This weekend, Geoff and I drove to Orlando for the inaugural Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. The race is made up of three events, like a triathlon. It starts off with a 5K run through the park followed by an obstacle course and ends with a scavenger hunt, also through the park. When I first heard of it, I thought it must have been specifically designed for us. Geoff and I love running together and the race is optimized for teams of two. We both also enjoy basic training activities like our weekly beach boot camp class, so the obstacle course appealed to us right away. As if two out of three wasn’t good enough, one of our favorite things to do on the weekends is solving the daily crossword puzzle. In fact, we love solving all kinds of puzzles, so the scavenger hunt was like the icing on the cake. We signed up and looked forward to the race for months. We got some of our friends excited enough to sign up as well.
We had to pick up our race packet before 2pm on Saturday, so we took half of Friday off from work and drove to Orlando. We decided to make a weekend of the event since our entry fee included two park tickets to either Animal Kingdom or Epcot. We also thought doing a water park before the race on Saturday was a “good idea” because it would be “relaxing.” Looking back, I have to admit it wasn’t the greatest plan ever, but man did we have fun ! Unfortunately, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was coming down with what would turn out to be a pretty bothersome cold. My throat felt sore on Friday, but I kept thinking it was something else… like detoxing. Don’t all newly converted rawists go through that ? Anyway, after all the fun rides and slides, hot sun and freezing water, I was pooped. The bottoms of my bony feet were aching from walking barefoot all day and Geoff was pretty tired himself. We went back to our hotel and took a nap which, judging by the look on Geoff’s face when I woke him up, seemed like the blink of an eye. We got ready for the race and made our way over to Animal Kingdom.
We were given a bunch of info before and leading up to the event, but nobody ever told us about the gazillion people registered for this race or the fact that we’d be divided into waves of about 100 (probably more) which would start every 5 minutes. We were in the ninth wave, so we had to stand around for 40 minutes after the “official start time.” Eventually, it was our wave’s turn. We started our adventure together with a kiss and a smile.
The run was uneventful and “seemed” fast although it wasn’t much faster than our normal runs together. I’m not sure if this was due to the venue or the fact that it was a new course for us or maybe psychological since we knew the 5K was only the first part of the race. Either way, we got through it despite all the walkers in the way. I have nothing against people walking a race, but perhaps those who need or want to walk should keep to the right (or left) and allow runners to carry on through. Hopefully, something like that will make it to the race guidelines next year because I predict even more people will sign up then and the 5K run could very well turn into the obstacle course.
The Obstacle Course
To my surprise (and relief), the obstacle course turned out to be the easiest of the events. The first obstacle was a set of three wooden barriers about four feet high which we had to cross over. This was the hardest obstacle for me, but Geoff helped me get across each barrier. For the next obstacle, we had to climb up and down cargo nets. This one was much easier. Then we had to walk on a balance beam which was fun since Geoff and I got to hold hands. I’m not sure if that was cheating, but the race instructions encouraged team work, so I think it was OK. Finally, we had to crawl under a net about a foot high. We finished everything together with smiles on our faces.
The Scavenger Hunt
Once out of the obstacle course area, there were volunteers handing out “passports” and pencils. Each passport had four pages, each with a location and a question/clue which we had to provide a simple one word answer for. Fortunately the locations were in order and the questions weren’t very hard. We ran to each location and took a moment to decipher each question/clue. After getting the fourth one, we ran to the finish line, still smiling. After crossing the finish line, we were each given a finisher medal/compass.
It was then time to have our passports checked for accuracy. We got all four answers right !! To celebrate, we made our way to the after party. There was music, food, drinks and several open attractions. We first did the Everest ride and then the rapids. Then we walked around for a little while and did the dinosaur time travel ride. We watched the awards ceremony and headed back to our hotel for a hot bath.
Overall, we were very happy with our accomplishment. Not only did we finish with a smashing time of 51:43, but we came in 18th out of 451 co-ed teams who also got all four questions right (teams who missed one question or more were grouped separately). The best part, though, is that we had a blast doing it. Like Geoffrey said, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. It was like a typical weekend of running together and solving puzzles, but with a medal and fun rides at the end. We can’t wait to do it again next year !
More soup from WF while working on the Saturday’s race report.
It’s not necessarily vegan friendly, but the greenhouse is cool.
We came back to Ethos Vegan Kitchen for their Sunday brunch. We got the special – raspberry pancakes with home fries, plus biscuits and gravy and a cinnamon bun.
We’re going to do a water park before our race which is not until 7pm tonight. Before heading out, we stopped at the Starbucks by our hotel which has a nice outdoor patio with comfy couches. We’re having coffee and some muffins I baked before leaving yesterday. Life is good.
We hit Ethos Vegan Kitchen for dinner. It’s a casual urban cafe near downtown Orlando with couches and a cozy outdoor patio. We had the pecan crusted eggplant with mashed potatoes and asparagus and a pizza with squash, roasted peppers and seitan. Both were absolutely delicious and satisfied our hunger which was ravenous by the time we finally found the place.
Friday – 45 min run, some swim practice
Saturday – 1 hr, 10 min bike ride
Sunday – Triathlon: 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
Monday – rest
Tuesday – 50 min spin class
Wednesday – 50 min spin class
Thursday – 41 min run