by Joey Crandall

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March 9, 2012
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Know your neighborhood: Man runs every street of Ranchos

Jeff Rieker, 35, moved to the outskirts of the Gardnerville Ranchos in early 2010.

Rieker, a standout swimmer in his college and high school days, was dissatisfied with his fitness level and the extra pounds the years had attracted.

"I was definitely heavier than I would have liked," he said. "I felt like I needed to do something. I was finishing up my PhD program, had to finish my dissertation. There wasn't much time to work out much."

So he started running.

Short jogs at first, usually only two miles at a time.

"I dealt with sore knees in the past," he said. "I wasn't sure how my body would hold up. But it got to the point where my body could handle two miles. I slowly built that into longer runs and after a while I needed some sort of goal."

He read an article in The Record-Courier about the Ranchos and realized he hadn't done much to explore his new neighborhood.

"I thought it would be kind of interesting to work my way around the Ranchos and see if I could eventually cover every street. Reading the article was motivation to learn the layout and the different neighborhoods."

To help track his progress, he made himself a large map out of plot maps printed off of the Douglas County Assessor Web site.

He cut them out and taped them together, hanging the finished product on his wall and highlighting the streets he'd covered as he went.

Last month, nearly two years and more than 550 miles since starting, he completed his task - 20 pounds lighter than when he started.

"It was just a big, fun adventure for me," he said with a laugh. "It was kind of exciting and a little fun."

Planning his runs became an exercise in strategy.

"I'd study the map before going out," he said. "I'd loosely plan out how far I wanted to go and try to figure out if I could hit a couple new streets along the way.

"It probably took a lot longer than it had to. I definitely learned that when you see a cul-de-sac or a side street, you hit it then. There was a lot of clean up runs where I'm going four miles to get to a 200-foot street.

"I definitely retraced a lot of steps, but the point was to eventually get there."

The longest runs came toward the end of his journey as he tried to hit some of the farthest-out streets.

"That was one challenge is some streets on the assessor's map didn't necessarily connect, or sometimes they'd look like someone's private driveway," he said. "That presented some troubles, but it was OK.

"Occasionally it got dark earlier than I'd planned and some days the wind really picked up, but I managed to get through the whole thing without getting caught in severe weather."

Rieker completed almost the entire task on the same pair of shoes.

"They were getting pretty ragged by the end of it," he said. "I had to get a new pair for the last 50 to 100 miles. It was funny to watch them wear down over time."

Some weeks he ventured out four or five times. Others he only got out once or twice.

"The important thing was just to keep going," he said. "I liked having the map. It gave me something to work toward and was a constant reminder of where I was."

The runs became something of a family affair for the father of three.

"My oldest is 4, and he wanted to come out with me," Rieker said. "So before or after a long run, I'd take him for a lap around the block. It was fun."

Rieker said he's looking for a future task to work toward and is considering training for a half-marathon.

"There were times I was out where I was thinking it would be fun if someone formed a race around the Ranchos or something," he said. "We'll see."

Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.

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The Record Courier Updated Mar 9, 2012 05:43PM Published Mar 9, 2012 05:41PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.