Health  |  News & Politics

11 Questions for the Guy Attempting to Run Every Street (and Alley) in DC

What does he eat on six-hour runs? Does he ever get bored? Also…why is he doing this?

Jarad Schofer is on a mission to run every single street (and alley) in DC. This GPS-generated map from the app CityStrides shows his progress so far. All photographs and maps courtesy of Jarad Schofer.

By day, Jarad Schofer is a math teacher at St. Albans School. But at night, he may be going on a 30-mile run through your neighborhood. 

The 42-year-old Park View resident is training for an unusual race—a seven-day ultramarathon in Tennessee this July—in an even more unusual way: he’s decided to run every street and alley in DC. For reference: there’s an estimated 2,023 streets in DC, says Schofer, and the number of alleys is unknown (but there are a lot). 

He started in August and says he’s a little over halfway finished with the project. Local runner Michael Bryant accomplished a similar feat in 2006 that took him three years—but he didn’t include alleys. 

We caught up with Schofer midway through his attempt to ask a few questions—mainly why is he doing this?

Last summer, Schofer ran 260.52 miles from Pittsburgh to DC over a period of seven days.

Why are you doing this?

I like big challenges, and I read about this guy named Rickey Gates in San Francisco. He spent about 40 days living in a van and would commute back home for showers. It just looked really cool. When I started to get into the social media aspect of running, I started following him and realized it had become a thing [on social media via the tag] #everysinglestreet. People are doing it around the world.

Once I saw him do that, I knew I had about 10 months of training for this big race I’m doing in the summer, and it just spoke to me [to use this project as training].

It’s also a math problem, because you have to figure out how to do it most efficiently. I wanted to take on that challenge of seeing how many miles it would take. When I plop down in some neighborhood, I sort of look at the map and think, “What would be the most efficient way to run this neighborhood without overlapping so much?”

How do you keep track of what streets you’ve run?

I run with a tiny little map that I print. I have a four-color pen, and if it gets too confusing, I’ll stop and mark up where I’ve been. Red is like, “Oh, you missed this,” green is “still got to do this.” Once I finish a run, it uploads to Strava, then it goes to this app called CityStrides. It’s an app pretty much everyone uses who’s doing this street project. It aggregates all your runs into one big map. Also, to make it more fun, I got a physical map from the DC Office of Planning. I mark that up with a different colored marker each time.

A 30.87-mile route Schofer ran through the Lincoln Heights neighborhood on Sunday, December 8.

What do you eat on a six-hour run?

I mostly eat Gu energy gels or stroopwafels. I like to eat nuts sometimes to mix it up, get a little protein. But for the most part, it’s just easy stuff that I can carry on me. I will stop at convenience stores if I need to. I usually carry two water bottles if I’m doing a 30-mile run.

What’s your favorite flavor of Gu energy gels?

It’s got to be campfire s’mores.

Is it ever boring?

Yeah, it’s monotonous. There are times when [these routes are] like a very long ladder. You can’t escape the overlap. It’s just like, “I have to do eight of these in a row?” So that can get boring, but for the most part, I am embracing it and loving it.

Sometimes I run a street I’ve done before, and it’s not what I call necessary overlap. That is frustrating. I just make this face like, “Ugh, wasted miles.” 

Schofer sometimes drives to streets he misses on longer runs. This 0.15-mile section of Oregon Avenue NW is located just outside Rock Creek Park.

Do you listen to music or podcasts?

Sometimes I listen to podcasts or music. Other times, I’ll try to get a feel for the neighborhood with nothing playing. And honestly, when it gets really complicated, I have to stop the music or the podcast and really concentrate.

I’m a huge Rush fan, and recently their drummer passed away, which was a real shock. He was only 67. That was hard for me to process. He’s written seven books, and Audible made all of his audio books free to download.  

Schofer’s physical map.

What’s one weird thing you’ve learned about DC?

I’ve learned that the nicer neighborhoods don’t have as many alleys, or even the alleys there are way nicer. When it’s nighttime and you’re running through these random alleys, you’re going to see rats running across your path. But in upper Northwest DC where the homes are really expensive, it’s not rats. It’s bunnies running through the alleys.

How do people react when they see you?

I get a lot of really funny looks from people, but one of my goals is to say hi to everyone and make eye contact. If someone wants to talk to me, I’ll have a conversation with them. Sometimes I see the same person five-or-six times while they’re out walking their dog and they’re like, “What are you doing?” 

I have learned there are a lot of nice neighborhoods out there that get a bad rap. People make faces when I tell them where I was running and I’m like, “No, that’s actually a really nice part of DC.” It’s just a lot of homes. Especially on Sunday mornings, most people are just heading to church. And I’m just out there at my own church—the church of the long run, as we call it. 

Are there any hidden gems you’ve stumbled upon?

Yeah, there was one building that had a big Maya Angelou mural that I thought was really cool. I’m starting to get closer to the Frederick Douglass house and near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, and I’m seeing a lot of cool murals there.

The first 50 percent, I didn’t take many photos of anything. Now I’ve started to take a bunch of photos in the daytime. I’m trying to get more of a photographic story of what the journey is like.

What are your biggest dreams with this project?

I tried once to run near where the Obamas live, but they rejected me. My ultimate goal would be to finish the entire city except for one mile. And maybe we could convince President Obama to, you know, run that last mile [with me] near their house.

I would love to meet Mayor Bowser, though, to tell her what I’ve been doing and get her take on it. Those are some pie-in-the-sky goals. For now, I’m just going about my business. 

Have you run past the Washingtonian office?

Yeah, I have!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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Social Media Producer

Hannah is Washingtonian’s Social Media Producer. She’s a proud Kentuckian who lives in Petworth with her bunny Ruthie.

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