Road running

Richfield runner pounds all of the city pavement

Cole Hooey realized he wasn’t that far from running all 140-some miles of road in Richfield and decided to finish the unique feat while preparing to run his first Twin Cities Marathon this fall.

Running every public roadway from Xerxes Avenue (west) to Longfellow Avenue (east) and 62nd Street (north) to 78th Street (south) was nearly completed before he noticed.

For Hooey, a Richfield real estate agent, it is about the curiosity of exploring new areas while preparing for his first Twin Cities Marathon in the fall.

Similar to completing a video game by hitting all of the possible achievements or milestones, Hooey said the same is true for challenges like this one.

“My wife thinks I’m a nerd about it, but she’s super supportive about it,” he said. “It’s like when I play video games you try to complete every piece of it 100 percent. If I am going to do this, I’m going to do it right.”

After downloading previous runs into a mapping application, Hooey saw nearly all of the Richfield roads were green, which is how the app marks completed routes.

“I’ve done most of this without trying and if I put in a concerted effort I can do it pretty quickly,” he said. “Usually, when I go out, I like exploring or finding new streets.”

Hooey was surprised it only took a month to finish covering the city since he started and ended each run at his home on the east side of Richfield.

“All the stuff around me I could get on a 3-5-7-mile run, but the stuff on the west side had to be a minimum 6-7-8 miles to get there and back,” said Hooey, who was finishing some longer runs more than 12-16 miles toward the end.

He recalled a story on PBS where a Minneapolis man walked all 1,040 linear miles of sidewalks in Minneapolis and documented the sights.

“That’s a way bigger feat,” Hooey said. “And to me, that felt like a really achievable thing.”

For perspective, Manhattan comes in at about 500 linear miles and according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, that number of roadways is about 140,000 miles.

As a real estate agent, he feels he should know the area he works in as closely as possible, and what better way than by running along the road.

“There is something cool about exploring something far away but also something intimate about having explored every corner of the area right around you,” said Hooey, who typically runs in the early morning hours. “I love the completionist perspective of seeing it all.”

Covering the city streets, Hooey learned that Richfield has a lot of parks and lakes for its size, with some interesting quirks.

“Little Bob’s Place is a cute little park off of Lyndale just south of McDonald’s,” he said. “Apple Blossom Park is a two-lot park off Humbolt or Irving right next to 35W. There either used to be houses or it was never developed and there is nothing there, just grass and trees and a sign. That’s the funniest, littlest, weirdest park we’ve got.”

The most unusual thing he found along the runs was a Volkswagen Beetle cut in half appearing to crawl out of the ground, south of 66th Street on the east side of Richfield.

“In true Richfield fashion I saw lots of geese, turkeys – a squirrel jumped out of a garbage can at me right outside my house. I shrieked. I was on my way back from a long run.”

Another interesting thing he discovered was the difference in houses all built with a decade and a half.

“We’ve got a diverse population here and it was cool to see the big fancy homes, the ramblers we all have and love and just fun to see the different architectural styles,” Hooey said. “You run down a block and realize it was built in the 30s or 40s as an earlier one in the neighborhood then you could tell the odd ones out. Some are offset a bit and it was fun to figure out some of the histories of that.”

As he tried to complete the map, he had to figure out the more efficient way to cover the most road without repeating.

The final stretch was a cul-de-sac off Queen Avenue near Penn Avenue and 75th Street. Another stretch took him partially through a construction site near Target and one more cul-de-sac by Woodlake is shown to go farther on the map but ended up shorter.

“I ran the half on the street side and then went into Woodlake up to the fence on the other side to get it through the weeds with my shorts and bare legs – hopefully no poison ivy,” Hooey said.

He plans to run the Urban Wildland Half Marathon July 31 as it returns to the streets of Richfield as part of his training for the Twin Cities Marathon. After going virtual last year, the fundraiser for Woodlake Nature justify will have a 5K option at 4 p.m. July 30, followed by the half marathon at 7 a.m. July 31. Virtual races can be submitted July 25 through noon, July 31.

The next goal for the Richfield resident is to be able to run without looking at his phone – a goal that seems reasonable now that he’s familiar with the roads around Richfield.

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