Behind the Scenes: What Goes Into Planning Those 60 Miles?

Discover the world behind planning the Susan G. Komen 3-Day! Ever wondered what it takes to create a breathtaking route that inspires and motivates walkers to keep going? Or how to rally the community to help ensure the 3-Day experience gets better year after year? Our behind-the-scenes look will give you an exclusive glimpse into the passionate efforts and tireless dedication that goes into planning 60 miles.  

Planning a three-day, 60-mile experience isn’t easy, but the hard work and thoughtfulness that goes into every aspect is what helps make the 3-Day a magical event for all. Every year, the 3-Day takes over major metropolitan cities like Boston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, San Diego, and more, to walk 60 miles towards finding the cures for breast cancer. One of the many benefits of spending 60 miles on your feet is how the 3-Day route showcases each host city we call home for a few days each year. 

Planning that route is a year-long effort and involves many people to get our routes ready for our crew and participants. A lot goes on behind the scenes! 

We asked coaches Heather, Sara and Staci, our amazing Crew & Volunteer Coordinator Kristin, as well as our Event Planning Manager, Meredith, 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 sights of our host cities. 

Planning the Route 

We work very closely with all of the city jurisdictions and local sites to plan our routes, while not being disruptive to the community. Finding 60 miles of unique walking requires the participation and cooperation of multiple local partners. We have to be mindful of other events and activities happening in any particular area of our route, while making sure the experience for our participants is the best possible outcome. The overall considerations for planning the route include but are not limited to: making sure each day is around 20 miles, there is a park or some sort of available space every few miles for a pit stop, applying for permits from each city to allow us to walk, stop and eat lunch etc. on city grounds and make sure each big intersection we cross is manned by route safety. 

Elements of the 3-Day route look and feel unique to each of our host cities, because each city is different. Scenic pathways, tourist attractions and famous areas are primarily what we use as anchors to plan our routes, while also being mindful of construction and other factors. As we make our plans, there are always trade-offs, negotiations and compromises. It’s a complicated puzzle with a lot of moving parts. For example, we’ve enjoyed showcasing Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain on our route. However, this year the Taste of Chicago will be staged at Grant Park which means the city will require our route be elsewhere. And, we’ve loved sending walkers through the picturesque Boston Public Garden in years past, but the City of Boston no longer allows our route to traverse the Public Garden, so we walk through the Boston Common instead. 

Some parts of the route aren’t exactly scenic, but are unavoidable, like the crossing over the San Diego River after leaving the Crown Point Shores campsite in San Diego. Each year we work with the San Diego Police Department to determine if there is an alternate solution to this unattractive section of route. Unfortunately, due to lack of sidewalks and denials on nearby road closures, the Morena Blvd./San Diego River Bikeway is the only option to walk from our campsite into Old Town. To offset this, we work with the San Diego Police Department to clear the area before walkers arrive and will continue to remain vigilant in asking for police presence while walkers are coming through the Bikeway. For the Denver 3-Day this year, we’d love to do a forced SAG (a bus ride to a different part of the city/nearby neighborhood) to Red Rocks, but surrounding parks are not available to serve as route stops. Also in Denver, the city’s most popular trails are not offered to events after 11 a.m. because of heavy usage by city residents. 

As we work to plan the route, you all should start preparing for it! Each city has its own challenges, including hills, stairs or lots of stoplights. Make sure you include all of these things in some of your training walks so that you can be prepared for the route! 

Check the 3-Day website frequently for locally hosted training walks in your area. This is a great opportunity to go on different routes, get some miles under your belt and meet more people in the Pink Bubble. 

Involving the Community 

Support from the local community is an important component of the 3-Day and a specific focus of our 3-Day coaches. The coaches aim to engage businesses along the route, nearby school and volunteer groups, as well as the family, friends and co-workers of participants. Starting with a list of each day’s route stops and the turn-by-turn route directions, it’s our goal to place as many support groups as possible to offer fun distractions, help the miles go more quickly and ensure as many memories as possible are packed in.  

We repeatedly hear that it’s community support along the route that enhances the entire weekend experience, and YOU can help! Ask your network to volunteer for a private or mobile cheer station. Connect your coach with the band leader, a cheer captain, youth group leaders, etc. If you’ve ever thought, “My favorite local business should know that the 3-Day is coming to our city, because I know they’d love to support us – tell your coach!” We will reach out to them and let them know how they can help. If you’re travelling to the event with family members or friends, we can help find them the perfect opportunity and location to cheer from. We promise they will have a great time and feel the love from our pink bubble family!  

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 get lost! However, because we mark the route the day before, the signage is vulnerable to changes. 

Last year, for example, Chicago 3-Day signs were removed or altered by members of the public in several locations, causing confusion and frustration for walkers. Our Route Marking team, who is always on standby to handle these kinds of situations, sprung into action and reposted signage immediately. However, if walkers are ever unsure about their location, please call the 800 number on your event credential, which rings our on-event Command Center, to ensure you are heading in the right direction.  

If you have feedback on any part of your 3-Day route, ideas for community involvement, or anything about your experiences, include those in your responses to the survey we send out after the event! We read every single comment we receive and often make changes based on that feedback. Additionally, we work hard to make sure every aspect of your 3-Day experience is the best it can be. 

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

Congratulations to the 2019 New England 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Ali Pepe

For the 2019 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 New England 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Ali Pepe!

Ali has participated in 15 3-Days over the course of 13 years, even participating as a member of our Youth Corps! Since then, she has “walked, crewed and has put her heart and soul in to being the Youth Corps Captain since 2012 in Philadelphia and Boston,” according to Coaches Tisho and Sharyn.

