Our Experience at Disney’s Expedition Everest Challenge at Animal Kingdom

2011 Expedition Everest Base Camp Sign

I’ve caught the bug…the runDisney bug that is.

May 7th marked my 3rd Walt Disney World 5K and my first ever Mother/Daughter Team Athletic Event…the 2011 Expedition Everest Challenge.

For those of you not familiar with the race, it’s a timed endurance event that puts together a 5K with obstacles followed by a timed scavenger hunt throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.  Sounds like fun right?

It was!

Registration took place the day prior to the race at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where we went to pick up our race packets.

There was an incredible themed area set up, which got rained-out.  It was supposed to be the “base camp” for the challenge.  I hope they set this up again for next year’s challenge. SO.MUCH.FUN!

2011 Expedition Everest Base Camp

This is me pre-race day using one of the props while a custodial cast member photo bombs me…

2011 Expedition Everest Base Camp

Warming my biscuits…

2011 Expedition Everest Base Camp

There was also an artist there working on a large Everest Yeti piece which we were all allowed to sign…

2011 Expedition Everest Signature wall

Our bibs…

2011 Expedition Everest Bib

We were Team “Eat Our Pixie Dust”. There was also another team called “Eat My Pixie Dust”. We were keeping pace quite nicely throughout the event and enjoyed cheering each other on.  You might also notice that the bib reads “Wave 7”.  This particular race was started in waves 1-7, which were spaced 5 minutes apart.  We were the last to start. Big bummer if you plan on running the event as you have to pass walkers in all 6 preceding heats.  We were put in Wave 7 because we registered when the race was 99% full.  If you wanna be in an earlier wave, then register online right when the race opens. This also gave us a half hour less time to ride rides at the after-party. Double bummer.

The day of the event I had lunch and did a major carb load on salsa and corn chips, enchiladas and rice.  Personally I can’t eat anything for about 4-5 hours before a run or I run the risk of upchucking (not a good look).

chips and salsa

enchiladas and rice from Abuelos

This was also one of my first experiences with the Chrono Track D-Tag system.  The D-Tag gets attached to your shoe and gives an accurate reading of your race time.

Chrono Track D-Tag

Here’s a video for further explanation:

Here’s what the course looked like:

Expedition Everest Challenge 2011 Course Map

We made it to the Animal Kingdom Parking Lot at dusk right before Wave 1 was to start. Me and my daughter

mother daughter team

Here’s that finished Yeti Everest signature wall…

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Signature Wall

A couple more cool photo opps before the race Start Line…

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge

I snapped this picture right before Wave 7 (our wave) took off…

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Start

and then we were off!… The first mile was around the perimeter of the Animal Kingdom parking lot, by the resort buses and then in through the left hand side of the turnstiles.  But before entering the park we encountered our 1st obstacle.  Hay bales.  Sorry bout the pics but I was running and trying to take the shot in the dark with my iPhone.  We had to bolt over several rows of them.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Hay Bales

Next was a mad dash to the rear of the park where we exited backstage near Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  Just before the 2 mile mark was our 2nd obstacle…the tires.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Tire Obstacle

We then made our way back into the park down past the Tree of Life toward the entrance and then hard left backstage headed around the perimeter of Dinoland until we reached the Animal Kingdom Parking Lot once again.  The third obstacle was there which was a rope climb. (sorry no photo) We were told we could go over it or around it. I opted around since it was full of climbers and in the dirt.  Immediately after that obstacle was the 5K finish where we got our 1st Scavenger Hunt Clue and a nifty pocket flashlight (which really wasn’t enough light to see) and an Everest Sharpie.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Light and Marker

and here were our Five Clues…

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue 1

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue 2

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue 3

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue 4

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue 5

If you flip all five of the clue cards over an put them together they form a map of Animal Kingdom:

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Clue map

and then…it was a run to the finish line right in front of Expedition Everest!

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Scavenger Hunt Finish

We did it!  And we made pretty good time too.   We came in 64th out of 138 mother/daughter teams.  Our 5K time was 39:35. Our scavenger hunt time was 35:24. And our net time was 1:14:58.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Finish Medals

My reward was this!….and a few rides on Dinosaur and Everest.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Finish Medals

The inside of the medal was a compass.  A normal Disney 5K “fun run” will net you a rubberized finishers medal.  The timed 5Ks are rewarded with an actual metal medal.

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge Finish Medal Compass

The pace requirement for a 5K at walt Disney world is a 16-minute mile. However, I did see some folks walking. It’s possible to power walk a 5K and maintain a 16-minute per mile pace so I encourage you to get out there and sign up for a race! I’m registered for the Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon (my 1st ever 1/2 marathon) in October.  See you next time I runDisney!


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