In my last post, I recapped the Expedition Everest Packet Pickup and Pre-Race festivities. On to the exciting race! Here is the official course map:
This map is just for the 5k portion. We started in the parking lot, ran around the outside of the parking lot and right before the entrance we encountered our first obstacle, the hay bales. It was a series of maybe 5 or 6 hay bales that you could hurdle or climb over. Pretty easy, but my knees weren’t thrilled with my decision to hurdle them.
I was running this with my son who had trained at a slower pace and with liberal walk intervals. I like to run the 5k distance all out, so I was worried that it would be hard to slow down and add the walking breaks but I was WRONG! Apparently, walking around for a day and a half with a two year old on my hip through Magic Kingdom and Epcot (including the walk to and from the Dolphin to Epcot through the Boardwalk and International Gateway), followed up by some fun at the pool really impacted my legs much more than I expected. I was very happy to run at a much slower pace and to walk every three minutes. I was surprised by how ‘dead’ my legs felt. I’m using this as a great lesson to prepare for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November. No walking the day of the race!
After the hay bales, we entered Animal Kingdom and ran through Africa and Asia. I don’t think I’d been in that park after dark before, so I really enjoyed seeing all the colored lights and light-up bug lights throughout the park. This stretch was the only one where the 5k runners and the scavenger hunt clue finders really crossed paths. While we were in mile 2, we were passed somewhat assertively by some very competitive clue finders, but it was only for a short stretch before we veered off behind Expedition Everest on a service road.
There were some stinky garbage sections, but we got through them quickly and right at mile 2 we encountered our second obstacle, the tire course. This was an old football or army style drill with lots of tires on the ground and you had to step through them. By the time we got there, there was a line of people waiting to go and we used that time standing in line as a mini-break. I still can’t believe how exhausted I felt. I run the 5k distance or more at least three times a week, usually around a 9:20 minute mile pace, so being absolutely wiped out at mile two, running at a 13 minute mile pace was just crazy. I’m hoping it was having tired legs from the parks, but maybe I need to try to get some nighttime runs in as I get closer to the Wine & Dine Half.
Back to the race, going through the tires was pretty easy and then we headed back towards the parking lot and the final obstacle, the rope net. We had to crawl under the rope net on hands and knees. It was really dirty at the beginning and then ended up being an astro-turf kind of carpet. My headband got caught on the net and I thought I’d lost it but ended up being able to grab it at the end. This was my favorite obstacle, I guess I like getting dirty!
We finished the 5k right after that obstacle and got our little flashlight and our first clue:
I have to sadly admit that this clue stumped us completely. My son and I are numbers geeks and we read way too much into this clue, trying to figure out the complex number pattern with prime numbers and other nonsense. I’ll put the answers at the very bottom of this post so you can try to solve them yourself first.
We went to the Oasis just inside of the park to the sign that said “Springs”. There were about 5 or 6 different signs in each clue solving area with a couple of volunteers at each sign to prevent bottlenecks. It worked very well, we were always able to walk right up to a volunteer to give our answer and get our next clue. Our volunteer was a nice older gentleman who asked if we knew the answer. I admitted we were stumped and he gave us a few hints to help us solve it. We got it quickly and gave the right answer and got our second clue:
I should mention that I told my son that we could walk the scavenger hunt portion because I really wanted him to enjoy the race and maybe actually want to do it again next year. He didn’t have much of a say this year, I just signed him up and told him to start running to get ready. He’s not a very competitive person (how his dad and I managed to have a non-competitive kid is beyond me!).
Our egos were soothed as we got this clue immediately. We didn’t even pause as we headed towards Camp Minnie-Mickey. I was a little concerned that I’d get turned around during this part of the race because I have a terrible sense of direction and usually rely on my husband to get me around Animal Kingdom. Luckily, we were in the middle of the pack and just had to follow the other clue solvers around us. We got to Camp Minnie-Mickey without problem, told the volunteer our clue and got the next one, easy peasy.
