Running with purpose: Local runners team up to log miles on every street in Brecksville

by Dan Holland

For a group of Brecksville dads who began running regularly during the Covid-19 shutdown, the weekly gatherings turned into a mission to run every single street in the city during 2023, with the exception of Interstate 77 and the Ohio Turnpike.

“In 2020, at the beginning of Covid, I read an article about a guy who had decided to run all the streets in his hometown in New Jersey,” explained Eric Louttit. “We had a lot of time on our hands back then, so I thought I would try that.”

“So, in 2021 and 2022, I set out to do it on my own, but I didn’t complete it,” he continued. “Mainly, because I set out from my house, and there are some long runs leaving from home.”

The group of six, who met every Friday morning around 5:30 a.m. to canvas another section of the city, consists of Kevin Jones, Eric Louttit, Dave Barchet, Matt Muffet, Jeff Sobecks and Joe Feeney. Four of them – Louttit, Feeney, Sobecks and Barchet – completed the mission in late December, covering more than 213 miles in the process and averaging more than 5 miles on each excursion.

Members of the “2023 Streets of Brecksville” try to meet three times a week, devoting the other two days to running in the parks or on the high school track, cycling and playing tennis.

“It’s something to look forward to,” said Feeney. “We all get along really well, and enjoy being around each other and look forward to talking about whatever the latest news is. It’s a good escape and a good way to start the day even though it’s very early.”

“Fridays became a third add in addition to Tuesdays and Saturdays,” said Jones. “We already knew we liked hanging out and this was another excuse to do so, just to bond and get in some exercise. A lot of us met because our kids are similar in age. It’s nice not only to run but to share our successes and challenges as we go.”

Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are the group’s favorite areas to run in, while the industrial areas in the south end of the city tend to be least liked, said Feeney. “Fortunately, we have the Metroparks, so we ran through there as well,” he said. “We also realized that the city has a good share of hills and cul-de-sacs. Overall, it’s a very picturesque city and we had a lot of variety in our runs. Everywhere we went, we would see something that sparked the conversation and debate as far as pros and cons of what’s going on in the city.”

Louttit said the excursions allowed him to see portions of the city he would have otherwise never visited. “I’ve lived in the city for 20 years, and until we began doing this, there were many streets I had never been on,” he said. “Just from that perspective, it was interesting to get exposure to some neighborhoods that I otherwise would have never seen.”

“I know that to many, our goal probably seemed a bit audacious – to run every street in Brecksville,” said Jones. “But we just take it one day at a time, doing it together.”

The group is tentatively planning to repeat the effort in 2024 in the hope that all six regulars will be able to complete the endeavor and perhaps inspire others through their efforts.

“It’s a good example of having good friendships to count on and support while maintaining a good level of activity from a health perspective,” said Feeney. “And we really enjoy each other’s company.” ∞

The streets of Brecksville crew, including (left to right) Eric Louttit, Jeff Sobecks, Matt Muffet, Dave Barchet, Joe Feeney and Kevin Jones, frequently meet up before their run at Brecksville’s Erie Island Coffee Company. Photo by Dan Holland.

In addition to their morning runs, Joe Feeney, Matt Muffet, Eric Louttit and Kevin Jones also participate in marathons and other running events throughout Northeast Ohio, including this one in downtown Cleveland. Photo submitted.

On our cover (photo): Four of the six members of the running club, the Streets of Brecksville, including Ken Stray, Kevin Jones, Eric Louttit and Matt Muffet, are pictured during one of their summer runs at the Brecksville Station in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Photo submitted.