DC Metro Challenge

Lounge Kids miss the mark, WMATAdors step up to the plate

Unfortunately, The Lounge Kids (@TheLoungeKids) ran into some trouble yesterday, clocking in at 6 hrs 50 mins. They pledge to give it another go after Rush+ goes into effect, which is sure to yield some interesting new routes.

Today, though, the WMATAdors, Liz and Meggie, will take their shot at besting the Red Line Ramblers’ standing 6 hr, 26 min record. Follow Liz (@ElizabethJ_Bird) and Meggie (@meggiebonner) as they ride the rails and share their knowledge of Metro and bull fighting. Learn more about them in their pre-attempt profile below:

Liz and Meggie of the WMATAdors

Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Liz: Meggie and I met in college and continued our bond as coworkers in DC. When we heard about DC Metro Challenge it sounded like something that would be right up our alley. (For similar and unknown reasons we also recently took a 16 hour train ride to Montreal) You can follow my side of the attempt on twitter (@ElizabethJ_Bird) and on my blog (www.travelingliz.com)
Meggie: We’re just two 20-somethings who think that riding the metro for 6+ hours to break a record is a fun idea.  In addition to the epic Montreal Train Trip, this winter we completed a  nine-hour multi-modal journey from DC to San Francisco using only public transit (plus flight).  It’s as though we’ve been training our whole lives for this event.  I will also be tweeting photos, observations, and fun Metro trivia from @meggiebonner.

When did your interest in Metro start? How does Metro fit into your life now?

Meggie: I was interested in transit from a young age.  My dad was the chaperone for my older brother’s kindergarten class trip to the New York Transit Museum and liked it so much he used to bring us back regularly.  I had a jigsaw puzzle of the New York Subway as a kid.
As I grew older, subway systems took a backseat to my true transit love, Amtrak.  But as a carless DC resident, Metro plays a huge role in my life.  I use it almost daily and find it, for the most part, a pleasant and efficient way to get around.  For all its flaws, I would back the Metro over most mass transit systems.  While it’s smaller and less comprehensive than many subway systems, it’s certainly cleaner and quieter.  I love the Metro station design. The concrete is perfect for underground.  The patterned arched ceiling makes stations feel cavernous, airy, and well-lit.  Most of all, the design makes the Metro feel safer, with fewer dark corners.

Liz: Interest seems like a strong word. Toleration seems like a better word. The metro is a fact of life if you live in DC and don’t have a car, but I do my best to avoid it. I think of this attempt as conquering a nemesis and perhaps we (the metro and I) will each learn something about each other and part as respected adversaries.

What route do you plan to use in your attempt?

Liz: It’s a secret. No, actually I have no idea. Meggie?
Meggie: I’ve been studying the routes of previous Metro Challengers as well as Metro’s published timetables.  We’ll be following the route Monica Li took, first published on reddit, which starts at Shady Grove and ends at Largo Town Center or New Carrollton.
Liz: Really? Wow, you are dedicated in a way I don’t even understand. Metro has published timetables? Those can’t possibly be accurate.
Meggie: I suspect they’re more guidelines than anything else, but it should help us get a sense of the timing, and the frequency of trains at transfer stations.

Any specific plans for your attempt?

Liz: We plan to leave in the late morning – meeting up in Dupont Circle to start the day. Hopefully we can minimize our transfer time and  finish up in the mid afternoon. Probably earlier, let’s be honest. This record has no chance.
Meggie: Our entrance and exit sprints are going to be key here.  At Shady Grove we’ll monitor the arrival time, then at the last possible moment, SmarTrip in and dash to the train.  And obviously we have no chance at the record unless we stick the landing.  If necessary, we will be using the Shady Grove Shuffle to get in optimal position for our flight to the finish line.  In between, our performance will depend on good luck and good planning.
Liz: Which reminds me I need to buy a SmarTrip card…

What are you most worried about for your attempt?

Liz: I am pretty concerned about the lack of restrooms in the Metro. I know there are a few you can use, but it would obviously slow us down. I think I plan to avoid drinks of any kind prior to our attempt, hopefully that will be enough.
Meggie: My biggest worry is a unexpected delay between station stops.  I plan to be constantly monitoring the DCRider app and the WMATA website for issues, however if we are on a train that is stopped, we have no way to update our route.  We could spend valuable time on a stalled train and it could cost us the record.
Liz: Oh true. I had a friend get caught in a stopped train for an hour. She was on her way to bring us Thai Food she picked up and not only was she late, the Thai Food was really cold. I admire her though because despite the dying Thai food in her hands, she didn’t break metro law and eat it.

This is the big question: Why do it?

Liz: I actually think it will be a really awesome thing to have done and I hope to have a lot of fun doing it. Plus, it will hopefully bone up my knowledge of the metro stations so I’m not as horribly embarrassed next time it comes up in trivia.
Meggie: I live in DC so there are entire spokes of the Metro system I’ve never even seen.  So this is as much an exploration as anything else.  Most of the time unless I’m riding with friends, I won’t venture outside the Metro accessible area.  But who knows what exists at the end of these lines – it could be an awesome new restaurant or great store.  Or it could (more likely) be a Kiss and Ride Parking Lot  I never want to see again.  Either way I want conquer Metro, and with it the entire DC area.

Do you think you’ll beat the standing record?

Liz: Yes, of course, what kind of silly question is that!
Meggie: Obviously.  The Ramblers are toast.

Describe your feelings about your attempt in one word.

Liz: Ramble-crushing
Meggie: Victorious

Good luck, WMATAdors! It’s going to take supreme skill and a lot of luck to dethrone the Ramblers. Keep tabs on the WMATAdors’ progress today on Twitter by following Liz (@ElizabethJ_Bird) and Meggie (@meggiebonner).

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