As one of the longest-running Susan G. Komen 3-Day® events there is, the San Diego 3-Day has become nearly legendary for being an incredible experience. With abundant sunshine, cool Pacific ocean breezes, and enough photo ops to fill an album, San Diego and its 3-Day event open their arms to participants from every corner of the U.S. (and beyond!). Walkers, crew members and countless supporters come together for three days of belief and hope in our promise to end breast cancer forever.
Day 1 began in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning with the gathering walkers and crew members shivering against the chilly morning (well, chilly by Southern California standards…). But soon, they were greeted from the stage by Dr. Sheri, along with Chrissy Mathews from Susan G. Komen® and San Diego local events coach Kim, who hosted the always-inspiring Opening Ceremony.
Walkers headed west toward the coast and a Star Wars themed pit stop 1 (“May the cure be with you.”) before reaching a cheering station which covered blocks of Del Mar Village. This was just one of dozens of cheer spots along the route, places where supporters put the 3-Day on their calendars a year in advance to make sure they pull out all the stops.
At around the 5-mile point, walkers reached pit stop 2 before beginning the climb up the well-known (and somewhat feared) Torrey Pines hill. It’s a tough one, but soon gravity lent a hand and walkers descended through La Jolla, into pit stop 3 at the Salk Institute. A vibrant cheering station at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography gave walkers the push the needed to make it to Kellogg Park for a beach-side lunch stop and some photo ops with local surfers.
After lunch, walkers kept to the coast, passing La Jolla cove, and coming across even more cheering stations and a festive pit stop 4. Many walkers were treated to smooches from the “Kissing Dog” and more scenic views (plus a few more hills…) through La Jolla, before the last waterfront stretch into Crown Point Shores, home of the 3-Day camp.
Dr. Sheri and Chrissy were back on stage to host the Friday night camp show. We heard a moving speech from Miguel Perez from Susan G. Komen headquarters, and another touching message from Amy, a mom of three and a young breast cancer survivor. Recognition was given to San Diego’s top training walk leader, top fundraisers, and Milestone Award winner.
With bright sunshine and clear skies, walkers set out along the water from camp on Day 2. They were met almost immediately by San Diego Youth Corps Alumni at one of many cheering stations along the route. Pit stop 1 and a morning cheer station got walkers pumped up, which was good because soon they were gaining elevation again, this time into the hilly Sunset Cliffs neighborhood. The climb was worth it, as panoramic views of the Pacific (as well as the New Balance cheerleaders) greeted the walkers at pit stop 2, and the views continued for miles back down into Ocean Beach and pit stop 3.
Another public cheering station came next, then lunch at Bonita Cove Park. Many walkers’ families and friends joined them, and walkers leaving the park were given fresh gerbera daisies from a local grower. The route continued along the boardwalk, with many walkers stopping for the endless photo ops, including a group of furry and friendly therapy dogs. Walkers arriving at pit stop 4 at Fanuel Park got the usual snacks and hydration, but got an extra special treat of fresh-baked cookies from some loyal walkers stalkers. The final stretch of Day 2 brought walkers back along Bayside Walk, which was lined with dozens of supporters, and back into camp.
The Saturday night camp show featured fun games, a moving speech from co-survivor Melissa, and the San Diego Youth Corps. There was also a tear-jerking talk from well-known 3-Dayer John Shinar, who surprised the whole dining tent by proposing to his special lady on stage.
Walkers set out on Sunday morning for yet another beautiful day in San Diego, starting with the lovely DeAnza Cove as the backdrop for pit stop 1. It was a string of supporters and cheering stations around every corner, including the MadCaps mother/daughter group before pit stop 2 and the NCL and DHL cheerers near the bottom of the Juan St. hill in Old Town. That climb was a doozy, but after reaching the top, walkers enjoyed a pass through a nicely shaded residential neighborhood before arriving at lunch at Mission Hills Park.
The second half of Day 3’s route was new and different, taking walkers through more lovely neighborhoods and back down to the sea and Harbor Drive. Pit stop 3 was a new location at Waterfront Park, complete with fountains and historic ships in the background. Another couple of miles along the water and walkers crossed into the new Participant Finish Area at Embarcadero Park South.
With the sun setting to the west, walkers and crew members processed into the Closing Ceremony arena outside Petco Park, where hundreds of supporters lined the way. Dr. Sheri, Chrissy and Kim, our hosts from the Opening Ceremony and camp shows, were once again there to thank San Diego’s 2,200 walkers, 350 crew members, countless supporters, and event sponsors, and to celebrate the incredible accomplishment that the San Diego 3-Day achieved: raising $5.9 million.
And so, the 2015 3-Day season has come to an emotional close, but as we raised the final flag one last time over San Diego, we stood united with our 3-Day family in Michigan, Twin Cities, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, and every spot in between, bound by our shared promise: that we will never give up until we have defeated breast cancer forever. Thank you, 3-Day walkers and crew!