In the past I have mentioned a handful of times about CityStrides. I first stumbled across the site during the earlier stages of the pandemic when I was lockdown running. In simple terms, you link to your Strava/Garmin etc and for every run it will look to see which roads you have run and completed if you ran it all.
After the disappointment of marathons being cancelled and the stresses of lockdown, this gamification of running really appealed to me. CityStrides has come on quite a bit even in the couple of years I have been using it and to start my home “city” was Huntingdonshire. To complete this would need me to run over 1300km across more than 2600 streets in s huge area so was never likely to be achievable. I however focused on those closer to home.
After a while I started to pay the basic $2 per month to unlock the premium content on the site. This made finding those streets left to run a bit easier and also meant that when I requested for St Neots to be added as its own “city” it was! I now had a target!
As of today to run every street in my home town needs you to cover 113km across 482 streets. Obviously you have to rerun a lot of ground and there are many dead ends that you find yourself running up and down, hoping you don’t look too weird to anyone who sees you!
By the end of 2020 I had cleared the bulk of the streets in town. And throughout 2021 I knocked off a few outstanding as well as targeting un-run roads on my long marathon training runs beyond the town. I however faced an issue with getting to 100%.
CityStrides gets its data about streets from openstreetmap.org. Anyone can update and improve OSM and I have found myself making changes as well. For example if a road is private so can’t be run, then you can change OSM for it to flow through. My issue was that unfortunately someone had been a bit over zealous when adding new roads on an estate being built in town. When adding the new roads, they had extended them beyond the construction gates. Therefore, according to the site I hadn’t completed the road and wasn’t at 100%. Given the road would eventually be there, it seemed churlish to amend them just to satisfy my running challenge so I left them ready for another day.
After my mini disaster at the Great North Run, I then took a bit of a break from running and the 100% was still on the horizon. However, as the New Year came, I needed to get moving again. The other issue I had had with these rogue roads is that they were on the other side of town so I needed to get a few km in, just to see if they had been opened up yet. But, fortunately my daughter has dance classes nearby so being close I gave it a go and with several roads now open, I knocked off all bar 2. Now I was so close I needed to complete the challenge before too many new roads were added again.
One week later with no football for my son the timing was perfect. Since the turn of the year I hadn’t gone past 5km and to hit the two missing roads needed a bit more so it was also a chance to push the body a bit. It was freezing cold and as I got back to the car the fear was that maybe I hadn’t quite completed the final two. Seconds later I was on the site and it read 100%. I had finally done it!!
This challenge started as a mental break during the pandemic and the 100% is likely to be fleeting as more roads are built. However, it has given a bit of variety to what can become monotonous runs. I’d recommend to anyone to try in their own town/city!