(Every) Road Runner
A journey of growth and discovery
Russ Porter on High Ridge Avenue, for his running goal
Photo by Douglas Foulke
“All of my great stories seem to start with me getting lost,” says Russ Porter, who recently took on the personal challenge of running every stretch of road in town—all 190 miles—an 18-month project that he completed in March.
When Porter moved to Ridgefield with his wife Kristen and sons Ian (17) and Tim (15), the town’s confusing roads often led him into uncharted territory. During one run, he became so disoriented that he had to go an extra five miles to get home. As a result, he picked up a realtor map to figure out where he was and what he had done wrong. Seeing the many unfamiliar roads, he decided to plot all the roads on the map. “I got to see a lot of town, and a lot of the character of the different areas of town. There’s so much of this I would never have seen. It was great just to get a feel of what the town was like.”
Porter refers to himself as an “adult-onset athlete,” as he didn’t begin running recreationally until his late 20s. In fact, the only thing he failed in high school was running the mile for gym class. “We had to run a mile in 14 minutes, and I couldn’t do it.” As an adult, he candidly took up running for weight loss and ended up catching the bug, eventually taking things to the next level with marathons.
Over time, Porter became integrated in the running community through several local running groups that he describes as very supportive and welcoming of all types of runners—including the Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club and the Redding Running Club. However, despite his collection of running mates, Porter covered the roads of Ridgefield solo—running about 1,800 miles during the his every-road endeavor.
With the conclusion of his project, Porter looks forward to several future ventures, including a 70.3-mile triathlon in August that he is currently training for. His biggest concern is the cycling portion, which runs a whopping 56 miles—a distance Porter has only done once before.
Despite the impressive nature of his growth as a runner, Porter insists that it’s not as hard as it may look. “One thing I like to emphasize: I am not fast. This thing that I did, anybody could do. It just takes time.” Today, Porter keeps the original realtor map that inspired his Ridgefield adventure on the wall of his home office as a reminder of what he accomplished through his dedication and as motivation for future endeavors.