Q&A: Running Every Block of Chicago

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 7.59.40 PMHave you started following Darcy of Run Chicago yet? His goal is to run every block of Chicago. As someone who is getting super bored running the same loops around my own suburban neighborhood, I think this sounds like an awesome goal. 

Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing.
I have set out to run every block within Chicago city limits. I am not running on each side of the street, but I do plan to run down every block. I am tracking my progress by tracing the completed blocks with a Sharpie marker on a Rand McNally Street Map.

Why did you decide to run every block in Chicago?
I have been a distance runner for 10 years. Running the same paths over and over wasn’t as enjoyable as exploring new routes! I love seeing new neighborhoods, people, and parts of the city.

How many blocks have you covered so far?
Roughly 20%. I am sure there is a way to calculate the total mileage of every block in the city and then deduct the part I have completed. However, it seems like it would be a bit of work.

What has been your favorite neighborhood or area to run?
University of Chicago and Hyde Park. I only say this because I live near the University and have finished most of these blocks already. It is very scenic and historic. The landscaping around the neighborhood is done well. The University brings energy to the neighborhood which the residents embrace.

Which neighborhood has surprised you the most, and why?
None as of yet, but I will keep you posted.

What cool things have you seen during these runs that you might have missed or otherwise been unaware of?
Children absolutely love to see runners. Go out and inspire some kids by running down their block. You can be a superstar for a kid by giving them a high five and showing them a positive, enjoyable activity that they can begin at any time in their life.

Do you ever take pictures during your runs?
I don’t bring anything but my house key laced into my gym shoes. I have seen many people run with phones, water bottles, and many other items. I feel best when I am carrying as little as possible. Sometimes I will have my iPod shuffle.

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Are you worried about running in neighborhoods that are “unsafe”? Do you do anything differently there?
No not really. I try to pick the right time of day to run.

I envision myself waking up in the morning, setting out for a run, arriving at the starting point which can be ANYWHERE in the city and running. It is my goal to meet a group of teens and/or adults who want to improve their fitness at that location every day. By going all over the city, this would get a lot more of Chicago up and running. I need a public relations person for some promotion, but I think it would catch on quickly.

Have you attempted to do this in any other cities? If so, how did it go?
I originally had this idea while I was living in New York City. I started to project there but then moved to Chicago for work. In NYC, I was running consecutive days, and had students run with me. I believe I got up to 43 days of running before I had to go. I would LOVE to go back to NYC and finish after Chicago. The inspiration I got from running in NYC is second to none.

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 8.07.00 PMHave you met new friends/runners along the way?
Of course. I try to tell people about the Facebook page as I run. Sometimes people show an interest. Occasionally, a runner will say they was to join me. I am always open to having others join.

Do you do races? Do those courses count toward this goal?
Not lately. I would like to get back into races. I do enjoy traveling and running in other parts of the country.

How long have you been a runner?
I always played sports as a kid through high school and college. Needless to say, I was running then almost year round. I didn’t get into distance running until my early twenties, so roughly 10 years. I ran my first marathon at age 22, and have completed 6 more since.

You can follow Darcy on Facebook at Run Chicago

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6 Comments on “Q&A: Running Every Block of Chicago”

  1. Brilliant! I’m excited to follow along. I love what he said about children! When kids see me, they usually ask why I’m doing that or why I’m running like that.

  2. Even in my own neighborhood I am always finding new streets to run down. I have seen so many cool restaurants and stores while running that I never would have known existed (or where they were) if I hadn’t run past.

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