The Insider’s Peek at the Dallas/Fort Worth Route

Earlier 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 on 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, Twin Cities, Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta routes) and today, it’s the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day’s turn to shine. Let’s see what Event Planning Manager Kiki and Local Events Coach Gayla had to say!susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

Do you know of any major changes to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day route from last year? – Veterans of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day will notice quite a few changes to the route they’ve been familiar with for the past few years. Kiki shared that there are some adjustments to the route on Day 1 and Day 3, and that we’ll be using some new parks for pit stops on all three days. “These are places walkers haven’t seen in the past, which is exciting. We’re definitely showing walkers some trendy new neighborhoods in the Dallas area.” She added that the most significant changes will be seen on Day 2. “We heard feedback about how particularly rough the big blue bridge in Addison was for the walkers. So it’s gone! We will get to see more of Addison (I love that city!) as well as see parts of some other charming Dallas neighborhoods.” Gayla added, “You won’t be disappointed! We’re visiting some areas we have walked through in the past and some new neighborhoods, so expect awesome support from new residents and cheering stations along the way.”susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

What, if any, geographical challenges does the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day route present (i.e., are there hills? Poor sidewalks? Sections with no shade? Portions of the route that sweep vans can’t access easily?)? – Kiki and Gayla agree that, while Dallas/Fort Worth is the one 3-Day route that is seeing the most changes in 2015, it is still the least demanding route, in terms of geographical challenges. “One thing walkers don’t have to worry much about on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day is hills.” There are some inclines (impossible to avoid completely), but no major mountains to climb. Both Kiki and Gayla mentioned that a fair amount of walking will be done on sidewalks (as opposed to trails or soft road shoulders), so walkers should prepare by training on curbs and sidewalks with driveways. Gayla, who joins training walks with Dallas/Fort Worth walkers on a regular basis says, “Believe it or not, those tiny little repeated steps and inclines can do a number on you, so be prepared for them. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the path for those sneaky tree roots trying to make their way to the surface. Sweep vans are readily accessible, so have no fear.” North Texas in November shouldn’t see terrible heat, but Kiki did point out that there’s not a lot of shade on some parts of the route, so hats and sunscreen are a must.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guidesusan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

Any specific highlights/locations that walkers can look forward to seeing along the way? – The event planners and coaches love when I ask them this question, and are always ready to brag about their locales. Gayla, a North Texas native, said, “Get ready for some very cheerful elementary students to greet you on Friday. They LOVE it when the walkers pass by their schools, so get your high-five hands ready!” She continued, “There are several ‘BIG’ statues around Dallas promoting Big D’s ‘Big Things Happen Here’ celebration, and walkers will have great opportunities to pose as the ‘I’ in these statues all over town. susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guideThe last stretch in Downtown Dallas you’ll be smack-dab in the middle of a cattle drive (bronze cattle statues that is). Get your cameras ready for some cool pics on the last few miles before the finish.” Kiki, on the other hand, is not from Dallas/Fort Worth, so she offers a different perspective: “While I’m not new to the 3-Day, I am newer to the production side of things with the Dallas/Fort Worth event. What I have loved about my visits to the area and my work on planning the route is that I feel I get a real sense of all that Dallas and nearby cities have to offer. And I think my perspective as an ‘outsider’ has allowed me to find some really great new spots for the route.”susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

Any other information you can provide about the overall “essence” of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day route? –Kiki loves that “Everything here feels spread out, but not in a negative way. It doesn’t ever feel congested with lots of crowds or traffic. All three days will feel like a casual Sunday stroll showing the best of the best of what the Dallas/Fort Worth communities have to offer.” Our Texas gal Gayla adds, “Dallas/Fort Worth is ‘urban meets wild-wild-west.’ Being born and raised here, and having participated in the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day many times, I can say with no exaggeration that there’s never part of the route that I don’t love.”susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

The Bottom Line – The Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day is a wonderful slice of the great American west, with a healthy dose of slow, friendly southern charm. While walkers don’t have to worry much about hill training, the demands of walking long distances on flat ground peppered with small steps and curbs is still something to prepare for.

The Insider’s Take – My first experience with the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day was last year as a staff member, and while I wasn’t walking the 60 miles or working on the crew alongside the participants, I did spend a lot of time out on the route and in camp, taking in the Texas experience (including one of the most gorgeous 360-degree sunrises I’ve ever seen in my life). I can say that the people in and around Dallas/Fort Worth were some of the nicest folks I’ve come across in my years with the 3-Day, and the sites along the route were one lovely location after another. I’m excited to see the changes in store for this year and have no doubt that the wonderful people who make up the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day family will continue to be the most beautiful aspects of this already-beautiful route. I’m convinced enough that I’m already registered to walk there next year!susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles dallas fort worth route insider's guide

A Piglet Princess Makes Her 3-Day Debut

There’s a group of people on every Susan G. Komen 3-Day® event that you can’t help but notice. It might be their loud, enthusiastic cheering, their impressive helpfulness around pit stops and in camp, or their unmistakable yellow shirts. No matter how the Komen 3-Day Youth Corps kids come to your attention, one thing is certain: they’re a remarkable group of young people.

Last month at the Twin Cities 3-Day, I was excited to see these 10-16 year-old kids out again, as they are always a bright spot on each day, but there was one Youth Corps member in particular whom I simply had to talk to.

Madelynne is a soft-spoken girl from Wisconsin. At 11 years old, she’s one of the younger Youth Corps kids and she seemed a little apprehensive when she was asked if she would mind talking to me for the 3-Day blog (in fact, I had to explain to her what a blog is).

This was Madelynne’s first year on the Youth Corps, but like most Youth Corps kids, her connection with breast cancer goes back longer than any child should have to experience. She has had several family members who have had the disease, including her grandmother who was a 32-year survivor when she passed away a few years ago.Susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog twin cities crew youth corps mullet pig

And like most Youth Corps kids, the 3-Day has been a part of Madelynne’s own family history for many years too. Her dad has been a participant for most of her life. She said she doesn’t remember him first getting involved with the 3-Day (he’s been crewing since 2008, with one year of walking; all of his events have been in the Twin Cities, plus one year on the crew in San Francisco) but she knows that he’s kind of a celebrity on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

“Because he’s who?” I asked her. She smiled. “Mullet Pig.

Oh yes, Mullet Pig. You would be hard-pressed to find a Twin Cities 3-Day veteran who doesn’t know this icon of the Route Safety team. He’s out here on his bike, year after year, dressed in all kinds of wacky attire, right down to his signature piggy mask and pink lipstick. I asked Madelynne what she thought of that. Her response was what you’d expect from any daughter whose dad sports a pink tutu and an over-the-shirt bra adorned with stick-on googly eyes: “It’s embarrassing.”

But this is the 3-Day and anything goes out here, fashion-wise. I asked her if she thinks it’s cool at all, or is it just embarrassing, to which she promptly replied, “Yeah, it’s cool too.”

A little bit later in the day, I caught up with Mullet Pig (whose name is Dave on the other 362 days of the year) and shared with him some of my conversation with his little girl.

“She’s quiet,” I said to him. “She is quiet,” he agreed. “She’s very quiet at first, but once she gets comfortable, she starts coming out of her shell. I’ve seen it already, just from Thursday to today [Saturday].” Knowing what a larger-than-life presence Mullet Pig is on the Twin Cities 3-Day, I told him I was surprised at how introverted Madelynne seemed to be, by comparison. He replied, “As we were getting ready for the 3-Day, we were talking. And she knows all about Mullet Pig, and she loves that Dad’s Mullet Pig, but I could sense that she was kind of getting a little nervous. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know if I can be like you.’ And I said, ‘You know what? That’s okay. Madelynne, you can be Madelynne if you want to be at the 3-Day, you can be Princess Mullet Pig [the “family” nickname she’s had for years], or you can be anywhere in between. So she’s a little bit in between, I think. And that’s okay. I want to give her the freedom and the support to be her own person. She doesn’t have to be who I am.”570 susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

It was a real pleasure for me to talk to Dave about his daughter. I have kids too, and I know that it’s a special gift when a parent gets to hear the things their kids have said when they weren’t around. I told Dave what Madelynne said when I asked her what she thinks about what her dad does. Not necessarily how he looks, but what he does out here. Her response was: “He makes sure it’s safe. And he cheers the walkers up.” After being on her feet for a day and a half, Madelynne had admitted to me she was tired and knew that the walkers must be that much more tired. But she said she knows that her dad is really, really good at cheering people up.

Dave smiled at hearing that. “If I can bring smiles to people’s faces, that’s what I do. And if I can pass that on to Madelynne… I hear about it. I hear she’s doing her job. I hear, ‘Oh, Princess Mullet Pig was so cute! We loved her cheers!’ then that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about me, or Mullet Pig, or Mulletude, it’s about inspiring. That’s what it’s all about.”

Separately, I asked Madelynne and Dave to tell me one word that describes the other person. Without hesitation, Madelynne replied, “Awesome.” When I asked Mullet Pig a couple of hours later, I said I wasn’t going to tell him what Madelynne’s word for him was (to my knowledge, he’s just finding it out now). Dave pondered on his word for a few seconds. It’s hard to pick just one, isn’t it, I said. Dave, getting a little bit choked up with Daddy pride, said quietly “It is hard to pick just one,” then said, “All right. Awesome.” I laughed, knowing something he didn’t. The piggy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it would seem.

He continued, “I have to say ‘awesome.’ You know, just to see her and see her personality and what she does. She’s so open to suggestions but yet, she’ll take those suggestions and make them her own. As a parent, it’s good to see. As she’s growing up, you know, she’s not my little baby anymore—well, she’ll always be my baby—but she’s growing up, she has her own personality, and that’s what I think is cool about all of this. She grasps the concept of what we do out here. Inspiring people.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

Catching Up With the Seattle 3-Day Coaches

Before last year’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series, we introduced the local coaches from each Komen 3-Day. These are the staff members who support the walkers and crew members all year round, answering phone calls and emails, hosting community events, assigning crew captains and juggling dozens of other tasks to make sure that the 3-Day® participants make it to their events excited and well prepared.

Since we gave you the coaches’ full profiles last year, we’ll delight you with just a fun update before each event this year. We’ve already caught up with the Michigan and Twin Cities coaches, and the Seattle 3-Day coaches are in the spotlight this week (you can read last year’s “Meet the Seattle Coaches” here)!

What was your favorite memory from the 2014 Seattle 3-Day?

Paula (Seattle Participant Coach) – I was heartbroken when a back injury kept me from going to the Seattle 3-Day in 2014. As I followed every Facebook post and had my little pity party that weekend, imagine my surprise when a photo of me appeared – it was “Flat Paula,” a picture of my face on a wooden handle – being a part of the entire 3-Day weekend. I was so touched that my co-workers had made sure that I was there, and loved all of the photos of Flat Me with walkers, crew and staff!

Aubrey and Jon with "Flat Paula"

Aubrey and Jon with “Flat Paula”

Aubrey (Seattle Local Events Coach) – Getting to hug people as they crossed the finish line is something I will never forget. Every time I think about it I get choked up. Seeing all those faces showing their pride in themselves and their loved ones, and knowing that they had just achieved greatness is truly an honorable energy to be around. From the people who have crossed the finish line for the umpteenth time, I am inspired by their devotion. For the first-time walker who wasn’t sure if she could do it when she first signed up, I am proud to see her shining so brightly as she finishes, victorious. To be in this position, to get to work with all of these wonderful participants, is truly a gift that I could not put a value on, and that very few will completely understand.11873396_10206315104630549_4253895415114018698_n

Jon (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The part that stands out most in my mind was walking into the Closing Ceremony arena, leading the entire Seattle 3-Day crew to their positions. It had been a long weekend but everyone was happy to be taking their final steps towards a wonderful ending. There were smiles galore and the cheers that went up when the walkers came by–unforgettable.Dancing Me

Fun facts about the Seattle 3-Day Coaches – Can you guess which fun fact is true about which coach? (There are 3 facts about each coach; answers will be at the end of the Philadelphia 3-Day coaches’ check-in later in September!)

  1. I have lived in 8 states, including each of America’s “corner” states (Washington, California, Maine, and Florida).
  2. I’ve never broken a bone in my body.
  3. I won a dance contest at Howl at the Moon in Orlando against eight far inferior competitors.
  4. I am married to “Santa.” My hubby dons his red suit one day each every year to bring joy (and donated toys) to about 600 needy kids in our community.
  5. I’ve been a runner my whole life and this year I ran my first 50k race (that’s 31 miles)!
  6. I am a California native and have experienced the “thrill” (aka terror!) of living near the epicenter of two BIG earthquakes!
  7. In a recent feat of endurance, in May I drove from Seattle to Cleveland and back in 6 days.
  8. In my experience, seeing Jared Leto from 5 feet away is even better than cupcakes, tacos, and fuzzy socks (which are all things I also love)!
  9. “Here today, gone to Maui!” My favorite vacation spot is calling my name, and I am looking forward to spending two weeks in paradise shortly after the Seattle 3-Day.

 

Looking for the answers from the Twin Cities Coaches’ Fun Facts post? Here they are!

Amy; 2) Eileen; 3) Stephanie; 4) Stephanie; 5) Eileen; 6) Amy; 7) Stephanie; 8) Eileen; 9) Amy