Michigan 3-Day Event Preview

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The Michigan 3-Day is this week, and as you get ready for the event, we have a preview of what to expect on our first 3-Day of the year! There are some fun new updates this year, but for those who return to Michigan again and again… you’ll be happy to see some familiar sights as well!

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The first, and biggest update is that we will be camping outside this year at Novi Middle School! The Wildcats will be hosting our 3-Day camp on both nights, allowing us to take advantage of the great summer Michigan weather. We know the camp site is usually indoors, but even outside, you don’t have to worry about too much noise or brightness at the new camp site. The camp site is safely away from any noise or light that would interfere with your 3-Day beauty sleep.

Our Michigan Event Production Manager, Ann Love, previously Michigan’s Coach, is very excited about the new spot!

“We’re working hard this year to make the camp more festive! Hopefully you will notice how high energy it feels, and see that there’s plenty to do in camp. The sleeping area is tucked away in a nice, grassy park area. Once you see it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised and thrilled!”

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Aside from camp, each of the 60 miles will also be fun-filled!

Day One starts at Walled Lake Western High School and will walk by Walled Lake to kick off Day One. We have walked by the lake in past years, but you will see more of it this year, along with beaches and parks. The views will be great! After that, the route will take us in and around the city of Novi, and returning walkers will see lots of familiar places.

You’ll see Pavilion Shore Park, Novi Ten Shopping Center and Novi Meadows!

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Day Two will also feature familiar locations, with the highlight (and one of Ann’s favorite spots!) being the arrival into the city of Plymouth. That’s where we will all enter the park with the now famous “Pink Fountain,” an excellent spot for photos! After that, we will pass through the city of Northville, and if you’ve walked before, you will recognize portions of the rest of Day Two’s afternoon route. However, there will be plenty of new sites to see, too!

Spots to look out for are Cass Benton and Kellogg Park as well as Northville Downs.

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As in past years, Day Three starts with a bus ride (feel free to sing as we drive!) where we will begin walking at Livonia and then through the Dearborn neighborhood. This will include walking through the Dearborn Homecoming Festival, which Ann promises will be full of fun and great sights!

We will have new sights to see as we walk through Ford Field Park. This was on our route a few years ago, and since it was such a popular walking route, we are bringing it back this year!

Ann explains, “We are always trying to give everyone more of what they like!”

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We will finish, as usual, at Ford World Headquarters for our celebratory Closing Ceremony.

All along the route, you’ll be cheered on by the Michigan community, and get to stop by our festive pit stops every few miles. Ann says you can expect to see the Michigan BooBees (a honeybee theme) at Pit Stop One, as well as Wild West, Dr. Seuss, and more exciting Pit Stops all along the route.

For more of our favorite sights from the Michigan 3-Day, check out our photo slideshow!

What are you looking forward to most on the Michigan 3-Day? Tell us in the comments! And, if you have any more questions, your Michigan Coaches are here to help!

3-Day Besties, Tracie and Kristen

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We say it often, but the 3-Day truly is better with friends. It’s a journey that we all take together, but having your bestie by your side for the 60 miles makes the journey even more fun. Sunday is International Day of Friendship, so it’s the perfect time to ask a friend to walk with you this year! If you need more reasons to convince your best friend to walk with you, we have two: Tracie Audifferen and Kristin Naour Duvall.

These two ladies have been walking the San Diego 3-Day for five years, and, after meeting on a training walk, they’re now also best friends!

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Tracie began walking years ago, after a sorority sister was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

“I had always seen the commercials, but this was someone who made it real for me,” she says.

In her second-year walking, she joined the Powered by Optimism team, where she met Kristin.

Previously, Kristen’s connection to the 3-Day came from supporting her mom, aunts and cousins who all participated. She began walking in 2012, initially planning to only walk for one day. She joined Powered by Optimism and changed her mind one hour into her first training walk.

“It was the most fun day and most fun walk ever! I knew I couldn’t miss out on this, and immediately changed my status from walking one day to all 3 days!”

