On May 3rd, I ran in my fourth Expedition Everest Challenge. This race will always be special to me for a few reasons. First, it was my very first runDisney race back in 2011. My mom and I ran in a mother/daughter team and we had a blast. Of course I was hooked on races after that and have run in 11 others since then (plus I’m signed up for two more this year).
Also at that fateful race in 2011, I met some very special friends. I knew a bunch of people that I knew from Twitter were also running so I thought it would be a great time to meet some of them in person for the first time. One of those people is now my fiancé, Cliff! In fact, we got engaged at the Everest Challenge race last year. So, I guess you can see why this race is important to me. It’s one that I will always sign up for, even though they’ve significantly raised the price in recent years.
The Expedition Everest Challenge is a night race and features a 5k course through Animal Kingdom with a few obstacles along the way. After the 5k comes the scavenger hunt where you have to make your way back through the park while solving clues given to you at certain checkpoints. You can run the race in teams of two or as an individual. My mom and I always run this together and I think we make a pretty great team!
Since this is a smaller race with an after party going into the wee hours of the morning, we like to drive ourselves to the start. We got there around 8:00PM because we always like to get to races early. Only problem with that this year is that it started raining pretty steadily. It was also a little chilly for us Floridians! So we sat in the car for a while. Once the rain let up we headed to the staging area to check our bag and hang out to people watch. There are always some pretty great costumes at this race!
When it was time to go to our corrals, we said bye to Cliff (mom and I were in H and Cliff was in E), and headed to our pens for more waiting. There were 6 minutes between corral starts so we had a lot of waiting….in the cool damp weather. The DJ and hosts did a pretty good job at keeping us moving though.
At 10;42, Corral H was off and we began the worst part of the race: running around the perimeter of the Animal Kingdom parking lot. Towards the end of this section, we hit our first obstacle: hay bales. You always have the option of running around the obstacles. Mom usually does because she injured her knee the first year.
Finally we made it to the park entrance and Mile 1! At this point we also merged with racers who had completed the 5k and were beginning the scavenger hunt portion. This was the only time we really ran into congestion because the scavenger hunt people were stopping on course to solve clues. Once we got more into the park, there were separate lanes set up for runners so it got better.
We continued through the park, past the Tree of Life and headed toward Africa. Once in Harambe, we turned right to go to Asia. Usually right after this point we head backstage, but this year we kept going through Asia and past Everest to backstage near the Nemo theater. Loved this change!
Once backstage, we soon hit our second obstacle: tires! (and mile 2!)
Running backstage is kind of a blur because there aren’t any familiar landmarks to orient myself with. About a mile later we rounded a corner and saw our final obstacle: a cargo net to crawl under.
Just after that was the finish line for the 5k and we received our first clue and a cool marker/flashlight combo!
The scavenger hunt brought us back into the park. There were 5 total clues. We had a little trouble with the first two, especially the second one. The last 3 we solved pretty quickly and we finished the hunt in about 30 minutes. I edited the pictures of the clues so you can see if you know the answers. I’ll post the answers at the end of the post. If you click on the pictures, you can see them bigger.
Once we received our awesome compass medals, we met back up with Cliff and headed back into the park for the after party!
Food was first on the agenda. Then we caught part of the awards ceremony in Dinoland where we were introduced to the yeti. We also paid a quick visit to our engagement spot!
Soon we decided we were tired and ready to head back to the hotel.
I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for a different runDisney experience. We always have a great time and being in Animal Kingdom at night is a treat itself. Also, each year it seems runDisney makes small changes that keep improving the experience. I will, of course, continue to run it as long as it is being offered. See you next year, Yeti!
Clue Answers: 1 – green flag (which is on the right side of our bibs “flag the right color”). 2 – one (in the word done) and three (combine the end of “both” and the beginning of “reenergizes”). 3 – things that keep you warm. 4 – punch out scarf, mittens, fire, blanket, boots, and coffee. 5 – hold up 4 fingers (1+ 3 from clue 2)Follow us for more updates: