Road vs Rails – From Cowtown to the Windy City

Posted: January 29, 2013 in Events, Kansas City, travel, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Back in September 2011, I blogged about the competition of two Kansas City locals – Kris Nielsen and Justin Meyer – in their efforts to race from Kansas City MO’s highest point (One Kansas City Place building) to St. Louis’ highest point (Gateway Arch). You can read about the Race Across Missouri right hereIn the blog, I ran calculations based on the gameplan and scheduling for both competitors, and predicted a 15 minute victory for the plane. When the race was over, my prediction was spot-on.
This Friday, February 1, Kris Nielsen ( @KrisNielsenKC) is at it again. Piloting a supercharged Jaguar XJL with Instinctive All-Wheel Drive, Kris will be heading up #TeamJag. His passengers/co-pilots/accessories include Josh Coleman ( @JoshColeman) and Jason Cupp ( @JasonCupp).
Their mission: Be the fastest (legally) from Kansas City’s Union Station to Millennium Park in Chicago, IL.
With Justin having moved on to the greener, brighter and warmer pastures of Tampa FL, Their opposition comes in a different form. #TeamTrain is the one-man operation of Matthew Staub ( @Staubio). Matthew will be relaxing at the hands of Amtrak as he treks across Missouri and Illinois. His selected ride is the Southwest Chief, which will depart Kansas City at 7:43am and has an estimated arrival time into Chicago’s Union Station at 3:15pm.

The competition officially starts at 7:13am, which will allow sufficient time (Amtrak recommends no less than 30 minutes) for Matthew to check in and be ready to board his train. Kris and company will head to the Jaguar parked outside Union Station and put rubber to pavement. Google Maps suggests they take I-35 north up to US-36 east (which becomes I-72 after crossing into Illinois) and then I-55 north into downtown Chicago. Assuming no major traffic congestion, by Matthew’s departure from KC Union Station on the train at 7:43am, the Jaguar should be approaching Kearney, and roughly 25 minutes from their connection onto US-36.
The Google Maps route was plugged in with the departure point of Kansas City’s Union Station (30 West Pershing) and arrival point at the Millennium parking garage (5 South Columbus Dr). The route is listed at 513 miles, at an estimated time of 7 hours and 49 minutes. Of course, the drive is likely to not be done in this speed, taking into account any necessary stoppage time for restroom stops and fuel – at a 513 mile journey, the Jaguar’s estimated 23MPG HWY would require over 22 gallons of fuel. Without these stops, they would arrive at their destination around 3:02pm. This is calculated on posted speed limits – any violation of posted speed limits will disqualify the Jaguar. During the Race Across Missouri, Kris and his Porsche were monitored in real-time by a series of Garmin GPS units which provided broadcasted location details.
Matthew’s train is set to arrive at 3:15pm, and all listed public transportation options from Chicago’s Union Station over to Millennium Park will add 15 to 20 minutes to the total time. Assuming the ability to catch a ride immediately after deboarding the train and exiting Union Station (we’ll generously assume 5 minutes), this will put him at Millennium Park around 3:40pm.
This ultimately gives the Jaguar crew nearly 38 minutes to play with for fuel stops, restroom breaks, or unexpected traffic issues. Unlike the first competition back 17 months ago, I predict an easy victory for the road team. For the sake of an “official” prediction, I’ll say that Kris and company successfully arrive at their destination and are the first ones to touch Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, 17 minutes before Matthew.
Come Friday morning, you can join me in following all the action on twitter by searching #roadvsrails.
UPDATE 2/7/2013:
The #roadVSrails competition went down on 2/1. First off, a slight self-high-five in the fact that this blog was topped only by the twitter hashtag and the links to FOX 4 when it comes to google searching “roadvsrails”. To their credit, FOX 4 did a great piece live at Union Station prior to the competition’s kickoff, speaking with Matthew Staub.
Staub entered Union Station at 7:13am, 30 minutes prior to his train’s departure. The Jaguar hit the road. The competition was quite close all the way through, including the fact that the Amtrak train would ultimately arrive at its destination in Chicago 15 minutes ahead of schedule. A comedy spot along the competition occurred in Iowa City, IA – the crew of #TeamJag reached out to Jimmy Johns via twitter, and ultimately arranged a driver to meet them with sandwiches at a gas station off of I-80 while they stopped for refueling and a quick restroom break (stop to restart was only 4 minutes and 15 seconds).
Jason Cupp was the first to make the competition’s result official, posting “DONE AND DONE!” at 3:07pm with a picture of him, Kris and Josh with Cloud Gate. 10 minutes latter, Staub checked in on FourSquare. I missed my prediction by 7 minutes, but still nailed the right team.
The hashtag search continued through the night and into Saturday morning, documenting the four participants enjoying some delicious eats in Chicago, and then making their respective treks back to Kansas City the next day. Congratulations to Kris, Josh and Jason on their victory, and kudos to Matthew for keeping us all entertained along the way and making for a finish that was closer than I’d expected. Also, credit to both Amtrak and Jaguar, who chimed in on their respective twitter handles to engage in the conversation during the day Friday. Social media communication at its finest and most fun.
  1. Justin says:

    Good post. Should be interesting. I’ll keep an eye on the hashtag while I’m flying Southwest from Dallas to Tampa. Planes>Trains>Cars

  2. Tom Mulligan says:

    Made that drive recently and have taken that train. Traffic and weather are the wild cards.

  3. Love the SW Chief. I’ll never drive a car to Chicago again.

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