Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disney's Expedition Everest Challenge

Saturday night was the second time Annette & I competed as a team (All About the Medal) in Disney’s Expedition Everest.  We killed it!  Last year we finished in 1 hour 11 minutes, placing 49th out of 423 women’s teams, this year we finished in 55:32, placing 15th out of 420 women’s teams!!  We were so proud of ourselves :)  The winning women’s team finished in 47:01.

Some of my pictures in this post are from last year because we wore the same outfits and this year we had no time for photo shenanigans since we wanted to improve our time!
Packet pick-up was at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.  They have it set up like Base Camp, very cute!  This year I volunteered that day putting all the waivers in ABC order.  Seems like an easy job, but it took all day, and there was 3 of us!
Packet pick-up is set up like Base Camp
On Saturday night the race took place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at 8:30pm.  There are 8 wave starts; since there are obstacles on the course they need to spread everyone out.  There was maybe 3,500 participates, definitely not as large as other runDisney events.
We were in Wave 6, with most of the other all-female teams, and started at 8:55pm.  It was pretty crowded the first mile, so we spent a lot of time going around people.  I hate that, Annette is definitely a more aggressive runner than I am, so she was ahead of me.  We thought the balance beam obstacle would be first (like last year), so I waved her ahead because I knew I would skip it because I hate heights.  Heights and band-aids, my two greatest fears… coming in third – beaks.  Yup, as in birds.  
Anywho, jumping over bails of hay was actually the first obstacle.  I was behind Annette at this point and really had to make up some time.  I was running way faster than I knew I could keep up with for 3 miles, so before even hitting the 2 mile mark I was pretty exhausted.  
Mile 2 = Heather dead!
(This pic is from last year)
We completed the 5k in 31:43 (I am the slow one) Annette really kicked my ass in this part of the challenge!  This was the second fastest 5k I have run, but like I mentioned earlier, I was running so much faster than normal in the first mile, it really did me in.
Once we crossed the timing mats for the 5k, we headed over to where we got our first clue, little flashlight and Sharpie marker and then we headed back into Animal Kingdom for the scavenger hunt.  I love, love, love scavenger hunts.  Since Annette is the “speed” of this operation, I needed to be the “brains”. 
I got over my fatigue from the 5k and took control of the clues.  Annette was laughing afterwards because she didn’t even get a chance to see the clues.  She would hand me the clue and I would see where we needed to go, yell to her where to run to next and then figure out the answer which we needed to show the volunteers to get the next clue card.
The second clue was really hard and it took us at least 5 minutes to figure it out.  I even had to ask one of the volunteers for help.  It was a young kid, maybe 11 years old.  It was definitely an “Are you smarter than a 5th grader” moment for me.  That little kid was excellent though, totally gave good hints and was not at all flustered by this weirdo lady (me) saying over and over “I don’t really get it”.  After explaining it to me for the millionth time, he said “Go and figure it out and if you have any other questions come back over to me”…. LOL, he was the cutest!  Thanks little guy for your help!
We feel like we are on the 'Amazing Race'!
On our way to the next stop, I asked Annette how we were doing on time and she said “47 minutes”… what?!  I thought she meant 47 minutes just for the scavenger hunt (I am telling you that second clue threw me for a loop, it felt like 47 minutes!), but she meant 47 minutes total.  Once I realized this I was so excited and started running even harder to the next stop.  Our goal of one hour was definitely attainable.  We got the through the next two clues with no problem and then had to figure out the password to cross the finish line and enter the post race party.
I got the first 4 letters "m-o-u-n" and said this to the volunteer in the finish shoot.  She said I was half way there, so I yelled "mountain" and we were able to finish!  I think that when I yell out answers during a scavenger hunt it makes them right :)
As we were approaching the finish line there was a couple in front of us holding hands, with their arms up in the air, no doubt taking a great finishers photo.  I so wanted to push them over the finish line cuz they were going so slow!  LOL, now that would have made a good finisher's photo!
Our clues that all added together for
the password to the Post Race Party
Back side of the clues formed the map of Animal Kingdom
Following the Challenge is the post race party.  It's a good one.  Animal Kingdom is open only to race participants and their guests.  They have a dance party going on... also where they give out the awards.  The best part though is being able to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster (2 times) and Kali River Rapids in the dark.  Animal Kingdom is rarely open late, so it is a treat to be there after dark.  
Goofing with Goofy at the dance party!
Annette's husband, Brian, and her sister, Christine, were also a team: Brains>Speed.  This was Christine's first ever race and it was Brian's fastest 5k yet, they did great!  Annette's neighbors, Tracy & Doug were also there - Team Rich... try a little harder on the name next year Doug.  They also did great!  
Christine's girlfriend, Buffy, was a spectator (and holding our bags for us - thanks!), but I think she may have been bit by the runDisney bug.  She told Christine after the race that she would be interested in doing this next year.  Yay!  
Me, Annette, Brian &
Christine with our medals
Also at the post race party was Brian's friend, Dave, and his girlfriend Wendy.  Dave handed us ice cold beers pretty much as soon as we saw him after the race, thanks!  Dave, on October 1st we'll set you up with race notifications for me, Annette & Leah so you can have those beers waiting for us after the half marathon!
Yet another great Disney race!  Only 117 days to go until the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon - can't wait!
Awesome medal and race bib!


  1. Great recap. We are so awesome

  2. You and Annette did awesome! Looks like a lot of fun!

  3. Great stuff. Love reading about the life of Heather and Annette in Disney. Good stuff. And Congrats, great finish.

  4. That looks like a total blast!! I am seriously going to hope that I can do this in the next year or two.

    Isn't Kali in the dark so much better? I worked at that ride for a couple years - before the park was ever open at night. The few times we'd have a special even we loved being able to get in a final, dark, wet ride!