A Slice of Pi, By John Harmon

On March 14th of this year, an older brother of mine turned 60. While his sexagesimum was cause enough for celebration, it is also a special date in that it was “Pi Day” – 3.14.15. This date (3.14.15) comes but once a century. Even with unforetold research, it would be a stretch to attend let alone participate in the next one.

Pi, that noble symbol for which we owe William Jones a debt of gratitude – lest we be referring to it as quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia is that irrational number which binds the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So to celebrate this unique confluence of dates, we embraced the theme.


Seattle, the town of my birth and youth and still so for the rest of my family, accommodated us by staging a fundraising fun run/walk at Magnusen Park on Lake Washington (formerly Sand Point Naval Air Station and close to my childhood home) – The (“There will be Pie”) Pie Day Dash. It was a 3.1415926 mile trek. The event began at 9:26….of course. The object of this fundraiser is to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma – both devastating afflictions. Its champion is one Holly Westerfield, whom I was told teaches High School Math (“I like a shower. I like a bath. I like a girl who teaches math.”*). She puts on different fundraising events every year for her cause and decided to make it a fun run/walk this time around. Affixing it to Pi Day seemed appropriate for a Math teacher. I have a fondness for such wit and for Math and its instructors. It seemed like something my favorite teacher, Sister Maureen Rose, would have done. How can it not provoke a smile?

I surprised my brother and the rest of the family with entries into the event. Five of my family joined me. I ran the race while they walked. The Birthday Boy was drawn away that day, sadly, for a funeral of someone very close to him. But one of his sons joined my two other brothers, one’s fiancé and our mother. The weather in the days preceding the event was beautiful – sunny with only a hint of wind. But this was Seattle, so rain crashed the party. 2000 foolhardy soles (well if I say that then it was really 4000) completed the event with smiles on their faces and pie in their bellies – a slice of pie was the finisher’s award.

Despite the rain, we and the horde all survived – including a double loop course with the slower runners and walkers commanding the entire footpath leaving the lead runners to dash and dodge on the edges which I’d love to use as my excuse, but I shan’t.


My intention was to test myself for the Carlsbad 5000 at the end of March. I finished with a somewhat disappointing 21:35 and only managed third in my age group – age group prizes were only to the top two places. But my mother, who walked the whole way despite hip replacement surgery last year, put on a furious kick at the end to edge ahead of the only other octogenarian female in the event (We practiced the Kim Conley lean just before the start which obviously paid off). In the evening, we convened at Mom’s to continue the celebration with libation, pizza pie and, now that you’re all following the theme, pie for dessert.

It was a great day for just family, for a milestone birthday and for the run – any way you slice it.

–john harmon

* As much as I’d like to, I cannot take credit for this little ditty. Dave Kneeshaw, a family friend, composed this – that story awaits another day.

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