by Dallas DeVries
Two years ago I wrote about heat mapping in the Pace Setter. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, I invite you to read my last article on it. The short version is that I have been using a digital map of the area to try to run every road and trail in the Capital District and invite others to try it as a way to mix up their running.
Apparently my article struck a chord with famed ultra runner Rickey Gates and inspired him to start the “Every Single Street” project where he ran every single road in San Francisco. It took him only 46 days to cover over 1,300 miles with 150,000 feet of elevation! He filmed a documentary to cover it which you can watch here. It’s very inspiring.
It may surprise you to know that I had no idea who Rickey Gates was until about 3 months ago and I’m pretty sure he did not read my Pace Setter article, but if he did he should have given me a shout out in his documentary. What he did do though was popularize and start to make the idea of heat mapping more mainstream. You can see people’s efforts around the globe by following #everysinglestreet on Instagram.
The other thing to give heat mapping some more traction was the pandemic. People have been looking for new ways to challenge or motivate themselves in this new world of virtual and solo racing. Heat mapping is a great way to provide that challenge. It’s been fun to see a lot more people trying to run their neighborhoods, towns and cities.
This pandemic has definitely stepped up my heat mapping efforts. With no track workouts, races, beer runs or other group runs I have had a lot more time to focus on running new roads in the area. To get some extra interaction I created a Facebook group Capital District Heatmapping (open to all) where about 25 of us local heat mappers share strategies, technology, tips, pictures, stories and challenges of running the different streets in the local area. From our group I’ve also stumbled across some other pretty impressive run mappers. As with anything there are always people that take things to the next level. For example, there are several people walking/running all five boroughs of NYC. This guy has been blogging his progress and taking pictures along the way for over 8 years and is closing in on completion.
One of the highlights of heat mapping for me is being exposed to some pretty diverse areas of nature, housing, commerce and industry. Try alternate running in Arbor Hill and Clifton Park and it’s like running in two different worlds. People are friendly either way but it’s a stark socioeconomic contrast when you run by dozens of condemned buildings versus some of the large isolated “McMansions” in the ‘burbs. From the nature perspective, I have discovered several new waterfalls, parks and trail systems in the area that I was previously unaware of. I bring my phone along to take pictures and document my journey. It’s been fun capturing various historic buildings, beautiful trails and other oddities along the way and posting them to Strava. Sometimes you don’t even realize what's practically in your backyard. I lived near Hudson Valley in Troy for 9 years and discovered a couple of trail systems with some beautiful falls that were less than a mile from where I lived and frequently drove by
So where do I stand on my quest? During this pandemic I’ve run more than I’ve ever run before. I ended up logging my biggest weeks and months since I started running. With not a lot of other outlets it’s been my go-to hobby and stress reliever. I’ve managed to add Waterford, Troy and the Town of Colonie to my completion list as well as log significant progress in Albany, Brunswick, Halfmoon, Clifton Park and Niskayuna. So far, my favorite place to run has been Troy and it’s been fun to explore every nook and cranny of the diverse city I lived in from 1995-2011. I found some neat hidden trails (a few really great waterfalls), awesome cemeteries (checkout Oakwood Cemetery), massively steep hills, a neat mix of industrial companies and old businesses, as well as many historic sites and cool homes. I’m working my way through Albany now and getting a similar feeling.
One of my biggest challenges now is that it’s almost a 15 minute drive in any direction to get to new roads! Using the numbers the Facebook group found in City Strides (see below) for the Capital District thus far, I estimate the total street count to be in the 14,000 range. I currently stand at around 4,000 streets in the region so I still have plenty of streets to keep me occupied for the foreseeable future
For those interested in heat mapping, one key upgrade to my experience from my last post was finding the CityStrides website. It’s a free service that gives you your virtual map of where you have run by importing your runs from Garmin or other services. What sets it apart is that it also will show your completion progress for every city you have run in. You can also dive into each city and see what roads you have run and what you have left. It’s a great way to tangibly see your progress.
Relevant Facebook Groups
Lock 2 in Halfmoon
Tank in Latham near the airport
Seen when mapping the industrial area of Troy
Found in Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Troy
Seen while running the roads of Lansingburgh
Welcome to Troy!
Located in North Troy by the Burden Iron Co.
Burden Iron Co. Museum
Wilson Street in Albany, quite a unique building!
Uncle Sam's grave in Oakwood Cemetery in Troy:
More Oakwood Cemetery
Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium
The Arsenal in Watervliet
See in Guilderland at the end of someone's driveway
Part of the newly renovated Tivoli Preserve in Albany
Woodlawn Preserve in Schenectady
Cohoes Falls from a path I found heatmapping in Waterford
Found mapping in downtown Schenectady
Big Boy hanging out in a Clifton Park development
A train goes by while mapping in Mechanicville
Snapping turtle near a pond in a development in Clifton Park
One of the hidden waterfalls I found in Troy. One trail to this starts near Burden Pond
The end of my last street in the Town of Colonie. Colonie has more streets than any other city/town in the Capital District at 1555, about 700 more than the 2nd biggest.
A very common sight in Clifton Park. I've come to find out a large number of developments in Clifton Park are connected by various walking trails.
Historic looking firehouse in Troy
Building art in Arbor Hill
Dallas DeVries Archive