By now we were thinking that the first clue was just a problem because we over-thought it and that we were master clue solvers. We got this one without having to pause on our walk to Africa even though we heard other expeditioners having problems with this one. As you might imagine, the Timbuktu sign was the furthest away and it took a few seconds to find it, but we gave our correct clue and got our next clue card, full of confidence that we had this in the bag:
What? Hmmm. What? Hmmm. OK we still don’t really know how anyone would get this one correct. I think I know the correct answer and I guess I can see it, but unless someone can explain to me how this is obvious or clever I stand by my opinion that this is a cruddy clue. We didn’t think any amount of discussion or thinking was going to help on this one, so we headed to Asia, went up to a volunteer and told her our guess. I think it was wrong, but she gave us our last clue anyways.
This one is kind of hard to read, but the bolded words are corners and back. Then it says “piece all of the answers together and a symbol will appear. It matches something on your bib…point to that symbol as you cross the finish line”.
We saw big bunches of people sitting on the ground anywhere there was light and they all had their cards flipped over and they were moving them around like puzzle pieces to try to get that final symbol. I’m not sure if we got a clue from a wrong sign at one of the clue places or if we were just tired (it was close to midnight and I have a toddler, so my bedtime is closer to 8pm) or if it was that stinking clue #4, but we just couldn’t get it for the longest time. I had the left two correct, but the right two didn’t work. I eventually just tried to make a symbol that matched one on our bib and got this:
Which matched the white symbol on the bibs:
As we were sprinting walking limping to the finish line in the parking lot (again!), I heard other expeditioners saying it was the white one too, so I felt pretty good about our choice. When we got to the finish line they didn’t even ask us to point to the symbol (I didn’t realize it until after we got our medals) but gave us our awesome medals:
We got water, powerade (three flavor/color options!) and snacks too. I didn’t check a bag because my SparkleTech skirt had enough pockets for my phone, car key, ID, gift cards and money. I was so glad not to have to haul a bag around the after party. I folded up the clues (since I knew I’d want to photograph them for the blog) and put them in one of my pockets too. We then headed back into the park (again!) for the after party. We were pretty exhausted by this time, so we skipped dinoland and headed to Everest. We got to go through the fast pass line, but it did wind through the regular line for a while. The wait was probably less than ten minutes though. The ride was awesome. I’ve never ridden it at night and the parts inside the mountain were pitch black. The outside parts seemed faster and the yeti seemed fiercer in the dark. I loved it and probably would have gone one more time, but my son was ready to head back to the hotel.
We decided to try Kali River Rapids in the dark. It was a long, lonely, desolate, silent, dark, spooky, creepy (are you getting the picture) walk through the line to get to the boats. We saw no one until we got to the dock and then it was just a couple of cast members. We were the only ones on our boat and there was no one on the boats in front of us or behind us. The misty part of the ride was really spooky in the dark and the plants on either side of the boat felt like they had unseen creepy things watching us. OK, I’m a huge wuss, but this is the only time I’ve ever been actually scared at the Magic Kingdom (unless you count the time I got the bill at O’Hana). I was so glad when that ride was over! We got back to the Dolphin just a little after 1am exhausted and happy.
We had a great time, it was a lot of fun to do the obstacles and there was a great sense of family fun along the course. While there were a few serious runners who were in it to win it, there were just a whole lot more who were clearly there to have a blast. We enjoyed everyone around us and Animal Kingdom was gorgeous at night. I understand why it closes early, to help the animals thrive, but it really is a different park at night. I hope to do it again next year. I’d love to compete for an award next year if I can get my 5k time down some more, but I bet the volunteers are much more strict about the clues being correct for the earlier finishers. I guess I need to try some more puzzles between now and then to get my skills sharpened.
Here is our Garmin map of the 5k and the scavenger hunt:
This is a great race. I think it could be fun as an individual but it was a ton of fun as a team! The cost is pretty steep and almost kept us from registering, but Disney puts on an awesome event and the price includes the 5k, the scavenger hunt AND the after party, so if you consider all that, it becomes somewhat more reasonable.
OK, here are the answers:
1. NW – just draw a line through the zeros and you’ll see they make the letters N and W
2. NE – the capital letters spell out Northeast
3. SW – 26 refers to the alphabet, so the #’s refer to the letters of the alphabet.
4. NE – OK, I’ve read elsewhere that this was the answer. I guess it is because the last two letters of the two bottom sentences stacked say NE. I still don’t like this clue.
Did you get all the answers right without peeking?
Learn more about the Expedition Everest Challenge by clicking on the link below for a great blog hop!