A numbers run is a geocaching trip focused on finding a very large number of geocaches, possibly 100 or more finds in a day. The term cache machine is often used in the Pacific Northwest.
A numbers run requires advance planning. Most numbers runs involve a team of friends, for both the camaraderie and the efficiency of working as a team. Choose a cache-dense location that is near enough not to require a long drive to reach, yet far enough that you haven't found many caches there. Use a pocket query to identify a large number of traditional caches that can be found quickly. Focus on clusters of caches with lower difficulty ratings, located near convenient parking. Plan a route that minimizes driving time (e.g., avoiding left turns and known traffic problems), and plan more caches than you expect to find, so you can skip some (depending on what happens the day of the hunt) and still hit your target number.
Avoid caches that are likely to take more than a couple minutes to find, sign, and replace, for example:
- multi-caches, mystery caches, letterbox hybrids, etc. (If you're feeling ambitious, then you can solve some puzzle caches in advance and include them if they look like a quick find.)
- caches with recent DNFs
- caches that require stealth
- known nano-caches, both because they can be hard to find and because signing and rerolling the log takes too long
Include plans for bathroom breaks, food and beverages, fuel stops, etc. Decide in advance how you'll sign the logs, perhaps with a team name that is short, with a rubber stamp, or with adhesive labels. Also decide how you'll keep track of which caches were found, which were skipped, etc., and how you're going to share the responsibility for driving.
Before the big day, get plenty of sleep, make sure you're hydrated, and generally take care of yourself. Make sure you have multiple GPS receivers with the selected caches, plenty of extra batteries, snacks, clipboards, etc. Basically, prepare for an all-day hunt.
The day of the numbers run, start early and just keep going. Once you start the hunt, everything is about efficiency. It isn't about individual finds; it's about the numbers run. If a cache is taking too long to find, then skip it and move on.
24-Hour Record Runs
Several 24-hour number runs have been attempts to set new 24-hour records. Some teams have taken questionable shortcuts. A team that completed a 24-hour record numbers run in May 2008 (finding 315 caches in 24 hours) set the following rules for themselves:
- The cache is logged with our team name for the whole team in the logbook.
- It is only allowed to search for one cache at a time, that also means no splitting up to travel to the next location.
- Not every member of the team needs to be present at the cache (driver and navigator may stay in the car).
- The planned trip will be tested before the record run to locate parking areas, entrances to parks, places to shop for food and toilets. No caches will be located in advance.
- It is possible to have a car following to get supplies. They are not allowed to help in the search.
- Obviously, all traffic laws will be obeyed.
- The record run is performed in 24 running hours – no time-outs!
- Route 66 geocaching power trail - YouTube video of Lil Devil, wimseyguy, nittany dave and Maingray finding 3 geocaches along the Route 66 numbers run trail.
- World Record Breakers - article about a 246-find numbers run.
- 315 caches in 24 hours, run for the world record - forum thread about a 315-find numbers run.
- 413 Geocaches in 24 Hours?? YES! We did it… - blog entry about a 413-find numbers run.
- The logs from posted to 0001-E.T. by Peasinapod, markj57, Team Sand Dollar, and Team Geo-Rangers when they found 1,564 caches in a single calendar day (4 September 2011) on the ET Highway numbers run trail.