Buffalo runner/photographer Jim Cielencki has come up with a fascinating way to track every city street by foot. Thanks to GPS tracking capabilities by Strava.com, Jim has set out to run the entire 700 mile stretch of city streets. While on his Mile by Mile BFLO journey, he manages to capture photos that he feels represent the different quirky neighborhoods that he encounters.
Already, Jim has canvassed half of the city – 350 miles, after starting on January 1 of this year. Ultimately, he intends on incorporating the Buffalo Marathon into the final leg of his journey. In order to do that, he is not (currently) running the streets that make up the marathon route. He tells me that he’s using the last 26.2 miles (the marathon route) as a vehicle to wrap up and celebrate his journey.
Thanks to the heat mapping technology of Strava.com, Jim has been able to set and document his daily running route. Every Monday, he posts his latest accomplishments at Instagram.com/milebymilebflo. He also takes the time to post some of the images that he has taken. “I try to find the most interesting houses, or scenes,” Jim told me. “I’ve come across painted driveways, a US flag on a fence (made out of plastic cups), and a lot funky colored houses. By running the streets of Buffalo, I have come to learn a lot about this city. So far, I have found Riverside to be the most surprising – I couldn’t believe the number of houses that were decorated for Valentine’s Day.
“There are so many cool houses that you wouldn’t expect to find there. I have also enjoyed running the East Side. Everywhere I go I wave to people and they wave back. I love seeing the changes around the city. I’m hoping to inspire people to change up their own routes, so that they can see some of the incredible streets that I have had the opportunity to run.”
So far, I have found Riverside to be the most surprising – I couldn’t believe the number of houses that were decorated for Valentine’s Day.
In the beginning, Jim began to run a route that spelled out “2016” on his GPS heat map. After that, he began to run in order to cover each street. He tells me that he has been as struck with the both development and decay in the city, and finds the juxtaposition powerful.
By taking a different route each day, he weaves his way throughout the city, never knowing what he is going to find. His documentation of his journey is both captivating and enlightening. Some of his runs he has done solo. Others he has run with friends. Eventually, Jim would like to keep up with the running routine, which is far from routine.
He is thinking about starting a running club, kind of like the Slow Roll, where the group takes different routes each day, armed with cameras. Or maybe incorporating some sort of Geocaching into the runs. “I might call it The Buffalo 66 Run (66 miles to complete),” said Jim. “Runners could run the entire 66 miles (inspired by the movie Buffalo 66), or hop in at any point and run for as long as they want. As Jim told me this, I pictured the scene from Rocky, where Balboa is on a training run, and his fans start to run alongside him, finally running up the Art Museum Steps en masse.
After Jim has finished the last marathon leg of his Mile by Mile BFLO journey, we will circle back with him to update readers on the end result, as well as his plans to continue on. At that point, you never know… maybe you will be running alongside Jim, getting healthy and learning about the various urban exploration opportunities that can be found right around the corner from our own doorsteps.