On December 13th, 2020 I finished my yearlong project of running every street of Salt Lake City. Without a doubt, this has been the most demanding running goal I have ever set for myself (and I ran a 50-miler a few years back…). This project was complete with physical, mental, and logistical challenges that — when thrown in during the year that was so difficult already — tested me in a number of ways.
I won’t bore you with the play-by-play of each run (which, if you have a Strava account, you can trace back all my 2020 runs here) nor give you an exhaustive breakdown of all the interesting things I’ve seen, but I do want to spend a few paragraphs discussing the impact of committing yourself to achieving a goal that seems so far-fetched and, at times, insurmountable by simply performing a series of tasks one day at a time.
It’s tough to put into words what running 994 miles across 118 runs — yet alone all the route planning and map double-checking — meant to me. It’s easy to put up a finished map with all streets marked complete and understand the finished product, but thinking about each individual run or each time I printed off a small portion of the city gives me a better sense of what was required to get there.
And this is so true with respect to all sorts of facets of my life: education, relationships, work, hobbies — you don’t just suddenly arrive at a point of expertise but, rather, through consistent hard work, you eventually just sort-of get there.
So I challenge everyone who happens across this website (whether it be for Number Sense practice material or for running advice) to think of an area of their life that they can practice consistency with and try to better themselves one small step at a time. I promise you, the journey will be way more fulfilling than the celebration at the finish line.
P.S. – If you’d like to read a re-cap of this particular project, you can check out an article that Andy Larsen from the Salt Lake Tribune put together! And if you have any questions about how to pull something similar off, just leave a comment.
2 thoughts on “#EveryStreet Salt Lake City”
I read your Trib article and am inspired! What type of planning tools did you use? I would love to have some tips on how to pull this off in my city!
Keeping track of everywhere I’ve been as well as planning future runs were the most challenging aspect of the project. I honestly feel like I spent an equal amount of time going through maps and sketching out routes as I did doing actual running!
So I used the free map plotting website GPSVisualizer.com whose display is based off of Open Street Map. What I did was, with each run, I would download my GPS file from my Garmin watch (a .gpx file) and appended it to a master “ALL RUNS” .gpx file that I kept that contained the map data from — surprise! — all my runs! I used this websites to do the actual merging between the old master file and the brand new run: https://joewein.net/bike/gpxmerge/ . Once I had an updated “ALL RUNS” master file, I could just plot that file in GPSVisualizer to see everywhere I have been pretty clearly and zoom in to see if I missed any obvious street with the run I just did.
Now to generate where I wanted to go, I would zoom into a section that I hadn’t run yet and manually print off a slice of my GPSVisulizer plotted map of “All Runs.” After that, I would just manually sketched out a looped path (which actually didn’t take as long as you think as most runs were around 6-8 miles — so the routes couldn’t get too crazy) and then I was good to go with, you know, actually running!
One thing I learned early on through this whole process is that there is A LOT of ambiguity with respect to mapping — streets would appear in GPSVisualizer that may/may-not appear in Google Maps that may/may-not appear on SLC boundary maps. I typically erred on the side of caution and ran them if there was a discrepancy (stuff like small roads inside apartment complexes, near distribution centers, etc…) even if there wasn’t an official Salt Lake City street sign just to make sure I didn’t have to go back and do it again at a later date.
Hope that helps!