matt stroh runner toronto

This Toronto fitness fanatic has run every single street in the city

After four years and countless routes, a Toronto man has completed his goal of running every single street in city — tracking his journey and amassing an avid support group on Strava.

After receiving a life-saving blood transfusion in November of 2020, Toronto father, lawyer and triathlete Matt Stroh knew it was time to do something huge to celebrate his life.

"Although I never met the donor," he tells blogTO, "I wanted to do something monumental to honour their gift of life to me."

So, he initially settled on the idea of training for an ultramarathon; setting his sights on the goal of running Yonge Street in its entirety, from Holland Landing to Lake Ontario.

But soon after, "purely by chance," Matt tells blogTO, he met a group of other runners that were working toward the goal of running the entire city ("fellow 'Citystriders,'" Matt calls them) who inspired him to do the same.

A lover of urban art and graffiti, Matt, who grew up at Parliament and Wellesley, was quickly rapt by the idea of running all of the streets in Old Toronto — which he describes as an "open-air gallery" when you know where to look — so the mission began there.

It took about 6 months to complete all of Old Toronto, with forays into East York and York, where the discovery of beautiful natural features and unknown-to-him corners of the city inspired him to complete those neighbourhoods, too.

One of Matt's favourite runs of the entire project was a 5:30 a.m. jaunt through Jane and Finch, which a friend invited him to.

"Surprisingly (to me), I had some of my fondest memories on that run," he says, "including running through the Firgrove-Grassways complex before its demolition [and] redevelopment."

For Matt, the beauty of the project didn't come only from running through the so-called 'nice' or 'fancy' parts of the city (which Matt finds "boring") but from seeing the true spectrum of what Toronto is, running every "gritty industrial street and derelict alleyway" he could find.

Managing a family and legal practice on top of the massive physical feat, Matt tells blogTO that many of his runs took place before dawn, completing a section of the city in time to return home and prepare breakfast and lunch for his kids before heading to work.

"At first, the hardest part was not the physical act itself, but the struggle in my mind to get up hours before dawn no matter the conditions that awaited outside."

Then, Matt says, his mindset changed.

"When all the signs say 'stay at home,' 'tis the season to get out of your comfort zone," Matt says. "To me, that meant no more excuses. No more negative self-talk."

Once he adopted a new perspective on his journey, Matt tells blogTO, he learned to embrace — even enjoy — his runs rather than merely endure them. That shift is what allowed him to stay committed and complete his goal four years later.

"Running in sometimes extremely adverse conditions surely puts a lot of things into context," Matt says. "When it's so cold that you feel like you're just running to survive, other daily tasks seem comparatively 'easy.'"

Not one to rest on his laurels, Matt is now in the process of training for the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid this July. If his past accomplishments are any indication, he'll surely do Toronto proud.

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