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Durham, NC, man reaches goal of running every road, greenway and trail within city limits

By Sydney Franklin

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    DURHAM, North Carolina (WRAL) — Jon Ziefle is an avid runner. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and races were being canceled, he began to work on more personal challenges.

So, Ziefle set a goal to run every single street, trail and greenway within the city limits of Durham within the 2021 calendar year.

“The ‘running every street in Durham’ seemed really interesting to me, and the twist that I put on it is, so I am actually a trail runner. I prefer to run on trails then the roads, so, I was like, OK, if I try to run every single street in Durham, this can take me a long time. I was like, what if I extend that to also the trails and greenways? I hatched this sometime last fall,” he explained.

“There are over 4,200 streets in Durham, and that’s not including trails and greenways and some other stuff,” added Ziefle.

So, when January rolled around earlier this year, Ziefle hit the ground running nearly six days a week.

“I thought I’d be done by May,” said Ziefle.

“I actually had a new daughter on Halloween, so come July, August timeframe I did some math and realized I am not going to finish then before she’s born, and when she is born, I can’t spend 20 minutes driving somewhere to Durham, running and driving back.”

Ziefle said he finished the goal around five days after his daughter was born.

“I actually saved just the core of downtown Durham … and ran that one with my other daughter,” he said.

While Ziefle said he ran through plenty of suburbia, there were also eclectic spots tucked in the city.

“Durham has a ton of old family cemeteries that’ll just be on the road, and all of a sudden, you see it … oftentimes that little family plot is the name of the road that you’re on,” said Ziefle.

Ziefle, who admits he has always been interested in cemeteries, said the plots are from “all sorts of different times.”

“Usually, we’re talking 1800s to early 1900s or even earlier,” he said.

The small, family cemeteries weren’t the only remnants of Durham’s past that Ziefle discovered during his runs. He said he also wound an a junkyards worth of cars in the woods.

“Literally, we’re talking like old 1940s cars, school buses [and] construction cars like, full vehicles just parked. Then the trees have grown up all around them. Obviously, they’ve been there for decades,” said Ziefle.

While Ziefle doesn’t recommend attempting to run the 4,200 plus streets, greenways and trails of Durham if you aren’t a fan of running, he adds that running is also about “getting out there and doing it.”

“Start slow [and] stay short,” suggested Ziefle. “Walking is totally fine. Walking is, in my mind, walking is running. I say that I ran every single street in Durham, but I walked a lot of the streets with my daughter or just because I was started.”

Now that Ziefle’s accomplished setting foot on every road, greenway and trail within city limits, he’s moving on to other challenges.

“With races coming back, I’m probably going to get to running more normal races,” he said.

Ziefle adds that he while he probably won’t put 10 months into accomplishing a certain running goal again, there are a couple other challenges he has his eye on accomplishing. The first challenge is beating the Fastest Known Time (FTK) on several trails in North Carolina.

“I set out to accomplish the Fasten Known Time on a couple trails, and I actually was successful at getting the Uwharrie Trial, which is in the Uwharrie National Forest … it’s like 38 miles straight,” said Ziefle.

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