They never chased me – FINAL

What is this thing that I have been raving about for months? And took so long to write about.

Journey to the End of the Night is a free street game of epic proportion. Players race through the haunted cityscape of San Francisco to a series of checkpoints, while avoiding being caught by chasers. Those who fall will become chasers themselves, rising in undeath to pursue their former friends and allies. No skates, no bikes, no cars, just your feet and public transportation.

Last year over 600 participants showed up at Justin Herman Plaza to experience a sprawling night of costumes, alleys, haunted houses, skeletons, bells, stealth, and signatures.

This year, it was over 1000 participants.

And this is what transpired in summary:


  • Doing the race with a friend dressed as a chicken!
  • Running with Chris
  • Learning to trust nobody and walking in the middle of the street
  • The mad dash from checkpoint #1 to a bus stop on Stockton
  • How I escaped being tagged by being weary and slow, walking on the other side of the street watching Ta-ching and Chris being “accidentally” tagged right at the border of the safe zone at checkpoint #3
  • Long line at checkpoint #3
  • Disappointing experiences at the checkpoints due to the large amount of people
  • Long waits at bus stops at Mission and 16th
  • Realizing that the chasers were not playing fair, not knowing the safe zones and wearing “runners” ribbons as trophies
  • Having to correct chasers multiple times at where the safe zones were located
  • Realizing that Cynthia had been tagged although she kept it hidden for awhile
  • A failed experience at building a “recipe” at Duboce Park
  • The CRAZY chase before checkpoint #6 down Central where we tricked chasers: I hesitated getting off the bus because I was confused as to our strategy and watched Chris & crew bolt for their life. Seeing Ta-ching and others being tagged. I hid behind cars, letting the chaos break up on its on. Then I ran to the checkpoint. Safe.
  • Sadly tripping up the sensors at checkpoint #6
  • Surprisingly meeting with Eric at checkpoint #6 even though he still dressed as a chicken!
  • Diving into a bush at Mason and Fulton thinking that a chaser was going to tag me when it really didn’t matter
  • Being stuck in a bush for several minutes while Chris tried calling me although I was right behind the bus shelter stuck in a bush
  • Running across the street to safe zone of Golden Gate Park
  • Being tagged less than 100 feet from the final checkpoint and having to tell the chaser that I already was in the safe zone
  • Making it to the end with the bestest person EVER!
  • They never chased me – Intro

    It was the greatest adventure ever. The Journey to the End of the Night.

    What is this thing that I have been raving about for months?

    Journey to the End of the Night is a free street game of epic proportion. Players race through the haunted cityscape of San Francisco to a series of checkpoints, while avoiding being caught by chasers. Those who fall will become chasers themselves, rising in undeath to pursue their former friends and allies. No skates, no bikes, no cars, just your feet and public transportation.

    Last year over 600 participants showed up at Justin Herman Plaza to experience a sprawling night of costumes, alleys, haunted houses, skeletons, bells, stealth, and signatures.

    I DID IT.

    In a story of 8.8 miles, I finished. In contrast to my previous journeys, I had made it from the beginning to the end. Last year, I swore that I wouldn’t do it again, but three weeks before the event, I had forgotten why.

    It was a story of cautious bus stops, bush diving, walking/running in the middle of the street, lucky hesitation, ducking behind cars, walking while always looking over the shoulder, dressing in black, dressing as a t-shirt ninja…and never letting a comrade fall behind (ok that didn’t happen).

    This is the story of how I made it.

    He peered down the street and saw a hunched over figure

    At this point, I had lost my pink ribbon. But way before I lost my ribbon, I had lost my spirit and ambition of the game. Some would say I was a sore loser. In some ways, I was. As I lamented alone in the city that didn’t really care, in a city full of people ambling to the next party, the scantily clad girls walking around in the San Francisco night.

    I meandered my way to 10th street, hoping but not expecting to run into Chris who was on his journey. As I neared 10th street, I heard a male voice. “Jenn?” the voice broke through the dark silence.

    Ta-ching? If it’s him, I’ll have to come up with another lame excuse to cover why I was being such a loser and a wimp.

    As I walked closer, it turned out to be Chris! “Hi!!!!!!” I excitedly ran over. “You made it!”

