Race Condition Running

7:50AM Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Join us for 110 laps around Drumheller Fountain. Stick around after for food and music at the U-District Street Fair.


The course begins with a short segment down the upper vista, followed by 110 laps around Drumheller Fountain. Runners will enter first loop from the east of the finish line and begin by running counterclockwise. The direction will flip every 20 minutes, and runners must change directions only by rounding the marker placed at the north end of the finish line. Failure to follow these instructions will prevent us from giving you an official finish time.

While campus foot traffic is reduced on weekends, expect to navigate around fountain-admirers, passers-by and cyclists. The fountain—and the race—will start at 8:00.

A map of the course showing the start line 120.50m north of the fountain, followed by 110 laps of the 190.70m fountain loop.

Race Day


Who can participate? Anyone in the CSE community. Do I need to bring anything?

Bring a water bottle. As of 10:00PM on 5/18 the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures approaching 65°F by the end of the run. Please prepare appropriately as the course is essentially without shade.

How do we keep track of distance?

Count your laps. Use a running watch, if you're wearing one. Or we'll have a couple tally counters available if you want mechanical assistance. Last year we ran as a group and counted laps out loud. GPS will clip the curve, so don't rely on it for more than a couple laps at a time.

Will the course be crowded?

There is plenty of space. We are expecting around 20 participants, and only half plan to complete 13.1 miles. That being said, here is the course etiquette:

  • Step to the outside of the course before stopping
  • Groups: Do not run more than 3 abreast and yield the innermost lane around the fountain to faster runners
  • Faster runners: Pass on the outside if you need to
Which direction do we run?

The race will begin counterclockwise and alternate directions every 20 minutes to help balance the strain across your legs. Having the field run a single direction at a time will help us manage course congestion. Change directions only at the end of a lap and only by rounding the finish line marker.

Do I have to run the whole thing?

No. You're welcome to come join for any number of laps. They don't have to be consecutive either! Here are some unofficial lap counts for common distances. Add a lap if not starting at the official start line.

Distance Laps
5k 26
10k 52
10mi 84
Can I take breaks?

Yes. You can hang out at the aid station or any of the benches surrounding the course. You must continue running the lap in the same direction as when you stopped or the lap will not count. We recommend you start and stop only at the finish line so you can begin the next lap without this risk.

How fast do I need to run?

You should be able to complete your chosen distance in under 2.5 hours.

What if I'm late?

Run from the start line and join us! You must enter the course from "behind" the finish line in the direction that the field is running at the time you join. So, if we're running counterclockwise, start your first loop by crossing over the finish line from the east, and otherwise from the west. Note that this event is gun time only.





The campus was already glowing as we gathered at the start line. None of the weekday thrum, and—with cherry blossoms long gone—nary a tourist. Just the sun bearing down, and 32 runners ready to round the fountain.

11 would go on to complete the half marathon. Congratulations to Ellis (1:45:58) and Margaret (2:03:06) for setting new course records, and to Mitch who set a new lap record of 26.00s. This was the first year we provisioned for an official course and timing, so you can take those times to the bank. Many elected to run shorter distances (some unintentionally), so together we completed 2263 laps around Drumheller Fountain. Thank you to everyone who ran and stocked the aid station, and special thanks to Aishwarya for taking photos.

We've continued to iron out some of the difficulties of the format. The increased field size required us to run in a single direction at a time, an improvement in every regard except that it made it easier for groups to run four abreast and block the path. Zach equipped us with tally counters this year, but counting laps still proved difficult in practice. So, challenges remain.

Drumheller is a singular race. It's an indoor track half marathon, held outside at our doorstep, with Mount Rainier and the University of Washington's historic Rainier Vista as its backdrop. Few halves even run in Seattle proper these days, but no event in the world completes the distance on a shorter loop. It's a captivating idea that will only become stronger with each running.

Nick Walker

Rainier Vista, partly framed by Johnson and Mary Gates halls, is the most sacred space on campus. The vista was first conceived as a centerpiece of the campus plan by the Olmsted Brothers in 1906, when the elusive mountain revealed itself during the firm's visit to Seattle to develop a plan for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. Rainier Vista is the most dramatic borrowing from nature on any campus in the United States, with Mount Rainier as its climax, and with both architecture and landscape reinforcing its thrust past a minor view of the city toward the mountain beyond. As Edmond Meany put it, “No campus in all the world can equal Rainier Vista. In those rare moments when Mother Nature in kindly mood pulls aside the vaporous curtains we may gaze upon Mt. Rainier, a three-mile…flow…of rock and ice. A spectacle of unending fascination!”