Friday, November 08, 2013

A Total Zero. Running to the DC Zero Milestone

For years I've wanted to track down the Zero Milestone located in Washington, DC. Unlike many blocks of granite in DC, the original vision for the Zero Milestone was purely functional:

When this marker was dedicated in 1923, it was expected that it would be the milestone from which all road distances in the U.S. would be reckoned. Obviously people in places like Oregon and California didn't like the idea that their road markers would begin and end in the 3,000s, and the idea was scrapped. Now the Zero Milestone only anchors roads distances in Washington, DC.

While completely impractical, I do love the regularity that would have come from having a universal mile marker. Whether you were in Alexandria, or Los Angeles, you'd have a common sense of distance.

Regardless, I've wanted to track it down. Last night, as I was running into DC, I found myself on Pennsylvania Avenue. My thought process suddenly ticked off the following facts: "The White House is located on Pennsylvania Avenue and the Zero Mile Marker is located near it." Before I knew it, I was charging forward in search of the milestone. The fact that it was dark, I didn't know where I was going and that I'd surely be late getting back to Shira were all not concerns in my hypoxic state.

Fortunately, it wasn't that tricky to find. If you ask nicely, Google Maps will tell you exactly where it is.

When I arrived, it was long past dark. So my photos are, well, awful.

But still, I was there. I wasn't particularly pleased when I routed my return trip with Google Navigation and it told me that I had an hour and 20 minute walk back to my starting point; as I only had 23 minutes left before my run was supposed to be over. But, I hauled my butt back as fast as I could, and for the second run in a row, I was late. But did make it back before Shira disappeared with the car. Whew.

Here's a few photos and the complete route:

View Run to the DC Zero Milestone in a larger map

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