On the heels of completing my first runDisney event, signing up for another seemed like a brilliant idea. My logic was that an upcoming race would serve as motivation to keep me running, and help offset the onslaught my body takes from copious amounts of sugar and french fries. Naturally, that motivation hung around for about a week, and eventually that same logic convinced me that running was now the work of witchcraft. Fast forward about 7 months, and a mile into the Expedition Everest Challenge I vowed this race would be my last.
The Expedition Everest Challenge is the most unique runDisney race for a couple reasons. First, it is designed as a team event, with separate divisions for all male, all female, and co-ed teams. In addition, the race is composed of two parts - a 5k and scavenger hunt - both taking place throughout Animal Kingdom Park.
|"Super Moon" rising over the start...|
My buddy SR and I teamed up for the challenge, but there was a lot more on the line than just a cheesy medal at the end. We were competing for bragging rights against SR's wife and MJ. Our pride was at stake, and neither of us were keen on losing it.
After a little over an hour milling around in the Animal Kingdom parking lot, it was time to get this show on the road. In most races I've experienced, the corralling process is always painful at best, but this one was better than most. Of course, it also helped that we were in the 2nd wave, which kept the wait to a minimum, and ensured I didn't boil over with nervous energy. Finally, in typical Disney fashion, we were off...
The course for the 5k made a loop around most of the Animal Kingdom parking lot, into the park itself, and then eventually backstage, before finishing in nearly the same spot it began. For most of the first mile I was kicking myself for not training more than the week before the race, but once inside the park a little bit of adrenaline kicked in and kept me going for a while. Then like a test dummy, I crashed...
|Does anyone ever look good running?|
The last mile was absolutely torture, and seeing another pair of friends pass us that started three waves back certainly didn't help my psyche. Still, we trudged on, knowing that if we were to beat our wives, we would have to put up a good time in the 5k.
When we signed up to run the Everest Challenge, our wives were chocked full of confidence. They claimed that we would likely beat them by several minutes in the 5k, but the scavenger hunt would be our downfall. Why? Because SR and I are two hard headed dudes, and we would waste tons of time fighting with each other over who was right. I'm a realist, and in my heart I knew they were right. So when we reached the end of the 5k, I knew the hard part was yet to come.
|A clever costume...The Wilderness Explorers|
We grabbed our mini-flashlight and clue card from the volunteer and set to work. Amazingly enough, we solved the first clue in about 15 seconds, and headed for the next station. To my utter disbelief, we figured that one out in no time also. And the next. And the one after that. We were on a roll.
Until we reached the last clue....
To solve this clue, one had to combine portions of the previous 4 answers. Problem was, our cards were out of order, so even though our logic for solving it was dead on, the answer we came up with was gobbledygook. Finally, with too much precious time ticking away, we discovered our error and made for the finish.
With our medals in hand, all we could do was wait in suspense for the wives. A few minutes later, they crossed the finish line, and it was time to see who won this battle of the sexes.
Girls: 58:45 - Guys: 1:03:44
How did us strong and mighty dudes manage to lose to a couple chicks dressed like this?
Well, I certainly could have trained for more than 5 days leading up to the race, which probably would have improved our 5k time by a minute or two. Our real downfall, however, was the scavenger hunt, but not for the reasons the girls told us.
What I didn't anticipate was the distance between each of the clues. Once we were done with the 5k, the last thing I wanted to do was run, but walking between each of the stations is likely what cost us the victory. A word of advice for those preparing for the Everest Challenge...treat it more like a 7k.
Despite the bitter helping of humble pie, the Expedition Everest Challenge was easily the most fun race I've ever participated. The teamwork with SR and the competition with our wives made the normally dreadful task of running much more fun. Would I do it again? Absolutely...
We were doing best 2 out of 3 anyway, right?
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~