On Friday morning, a brilliant blue-tinged sunrise illuminated the smiling faces of over 2,600 walkers ready to take the first steps of their 60-mile journey starting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Towering palm trees lined the paths to the coast, as walkers breathed in fresh sea air on their way to the cheering stations and pit stops, which paved the way for our entrance into the idyllic Torrey Pines State Park, known notoriously for its giant hills but also its sweeping views.
At mile 10.6, the UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography cheered us on with joyful enthusiasm and pompoms, and then it was on to lunch at Kellogg Park. Our final pit stops of the day, at La Jolla Lutheran Church and Christ Lutheran Church kept us fueled up with grahamwiches and sports drink, and we loved the La Jolla Cove seals, who barked as walkers selfied.
After an amazing day of 20.5 miles, back in camp at Crown Point Shores Park, we were treated to a moving speech by survivor Heather, 7-time walker and currently battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and we all walked back to our tents inspired to pound the pavement strongly on Day 2.
Walkers worked out their aches and pains the first few miles of Day 2 with photo opps with friendly creatures from Sea World! A barn owl, a screech owl, a porcupine, and a river otter were along the path, along with the Sea World Mascot, ready to strike a pose with our fabulous 3-Dayers.
From Sea World it was past Robb and Ocean Beach Fields, and then Pit Stop 2, at the top of a scenic vista at Sunset View Elementary, leading to a wonderful downward stretch back along the coast.
Lunch at Bonita Cova was muy bonita, and filled with amusements, from Chippendales dancer straight from Las Vegas, to thousands of vibrant Gerbera Daises being gifted to our strong walkers and crew. The San Diego Police Department also entertained us with a long and rockin’ dance party.
The way out of lunch gifted us with friendly pets and licks from therapy dogs, and then onward to South Mission Beach Park and Belmont Park.
Pit Stop 4 at Fanuel Park was aloha, and as walkers hydrated and stretched, they said Mahalo to the Pit Stop and Aloha to the famous Cookie Lady, passing out hundreds of homemade cookies.
The last two miles brought us through our inspiring Survivor Stretch, lined with the warriors of breast cancer, inspiring us to go on. Back in Camp, we honored and celebrated our 2016 Award Winners, and then danced the night away with our Youth Corps before retiring to our pink tents to drift off to dream of a world free of breast cancer forever.
At 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, we were all on our way toward Pit Stop 1 at De Anza Cove, and then the jubilant cheering station at the Mission Bay Park Visitor Information Center. The South Shore Park housed our Pit Stop 2, which at 7.1 miles, was where blisters were treated by our handy medical crew, water bottles were refilled, and the Youth Corps cheered up tired walkers with silly jokes and their energetic cheering.
From Pit Stop 2 we began our walk into Old Town San Diego, where we started the ascent up the fabled Juan Street hill, aided by local Mexican restaurants serving free chips and salsa.
Though the hill was challenging, we were applauded by survivors carrying signs saying “People like you saved my life”, spectators passing out sliced pickles, and adorable dogs in pink shirts.
We loved the mansions towering over San Diego on our way into lunch at Pioneer Park, where salads and sandwiches helped us get ready for our final four miles of the day.
The stunning Balboa Park housed cheering stations and our Pit Stop 3, where we posed with bronze statues, stretched, and then snapped pictures at the beautiful mile 59 marker drawn in chalk before our final two miles into Waterfront Park.
After 15.6 miles on Day 3, we marched proudly into the twilight of Closing Ceremony, surrounded by sweeping palm trees and our loved ones. Dusk descended upon the 3,000 people gathered in the park, and Dr. Sheri and Amber Livingston told us the astounding news that with our 2,600 walkers and 350 crew, we raised $7.6 million dollars. As we hugged and celebrated and danced, our message rang loud and clear; that though our feet may ache, our spirit, our tenacity, and our dedication will live forever; through aches, and pain, and blisters. We are shouting loudly and proudly that in this fight, where we seek to live in a world free of breast cancer, WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP. Thank you, San Diego. We are so very proud of you.
If you’re ready to be a part of this incredible journey again in 2017, sign up now for just $35 at The3Day.org/Register.