Walking, in any race, in my opinion, is totally fine – but not safe, or efficient when it is not being done in the “correct” corral, or to the side. Now, since we don’t know why we were in the corral we were, those people probably didn’t either, but it was definitely befuddling. We were not “in it to win it” but if we wanted to “straight run” any faster, it would not have been possible. Since we stayed stress free, we were able to have the maximum amount of fun.
- Make your race plans carefully– Since EEC is a smaller event (compared to, say WDW Marathon, Princess Half, etc) there are a shorter list of “host” resorts that provide transportation to the expo/race) so be sure to check that list out (available here) unless you have alternative transportation options (i.e. your own car/rental/taxi cab). This year, the hosts were limited to Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
- Bring something to change into afterward – Now, this is where I, in contrast to my point #1 – overcompensated. I packed a fresh pair of shorts, another sports bra, another shirt, a jacket, and flip flops. This complete outfit change would’ve been perfect if I had been hot and sweaty afterward – but really – all I needed was that jacket, so I could warm up! So, pack a few options – and, for the sake of your fellow after-partiers..throw a stick of deodorant into that race bag, too 😉
As stated above, I found this event to be very enjoyable, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an experience a little out of the ordinary!
Have any questions about the Expedition Everest Challenge? Drop a line in the comments!!