    “Not yet,” he said and I started talking out loud about my loser-ness situation and asked about his journey. He was stumbling his way from checkpoint 3 up in the tenderloin and was nearly limping to checkpoint 4 due to his pulled muscles. On the way down, he had many adventures of his own—he had changed in his Phantom of Opera costume, which matched the soundtracks of people driving past the Opera House at the Civic Center, then he ran past a little girl dressed as a fairy wandering alone on Jones Street—he stopped for a few minutes to help her find her brother and mother, then he was propositioned by a homeless woman…and had three chasers that tried to tag him but failed. Now in the habit of completely scanning the area for all figures, he had spotted a person wandering aimlessly, slightly hunched over, as if there was no goal in sight, perhaps no hope. Then he recognized my gray Nike pants—the pants that he bought for me at a Nike outlet and the pants I frequently wore as relaxing pants and was a major part of my costume as Mirror’s Edge’s Faith.

    And so began the latter and better part of the night…

    The beginning of my end

    “It’s a smoke screen,” Ta-ching declared, looking at my Ziploc bag of cornstarch. “I don’t think that will stop any chasers.”

    I laughed.

    It was impossible to tell when it was going to begin. With Sam the organizer shouting somewhere into the crowd—the instructions and the hint…we saw people starting to run. Did it just start?

    Ta-ching disappeared from our group. As Chris and I ran toward Steuart Street, we spotted Ta-ching who found two female friends. We started off on our trek following the crowd. Chris and Ta-ching started jogging. Having read logs of previous journeys, I shouted that we shouldn’t need to run. According to a journey in 2006, the key was to maintain a steady pace—to not tire by the end and…not run. Running attracted attention and tired us out. So we strolled and chatted. We smiled at other groups as they passed us. Ta-ching also agreed that last time he didn’t even see a chaser until checkpoint 2.

    It was going to be a great night. Last time, I got sick 10 minutes into the journey in Oakland. But this time, I will make it further. Chris and I had discussed this earlier in the day. It wasn’t to make it to the end—I already saw a lot of people who seemed more prepared. It wasn’t just to make it to two checkpoints—this was even too low of a goal for me. We agreed that we wanted to make to the end—make it through all 7 checkpoints throughout the city.

    I was excited. Chris in his all-knowing way of San Francisco led our small group of 5 to the first checkpoint at South Park. This should be easy.


    I felt a push from behind and a voice.

    “I got you,” the clown said and tagged ta-ching. Then the other two girls. “And you. And you.”

    Chris had immediately dodged away and stood at a safe distance. The clown said in a polite voice, “Your ribbons please.”

    I was distraught. No, it couldn’t be. We barely went half a mile. Barely 10 minutes. All that I had prepared for…and everything. I was upset. Again. Tagged. The thought of being having fun as a chaser didn’t even cross my mind. I expected to play at least 3 hours. NO! But I reluctantly handed over my yellow ribbon. BUT, no this couldn’t be. THE second time! But I wasn’t feeling sick. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t…I WAS TAGGED.



    Chris asked from his safety position, “What should I do?”

    “You can call truce,” the clown said.

    I immediately responded and waved him away, “No! Go!”

    Chris looked at us. Then he turned and ran down the street to the first checkpoint.

    The clown ran to the other side of the street and tagged the girl dressed as a painting. She screamed. But for her, she couldn’t see him coming from behind.

    Starting the SF journey

    At the starting line on Halloween night of the journey, we stood in a line that was more than 300 people long. Chris and I had left early having prepared early. We had one small hiking backpack stuffed with additional costumes, water and communication equipment (one iphone, two blackberries). I carried my mini pocket muni bus map. I had thrown together a costume that was meant to transform throughout the night. The fox hat that I got for Chris coupled with my bag of cornstarch. Every few seconds, I would try to make my face more white. Chris was dressed as Stan from South Park, although he looked more like a Russian dancer with his glasses.

    I scanned the crowd. Surprisingly, it was very similar to the typical crowd I ran into at other “quirky” events in San Francisco—the flash mobs, the cupcake camps. All of those. And there was more people than I expected.

    We saw people dressed in ninjas with spots of glittering jewelry, suggesting that they were also gypsies. I saw a girl dressed as a painting. Ghosts, skeletons. But all in black. And all wearing athletic shoes.

