Saturday, February 2, 2019

Adventure 3/50 : Running the new Tunnel and old Viaduct

It is WELL KNOWN that I have an absurdly large soft spot for Seattle's aging, crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct. And that I love engineering. So is there any doubt that I was one of the first people to sign up for the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K when it was announced?

As part of Seattle's "Step Forward" celebration weekend to open the new SR 99 tunnel and say goodbye to the old Alaskan Way Viaduct, some 29,000 runners and walkers ran from the Space Needle to the Stadiums under downtown through the new tunnel, then turned back and ran along the viaduct back to the start.

The communications were excellent, and packet pickup was, seriously, the fastest, smoothest, and most efficient I had ever seen, especially for an event of this size. And even on race morning things were pretty well organized -- well marked corrals, good signage. We found corral 6 and settled in to wait.

obligatory pre-race photo

Sure, a few additional speakers would have been nice -- in corral 6, we could only hear the faintest "oonts oonts" but heard no information about why we were a bit delayed. But eventually we could see Corral 5 shifting forward, and our corral followed.

I had never really looked at the entrance to the new tunnel -- down a hill, with a hairpin curve, at least from Mercer -- so it was interesting to see.

photo from
They paused us at the opening -- we were amused that the "START" banner was facing the wrong way, but they probably wanted it as a photo op?

And then, with little fanfare, but a lot of whooping, we were let loose into the tunnel. So exciting! And, yes, I know I am a dork.

It was funny that half of us were taking pictures or videos, especially at the start. I mean, when are we going to be able to run in the tunnel again???

I think they did a very good job of organizing the corrals to reduce congestion ... even if that meant the start was dragged out a long time. Suz said her corral (9) started about 50 minutes after their predicted start, and when we finished, corral 11 was just starting. But we could hear the announcers say that they were going to keep the course open until everyone finished, and apologizing for the delays.

Also amusing to see signage for T-Mobile Park for the first time...

But really nice to have plenty of room to run, walk, take pictures, whatever. We were also amused because we had decided to walk a good portion of this race -- and yet we were surrounded by other Corral 6 runners the entire way -- no matter how fast or slow we were moving.

The tunnel itself had a distinct downward slope until we hit Madison -- the low point of the tunnel -- and then a not insignificant uphill.... as we went UNDER downtown. (Anyone in Seattle will be making the "under" hand gesture now...)

And then, all of a sudden, we were out of the tunnel.

We ran past the little stand where the ribbon cutting ceremony would happen later in the day, and then out near the stadiums. 

We were a little sad not to be running up the ramps to get on to the viaduct, and were pondering why we were going to go up the Seneca ramp instead. Until we went another couple of blocks and noticed this. Oh. 

Guess that part is already gone, then...

But then we turned left on Seneca for our last run up that ramp.

And then we were back on the viaduct, though, sadly, only on the lower deck.

Oh, viaduct. I will truly miss running on you.

It felt like everyone was pulling over to one side to the other for photos. #goodbyeviaduct

Here's how you make the Great Wheel disappear... now you see it...

now you don't....

More running and photos on the viaduct ...

And of course I had to stop to see this spot, which is probably my favorite. Then again, I am a dork...

Then into the dirty, grimy, Battery Street Tunnel for one last time -- a big contrast to the new tunnel, but how long before that clean white tunnel looks like this?

 Though I admit the lighting makes this look pretty badass....

Through the tunnel, past a pretty great squirrel graffito...

... and then into the home stretch... except... what's in those white tents? 

WHUUUUUT???? The new tunnel and waterfront... IN LEGO?!?!?!

Seriously, I think half of the runners stopped and went into this tent rather than keep running at this point. 

I especially love the "here there be dinosaur bones" area in the cross-section!

Okay, okay, NOW into the home stretch!

Wil and I held hands and ran up the little hill next to EMP to finish the run. No idea how long it took, when we started, when we finished, etc. Though we did notice as we passed over the tunnel entrance that corral 11 was just starting!!!! But the announcers were apologizing for the delays, thanking everyone for their patience, and assuring everyone that they would keep the course open until everyone was finished. So fair play to them.

We got a bottle of water, considered waiting for EMP to open, and then decided to head towards home. Had T.S. McHugh's been open, OF COURSE we would have had a post-run pint ... but they weren't so we crossed the street and jumped on a bus to get home.

Today was really fun -- fun to run a big race again, and fun to see Seattle excited to greet their new tunnel ... and say goodbye to their viaduct. We won't race again until we're in D.C. in March, but today was a great day.

Seattle Tunnel to Viaduct 8K medal


  1. I LOVE the Lego representation!!! The shot of the girders and brick corners is good too. ;-) What a great souvenir medal for your collection.

    1. I think half of the runners must have veered off course to look at the Lego model -- it was so detailed, and so amazing! And that little "oops!" corner on the Viaduct was always my favorite.