Thursday, May 9, 2013

Angela's Mother's Day Expedition Everest Challenge 2013

My Expedition Everst Challenge adventure started last year when my mom asked me to do the 2012 challenge for Mother's Day but I had to pass because I was not ready to leave my youngest at night.  I promised her  I would do the challenge the following year in 2013.

When I signed us up in the Fall of 2012 I think the farthest I had run was maybe from the turn styles at the Magic Kingdom to Dumbo.  January of this year rolled around and I had just finished cheering on my Mom in her Disney half marathon and cheering my husband on in his Goofy challenge.  Watching them train/race and complete their goals was very inspiring and I decided it was time for me to focus on me and figure out what this running was all about.  January 15th, I joined the gym and started my Couch to 5K.  Couch to 5K A couple of local 5K's later and down 30 lbs I was ready for the big Expedition Everest challenge!!  The event fell the weekend prior to Mother's Day this year but celebrating with this race early was perfect!

We arrived at Epcot Friday morning to enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival before going to packet pick up.

After a few hours in the park we headed over to packet pick up at Disney's Wide World of Sports.  There was also a cheerleading competition going on so it was packed. 

We quickly found packet pick up and found our names on the list of competitors and picked up our bibs and shirts.  Mine was way too big so they bendt the rules and gave me the size I needed with a lot of begging and pleading.  Inside the bag was a clue to solve.  This clue was to help us on our scavenger hunt later.  I did not even try to solve it right there I figured I would later.  From there we moved on to a super cute photo opportunity set up looking like base camp at Mt. Everest.  Then we added or names and team name to the wall of craziness.  I would post a picture but I misspelled our team name so it looks ridiculous. Bahahahahahaha!   We decided to call ourselves Hakuna Matata, this race was for fun and for the experience not for any kind of personal best.  Hakuna Matata was perfect. 

 From there we picked up a free artist printed photo of Mickey Mouse running through the Animal Kingdom.  I love free stuff! The expo was small but it did have some super cute character themed shirts and tanks but I could not bring myself to pay $42 dollars for a tank top. Yikes!  We headed out to meet up with my husband and girls who were just out front getting a kick out of all the cheerleaders walking around in full  competition get up.

Off to the resort we headed, checking in at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort for the first time.  We got settled in and hit up the fabulous pool !
We carb loaded for dinner. We feasted on chicken marsala on fettuccine pasta, it was really good.
After dinner,we had more down time so we relaxed in hammocks on the beach and the girls had a blast in the sand and the hammocks.  In the mean time my Mom and I tried to figure out the clue from our packet pick up bag.  Oh my, were we in trouble! I just kept thinking, if we can’t figure out this, we are in for a long scavenger hunt.  The race consisted of a 5K that had 3 obstacles, hay stacks, tires and a dirt crawl under a very, very low cargo net.  After you finished the 5K the race was not over, you had to grab your flash light and your first clue.  The finish line was not until you completed and correctly answered all clues.  WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!!  I seriously though we sat on the beach forever and never figured out the clue.  I had to call my friend Susan, who was racing with her husband to tell me the answer.  Back to the room, we went to get ready for our Everest Challenge.
Clue from packet pick up bag

Our girls enjoying the resort beach.
My Sweat Pea and I enjoying the hammock.

 We put on our team race shirts who were made by my friend Becky Warg at RW Boutique on facebook.
Ready to rock and roll!

The race started at 10:00pm and we were directed to be at the start by 9:15pm.  We headed to our race transportation bus stop at 8:00pm.  Lucky us, we were finally picked up by 8:36pm.  Pulling into the Animal Kingdom parking lot, seeing the start and finish line and the massive crowds of people and cars was so exciting!  It is so hard to sit still and wait when you are so stinking excited.  We met and talked to so many competitors along the way and on the bus.  Some costumes were cute, crazy and over the top Disney style.  One guy was in a full on Yeti costume.

We finally reached the parking lot drop off point after the long traffic wait and headed straight to more photo opps!
One of four photo opps set up.
We were keeping our eyes out for friends we new who were racing too.  We were in corral G, so after the photos we headed to our corral when we found my friend Susan and her husband, Willie.
 Susan was in corral F, only one corral ahead of us, and after a failed attempt of sneaking in her corral we took our place in corral G only steps away but there was a six minute wait between each corral.  I believe we waited in the corral about 45 minutes all squished in together like sardines.  The gun fired off at 10pm sharp but our corral G start time was at 10:36pm.  We were standing there waiting for our go and we could see the corral A front runners finishing up their 5K and getting their first clue. CRAZY!  Finally it was our turn I was so exciting words can't even explain.