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From there, both she and Tracie were hooked members of the Powered by Optimism team. So much so that they were both, separately, driving 25 miles each way to the team’s training walks. Until they met each other…

“We were commiserating about the drive to the walks, and both were looking for someone to carpool with! And all this time we were driving the same streets!” Tracie explains.

“We really got to know each other through driving to our training walks!” Kristin echoes. “It was early mornings, and we were all exhausted on the way there, and then on the rides back we would pop a couple Pepsis and be goofy and fun!”

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From there, the friendship grew. Tracie credits her friendship with Kristin for bringing her out from the sadness of losing her sorority sister.

“Kristin is just a light, and I am like a moth to that light. She was instantly engaging and joyful and spirited. It took me out of the sadness of why I was walking to be with this person who is just joyful!”

Tracie continued, “I was blessed to find a brand new friend in the midst in that sadness! Over the past almost 5 years, our friendship has just grown. Komen was always the hub, but outside of that, our friendship grew. Everything else were just spokes to that hub.”

That hub is reinforced every year that they walk the 3-Day together.

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“You have over 2,000 people in San Diego, but if you’re walking with a friend, you can allay any fears and concerns you might have about this journey. And on the other hand, you get to experience everything with someone else who knows you!” Tracie says.

“You’re also celebrating! You celebrate in the evening in your pajamas and in the mess hall tent and when it’s 6 am and you’re crawling out of this pink tent but you’re already laughing. You celebrate dealing with blisters and meeting new people, and getting stickers and treats and fun from people along the route. Those memories are so clear, and you get to experience them with friends!

It also makes the fundraising easier, and those days when you don’t want to train easier. Your friends get why you’re involved, and they understand what you need to keep pushing yourself to be better.”

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It also gives their personal friendship new depth, per Kristin.

“Our friendships because of 3-Day are deeper. We share so much on walks that has transferred into our personal friendship off the walk. Those deep connections that you make on the walk, it makes those friendships so much stronger because you have shared the deepest parts of your soul. You share things that you wouldn’t normally share when you’re out walking and you’re tired and vulnerable.”

Both women are looking forward to continuing to share these emotions with each other, and their team mates, on this year’s 3-Day. One team mate will be especially important for Kristin: her new husband!

“This year is really special for me. My mom’s first year, I had just started dating someone, so his first experience with it was my first experience of the 3-Day. Two years ago, right before the 3-Day we got engaged, and last year we got married! He’s been a pseudo member of our 3-Day team for years, and this year he’s walking with us! This is the coolest thing ever! Our team has been on this journey with us.”

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Of course her husband is a special case, but Kristin says this feeling of inclusivity is at the heart of her 3-Day experience.

“That’s my favorite part of the 3-Day: Sharing it with new people. Seeing them see it for the first time is just amazing.”

Tracie agrees, and invites every San Diego 3-Dayer to join their bestie crew this year!

“My goal for our team is, I want us to be the most joyful and magnetic team! I want people who are walking alone or just walking with one friend, I want them to join us. I don’t want to be a team that’s exclusive of itself.

I want our team to be what Kirstin has been to me. To be that light that others are attracted to.”

Kristin and Tracie are both sources of friendship and light for each other, and all they meet on the 3-Day. We can’t wait to see them out on the trail again this year!

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Route Hours, Cabooses, and Sweep Vans, Oh My! Behind the Scenes on the 3-Day Route

If you’ve been out on the 3-Day route before, you’ve likely noticed a bike with a pink flag that follows the line of walkers along the route. The caboose is a 3-Day staff member who rides behind our last walkers to make sure that everyone gets to each pit stop and back to camp in a safe and timely manner. Each year, in our post-event survey we often get questions about route hours, route safety, and sweep vans.

We wanted to take this opportunity to explain why we have some of the route procedures that we do, and also let you know about a change to our sweep vans and busses this year. We had some questions for two of our seasoned cabooses, Coach Gayla of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and Robin, the 3-Day Crew & Volunteer Operations Manager, to get the inside scoop on why the caboose and our pit stop and route hours are such an important part of keeping our 3-Day family safe on the route.

