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Disney World Vacation: Expedition Everest Challenge

Two hundred forty seven days, that sounds about right.

June 20th, 2010.

The day we faced the Yeti.

We had been warned ahead of time. Heck, we chose our team name with the possibility in mind.

YET-E Logo

Yes, I rocked this. I rocked it hard.

Bedecked in matching T-shirts, we left our hotel room at the All Star Music Resort at Disneyworld and made our way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Matt and Jess in front of fake ice

Yes, you heard me, I said bedecked!

As was our usual, we trundled down to the shuttle station and awaited the shuttle we hoped would arrive (they told us a special shuttle was coming, but I was still a little nervous). A shuttle did indeed arrive, fairly empty, so we hopped on board and made the fifteen minute trek over to the park. We arrived at the unloading area and things seemed relatively quiet. We located the signs pointing us to the staging area and headed off. Rounding a corner, a stage and large amount of people came into view. This must have been the base camp from which we would go hunting.

Waiting for the race at sunset

If the sun is so low, why is it still so dang hot?

Sundown was approaching, and it was still hot and muggy (as it was pretty much the entire time we were in Florida). I had expected it to be a little cooler with a race time of 8 pm, or at least a touch less humid. Felt like we were going to be going for a swim along with our run. The Expedition Everest Challenge was a two-part race, the first a 5K with some obstacles spread throughout, and the second a scavenger hunt, both through the park (though the race was starting in the parking lot outside). We had arrived nice and early, so we spent the time stretching, taking pictures, and listening to the really inane chatter of the M.C.s.

Our emcees

Okay, inane is probably a little harsh, but look at those outfits!

Jess and Matt in front of a plane

Wait, we have a plane. Why are we running again?

Our “job” was to find the organizer of last year’s Expedition Everest Challenge, which had been wiped out by a typhoon (no, seriously, the event was rained out in the middle the year before).

Jess in front of the "Search for Gary" Sign

Sure, we'll get right on that searching for Gary thing.

As the sun went down, people headed to the starting line. We would be released in waves according to the number on our bibs with a 5-minute delay. Since we were wave 4, we had a little bit of time to psych ourselves up. Fireworks went up with the start of each wave, and finally it was our turn to depart.

Starting line fireworks

I think we just lost the element of surprise on the Yeti. . .

I’ll admit, it was a little difficult for me to temper my pace so that Jess and I were running together (this wound up being a good thing, as I had not really trained for this event and am fairly certain I would have flamed out spectacularly in the heat and humidity had I not been reined in a bit).

Map of the race

You are here. Then here. Then here. Now here.

The opening section wound around the parking lot and we arrived at our first obstacle after about half a mile just before we entered the park. We clambered up onto the balance beams (about 4 feet high, which felt surprisingly tall) and quickly scampered across the 50 feet they covered. The gates of the park were next, and we turned left and began the ascent to the African section. After passing through we turned to go backstage on an access road that leads us to the second obstacle, a series of tires for us to step through. They were very large and not very difficult to maneuver over. Coming back into the park and around to the Asian area, we were able to run past the Everest ride itself before heading into another backstage area and the final obstacles. Several rows of hay bales had been set down for us to hurdle over, and then a cargo net had been placed about a couple feet above the ground under which we had to crawl. I had a fun surprise when my backpack (with all our supplies and camera) caught and I jerked to a stop on my belly, but I got unhooked and we crossed the finish line.

Matt and Jess wristbands

Pic unrelated.

Crossing the finish line meant we could stop running, but our job wasn’t over yet. We each picked up a clue card and started to head back to the park entrance to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree on what the clue was telling us to do! It took us a minute to realize that we were only supposed to pick up one clue per team, and that our clues were indeed telling us to head to different locations. Since both locations were in the same area, we headed in and just decided to pick the first one we came to. Having found the correct location referred to in the first clue (which was an insanely easy riddle I don’t even remember the details of), we picked up our second clue and essentially retraced our 5k route. One reason they gave different clues was to alleviate congestion during the search, and we apparently picked a good set, as none of the clue stations we arrived were particularly busy. All the puzzles we got were solved easily, and, as long as you had a map, getting to them wasn’t particularly difficult. We blazed through and got to the official end in Dinoland, where our medals and the after party awaited.

Jess with her medal

Did I mention the medals?

Matt confused by compass

The medals had a compass inside them. Now how do these things work again?

Matt pointing at medal

I think the heat got to me.

Gary was found (apparently, I never saw him), the Yeti vanquished, and we both had a lot of fun!

Jess and Matt with Baloo

Cameraman jerk didn't warn us there was a bear behind us

Posted in Matt General.

One Response

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  1. Andy said

    Kudos on the recursive acronym. Very GNU of you.

    Looks like you had a fun time!

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