Four reasons why running new roads and filling in my map of Salisbury was a fun pandemic activity

Screenshot of CityStrides website showing incomplete streets on the left side and a map of Salisbury, Maryland, with completed streets filled in in purple on the right.
A screenshot from today of my CityStrides map.

When I first joined CityStrides in September 2019, my map showed that I had only run 18.51 percent of the streets in Salisbury, Maryland, where I live. Now, with some dedicated effort during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been able to get that percentage up to 71.33 percent.

I’ve now spent five weeks back in the office, but while I was working from home, I particularly wanted to get out of the house while still staying safe. Running roads was a safe option — I ran alone (or with my boyfriend, who I live with), I wouldn’t be near groups of people and I could easily go to the other side of the road if I did see someone — unlike on a crowded trail.

Vanessa Junkin posing by Spring Garden Av. street sign.
Here I am by a street sign showing the name of my elementary school (which is not near here), Spring Garden.

I also thought that in the spirit of the stay-at-home order that was in place here in Maryland, I’d do all my runs during the stay-at-home period from my house. We were allowed to go running for exercise.

Our state’s stay-at-home order lasted for about a month-and-a-half. I ran only from home from March 22-May 25.

There were various reasons this made for a good pandemic activity.

  1. It was fun.

First of all, this was just fun! I always like to change up the scenery for my runs, so it only made sense that if I wasn’t driving to other towns, trails or paths, I could explore new places right in my own city. There were places within a few miles that I’d never seen before!

2. It kept things interesting.

I really enjoy running in groups and talking to friends as I run, but for more than two months, I ran solo, aside from the runs I did with my boyfriend. So, the challenge of increasing my percentage on the map and seeing new places gave me a goal to work toward.

Red white and blue letters spelling "Thanks Frontline Heroes" on a white fence.
I saw this display on Priscilla Street in Salisbury.

3. It’s a good challenge.

Like every other runner who races regularly, I had several races canceled and don’t know exactly when I will be back to racing. So, this was a fun way to give myself a challenge. I will be continuing to fill in my map.

4. This project gave me motivation to run further on some runs.

Since I started all the runs from my home, I would end up running the roads nearest my house roads over and over to leave the general area. So, once I got out a little further, it made sense to just go a little more than I’d planned in order to complete some more new-to-me roads.

It also worked out to be an ideal time of year to explore new areas — more light hours and some nice spring weather (although there were some hot days in there!). Plus, I also happen to live in a good area for getting to various areas of the city easily, rather than a far edge of the city.

Based on screenshots I’d taken that were saved in my phone, I can see some of my progress in running the streets of Salisbury — which does have a very odd border (see the blue line in the very top photo). I learned from the Salisbury police chief during my job as a local news reporter that city streets are marked with green signs and county ones are marked with white ones. That does make it a bit easier when trying to run more city-specific roads.

I have a screen shot from Sept. 20 that shows that morning, I was up to 26.69 percent of Salisbury’s streets. Maybe some runs were slow to load, or my run on Sept. 19 increased the percentage by that much, but either way, I had a lot of the city left to run.

By Dec. 1, my percentage was up to 31.37, and I’d increased that to 37.61 by April 10.

Chalk art of an ice cream cone with six colorful scoops and a cherry on top drawn on the white of a crosswalk.
I saw this fun ice cream chalk art on a run.

I continued expanding my running to additional streets and areas, upping my percentage to 45.19 percent by April 15.

On May 8, I was up to 58.18 percent, and now, I’m at just more than 71 percent. I’d like to run as many roads as I can, although I realize it might not be possible to hit 100 percent.

I also became a CityStrides supporter a few months ago. It’s a free website for anyone to use, but I pay $2 per month to have my activities uploaded faster and to support the founder’s efforts with this initiative.

The initial percentage didn’t count all the running I had ever done. I linked CityStrides with Strava, which I joined in 2016. Now, there is the ability to link the website with Garmin, so I’ve done that, but even that data only goes back to 2015, and not all of it has loaded. However, I would say most of my running within the city of Salisbury has been tracked.

I also ran new-to-me roads during both my virtual Shamrock Half and St. Michaels Half (both run in Salisbury), which made those feel like different courses than what I’d normally run for a training run.

If you’re looking to change up something about your running, I’ve really enjoyed this. I also have not had issues in areas I might have avoided before — I feel much more comfortable in these areas now. As always, though, consider safety, and running in a new area is probably best done during the daytime. Maybe you’d like to bring a socially-distant friend. Also, if you do have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home and get healthy!

Hopefully, I will get as close as I can to 100 percent of Salisbury as I keep running. Read about some people who have done it in their cities in RunWashington: Jarad Schofer – Washington, D.C. and Stephanie Lasure – Alexandria, Va.

5 thoughts on “Four reasons why running new roads and filling in my map of Salisbury was a fun pandemic activity

  1. What a cool idea! In our Alert Level 4 lockdown, I had to stay close to home for exercise, so most of my running was within 100 m of home, but now that that’s ancient history, I’m tempted to start filling in the gaps in my town. I read of an old guy who walked our entire city – took him many years but he managed it!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.