runDisney – Expedition Everest Challenge and Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

Jaime and I are getting ready to run our second ever runDisney race this Saturday November 10, 2012.  This will not be the headline race (the Wine and Dine ½ Marathon) but the family fun run 5K – Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  Our first ever runDisney event was the Expedition Everest Challenge in 2012.  It’s the only 5K headline event sponsored by runDisney.  With that said, this blog post will focus on what we are expecting and what our past race was like.

runDisney sponsors many ½ Marathon and Marathon events at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  All events, except for the Expedition Everest Challenge and Tower of Terror 10 Miler, are at the minimum ½ marathon events.  All ½ Marathon and Marathon events include a family fun run, which includes a 5K and kids runs.  These events are meant to target people who want to participate in the event weekend itself, but whom aren’t ready to dive into a minimum 13 mile run.  I also like to think they are there to get people excited about fitness and wellness, but yet again, not be intimidated by a minimum 13 mile run. 

Our first race was the Expedition Everest Challenge and this was a blast!  So many people were there in the most creative and elaborate costumes EVER seen.  Yes costumes.  runDisney is, I’m pretty sure, the only race where you can dress in a full body suite and be complimented for it.  People dress up like classic Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney Princesses like Aurora and Ariel or even Disney quirks such as Yeti A and B mode (if you are a Disney’s Animal Kingdom fan you’ll get this), Earl from Up and Figment.  The people there are a huge perk. Also you get to see characters and take pictures with them during the run if you want, how fun!

The course itself was both good and bad.  The first mile of our 5K was completed in the parking lot, which is both intimidating and exciting all at once.  If felt like we were running in the parking lot forever. Once you entered the park the raceway became very narrow. With nearly 5,000 people on the run there was a huge mix of people who were taking the race very seriously and those just there for a fun challenge. What made this race unique though are the obstacles that must be completed. It was a fun change of pace to stop and run through tires or hop over hale bales but at the same time it slowed down the overall pace of the race. In addition to the obstacles, once the race portion was over came the scavenger hunt that was also factored into your overall time. We were not anticipating how confusing this would be, but luckily Jaime is good at puzzles!  There were a lot of people so if you are not ready for running in huge crowds a runDisney event may not be for you. The Expedition Everest race is one of the smaller runDisney events compared to something like the WDW Marathon that hosts over 20,000 people.

For the Expedition Everest Challenge all participants received real medals and post race party tickets with their registration fee, in addition to the standard race shirts and refreshments. Some may feel that the entry fee (around $100) was too expensive for a 5K race but we didn’t mind since the post race party was like an extra day in the park. The party went from the time you finished the race and scavenger hunt until 3am. Many rides were open including the Primevil Whirl, Dinosaur and of course, Expedition Everest! Some snack carts and beverage stations were also open. A fun quirk about the medals is that they are a compass, which embodies the expedition theme. One thing to note, however, is that the face of the compass is incorrect with some of the directions in the wrong places. Nonetheless, they are pretty great and it was cool to see all the proud finishers wearing their medal around the parks!

Overall the race was neat because we got to run through a park that is rarely open past sundown. The participants seem to take the event seriously but not so much so that if you are stuck on a clue during the scavenger hunt they wouldn’t help you. We were warned before the race began and again around mile 2 to be very quiet for a certain stretch of the race as we were running in a backstage area near were some of the animals sleep overnight. How cool is that?! The post race party was tons of fun, but since only some of the rides were open we did experience some long lines. Riding the signature attraction of the Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest, in the dark was an unforgettable experience that we partook in several times that night.
We look forward to this next race, the Jingle Jungle 5K, because it will be an early morning run through the Animal Kingdom. From the look of the map it seems that the race route has been changed, which is exciting. Maybe we will have less running through a paring lot and more through the park itself?

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