This summer, I set out to run every street in Ann Arbor. The idea was inspired by two factors. First, given the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, I’d begun seeking new adventures close to home. And, second, my participation in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee required changing up my normal running routes to beat the tedium of hours and hours of running. And, with that, an idea was born.
Having lived in Ann Arbor for almost twenty years, I’ve managed to log some serious miles running throughout the city. However, I realized at the onset of this project that I tend to run the same 15 or so routes over and over. Frankly, these routes have gotten quite boring. This project provided much new stimuli to help set my mind at ease during my daily runs. For example, I’d occasionally discover groups of people exercising together in parks while remaining physically distanced; the numerous creative setups to host friends and families outdoors while remaining at a safe distance; and a variety of DIY yard signs supporting causes that were impacting our communities.
This project was immensely rewarding and I learned so many new things about my city. I discovered there were neighborhoods I’d never visited; that we have a ridiculous amount of cul-de-sacs (which, led to almost a doubling of mileage run to complete the challenge); and, that there is an abundance of parks, open spaces, and preserves situated in neighborhoods through the city. Speaking to this, the project served as a catalyst for more ideas on hyperlocal adventures. For example, this fall, I’m looking forward to exploring the myriad assets of Natural Area Preservation in Ann Arbor.
It’s become apparent that running every street in a city is very much a trend right now. In fact, Runners World recently featured an article on this idea. With races around the world canceled due to the pandemic, many athletes are now turning to new challenges to keep both body and mind healthy and stimulated.
I definitely encourage others to get out and explore their hometown. There are many tools to use to track one’s mileage and routes. I used Strava and StreetFerret. My one recommendation for those seeking to embark on this adventure: don’t leave the most boring and unpleasant routes until the end!