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.

 

2017 Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day Wrap-Up

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On Friday morning of our first West Coast 2017 3-Day, the sky cleared for a bright blue fall sunrise next to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. Our 500 walkers and 175 crew started their journey with a poignant and emotional Opening Ceremony led by local participants.

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Our first Pit Stop of the 3-Day was at Daejon Park after 3.3 miles of walking in perfect weather conditions! Walkers took in the Seattle waterfront as they enjoyed the beach theme of the pit stop, complete with “shark attack” photo opps and a treasure chest of fun 3-Day treats!

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From there, they passed through Mercer Island Park, and an amazing local cheering station before arriving at lunch at Downtown Bellevue Park. With fountains, tiered grassy areas for lounging and eating, and a bright sunshine, it could not have been a more relaxing lunch spot.

That afternoon, walkers passed through more of the Seattle suburbs including Bellevue and Redmond, before arriving home at camp that night. Throughout the whole day (and indeed the whole weekend) the Seattle Police Department worked with our route safety team to keep all the walkers safe as they made their way home.

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Our walkers ended their day at the picturesque Marymoor Park, which had turned into a 3-Day wonderland for the weekend! From the Bank of America putt putt golf course and massage chairs, to performances by local singers, to our amazing 3-Day Food Service Crew serving up a delicious dinner, our walkers were welcomed home in style after 22.3 miles.

That night at camp show we celebrated our Local Impact Winner, Judy Kent, and Milestone Winner, Erin Havens, for Seattle. Our top fundraisers were also recognized by Bank of America. Congrats to Top Crew Fundraiser John McHale, Top Individual Fundraiser Loretta Englishbee and Top Fundraising Team, the Valley Girls & Guys!

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After a good night’s sleep, the sun rose on another beautiful fall day of walking.

The day kicked off at Grasslawn Park, where some four-legged friends joined the ranks to cheer on our walkers! By Pit Stop 2 at Spinney Homestead Park, our walkers had already clocked 6.9 miles for Day Two. Pit Stop 2 was a fan favorite for its Dr. Seuss theme. It helped remind the walkers that every person is a person, no matter how small – and every step is a step towards the cure!

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Then at lunch at Juanita Beach Park, we met our amazing Seattle 3-Day Youth Corps via Facebook Live, and heard their stories of dedication and strength. Walkers were already halfway done with their second 20-mile day, and taking it all in easy stride!

Right after lunch there was a local cheering station in the beautiful Heritage Park, as the whole community got involved to cheer on our walkers. Plus, it was a great spot for photos!

At Pit Four, and mile 18.5, our walkers could “wet their whistle” at an Old West themed stop. They were cheered on their way to the final miles of the day by the local Susan G. Komen Puget Sound Affiliate, who also brought coffee for an extra caffeine boost at the end of the day.

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It was friends and family night at camp, so local supporters came to camp at Marymoor Park to play at the Bank of America putt putt and game areas, and continue to cheer on their amazing walkers! Our 20-Mile walkers also joined the 3-Day family that evening before the whole group turned in for their last night of camping.

Day Three dawned a little cooler, but with perfect walking weather for our September Sunday. We began at the University of Washington before walking through Cowen Park to our first Pit Stop of the day. Our walkers were already 3.6 miles closer to the finish line!

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From there, there were more miles in nature through Seattle’s gorgeous parks before lunch close to the water at Lake Union Park. With only six miles left in Day Three, walkers then made their way through the iconic Olympic Sculpture Park.

We had a little liquid sunshine as the Sunday afternoon wore on, but our walkers powered through and finished the 60 miles with smiles on their faces. Our closing ceremony was full of love, congratulations and (of course) a lot of dancing feet!

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Our journey is never truly done, though, as was evidenced throughout our closing ceremony. We are all still working, and walking, towards Susan G. Komen’s Bold Goal to reduce the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.

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Photo via Simply Darling Duo

As we hugged and celebrated and danced together, one message rang loud and clear; that though our feet may ache, our spirit and 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, Seattle. We are so very proud of each and every one of you.

If you’re ready to be a part of this incredible journey again in 2018, sign up now at The3Day.org/Register.

