matthew stroh run streets toronto

This man has run on all 2,568 streets in old Toronto

A goal to run every street in old Toronto made life under lockdown a little more bearable for one man in the city.

Runner Matthew Stroh, 40, achieved his goal to run all 2,568 streets in old Toronto (the city boundaries before 1998 amalgamation) this week.

Stroh thought of running every street last November when he saw runner John Yip had posted about running all the streets and laneways in Kensington Market. 

"I thought, well, maybe I will try doing the same thing but I never thought I would do all of old Toronto," Stroh tells blogTO.

He started in Kensington on Nov. 14 and then just kept going, running nearly 3,000 kilometres from November to May. He finished the last street, Brant Place, with a running friend on May 11.

The Toronto lawyer gets up around 5:30 a.m. to get in a 10- to 15-kilometre run before getting breakfast for his children. On the weekend he would run more.

He started around his neighbourhood at Yonge and Davisville, then drove out to runs across the city.

Using Strava to track his runs and City Strides to build a heat map of all his runs over time, he was able to systematically cover all the streets and laneways in the city.

"Some areas are really easy to run – if it is a grid pattern you just go up and down and side to side."

Other areas, such as the Upper Beaches, the streets tend to be more meandering, which makes it more difficult to plan the runs.

"Sometimes I would have to stop and look at my map or Strava to see which way to go."

Although he set out just to cover the streets, he soon added laneways, which ended up being some of his favourite spots in the city.

"You see a lot of really interesting urban art in the laneways – especially in the west end," he says.

He snaps photos of the art and whatever he finds interesting on his runs.

There were some surprising things he found in parts of the city he had never been to.

In Parkdale, for example, he found a street, Trenton Terrace, of small workers' cottages. In Cabbagetown, he found Flicker Lane that almost turns into a dirt path.

In the Black Creek area, he ran past a cool concrete canal.

"It looks like something you would see in L.A."

He also noticed more people living on the streets.

"Especially now, because of the pandemic, you see a lot more people living in tents in parks and it is sad to see that," he says. "There is a stark contrast because obviously, the pandemic hasn't been impacting everyone in the same way."

There were times, particularly early in the morning when it was still dark, he would feel a bit nervous.

Once on a snowy, dark February morning, he ran across a man in his garage at the dead-end of laneway.

"It was a day when there was no one out – the weather was so bad – it was like a blizzard."

But he talked to the man and explained why he was out running, and they ended up having a nice chat.

The experience of meeting people and exploring unseen parts of the city has motivated Stroh to continue. His next goal is to run all the streets in East York, and maybe North York after that.

Lead photo by

Matthew Stroh

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