May 11, 2012

Expedition Everest Recap from Guest Blogger Tara

Thanks to our wonderful guest blogger Tara for this fabulous recap of the Expedition Everest race!!

Saturday night while in Orlando for a work conference, Mom and I took part in Disney’s Expedition Everest 5k + scavenger hunt. I have previously run Disney’s Princess and Tinkerbell races so I was looking forward to seeing what a Disney 5k was like. It was great that my mom was tagging along for the trip so we entered as a team. Now my mom is not a runner so, we planned on doing a mix of walking and some running for the race. It was the first time I have ever walked a race and that was a unique experience.

We were staying at the Coronado Springs resort for the conference so decided that since we had the time, we would take advantage of the Disney transportation system to get to ESPN to pick up our race kits gather than grab a taxi. We left the resort at 10:40 and grabbed a bus to Downtown Disney (now if the bus had not been right there, I may have thought about that for a moment, but it was so off we went). From Downtown Disney, we caught another bus to the All-Star Sport resort and from there the bus to ESPN. All in all, that venture took about 1h 30m. In retrospect, it would have been MUCH smarter to grab the bus to Animal Kingdom (or any other park) rather than going completely out-of-the-way to Downtown Disney. That probably added a good 30mins to the trip. Must remember this for the future.

ESPN was basically a race kit pick-up only and not an expo. Mom and I did pick up some fun women’s cut shirts that were much nicer than the race shirts. I have definitely been spoiled by getting a women’s cut for both the Tinkerbell and Princess. The Unisex shirt for Expedition Everest was HUGE. I had to get back to my next meeting, so I grabbed a taxi back to the resort while Mom browsed the shops at ESPN.

The latest race start time, I have ever run was the Rock’n'Roll in Vegas last December. It started at 8:30 but our corral went closer to 9:30. Night races are weird as you really need to be careful with what you eat (turns out Thai may not be the best option for some as we found out in Vegas) and you have a lot of time to kill on race day. It feels like you spend the whole day waiting. Expedition Everest was set to start at 9:30 from the Animal Kingdom park.  Since we did not have to be on site at Animal Kingdom until 8:45, Mom and I headed to Downtown Disney and Raglan Road for supper. I had heard great things from a co-worker and it lived up to its reputation. 
We shared the Scallop Forest and both had the Salmon special. Both were divine. This Irish pub also has Irish dancers that hope up on stage from time to time. Mixed with the great food and relaxed atmosphere, this is one of my new favourite spots.

After we walked off a bit of dinner, we headed back to Coronado Springs to change and then out to Animal Kingdom. This would be my Mom’s first race and I knew she was probably quite nervous. More so, due to the fact that for whatever reason, we were in the last wave (wave 8). I have never not been in the first or second corral so this was a unique experience again. Given that we were planning on walking the 5k, I was concerned that we would not finish in time. Our corral was schedule to go at 10:15 and the race course was scheduled to close @ 11. I spoke with a Disney rep on site and was told not to worry.


Each Wave started 6 minutes apart. The first wave was delayed a few minutes but then they were off.  The corrals worked a bit differently here as you waited until your wave was called to take your place in the corral. So they called Wave 1 to the loading area and then walked them to the start line while Wave 2 was grouped in the loading area.

One of my favourite things about Disney races is that the start line experience is the same from the first participant to the last. 45 min after the first group went we got our start, complete with fireworks.

We started off strong and I was really proud of my mom for running some and walking some. We finished the 5k portion much faster than I anticipated with a final time of 44:18 (the fastest 5k ever for mom!!). The route was a bit confusing through the park as the race course and the scavenger hunt course crossed at a few points and it would have been easy to get knocked by the frantic people hunting down clues (and frantic is the correct word for some).  Did I mention that the 5k was also an obstacle course? No….well it was but in typical Disney fashion they were pretty easy. The 1st mile was hay bales, the 2nd was tires and the 3rd was a low hanging net that you had to crawl under. You always have the option to go around the obstacles but then you may as well pick another race. So I jumped and crawled my way through for the team (Mom did the hay bales and tires but drew the line at crawling). 


I knew in advance that the obstacles were pretty low-key as I found an awesome video on youtube that highlighted the whole course. The bad thing about watching the video was that I knew what we were missing. In the video Minnie and Mickey are on the course cheering on with a few other well placed characters. I can only assume that was the case again this year as the stages and scenes were there …..just no characters. This was a huge disappointments for both of us as I had told my mom how cool it was pass characters on the route. I guess this is what happens when you end up at the back. I have a new appreciation for everyone in the last wave. Frankly, it is not fair and now I wonder how often this happened at the other races I have been in. Not Cool Disney!!

The race portion ended shortly after the crawling obstacle and then we had our first clue. Now, when it came the clues…they were hard. I was lucky enough to figure out the first 3 but was stumped by the last 2.  Luckily, the volunteers are a huge help and we completed the search portion in 33:02 to bring our race total to 1:17:20. Not to shabby given how crazy hot and humid it was that night, especially since you probably run/walk another 2 miles in the search going from Oasis to Camp Minnie-Mickey to Africa to Asia.

It was a medal well-earned and fun medal, I love that it opens to a compass. Disney has the best medals out there and this one will definitely have a place of honour.

The finish line was crazy crowded with people all blocking the exit (waiting for their friends/family?) so we grabbed our warm water, PowerAde and banana and tried to find calmer ground. Once we left Asia and headed into Dinoland USA the crowd thinned out quite a bit. Plus, we had the added bonus of locating a cold beer cart. Hooray. The perfect contrast to the warm water was a nice cool but well-earned beer.

The line to pick up our checked bag was HUGE but thankfully moved quickly. However, if we had waited 30 minutes the line would have disappeared completely. It was a crazy warm night so in retrospect, we did not really need to bring sweaters. We finished the night on a high note as I finally got to eat my giant turkey leg. I had been wanting to try these for the my last  3 visits to DL/WDW but have not had the chance. It was worth the wait.

Expedition Everest is fun, unique race in the Disney family of races and I would highly recommend it to anyone, although I would try to stay out of the last wave.

Thanks again, Tara!!

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