Congratulations to the 2017 Seattle 3-Day Milestone Award Winner

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Please join us in congratulating our 2017 Seattle Milestone Award Winner; Erin Havens. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a walker or crew member who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. At the Seattle 3-Day camp show, we presented Erin with this special honor.

To get to know Erin better, we asked the 3-Day community for stories about her, and the response was glowing all around!

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Participant Veronica Claudio says, “I have been blessed to know Erin since I was very young, as she was one of my mom’s dearest friends. Our families spent lots of time together back in the day – from family camping trips, poker nights, and holidays. When my mom, Claudia was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was only 7 years old. I remember Erin was often at our house helping my mom or accompanying her to chemo appointments. Or sometimes, just singing karaoke. They both loved to do that together!

“In 2005, my mom had planned to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, and Erin was one of the first team members of CC’s Crewzers. Just before the walk, my mom’s cancer came back. My momma is a true fighter, and while still determined to complete the walk, she realized the only way she could do was with the help of a wheelchair, and teammates like Erin who took turns pushing her for parts of the 60 miles. I have watched Erin become an incredible advocate for a cure to breast cancer and breast cancer awareness through her tireless efforts for Komen. I believe losing Claudia, my momma, and her good friend, is a big part of her determination to fight breast cancer through her volunteering and raising money.

I have cheered Erin on in her trademark pink tutu at cheering stations, handed her countless Lil’ Smokies, and have hugged and cried with her at nearly every 3-Day walk she has participated in. I lost my beautiful momma to metastatic breast cancer when I was 15 years old and Erin has remained a part of mine and my family’s life for many years. I am honored and proud to call her a friend and an “extra mom.” I chose to walk after many years of cheering and supporting the walkers and I was honored that Erin also decided to walk with my dad and I as part of CC’s Crewzers.”

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Veronica continues, “I was blessed to have 15 years with my beautiful mom and am honored to walk on the team she started in 2005 with Erin. I don’t know anyone that has given so generously of her time, talents, and resources to this cause and I am so grateful and privileged to be able to have had Erin as a part of my life.”

If all those wonderful stories weren’t enough, participant Tiffany Davenport also raves about Erin!

“I’m so happy for Erin!  She absolutely deserves to be honored for her dedication, passion and commitment to the cause! I got to work with Erin on the Youth Corps last year and I am so thankful! She is so much fun and brings such light and energy to the event!”

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Marnie Hayes kept the love-fest going!

“I first met Erin at a getting started meeting about 9 years ago, when I first joined the 3-Day family. Erin has been very involved in the 3-Day the entire time I have been part of the three-day. Not only does she have connection with the little Smokey guys…”GO SMOKIES!” her daughter was also part of the Youth Corps. I have gotten to know Erin as both a walker and a crew member as I was honored to be part of the Youth Corps with her last year. It is very apparent in Erin’s dedication that she has a true passion for the cause.”

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Those are some seriously kind words! Now let’s hear about the 3-Day and Erin’s story in her own words. When we asked her these questions, she didn’t know she would soon be selected as our winner!

What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?

My dear friend Claudia was fighting breast cancer and asked me to walk with her. I told her I would donate, but didn’t think walking 60 miles sounded like something I wanted to do. She asked me to please attend an informational meeting, and of course I signed up that night!

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

I love the survivors who give me hope, the walkers who share stories, the crew who keeps me safe and well fed, the strangers along the way who lift me up and remind me how important it is to keep fundraising for the cures, and the opportunity to share the memories of my friend who lost her battle with this disease.

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

Asking often and making sure that everyone knows WHY this walk is so personal to me. Every fundraising post on Facebook should tell people YOUR why.

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

Enjoy every minute! Connect with other walkers and share stories, reach out to single walkers, high-five all the people at cheering stations, eat all the grahamwiches, and be sure to stick around at night to hear the Youth Corps share their stories during the camp show.

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What are fun facts about you?

I hate spiders but am fascinated by bats; one of my toes was crushed by a randomly falling steel pole 5 months before the 3-Day; I sneeze no less than 5 times in a row every time; people think I’m insane for doing 21 3-Day events, but I assure them I’m not alone!

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

Don’t get your Advil PM mixed with your regular Advil, if you lose a toenail you can get a fake one, wearing a tutu results in fewer blisters, and the people you meet on the walk become family.