Running around West Seattle

July 17, 2004

West Seattle, Saturday (7/17/04):  The Seattle Night And Day Challenge, 7 hour foot division.

This is the big event I’ve been planning on for the last couple months. It’s a in-city orienteering event (called a rograine, not to be confused with the hair stuff), put on by the same people that have been doing the street scrambles over the last couple of months. There were 3, 7 and 16 hour divisions.

I partnered with Sally, whom I met at the scramble back in May.  We both felt that it would be better to have someone then to be solo for safety reasons. Some primary concerns we had since we didn’t know each other were:

  • Would we get along for 7 hours. This was no problem. We had a good time
  • Speed. Would one of us want to go a lot faster. I had planned on going a bit slower than usual on this, and it turned out we went at a fine speed. With all the stops, we averaged just under 3 mph. (Sounds slow, but when you take into account the rest stops and site seeing, it’s decent.)
  • Stops. Would it be okay to stop as needed (rest, food, etc.)? As we went along and had to stop to breathe going up hills, it was no problem. We had a couple big stops along the way that sure felt good.

The route we planned on doing would have circumnavigated all of West Seattle, which was very ambitious. It would have been around 20 miles total. Instead, we cut across the peninsula about half way around when we realized we only had 2.5 hours left.
Rahn Near CP31.  Notice the Seattle Skyline in the back.Sally Near CP31.

Overall, we didn’t get lost. There was a point heading to the checkpoint to the southeast (CP 86)  where we got confused on what street we were on, but were able to figure it out after a minute of looking at the map.  At this point, we ran into someone else who we had seen near the beginning taking a rest.  We talked a few minutes and in comparing answers (for this point only-we didn’t cheat!) found out that he had a different question/answer sheet then we did, so that was a bit of a twist. A couple miles before this, we converged with two other teams at a corner, but they never came over to where we had the checkmark down (CP 22). We thought they were lost, but now we know they just had a different checkpoint. (We had to read a number off of a utility pole, they had to read a word on a fire hydrant.) We invited the gentleman we saw to join us, but he declined, wanted to go his own pace. So we all headed off to the next point at our own speed.

If your wondering about our fashion sense in the pictures, the bright bandana’s were a requirement to be worn for the race. They helped everyone involved identify us. And I’d like to think the helped prevent us getting run over during the night.

About 1/2 way to the next point, we ran into the man again, trying to figure out where he was.  He had mismapped, and thought he was a block south of where he actually was.  He got straightened out with us, and ended up following us to the next point.  (CP 76)  There were some decent hills as we go to this one. We ran into another team coming from the North as we headed out.

Half way to CP43, I realized we were a block from a friends house, so I called to see if he was home. He was only a few minutes away and agreed to come over for a minute and let us use his restroom to wash up. (Big thanks Chris!) This was our first big stop, where we sat and rested for 20-25 minutes. Sally did a quick clothes/shoe change. After being refreshed, we continued to CP43. Asking a lady getting out of her car as we were getting close, she warned us to be careful in the park because there were people living there, but we had no problem. The gravel paths ended up being nice to walk on. This was one of the most difficult points to find because there were a lot of paths, and we weren’t sure what we were looking for. (The question was “At the trail junction, within the railroad tie triangle is a triangle of: “) We thought we would be looking for a sculpture of some sort, so as we were asking people if we were going the right way, they had no idea. It was obvious once we found it.

We then headed off to the ferry terminal.  We had the choice of going over to Vashon Island to get some points over there, but chose not too since we knew there are huge hills right off the ferry terminal. In hindsight, we probably should have gone over and spent a couple hours. Almost every other team did this, and beat us in points. On the walk to this one, we asked one gentleman sitting on his patio how many people he’s seen go by, and he mentioned a couple. (I asked this whenever we passed someone sitting outside, as sort of a double check on our route. Also, I figure it helps build community to be friendly.)

After the ferry (CP64), we headed up to an point that was a “Sunset Viewing Station” (CP2). Turned out to be a pretty neat little sitting area to watch the sunset. From here, we headed back to the beach (CP71), passing some college kids partying along the way.  (They wanted to know where to get the neon orange bandana’s we were wearing as race identification.) After finding this one, we decided to head back. (It was about 8:00-8:30.)

