5 Questions with Sam Lev, Run Every Road Roanoke
You’ve probably seen Sam Lev on the side of the road in Roanoke.
Lev has been running since he was 12; his mom said he’d be a better soccer player if he ran in the offseason to stay in shape. “Pretty quickly, I realized I was a better runner anyway and gave up soccer for high school cross country,” Lev said. “I think my running background is pretty diverse at this point, I’ve done it all: collegiate track and cross country, road racing, trail racing, 5Ks, marathons, ultramarathons, and everything in between.”
When he’s not running, Lev is Director of Programs & Operations for LEAP (Local Environmental Agriculture Project), working to improve our local and regional food system. He also co-owns a small food business producing dehydrated foods and baked goods called Two Dudes Foods. Lev and his wife love dogs, especially senior pups.
Here’s more about Run Every Road RKE in his own words.
5 Questions with Sam Lev, Run Every Road RKE
What’s the inspiration behind Run Every Road RKE?
I’ve moved a lot around the country in my adult life, and running has always been a good way for me to get to know a place better. I moved to Roanoke in 2015 and the same held true. My first ever run in Roanoke was up Mill Mountain … This sounds cheesy, but when I saw the Star for the first time, I had to be up there! I live in Grandin Court now, and would idly wonder during runs how many miles it would take to run every street in my neighborhood, and how fast I could do it. The inspiration grew from there. I love Roanoke, and I’ve traveled a lot of it for my work with the LEAP Mobile Market. When I first thought about doing this, I knew it would be a way to get to know this city more intimately. After some research, I found there’s a community of people running (and bike riding) every road in their city worldwide. RER is a small but mighty movement!
How many roads have you run so far and when do you expect to finish?
I started in January 2019. I’m not counting any previous runs, a clean slate. I still like to race, and I still run trails regularly, and sometimes life gets in the way. So, not every one of my runs will be a Run Every Road (RER) attempt. … I’m hoping to average 2-3 per week. I estimate I’ve covered around 20 miles of roads, around 3% of the city completed, although that is just a guess. I’m using a GPS app to track my runs, but the nature of running every road means I do a LOT of backtracking and doubling up roads. It’s taken me about 37 miles to get that 20 miles of new roads. I heard from a trusted source there’s around 600 miles of streets in Roanoke (I’m not counting alleys!), so I’m guessing this part-time effort will take me around two years to complete.
What do you hope to achieve with Run Every Road RKE?
I’m looking forward to getting to know Roanoke and the people that live here, in an entirely new way. A lot of folks (myself included) tend to stick to their routine, to their places, and their same running routes, and I want to break myself of that habit. Another goal is to share my experience, so everyone can find motivation to seek out a new experience or learn more about this city. I also want to meet new people and learn more about Roanoke’s neighborhoods, on foot and from the people that live there, so I would LOVE others to join me. You can be my tour guide in your neighborhood! (Just DM him on social media.)
What’s your favorite running route in the Roanoke Region?
Roanoke is such a fantastic running town. I’ll never tire of running up Mill Mountain. Every route is special, from the Star Trail to the old road. My favorite run outside of Mill Mountain has to be Poor Mountain Road. I guess you could say I like running mountains. And I have to put a plug in for my favorite race in Roanoke, the RunCross 1-Hour Race. Full disclosure, I help direct this race during the GO Cross Cyclocross event. It’s a unique, off-road event that’s scored by how many laps of the cyclocross course you can run in an hour. I also love the energy and intensity of the Draper Mile.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside (other than run)?
When I’m not running, I dabble in a lot of outdoor activities very part time. I like riding bikes, fishing, and hiking. A few years ago, I got a dingy inflatable kayak, so I like taking that out on gentle rivers and running back to my car after I float.