DC Metro Challenge

Monica Li takes the DC Metro Challenge

It’s a busy week for DC Metro Challenge! John Teneyck was the first challenger yesterday and broke the record in a yet to be confirmed 7 hours and 9 minutes. Official confirmation from WMATA and more details on that attempt will come soon.

Today, however, another challenger steps up to the plate! Monica Li is a 22 year old U.Va. Chemistry student from Centreville, VA. She will start her attempt at noon today, using a route identified on reddit last week. The route’s projected to come in around 6 hours, which would beat the official record and John’s from yesterday if she’s successful. She’ll be live-tweeting her progress all day long on her handle: @1337_chemist, and the DC Metro Challenge account will also cover her progress. Learn more about Monica below:

Monica Li

Monica Li

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Monica, and I am a 22-year-old college student from Centreville, VA. I’m just a month away from graduating from UVA with a degree in Chemistry. I’ll be headed off to pharmacy school in the fall, but my dream is to become an air traffic controller at one of the area’s three airports. To that end, I will also be completing a program that will make me eligible to apply to the FAA.

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

I fell in love with Metro during the summer of 2007, when I rode it daily from Vienna to White Flint for an internship. Instead of dulling the experience, riding the Metro every day veritably enriched it. I never brought along anything to do during the ride, so I became finely attuned to the intonations of the announcers, the behavior of commuters, the art of timing naps to terminate at Metro Center, and that floating feeling of soaring over eight lanes of traffic on a bridge where the railing is too low to be seen. Since then, I’ve ridden the Metro on a daily basis for two more summers, and in 2008, a friend and I made a successful, untimed exploit to visit all the stations in one day.

Metrorail, and communal transportation in general, intrigues me because everyone in the system has an individual path and is and distinctly anonymous, yet we are brought together for a few minutes or hours because of a common purpose and a fact of life: we need to get somewhere. This fundamental interest in transportation is one of the reasons why I want to pursue a career in aviation.

Sadly, as I’ve been away from the DC area for the past few years, my recent involvement with Metro has been minimal. I’ve been following the progress on the Silver Line construction, and I especially hope it will be finished if and when I end up as a controller at Dulles – the prospect of driving to Dulles every day sounds awful!

What route do you plan to use in your attempt?

I am going to use the route that user w4t suggested on reddit:

Shady Grove –> Glenmont (red) –> Fort Totten (red) –> Greenbelt (green) –> Branch Ave (green) –> L’Enfant Plaza (green) –> Huntington (yellow) –> King Street (yellow) –> Franconia-Springfield (blue) –> Rosslyn (blue) –> Vienna (orange) –> New Carrolton (orange) –> Stadium-Armory (orange) –> Largo (blue). I honestly can’t think of a better route. It starts and ends at the longest and the third-longest terminal segments (Shady Grove-Metro Center and L’Enfant Plaza-Largo), has only five transfers, and requires no doubling-back of non-terminal segments.

Any specific plans for your attempt?

Not really. I’m just going to hop on at Shady Grove around noon and hope that everything goes smoothly. I’m not too worried about the lack of bathrooms, since my college schedule has made me good at vegetating without food/drink/bathrooms for extended periods of time.

What are you most worried about for your attempt?

I sprained my ankle a few days ago, so I really hope that I don’t injure it again. Therefore, I’ve set a rule for myself: absolutely no running to make transfers!

This is the big question: Why do it?

When tightrope artist Philippe Petit was confronted about why he wire-walked between the Twin Towers, he said, “There is no why. When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.” I think that’s a good answer to why I do anything of this sort. It’s partially to honor the system that I love in a unique way… but mostly… why not?

Do you think you’ll break the standing record (and John’s unconfirmed record)?

Heck yes! My target is 6:30, and I think that I can at least pull off 6:45.

Good luck, Monica! Monica’s attempt starts at noon today – follow it live on Twitter with @1337_chemist and @DCMtroChallenge!

Be Sociable, Share!
Recommend on Google

DC Metro on Flickr