Creating the 3-Day Route: What goes into planning those 60 miles?

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Planning a 60-mile journey is no small feat, especially for hundreds of people in different cities across the country. That is the magic of the 3-Day! For three days, we take over major metropolitan cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, and more, to walk 60 miles towards a cure for breast cancer. One of the many benefits of spending 60 miles on your feet is in how the 3-Day route is a showcase of the amazing host cities we call home for a few days each year.

Planning that route goes on all year long, and involves many people, working to get our 3-Day routes ready. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes!

This applies to all our 3-Day cities, but we asked the Seattle Coaches, Gayla and Liz, our amazing crew & Volunteer Coordinator Libby, as well as our Event Planning Manager, Ann, to give us an in-depth look at how they work to make every step of the 60-mile journey challenging but fun, all while showing off the best of our host cities.

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Planning the Route

Every city is different, and that’s why the elements of the 3-Day route look and feel different in each of our host cities. We base our route on the natural scenery, beauty, and attractions of the host city, but we also must be ready for the route to change based on factors like construction and local events. Can you imagine if we didn’t walk through Gas Works Park in Seattle or stroll past the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia?

What about those parts of the route that aren’t exactly scenic, but unavoidable, like hills? We work very hard to eliminate and minimize hills along our route. This is especially true in hilly cities like Seattle, which is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Cascade mountains, surrounded by water, islands and bridges. These features provide for unique challenges in the planning process while attempting to achieve the flattest possible path. The beautiful terrain doesn’t provide many flat options in and around Seattle, however, in cases where we cannot go entirely flat, we work with the terrain to the best of our ability. Whenever we are designing the route in any city, we look at different options to get from one place to another, and try to always choose the least hilly or steep path.

However, when a hill is unavoidable because we need to get out of a valley or our route options are limited by construction, sidewalk availability, or city requirements, we look at ways to break the hill up as much as possible. This can include employing a “switch back” technique that breaks the hill up into several smaller, less steep hills whenever possible. Essentially, we try to stair-step our way up the hills.

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No matter what 3-Day city you are walking, proper training is always essential. As we work to plan the best route possible, you should do prep work as well. Try to find a route with some hills and stairs to help prepare for the possibility that they will occur during any event.

Also, check the website for training walks that are being hosted in your area. They are a great way to get ready for the event while meeting and talking to other walkers!
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Involving the Community

Our local teams are already working hard to get businesses along the route to cheer our walkers on, so everyone will feel the constant support from the community. If you have any recommendations or connections along the route, send contact information to your local Coaches. And if you have friends, neighbors and longtime donors who are local, talk with them about setting up a cheering station. The work with communities is continual throughout the year and we have dedicated volunteers (some of them walkers and crew members) who work on community involvement year-round, but while we do our best to line the route with all the support we can, we cannot do it alone!

You can also help by sharing these documents with local businesses, neighborhood associations, clubs, teams, church groups, etc., and by contacting your local coaches at 800-996-3DAY, (Hey, Seattle! Liz and Gayla are at Option 7) or on their coaches Facebook pages to volunteer to help so we can get an early start on lining the route with support.

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Leading the Way

Our Route Team works tirelessly to make sure the route is as clearly marked as possible. We never want a 3-Dayer to feel lost! However, because we mark the route the day before, the signage is vulnerable to changes. That’s why we are always on alert during each 3-Day weekend, and why we also make changes every year based on walker experiences.

For example, last year, Seattle signs were removed and altered by the public in many places, especially along trail sections, which caused confusion and frustration for walkers — and hey, we get it! That’s a huge bummer, especially when it means being on your feet for any longer than you have to be.

To address this problem, this year we will rely on staff members to confirm placement of all signage in the early hours before we open the route for walkers. We will also utilize Route Safety crew members to check each section of the route before the walkers pass through and increase our Route Safety presence and signage along foot paths and areas of high traffic.

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If you have feedback on any part of your 3-Day route, community involvement, or anything about your experiences, please make sure to include those in your post-event surveys! We work hard to make sure every aspect of your 3-Day experience is the best it can be, all year long.

We are putting in that work now, and always, because we know how important your 60 miles are. Every step you take is important to us because every step is another one towards a world without breast cancer. Thank YOU, participants for walking with us, for giving your time and energy, and for being the best part of the 3-Day experience.

 

A Toast to the 3-Day from Haviland F., Your San Diego Toast Lady

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But behind all that excitement and fun is someone deeply dedicated to the 3-Day cause, who works tirelessly for a world without breast cancer. Havliand lost her aunt to breast cancer before she became involved in the 3-Day.

She was first recruited to volunteer by her friend, Kit L., and lost her voice the first year she cheered on 3-Dayers. After a few years of this cheerleading-style weekend, the two wanted to do something different. They wanted to toast all the amazing work the 3-Day was doing, but knew that alcohol wasn’t allowed on event. So, they grabbed slices of sourdough bread instead, and began their “toasting” tradition!

The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, she and Kit have become a staple in the Del Mar community as “The Toast Girls.”

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Haviland raves about Kit and the rest of her San Diego 3-Day community.

“I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the 3-Day event every year, and cheering on every single one of those walkers while wearing more pink than should be allowed in public. Plus, holding up slices of bread.  It’s my honor to do this for these amazing people who are trying to find a cure for breast cancer.   Truly, spending four days with my 3-Day family is something that makes my soul sing every year.”

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To learn more about her dedication to the 3-Day cause, we heard Haviland’s story in her own words…

What are some of your fondest memories of meeting with walkers while you cheer them on?

Holy cow where do I start?!  All the ones I’ve made and the ones I have yet to make. From that first year cheering in over 3000 walkers to the last few years as a toast girl.  I love that I can inspire people.  It’s the least I can do because truly they are the ones who inspire me to come back year after year.

What keeps you coming back year after year?

Simple: The 3-Day is my family.  […] It’s my privilege to cheer and support these fearless walkers on the route and at camp. I come back to remember my Aunt Joanne and honor her. I come because my heart calls me to do so. It makes me feel that I have power over something that can make you feel powerless.  I will always be a 3-Day “Toast Girl.”

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Why is it so important that we continue to support breast cancer charities?

It’s important to continue so that we can put a stop to families losing time with loved ones. Time is precious and we all deserve a full lifetime.

Who are other people you want to “toast” to in your life?

My beautiful children Taylor and Ian.  My amazing family.  My closest friends Jen, Melanie, Kit, Janet and a ton of others all these people have touched my life in a significant way. And of course, my amazing 3-Day people – those who I know and those who I still have yet to meet!

We toast to you, Haviland!

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Happy Earth Day from the 3-Day!

Sunday is Earth Day, and we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the natural beauty of our 3-Day host cities. They are the perfect inspirational backdrop for our 60-mile journey and we could not have asked for better places to call home for a few days each year. Thank you to our host cities, and to all of our 3-Day participants, for exploring Mother Nature with us.

 

If you want to download any of these photos for yourself (they make a great computer background!) you can see all of them in our blog album below as well.3Day_2017_TC_MD-533-COLLAGE

Happy Earth Day, 3-Dayers!