 The adrenaline alone was awesome!  The 5K and obstacles were going to be the easy part it was the darn clues that I was sweating... 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, we were off!  Immediately we darted out just to get out of the pack and find us some open territory to run in.  The first obstacle was the hay stacks.  Some people were just avoiding the obstacles all together which I did not understand?  Pay all that money for the obstacle race just to avoid them?  Anyways we jumped over like the troopers we are and I attempted some photos from my phone during the race.  Not the best quality but you get the idea. :)
The race started and finished in the parking lot.  Now we are running towards the turn styles, a path I have walked numerous amount of times before.  The course took us through the Oasis and all the way to Africa where we took a detour behind the scenes.  Definately nothing magical behind the scenes at AK, at least not where we were running.  Then it put us back in the park in Asia.
Running through the park at night was so amazing for this Disney fanatic!  The Tree of Life was illuminated beautifully.  Expedition Everest was amazing to run by at night as well. Approaching mile 2, we headed behind the scenes of Finding Nemo and took a back road down to the second obstacle, the tires.  The line to complete the tire obstacle was pretty darn long and slow moving but again, we were in it for the experience not for a timed event. So we completed our tires, almost getting side swipped by a guy who was wiping out on them.  We new at that point we had only 1.1 miles to go before our scavenger hunt began.  At this point we heard an announcement, runners to the left scavenger hunt to the right.  I could not believe the scavenger hunt came all the way out to this point.  I though ,OH MY we have so much farther to go still.  The scavenger hunt itself was roughly another 2 miles after the 5K.  
We approached the dirt crawl and this was not just your average sandy dirt crawl this was dirty black dirt.  I kept thinking oh no my new shirt. LOL.  We cleared it, but came up looking like Hakuna I Need a Shower.  We crossed the 5K finish line but the race was not over, no medal was handed out, but we did get our flash light and first clue of the night. Here is a picure of all the clues.

I intermediately solved the first clue, the answer was (North West).  Then we darted off to the Oasis feeling super excited because we were able to solve it!  The second clue my Mom solved pretty quick and we headed toward Camp Minnie and Mickey to give our answer (North East) and collect our next clue.  Passing walkers was a challenge and there were some tight dark corners to avoid also.   The third clue was a bit tricky but my Mom got it right away. (South West) This clue took us to Africa, again.  Our clue told us at the bottom to find the sign Timbuktu, literately located as far away as possible in "Timbuktu",  lucky us.  We told her our correct answer and received our last clue instructing us to go to Asia.  Finding our sign in Asia was a bit tricky but we found it and gave her our answer the the fourth clue. (North East) Then were were given our final clue.
We then needed all of our clue cards to solve a puzzle it took only about 3 to 5 minutes of trying multiple options, which were not working, to line up and match any symbol on our race bib.  Then, all of a sudden, I  figured it out.  I seriously was so excited that I figured it out!  On the opposite side of the clue cards there were tons of symbols and N, W, E and S directions.  I figured you had to use your hand as a "needle" on a compass and point the direction of the "answer". Whichever symbol you were pointing to is the symbol you were to use for the puzzle.  When you did this with all 4 clues, it made the exact picture as the "white" symbol on my race bib. 

I felt like I had conqured the world over a simple scavenger hunt clue.  Then we darted off to take our solved scavenger hunt clue to the finish line!!  It was still another mile away.  We finish strong and claimed our super cool compass medals.  Grabbed our after race goodies and met up with my friends Susan and Willie for the after party.  We shared fun scavenger hunt and race stories and set off to Dino Land to ride Dinosaur.  I figure everyone else would of headed to Everest first so we avoided the crowd.  
Me and my awesome Mom!  Team Hakuna Matata!

Susan and I, besties since elementary school!

Dinasour was a walk on during the after party.  Here is our fun ride photo. :)

Then we headed back out to the party where everyone was dancing and having a blast to the pumping music.  While my Mom and the rest were dancing I headed over to the New Balance station where they were printing out FREE  Instagram photos.  All you had to do was hash tag your photos #NByetigram from 4pm to 1am and they would print them out.  I was a hash tagging fool all day starting promptly at 4pm.  I found about 17 photos that were printed out.  I took more during the after party but the printer got backed up so not all of them were printed.  Here is a picture of all my free Instagram photos!

 From there we headed over to Asia to take on Expedition Everest.  Riding this coaster in the dark is totally awesome!! 

Susan and Willie in the blue and my Mom and I in the front.  Yes I am taking a video while my Mom is most likely praying for it to be over!  Love you Mom what a trooper you are!!!

I can say with confidence my Mom will never ride that again.  But hey, we come to do it all!  We saved the rapids for last knowing we would get soaked!!  This was actually my first time on the rapids since my girls are not tall enough.  I was super excited, like always.  We were soaked within minutes and freezing our tails off during the cool breezy night.  But having a blast all at the same time!
Susan and Willie loving the ride too!
I made my way straight to the first towel vendor and bought myself the nicest, biggest, driest towel I could find!  I got a pass holder discount too.  We headed back through Asia and made our way to Dinoland to see if anymore of our Instgram pictures had been printed out,but the line to wait and get them was just far too long.  We grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant and then made our way to the bus back to our resort.  While waiting for the bus to depart, we were chatting with the bus driver.  She told me about the time she was driving a passenger van for work and fell a sleep at the wheel with her eyes open.  SERIOUSLY!?!?!?!?!??!  So I was wide awake watching her and the road all the way back to the resort. Geeze.  She did say I like to chew gum to keep me awake.  Before she could say another word I shouted, "Does anyone have some gum!?" "Get this lady some gum!"  We made it back safely and all I could think about was I better get the dirt out of my new shirt. LOL.  So at 3am I am scrubbing the dirt out of my shirt in the hotel.  Seriously though, this race was the best experience and such a great time!!  I am so glad I was able to experience this with my Mom! I want to do it every year now and make it a tradition!!!  Disney did not disappoint with the Expedition Everest Challenge!!  Looking forward to the inaugural 2014 Minnie Mouse 10K and there is a possibility of my first half marathon ever at this years Wine and Dine Marathon...we'll see!

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