The Insider’s Peek at the Seattle Route

In February of this year, we treated our readers to The Insider’s Peek at the 3-Day Route, where we gave you a detailed look at the planning, work and execution that goes into creating the routes for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series. While that two-part Insider’s Peek was full of tasty details, it didn’t explicitly address the particulars of any specific Komen 3-Day location.

Until now!

It seemed like a natural progression to go from an expansive overview of 3-Day® route-planning in general to a more pinpointed look at each of the seven 3-Day events. So I’ve been picking the brains of the event planning team and local coaches to get the skinny on what walkers can expect. Sharing this information early in the year will help walkers prepare for their events, train for what’s to come and know what exciting high points to look forward to.

We’re publishing one of these location-specific route peeks for every 2015 3-Day event (we’ve already enjoyed peeks at the Michigan and Twin Cities routes) and today, it’s the Seattle 3-Day’s turn to shine. Let’s see what the Event Planning Manager Emily and Local Events Coach Aubrey had to say:

  • Will there be any major changes to the route from last year? – Emily had this to say: “Nothing major, but there are a couple of changes that past walkers will notice. We have new lunch sites on Day 1 (because of construction) and Day 3 (based on feedback from last year). We’re looking at some stretches that could be longer, gradual hills as opposed to shorter, steeper climbs. Of course, I’m saying that as a local who is used to hills!”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog seattle route
  • What, if any, geographical challenges does the Seattle route present? (i.e., Are there hills? Sections with no shade? Portions of the route that sweep vans can’t access easily?) – All right, Seattle walkers, let’s get right down to it: Seattle = hills. There’s no escaping it. Aubrey had this to say: “Seattle is extremely hilly, particularly on Day 2. Participants should train on hills that are long and winding. If they are near Kirkland or Redmond, those are great hills to train on, but long switchbacks would also help someone get adequately prepared for our hilly terrain.” Emily adds that it’s not just the Seattle route that’s inclined toward inclines, it’s the whole Pacific Northwest region: “We’ve been asked if we can change the route to make it less hilly, and we take the feedback seriously. We see how we could maybe shorten the hills or find ones that aren’t as steep, but there’s no way to get away from them completely. But remember, what goes up must come down!” Emily also added, “We’re keeping the crew aware of the walkers’ needs and prepping the crew to help. For example, on Day 2, when there’s not much going on at camp during the day, we’ll use some of the camp teams and vehicles as extra sweep support.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog seattle route
    The Day 1 route takes walkers across the I-90 “floating” bridge over Lake Washington (gephyrophobes, be warned) and Emily reminds us, “The bridge is wide open, and if it’s warm out, being over the water will help keep you cool, but there’s no shade and no sweep van access on the bridge.” (Sweep vans will be available before the crossing for anyone who needs them.) Emily continues: “On Day 2 there’s a big hill right as we leave camp. We’re looking at alternate ways to get around the steepness of that hill, but there’s no other way out of camp to go up and over and get to downtown Kirkland and the waterfront.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog seattle route
  • Any specific highlights/locations that walkers can look forward to seeing along the way? – Aubrey is quick to gush about what her city has to offer the 3-Day walkers: “Day 1 brings great views of downtown, a walk across the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington and the Botanical Gardens. Day 2 offers fantastic views of lakes, beautiful homes and photo ops at the tops of the hills. Day 3 is great for Gas Works Park on Lake Union, a walk through the funky neighborhoods of Fremont and Ballard, the Ballard Locks (where walkers will likely see seals), the gorgeous homes in Magnolia and a stroll through the downtown waterfront section to close off their weekend.” Emily adds, “Walkers get the best features of what makes Seattle so wonderful: Lakes, green forests, the Space Needle, Seattle Center, Pike Place, the Ballard Locks, Mercer Island, Gas Works Park. We hit so many of the cool little neighborhoods of Seattle: Hippie Fremont, the big beautiful homes of Magnolia, the cool little ‘beach town’ of Kirkland on Lake Washington. Over the years, by trial and error, we’ve tried different routes and sites, and we’ve really come up with the best of Seattle, as great as we can make it (and as flat as we can make it!).”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog seattle route
  • Any other information you can provide about the overall “essence” of the Seattle route? – “What I love most is the beauty of the natural landscape: the water, the mountains, the vibrant colors,” says Emily. “The parks are wonderful, but also the unique aspects of the different neighborhoods of the Seattle area. It’s the Pacific Northwest, it’s hilly, but that’s the Northwest! That’s what makes it so unique. That’s what Seattle was founded on, a series of hills, so in essence, that’s what Seattle is, so the more you can embrace it, the better Seattle experience you’re going to have!”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog seattle route

The Bottom Line: You probably picked up on the major theme from the rest of this post: Seattle has a lot of hills. Our hope is that walkers will look at those climbs as motivating challenges, and reminders that what they’re doing, though difficult, is nothing compared to the uphill battles that too many of them and their loved ones have faced because of breast cancer. Part of the purpose behind these route peeks is to give walkers a heads-up months before their events, so that they can prepare and train the best they can to get themselves ready for their 60-mile journeys, and this is especially true for a challenging route like Seattle. The real bottom line is, if you’re going to be walking in the Emerald City, train on hills. There’s no better way to prepare yourself. Then, when you get there in September, strong and well-conditioned, you’ll be able to really take in the beauty and charm of Seattle, no matter what the elevation is.

The Insider’s Take: If I ever decided to move away from California, I’d head straight for Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful corners of these United States, and I feel like the Seattle 3-Day—which I have walked twice and crewed once—has a little bit of everything: forests and lakes, friendly suburban neighborhoods with incredible community support, and a city-centered Day 3 that will pretty much check off every Seattle tourist site you’d want to see on a trip there. Yeah, it has hills. Lots of hills. I happen to not really mind hills, but if you mind hills (or even if you don’t), you’re definitely going to have to make them a focus of your training, including both steep inclines and slow steady climbs. But you can handle it. I know you can. Keep your eyes up and don’t let gravity get the best of you. Plus: Starbucks. Lots of Starbucks.


Great stuff, right? If you still have questions or concerns about the Seattle 3-Day route, pick up the phone and call Paula, your Seattle 3-Day coach, at 800-996-3DAY (select option 7 for Seattle), or email

10 thoughts on “The Insider’s Peek at the Seattle Route

  1. Oh man! I live in one of the latest places around (Amarillo, TX.) I am great at training long distance and high heat. Hills and cool weather? Not so much. I think this will be my most challenging walk yet (this is my 7th walk, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix twice, San Francisco, and Atlanta). I will admit that your blog post has me worried. I guess I will have to hit the treadmill inside the gym. I am looking forward to seeing the Seattle area. Haven’t been up there since my Daddy retired from NAS Whidbey Island in 1976. Going to take a few vacation days to do some site seeing!

  2. Sherry, we’re so excited you’ll be joining us in Seattle! The purpose of this post was to get you excited too, and point you in the right direction with your training (don’t be worried, you’ll be fine!). Having done as many walks as you have, you’re already in a good position to be able to adapt to your walk environment, and with Denver, SF and Atlanta, you’ve already walked in some of our other hilliest locales! You’re going to do great. Work some inclines in when/where you can (Seattle coach Aubrey had the great suggestion to find a multi-level parking structure and walk up it, or climb stairs whenever you have the chance). Good luck! ~Erin

  3. The weather last year was perfect for walking and the route was spectacular. I have been back to visit several of the sites I had never seen before and memories of the route was one of the main reasons I signed up again. One suggestion would be to not cut directly through Redmond Town Center during an event.
    Looking forward to it!


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