Going back up hill we detoured a block out of the way to be able to stop at the store. We also stopped at McDonalds for a bite and a restroom break. The restroom was clean, but service was pretty slow. This was about a 20 minute stop. We evaluated where to go from here, and we were off again. At the next point, (CP44) we had a hard time reading the plaque to give us the answer, since it was now dark. Erik, one of the event directors also stopped and checked in with us. He was doing a spot check of the course, and we were the first team he saw.

The route was now a straight shot to CP57. We thought about detouring to CP79, but decided we didn’t have time. If we did, we would have placed higher, since the team in front of us beat us by 40 points, but I don’t think we would have made it back in time. At CP57, some people commented about the scavenger hunt still going on. (I think they were really surprised, since they had been watching people all afternoon) and a little girl asked us what we were doing.

Now it was a long ways downhill as we headed to the final push. Getting to an intersection where we had to choose between points 21 and 48, we started to see other teams again. We chose to go up the long hill to get 48. We then backtracked a bit, got 21, and then finished it up with about 10 minutes to spare.

The end of a great journey. (Aerial Map Of Route)

The End!
(Did I mention the heat? And the sweat? I bet we stunk!)

PS One thing I had planned for this one was to take a picture of every checkpoint, so there would be no doubt we were there. This turned out to be a hassle to get my camera out, so we only took pictures of the ones that were questionable. If I had a smaller camera that would fit in my shirt pocket, it would have been a lot easier. But digging in the backpack got tiring.

Having a cell phone with speakerphone was a blast. I called Dianna every hour or so to check in, and we chatted. Sally thought it was pretty cool to have a “third” person to talk to occasionally.
We stopped to buy Gatorade a few times. This was much easier than having to carry it. (we still carried a few small bottles.) The day was hot (around 80) and very humid.


Running around North Seattle

May 29, 2004

May 29, 2004 – North Seattle Street Scramble

Yesterday Jim and I competed in the North Seattle Street Scramble. (

This is an in-city orienteering event. Each team is given a map with a number of checkpoints on it. For each checkpoint you hit, you get so many points. The goal, of course, is to get to as many checkpoints as possible. There are 1000 points possible through 30 checkpoints. The event we did was 3 hours. (There was also a 90 minute category.)

The event started with 20 minutes to look at the map and chose a tentative route. We picked out what we planned and chose a couple points that would allow us to evaluate how fast we were going and hit some extra CP’s if we were ahead of schedule. After a 10 minute briefing about the rules, the event started.

Just like in any race, the first 10-15 minutes are pretty exciting because you’re in packs…the big difference is that every group went a different direction. You’d think you’re alone, and you’d go around a corner and run into 20 people going to the same place. Then everyone would scatter again to re-appear at the next one.

At the third CP, a bit under a mile in, we met up with Sally, who was following the same route for the next couple of miles, so off we went together. This was also where we diverged from our plan the first time. CP4 was about .75 miles away, so we decided to hit it since it was worth 50 points. Off we went, with a bit of a hill in there. (90 feet of elevation)

After a couple more points, Sally went off and we did our thing. We re-evaluated again and decided to add in a couple more medium point stops in. One of them was on a peninsula in a small lake, so we sat and enjoyed for a few minutes. A couple other teams came and went as we did this…the we were off again, heading up one of the the biggest hill of the route, 200 feet in about a quarter mile. (We were a bit over 4 miles into it now.) Ouch.

Well, without boring y’all, we completed another few points that were pretty uneventful The big fun was going across a parking lot at Safeway and deciding to take the elevator in the store instead of walking down the ramp. We figure this saved us a whopping 10 seconds! It was good for a few chuckles, since we figured we were the only team to do it.

The final excitement was at 12 minutes to finish. (You’re penalized 10 points for every minute after the end time!) We decided to hit one last point…we ran to the finish line, synchronized watches and were off again. We made it back with 3 minutes to spare for a remarkable finish.

We were happy since we walked the entire route (Not including running across streets avoiding traffic). We did 8.73 miles per the GPS, averaging 3-4 mph.

The winning teams were all runners. (The over winner on foot hit 860 points, 26 of the 30 checkpoints.)

I definitely need to work on increasing my speed to hit my marathon goal, but then I’m still pretty early in the training. (And the route was fairly hilly.) I only did about 100 feet of race walking, since my friend wanted to see what I learned at the retreat a few weeks ago. I’ll plan on more during the next one.

The only snag we hit was about half way through, we noticed the stopwatch we were using was stopped. It wasn’t a big problem, since we knew the time the event was over at, just didn’t know if my watch was at the same time as the judges.

Anyone interested in seeing our course map can look at this map.