Coach Gayla poses on the 2016 Michigan 3-Day with football team members who did an awesome job cheering on our walkers.

Is it “bad” if you end up near the caboose?

Of course it’s not bad to be walking near the caboose! We love company, but we don`t want walkers to lag along the route and get behind schedule. If we ride up behind you while you’re walking we’ll let you know that you’re the last walker and how we’re doing on time. If it looks like your pace won’t get you to the next pit stop before it closes, we’ll present you with options: to pick up the pace (we know this isn’t always possible) or to get in the next sweep van once it arrives. They will gladly give you a lift to the next pit stop so you can rest, refuel and rehydrate before the stop closes.

Have no fear if the caboose is near! Photo graciously provided by walker Robin Collison.

Why do pit stops close at a specific time?

We are required by the city to set up pit stops along the route during certain times of the day. We are not allowed to have them open 24 hours a day for all three days or even the 8-12 hours it takes you to walk the route. So we need to make sure that the walkers move along the route at a comfortable, but continuous pace, so that no one is on the route after dark, or after the pit stops have packed up and left or even after the police and route safety are scheduled to be done for the day. We also want to respect the time of the crew members out on the route so that they can get back to camp to enjoy dinner and festivities, too. You may not know it, but they’ve been out at that pit stop for hours before you came through, setting up and getting ready.

Our amazing crew members need breaks, too!

Why does the route open and close at specific, set times?

The route opens after sunrise and closes before sundown so that the walkers and crew will not be on the route in the dark. These times will vary from city to city, as daylight hours vary during the year. And there are other factors, like in Twin Cities on day one, the route is short so we close the route early, to keep the pace consistent across all three days. In San Diego, we keep the route open after sunset from the last pit stop into camp because it is partially lighted and we hand out flashlights.

A beautiful and balmy morning greets San Diego walkers as they leave camp for Day 2 of the 2016 3-Day.

I don’t like feeling rushed on the route. Can’t we just walk at our own pace and arrive when we want to?

I know it’s no fun to feel like you’re being tailed, but there’s a reason we keep the walkers on a schedule. We ask walkers to average a pace of 3 miles an hour in order to complete each day’s route before dark. In addition to safety reasons, remember, it’s not just you out there―from Pit Stop crew, Route Safety, local police, to Sweep and Route Marking, the volunteers are out there supporting you. We want to respect their time and energy and allow them to get back to camp to enjoy dinner and the festivities, and start again bright and early the next day.

Robin smiles with some of our energetic route support cheerleaders!

I worry that if I take a sweep van, it means I didn’t really “do” all 60 miles. What do you think?

While we know the most important thing is the funds we raise, we totally understand it can be disappointing to you personally if you don’t walk all 60 miles you set out to do. For your own safety, you may need to catch a lift on a sweep van for just a bit here and there, and then get back on the route and walk what you can. We want you to walk in to camp and the Closing Ceremony to experience the joy of the event, so don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion or injury. Your overall event experience will be far less enjoyable if you do.

We’ve also got a helpful hint for you! New this year: the Lunch and Camp Shuttles will be passenger vans instead of busses. If you can’t walk anymore and you’re done for the day, make your way to a pit stop, then catch a Shuttle van to lunch or camp. In the past these shuttles were large busses that used to wait at each route stop until the stop closed. Rather than waiting at each stop until it closes, the Shuttle vans will now leave each stop on a regular schedule. This will allow you to move forward to lunch or camp and keep moving forward more quickly.

There’s no shame in letting us sweep you off your feet.

We hope that helps clear up any questions about why we enforce our route and pit stop hours, and why the caboose and sweep vans are here to help. But if you do have any more questions, ask them below, and we’ll have our friendly coaches reach out to you with a response. Your safety is our number one priority―and we know that working together for a safe and incredible experience means we’re 60 miles closer to ending breast cancer forever.