3-Day friend Robin Maxcy also can’t say enough about the amazing Ali!

“The words that come to mind when I think of Ali are kind, bold, generous and always doing something bigger than herself to help others. Ali’s smile and energy is contagious to everyone she meets. I feel fortunate to have met Ali and her family at the very first Boston 3-Day many years ago. From that time frame until now, I have watched Ali grow into a beautiful, smart and empowering woman continuing to help others.”

Ali is a joy and such an asset in our 3-Day family. You can learn even more about her, in her own words, below…

What was your inspiration to do your 1st 3-Day?

My mother had done the 3-Day for years to support my aunt, her sister, who had breast cancer. I was young at the time, but when I saw my mom and aunt walk into closing for the first time, I immediately knew I wanted to get involved and support the cause. Luckily, Boston was the home of the Youth Corps, and when I was 14 years old, I was chosen to be a member. It was an experience I will never forget!

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?

After my first 3-Day, I was hooked! Not only does the event support a great cause, but the members of the walk become a second family. I can’t imagine not participating in it. This year will mark my 15th event!

Beyond that, it became an even more important event to me in 2012 when my grandmother, my mom, and my aunt were all diagnosed with breast cancer within 6 months of one another. I vowed I would participate in the 3-Day until we found a cure and there was no need for the walk anymore.

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

I’d say the biggest thing is that I’m usually just very open about my experience with the 3-Day and my family’s experience battling breast cancer. So many people have been touched by this horrible disease and want to help. Beyond that, I just incorporate fun into my FUNdraising whether it’s a band at an event, raffle prizes, or more. People are happy to help and having the opportunity to have a good time while doing so makes it even more enjoyable.

What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?

Get to know anyone and everyone you can on the event! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a random stranger because I can guarantee in just a few short miles, they will become a great friend. Laugh, cheer, smile, and even cry! It’s all part of the magic of the 3-Day.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have completed the past two Boston Marathons! Both times running for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, and have raised nearly $22,000 for cancer patients and their families who are in need.

I’m also a huge Bruins and Pats fan!

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?

Ohhh, this is a hard one…I think it probably has to be that you should count every blessing you have and make every moment count. I know it sounds corny, but when you hear the stories of men and women on the event, and realize how awful the disease can be, I realize how lucky I am. My mom, grandmother, and both my aunts are now all survivors, but not every story ends like mine. Unfortunately, breast cancer claims the lives of too many people, and this is why we all walk. The 3-Day really taught me to cherish the ones I love because. It also taught me that no matter how horrible this disease is, we still have hope and each other. 💜

Top 10 Reasons to Commit to the 3-Day in 2019

The Twin Cities 3Day Walk on Saturday, August 19, 2018

A new year is here, and 2019 is the perfect time to commit to walking 60 miles over 3 days in the fight against breast cancer. If you join us on the 3-Day, you’ll be joining more than 500,000 participants who have gone further than ever in the fight against breast cancer. We need you to walk beside us and make a difference.

Join us and commit to 3 days and 60 miles. It’s a journey you won’t regret…and one you won’t take alone! Need more reasons to commit to the 3-Day in 2019? Don’t worry, we have them! Here are our Top 10 reasons to walk with us this year…

  • You’ll make a difference: Every step you take and dollar you raise will make a real difference in the fight against breast cancer. Aside from raising awareness to your friends and family, and in the city you’re walking in, you’re also raising necessary funds. 75% of the net proceeds from the 3-Day go towards Komen’s national priorities like research programs, community health and advocacy initiatives and global partnerships.
  • You’ll show your support: More than 500,000 participants have supported the breast cancer community, including those living with metastatic breast cancer, since the 3-Day began. You’ll be joining them in showing support for those that continue to fight, and remembering those we have lost.


  • You’ll make friends: No one is alone on the 3-Day. If you register to walk alone, you’ll make friends every step along the way, as well as feeling extra supported by our amazing 3-Day Crew! If you want to join a team, search for your local coaches’ Facebook Page, or message us on Facebook and we can connect you!
  • You’ll have fun: This one is a no-brainer and a promise. The 3-Day is a long journey, but it is certainly a fun one that you will never forget.
  • You’ll experience a city in a new way: The 3-Day is a great opportunity to visit and experience a new city, but even if you walk in your hometown, you might see new sights and views. Over the course of a 60-mile journey, even longtime residents of our host cities are sure to see parts of their hometown that they never experienced before.


  • You’ll help your community: 25% of the net proceeds of the 3-Day stay in the local host city community and help fund everything from screening, diagnosis and treatment assistance programs to navigation services and education programs. You’ll make a difference right at home!
  • You’ll get those steps in: Lots of people make a fitness or activity goal for the new year, and the 3-Day is the perfect way to help you stay on top of those resolutions. We have year-round training events and an easy app to help you stay active!
  • You’ll be inspired: From the first moments of Opening Ceremony to our final dance party at Closing Ceremony, you will find inspiration all around at the 3-Day. Talk to a survivor. Watch for facts and statistics posted along the route. See the signs from walker stalkers. Raise your shoe survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer. Every moment is an opportunity.


  • You’ll get grahamwiches: And mac n’ cheese! And cheese sticks and fruit and chips and rice krispies and all kinds of deliciousness! Nothing motivates people quite like snacks.
  • You’ll be part of a new family: “The Pink Bubble” is something that is often discussed, but the feeling of support and love that you’ll feel on the 3-Day is a truly unique experience. You will be forever changed by this walk.

Join us in our fight! Commit to 3 days and go further than anyone can to be the hero in your life, in the lives of others, and in the fight against breast cancer. Register now to join us in 2019 and help end breast cancer. For good.

Come and walk with us.