Sunday, May 20, 2012

Everest Challenge 2012 Race Report and Videos

About this time last year we were planning to go to Cincinnati so Holly could participate in 2012's Flying Pig Marathon. A few months later we found out that RunDisney would host another Everest Challenge race in 2012 on the same weekend. Holly didn't have to think twice. We were ditching the pig for The Mouse!

There are several reasons why she choose this race over Flying Pig:

  • Everest Challenge is a relatively small race and it could be retired any given year, whereas Pig will continue to fly.
  • Added another WDW trip to the schedule
  • It's a 5k, which meant Dave would participate in the team-based event
  • Part race/part scavenger hunt
  • Night race with after-party
  • Cool compass medal
We split our four night stay between Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Lodge. We picked "The Lodge" so we could be at one of three host hotels race day. That meant bus transportation to/from the event.

We spent the morning of the race (Saturday) in The Magic Kingdom, then drove our rental car to Wide World of Sports to get our packet. There were other events happening at the complex and parking was a challenge. The packet pickup was outside by one of the ball fields and was relatively small and efficient. Only merchandise for sale were two event shirts. They did have a little vignette for a photo opportunity. We probably spent ten minutes performing the packet pickup and 30 minutes parking and walking.

We left our hotel around 7:30 via bus. Right when we pulled into the Animal Kingdom bus depot we realized Dave did not bring his heart monitor (he needs to keep under a certain BPM level). After a few moments of debate we opted not to go back for it and let Dave keep a lower pace. We met up with several Team AllEars members and chatted up until race time.

This race had 8 waves, each starting 6 minutes apart. The first wave left late - around 9:33. We were assigned to Wave 4, but we took advantage of the confusion in the corrals and left with Wave 3. Just like Waves 1&2 we were sent off with a countdown and fireworks.

Mile 1 was mostly through a parking lot. We were walking this race with our pace between 13.5 - 15 minutes per mile. Good thing because it was warm and humid. We hit the first obstacle about mile mark 0.8. There were many rows of hay bales for us to hurdle. No big deal and you could skip obstacles if you wanted to. As we approached the main gate we were directed to the path from the bus depot, which is about 3-4 people wide. This slowed us down. The actual mile marker was right before the turnstiles.

Mile 2 took us through The Oasis, Discovery Island, then turned left towards Pizzafari. The park looked great at night. We headed towards Harambe and ended up backstage for a good portion of this mile. We went by Conservation Station's train depot and could see the animal care areas. The obstacle this mile was staggered tires to walk through. Another bottleneck.

Mile 3 looped us back toward the center of the park and we took the bridge by Yak and Yeti back to the front of the park. We took another backstage leg to the last obstacle. This was a short military crawl under some netting. Easy enough, but we noticed some people huffing it pretty hard. The Curse of the Night Race strikes again! We finished close to where we started.

Once you finished the crawl the 5k was over. Now time to do the scavenger hunt. We were handed a clue card, sharpie, and led flashlight/whistle. The goal was to solve the riddle, and show the answer to a volunteer at a designated checkpoint. If you want to see the clues, watch the first video at the end of this post (or click here).

Clue #1 was easy. We wrote down our answer and took it to our assigned checkpoint right before the turnstiles. The volunteer confirmed our answer was correct and gave us the next clue.

Clue #2 was also easy. We were now being sent to Camp Minnie-Mickey. Here's where the course got annoying. It was narrow to start with. Now you have runners going into a dead-end of the park that will then have to go back the same way again. People were running into each other, pushing to get ahead, and the clue area was just a mess with people. We had the right answer and moved on.

Clue #3 was also easy. We were sent to Harambe. Back through the mess of people coming into Camp Minnie-Mickey. For the second time in a row our checkpoint was the farthest of them all (by Kilimanjaro). We got our clue and took off.

Clue #4 was also easy. We were sent to Asia for our next checkpoint. This time we were the first stop just after the drum section.

Final Clue: Required the answers from the previous clue. We worked quick and took off. About 50 paces later Dave realized he may have screwed up. He was right. We corrected our answer and took off for the finish line.

We showed our answer to the volunteer by the monkey cage and were sent on our way towards Expedition Everest. The finish line area was packed and unorganized. Volunteers couldn't grab medals to hand out fast enough. It was difficult to make your way to the water, bananas, and Clif Bars. To make matters worse, the first beer vendor couldn't give us change so we had to go 50 feet further to the next cart.

We were scheduled to meet up with our friends at Expedition Everest, but we decided not to linger in that area given the crowd. Turns out no one went to the team meet. We spent some time touring Dino Land at night. We rode Dinosaur, Triceratops Spin, and Expedition Everest twice. We watched the dance party and the Goofy/Pluto meet and greet. We skipped Primeval Whirl and Kali River Rapids. Lines were relatively short for the rides we went on. At 12:30 or so we grabbed some dinner at Restaurantosaurus. called it a night around 1:20. We boarded the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus and were back in the room in no time.

Overall this was a fun event. Our 5k time was 44:12 and clue hunt time was 30:22. We enjoyed the clue portion of the race and liked having the opportunity to see the park at night. The after-party was fun and there were enough places to get food and drink with limited lines. RunDisney needs to be a bit upfront with folks to let them know their total distance covered during the event is closer to 4+ miles. There has to be a more efficient way to layout the course so participants aren't banging into each other and bottlenecking. We didn't check a bag but heard that some people had to wait 45 minutes to get their stuff. We'd do this one again!

We have two videos. The first one we filmed during the event that evening.

The next video was shot the day after with our recap and armchair quarterbacking.

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