OK, I think I may have the most boring, mundane and potentially pointless coincidence story ever. But don’t worry, at least it’s long.
So, if you really have nothing better to do:
Earlier this year, for no particular reason, I decided to take up running. I was in terrible shape, though, and at first I could only get as far as the end of the block. However, I stuck with it, and gradually improved.
Now, some way from my house, along a nice tree-lined street, is a fountain. I figured that this would do nicely as a first goal for me to reach. Oddly, it turned out that the distance there is almost exactly one kilometer from my house - 1.05, according to Google Earth.
(A word of explanation here: Yes, I live in a place where the metric system rules, so distances are usually given in kilometers. Bear with me, it’s important to the story. In any case, a kilometer, often just referred to as a K, is a meaningful distance for runners, and is what the K means in the names of running programs like Couch-to-5K. One kilometer is just over 0.6 miles. 5K, five kilometers, is a common racing distance for beginner runners. That’s about 3.1 miles for you crazy yanks. Anyway, where was I…?)
After several weeks of sweating and panting, I triumphantly reached my goal and ran all the way to the fountain in one go. Hurrah! Great, I could now run as far as an overweight walrus with Parkinson’s (while undoubtedly also resembling one), but why stop there? Further on in the same direction there is a large public park. In the center of this park is another fountain. Distance to get there? Almost exactly one kilometer from the first fountain, at a total distance of 2.07 kilometers from my house, again according to Google Earth.
OK, that is in itself a bit of a cool coincidence, but nothing really creepy so far. In any case, I set this second fountain as my new goal. I kept up my routine of self-inflicted torture, and a couple of weeks later, I managed to drag my fat ass all the way there in one go.
At this point I’d decided that a good goal to aim for as a total running distance would be five kilometers. That’s what the running programs all seem to start at, and it takes about half an hour, which is a good amount of time for me. Yeah, no marathon, but hey, it’d still feel like an accomplishment. This meant that I should go a bit further out, and then I’d want to start heading back. So what I did over the next few days was to hang a right at the second fountain, start going in that direction along a pathway for a while, then turning right again to begin creating a loop back in the general direction of my house.
OK, still following? At this point my route had taken me back out of the park and into an area of office blocks. Right in the middle of this area, but sort of hidden in a cluster of buildings, I came across another fountain. This was totally by surprise, I just turned a corner and, bang, there it was. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be just too weird if this fountain was another kilometer from the second one? That can’t be, though…”
Still, it did feel like I had gone about another K. I couldn’t really say for sure, though, but as soon as I had limped back home, I fired up Google Earth, and… yeah, almost on the nose one more kilometer. Total distance now 3.02 K.
Starting to get strange now. Still, I didn’t make too much of it. Coincidences happen, right?
The following days, I kept upping the distance - I wanted my full 5K. As I kept going, still making up the route as I went, what seemed to make the most sense was to create a loop that went back to the first fountain, and then to run the final part as the first K in reverse. So, like a lollipop shape with a big head. I had figured out that this was the most convenient route as I’d been walking that way when going back after running, and, well, it just felt the most natural when I followed my feet.
That is, that *would *be really nice, and then I could get a full 5K… if only the distance between the third fountain and back to the first fountain was also exactly one kilometer… well, it had to be *about *that much, being the final part of the rough loop shape that I’d been making, but still, exactly…?
That would be too weird. Still, I traced it out in Google Earth to see, and now I could hear the Twilight Zone music starting to play: 0.98 kilometers, giving me a total distance of precisely 4 K at the point where I got back to the first fountain.
I suppose you’ve all lost track of the geometry of this now, so here’s a handy map (well, Google Earth screenshot).
As you can see, there’s no grid pattern, or any obvious reason to me why these distances would coincide like that. Even if someone set up the distances between the fountains on purpose, they would still need to know the distance to my house, which doesn’t make sense. Additionally, the paths between points obviously aren’t as the crow flies, they’re just along the route that happens to be the most convenient for my morning jog. No conscious effort was made by me to hit fountains at every K, beyond wanting to go a total of 5K and tracing out a rough lollipop shape.
Also, the one kilometer intervals aren’t exactly a kilometer, just really close, which makes it less spooky, and yet, at the same time, even more spooky, somehow.
There is one factor I’m unsure of, which is the average fountain density of my neighborhood - that is, the chance of running into fountains at the same intervals if I just went in any random direction. I haven’t made any proper effort to investigate this scientifically, but I have lived here for several years, and… well, there aren’t really that many fountains around, as far as I can tell.
Anyway, that’s the story, I guess. Boring? Probably. Still weird to me, though. (And, yeah, I did complete the full 5K. I’ve joined a gym, too! I’ll be an athlete before long…)