by DREW HOWARD
There are close to 300 miles of roads in Rochester Hills, and one woman has made it her mission to run every single inch.
Sandy Stiner started the “I Run This Town” project in an effort to discover the more obscure parts of Rochester Hills while also meeting her running goals. She’s been documenting her journey to run every road on her blog for nearly 20 weeks, and is expecting to complete the project shortly.
It was during a drive through Rochester Hills with her husband when she got the inspiration to run the entire city, Stiner said.
“One day I was driving through the city, and I was looking at these streets I’d never seen before wondering what was down them,” Stiner said. “There are places in the city where I’ve never been, yet I’ve lived here for 20 years.”
After getting a map from city hall, Stiner grabbed a highlighter and proceeded to outline all of the city’s roads. She calculated that the 300 miles of roads would actually be closer to 500 miles worth of running.
“I called the Department of Public Works to see figure out what’s considered a street,” she said. “Some streets are city streets, others are county roads and private roads – we never got into the semantics of what is technically a street. If there’s a street sign I don’t care if it’s the color blue or green or if it’s private or regular – as long as there’s a sign I’m going to run it.”
“But I wouldn’t run M-59,” she joked. “I don’t want to be killed.”
This isn’t the first time Stiner has taken on such a big running challenge. To date, she’s run 75 races that are marathon distance or longer, with close to a third of them being 50k and 100- mile races.
“I do endurance running, marathons and ultra marathons,” she said. “I had a major surgery recently where I couldn’t walk for six weeks after. I wanted a new project, something that wouldn’t put too much pressure on my mileage every day.”
Stiner’s definition of “pressure” is evidently different than most peoples’, as she estimates that she’s run an average of seven miles a day to complete her goal. She’s even finished a couple marathons and a 50-mile race during what she described as one of her “breaks” from the project.
In addition to working against her surgery, Stiner has also faced encounters with some less-than-friendly dogs and even the police.
“I had a couple concerned citizens call on my car saying it was suspicious,” she said. “I came back to find the sheriff running my license plate. Since then I’ve gotten a placard for my card saying I’ll be back soon – I haven’t been getting calls since.”
She’s also had her fair share of confused looks trying to explain her project to people, including a resident of a mobile home park who was convinced Steiner wanted money from them.
“I stopped at their rental center and asked if I could park my car,” she said. “I explained my mission, and they thought I was hitting them up for money for a fundraiser. I’m just doing this for me.”
It’s all been worth it though, Stiner said, as she’s enjoyed discovering hidden neighborhood trails and pop-up libraries scattered throughout town.
Stiner’s journey is set to come to an end on Monday, December 4, when she will run the final four-mile stretch with Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, with the finish line located at Van Hoosen Farm.
You can learn more about the “I Run This Town” project by visiting Stiner’s blog, The Ultra Freak, at theultrafreak.blogspot.com.