    Ta-ching called. He was on the F-line coming from the Mission. I said that we would save him a spot—if he showed up before we got to the front of the line.

    After more than 20 minutes, we finally got to the waiver table. There I quickly signed my name—yes, I absolved sf0 of all liability and that I intend to play at my own risk. Then we headed to the next line to get our ribbons and map.

    Prepping for the SF journey to the end of the night


    I spent the weeks before the journey studying on tactics that worked successfully in the past, reading the posts on and studying elusive techniques.

    There was only one solution that seemed the best. Only one that seemed both enjoyable and…somewhat pratical.

    Multiple costumes. Versatile costumes.

    But what part of the costume made someone so…unrecognizable, so different? After visiting the International Spy Museum in Washington DC a few weeks earlier, I knew the answer(s).

    1. Hair. Obviously. If my hair suddenly turned from black to blonde or from straight to curly, surely it would be easy to sneak by an unsuspecting chaser.
    2. Classes. What I mean by classes are the clear distinguished classes in San Francisco. What you mean that there are classes in this city? Most certainly. If I dressed like a hipster, a yuppie, a Chinese bag lady, or a high-flauntin’ business man, nobody will be the wiser. Especially when they are on opposite extremes.
    3. Skin color. Now, it’s not meant to be racist at all. I was going to put corn starch on my face. Then when it wore off, I was going to use black face paint to draw crazy “tattoos” on my face.
    4. Walking style. Not easy for me, since I walk so uniquely. But what if I walk daintly…then I walk with confidence, then walk like a man…strutting. It has been more than a year since I first took the BATS improv class, but the lessons there of slipping in another role were so amazing. I can suddenly be someone else easily with a different walk.
    5. Being obvious. If I looked a bit crazy and yelled out obscenities in the middle of the street, wouldn’t I naturally be ignored in San Francisco? Ok, so this was something I thought of AFTER the journey. But I remember going East on Folsom and seeing a man yelling random things into the dark street…I naturally ignored him. And I realized how automatic that was for someone living in San Francisco.

    Preparing for…the JOURNEY (to end of the night) part DEUX

    In the Oakland Journey to the End of the Night during the summer, I got sick 10 minutes in. It was a horrible experience as I moped back to the car…having not even reached the first checkpoint or seen a chaser.

    Wait, what is this journey to the end of the night?

    Well it’s simply put…

    Journey to the End of the Night is a free street game of epic proportion run by hard-working volunteers in cities around the world from London to Los Angeles. The game is a pursuit across the city in multiple parts. Players try to make it through a series of checkpoints as quickly and as stealthily as possible, while avoiding being caught by chasers. The first player to reach the endpoint without being tagged is the winner, though anyone who survives is deservedly praised and feted at the end. Those who fall become chasers themselves, rising to pursue their former friends and allies. Players may not use skates, bikes, or cars, only their feet and public transportation.

    Ever since I had heard that there was going to be on in San Francisco game on October 31, 2009…I was so excited, so…thrilled. Despite some friends saying “What? I don’t think I want to do that on Halloween…” I was like WHATEVER. Do I want to spend $50+ on cover? Do I want to stand in a room of people dressed up to the nines with slutty girls who use Halloween as an excuse to show off? Do I want to lay at home moping once again that nobody invited me to a Halloween party (although I need not worry)? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    And so I convinced Chris and of course ta-ching merrily obliged. I concocted a strategy. Multiple costumes! Multiple pathways! Double-back! Run across streets at breakneck speeds! Call “RAPE!” WHATEVER IT TAKES!

    And we answered these questions:

    What would we do if one of us is tagged?
    Would one tag the other?
    Would we support each other?
    Who is the weakest link? (me obviously)
    Do we have to support ta-ching? (yes…sometimes…maybe…)

    And then finally the day arrived. We ate pumpkin cookies and drank mulled wine the afternoon before, thanks to the lovely April and Chris C. No awful food poisoning this time. After quickly drinking some water. We went to the BART down to the Embarcadero, where we found a HUGE crowd of 600+ people waiting in line to sign the waiver and get the ribbons.

    Little did I know that the game would not turn out the way I had imagined…