27 July 2006

Exceptional Pedestrians (or is it Pedestrian Exceptionalism?)

It feels a bit strange not running on a Thursday, but for a couple of reasons I've decided to take today off. First of all, though Kate and I are relocating to the new apartment in Greenpoint this weekend, we've yet to begin packing, cleaning, or any of the myriad other chores that accompany such a move. Perhaps more to the point, however, the trip down south to visit my parents last weekend (and the attendant time off from running) screwed up my standard running schedule (which consists of a longer run on Sunday, shorter runs Tuesday-Friday, and off days on Saturday and Monday). So taking today off is a way to "reset" things. I'm sure the packing and moving will wreak its own havoc (we're moving out of a fourth-floor walkup and into a fifth-floor one), but whatever. Come Tuesday, everything ought to be back to normal.

On another note, one of the unexpected and fascinating aspects of this whole project is hearing from people with similarly obsessive foot-based geographical aspirations. I've mentioned a few here previously, but here's a quick rundown of the five most interesting examples. I've also included a separate links section (over there on the right of this page) for the websites of these "exceptional pedestrians."
  • Any New York list would have to begin with the exploits of Caleb Smith, a librarian at Columbia and transplanted Albuquerquean who walked all of Manhattan over two years, ending in December, 2004. One of the things about Smith's trek I like the most is his low-tech approach to cartographic documentation -- he used a regular Hagstrom map onto which he drew in the streets he'd walked with a Sharpie. His website is excellent, and you can check it out here, and don't miss the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" piece about him from 2005.

  • Also in Manhattan, the upstart Shawn Wines is currently in the process of his own feat of ambulatory completism. A recent college graduate, Shawn has decided to also walk all of the island, and is documenting his journey on his blog, Walking New York. His project is kind of similar to mine (with the obvious substitutions of walking for running and Manhattan for Brooklyn), and he includes maps and photos from his excursions on the blog. We were both also recently profiled (along with Caleb) in a recent NY Post article.

  • On the other side of the continent, I received an email last week from a woman named Jen who's currently walking the entire city of Berkeley, California. She, too, blogs about her progress, and she also includes excellent photographs in addition to thoughtful musings on the aesthetics and politics of walking.

  • Another Californian is engaged in walking a substantial portion of that most pedestrian-unfriendly city, Los Angeles. Walking in L.A. is a website that documents one individual's ambles throughout the town over the last five years, with maps and photos. While not a completist in terms of attempting to walk every street, it's pretty amazing how much he has managed to traverse.

  • And it's not just urbanites who feel the urge, apparently. Catron County Walk is a blog in which Suzanne, a resident of said county in New Mexico, works toward her goal of walking all 400 miles of paved road there. Although it appears not to have been updated recently, there are great pictures and observations from a decidedly more rural, southwestern perspective.
And it seems there are similar things going on across the globe, too, with pedestrian forays across Sydney, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand. Who knew this kind of subculture existed? When I get a moment I'll have to get to the library and catch up on my reading on everything from Guy Debord's ruminations on psychogeography to Walter Benjamin's conception of the flâneur. Once I'm done moving, of course.

Still, while I certainly identify with all of these kindred spirits, I find myself as a runner kind of on the periphery. Are there any other folks out there attempting to specifically run an entire city? A county? A small principality? I'd love to hear from anyone in a similar position.

Lastly, here's an outtake from yesterday's Sheepshead Bay run. Despite the dire forecast of increased heat and humidity, I'll be back on the road for longer (hopefully, 10+ mile) runs tomorrow and Sunday.

On Shore Parkway


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Eric Fischer said...

It looks like there is at least one other runner -- http://theswellesleyreport.com/wellesleyrunning.html "Running every street in Wellseley."


Post a Comment

<< Home