SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — There is going for a run in San Francisco, and there is running every single street in San Francisco. 37-year-old professional trail runner Rickey Gates is trying to do it in just six to seven weeks.
“This is what it looks like when it’s easy,” said Gates, pointing to a map of the Presidio Heights neighborhood.
That was where he found himself on the 40th day of his “#everysinglestreet” challenge, slowly crossing off everything between Arguello and Van Ness, Jackson and California. His pace is slow and deliberate, steadily moving east and west across the city, slowly checking off every single block of every single street.
The numbers on the run are astounding. The distance Gates is covering is comparable to running from Denver to San Francisco. 1,300 miles would be the baseline estimate, but once alleyways, dead ends, and double-backs are added the total mileage could push close to 1,500.
“1,400 to 1,500 hundred,” Gates estimated. “So about 200 miles a week; 30 to 40 miles a day.”
That’s about the distance someone might cover on an aggressive day hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trails. The challenge in San Francisco is picking the most efficient route.
“It’s the old traveling salesman problem,” Gates explained. “How do you get to as many spots on the shortest possible route and end up back where you started?”
The answer came when he partnered with a mathematician friend who developed specific loops patterns scattered around the city. Gates usually runs two 15 to 20 mile of those looping segments each day, slowly covering small patches of the city.
The other challenge, he says, is being patient. For that, he draws on his education as a sociologist and a photographer.
“Yeah, that fits in with this. So I take my camera with me. It’s a great way to see the city,” said Gates.
As for the city’s infamous hills, he says the worst of it was in Noe Valley.
Others have claimed to have covered every street in the city in efforts that years. Gates’s effort to do it in a matter of weeks is unique. He’s currently on track to finish before Christmas and is tentatively planning to make the climb up Twin Peaks.
After that, he says, his next run will be on dirt.