The Expedition Everest Challenge took place on Saturday, June 12. DISboards member and W.I.S.H. (We’re Inspired to Stay Healthy) Racing Team Runner Becky Dougherty (DISboards username Lexxiefern) took second place in the individual women category. Continue after the break for a full race report.
There were some changes for this edition of the Expedition Everest Challenge (EEC). Instead of running the race the final weekend in September as with the last two EECs, Disney Endurance moved the race to June. Before the race, runners were concerned the move would result in running in very warm temperatures, and Becky Dougherty reported it was indeed very hot at the start.
The EEC is different than other Disney races because, in addition to the 5k, competitors (most of whom run in teams of 2) must complete a series of obstacles and a scavenger hunt through Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Another change this year was Disney integrated the obstacle course with the 5K run for a “5K adventure run.” The scavenger hunt was also modified from previous years to a more typical format where competitors receive a clue and must solve it before moving on to the next location.
A little over 2,800 runners competed as teams of two or as individuals. The race started at 8:30 pm when individual runners took off with the first wave. The 5k course was changed little from previous years, and began by circling the outer perimeter of the Animal Kingdom parking lot. Approximately 3/4 of a mile into the race, runners came to the first obstacle – a balance beam. Runners navigated the approximately 30 foot long, waist high balance beam, passed the 1 mile marker, and entered the theme park.
Racers made their way over the bridge to Discovery Island and headed towards Africa. They went backstage on an out and back section of the course following the Wildlife Express train tracks towards Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It was here runners met the second obstacle, 10 tires lined up to step through, just before the second mile marker. The racers re-entered the park, headed towards Asia, and past Expedition Everest. Next, they crossed the bridge to DinoLand U.S.A., made a right to Discovery Island, and back to the park entrance. Once outside the park, runners were required to hurdle the third obstacle, a series of six hay bales.
Right after the hay bale hurdles, runners passed Mile 3, and the 5k adventure run was nearly finished. However, before they reached the finish line, the final obstacle awaited – a cargo net crawl. Now, mind you, runners who started in later waves have not all started running when the first runners get to the final obstacle. Therefore, the earlier runners crawling under the cargo net provided entertainment for the later runners waiting to start. Becky didn’t care; she threw herself on the ground, and churned through the crawl as quickly as she could. Next up was the scavenger hunt, and this was where Becky’s Disney knowledge gained in part from the DISboards really helped.
Competitors were handed a clue, keychain flashlight (brilliant addition!), Sharpie marker, and bolted back into the park. The first clue sent everyone to Camp Minnie-Mickey where you would reveal your answer to a Cast Member (CM). If correct, the CM would then give you the next clue. There were five clues all together, that led racers clockwise through Animal Kingdom. The final clue was given out at the Anandapur truck in front of Expedition Everest and instructed runners to make their way to the finish line.
Becky commented that she finished this portion of the challenge in just under 20 minutes, and was the fastest individual competitor through the scavenger hunt. See how useful information from the DISboards can be? I asked Becky her reaction to coming in second place among individual women, and she said she was shocked. She said that at least five women passed her during the run portion of the race, but she tried to make up ground on the scavenger hunt. She said,
“It was a wonderful feeling! I am not a super fast runner, but I trained well to get my 5k time down. I knew the race would be won or lost during the scavenger hunt. I hope everyone gets to experience placing at an event at least once in their lives. It is quite a sense of accomplishment. You don’t have to be the first one to cross the finish line to still be a winner.”
Overall, Becky liked the changes in this year’s event. She thought the obstacles incorporated into the 5k broke up the run, and the format of the scavenger hunt was a change for the better. She enjoyed receiving one clue and then running to the next. However, she thought some of the clues were a little too difficult or confusing in their wording.
The medal was the same compass design as the past two years. However, improvements were made to the ribbon holding the dangling compass. Last year’s EEC was held in a torrential downpour, and race organizers ultimately needed to shut down the course. When the medals got wet, much of the lettering washed away. This year the ribbon is a higher quality with the words incorporated into the fabric itself and not adhered to the surface.
The race concluded with a private party in Animal Kingdom with many of the signature rides open, including Kali River Rapids, most of DinoLand, and Expedition Everest. Characters also appeared and posed for pictures. It’s rare to be able to ride these rides at night, and the view from the top of Everest’s hill at nighttime is a treat.
Next up on the Disney Endurance Series calendar is the fifth running of the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, CA on September 5 (this race is already filled to capacity). The next race in Walt Disney World is the inaugural Wine and Dine Half Marathon – a nighttime race in conjunction with the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on October 2. Disney officials are currently evaluating the date for the next EEC, but we will bring you any news on the race as soon as we get it.
Congratulations to Becky Dougherty on her second place woman’s finish in the EEC, and for representing the DIS and W.I.S.H. so well. Did you run the race this year? Login with your DISboards username and password and please share your thoughts and comments below.
Category: Disney World