Our beautiful little 7 by 7 has an estimated 1,000 miles of walkable areas (although sometimes we wonder if those people that call this city so walkable have ever conquered just one of the Everest-esque hills). We all have our regular routes, but there are a few residents who have dared to venture from the familiar and conquer every street in the city. Allison Baltzersen is one of those brave souls. She’s been at it for over a year, and says no matter how many times she walks the same street, she always spots something new.
SCOUT: What possessed you to walk the entire city?
ALLISON: In September of 2009 I had a friend ask me to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which is 39 miles long. My training options were the gym or the streets, so I headed out to the streets. After walking the same street twice, I realized that was going to get boring, so I decided to venture out into other neighborhoods, and then decided to walk every street.
SCOUT: Have you ever done anything like this before?
ALLISON: Heck no. Before this, I was a couch potato who rarely did anything active. This was all very new to me. Starting out was challenging. I was looking back at some of my first blog posts where I was struggling after mile one. Now I can go on 15 mile walks and it’s not until mile 7 that I start feeling it. My endurance and physical fitness have definitely increased.
SCOUT: How far are you?
ALLISON: I started last September and have walked about 450 miles since then, which is about halfway. I’m certainly not the first person who’s done this, so comparing to other people’s paces, I thought it would take me a lot longer. There’s people who took 6 years to do it, so the fact that I’m halfway done in about 15 months makes me very happy. Before the race, I was walking a lot to get ready for it. In April I did 89 miles! The walk was in June, and I wasn’t as disciplined after because I didn’t have that incentive anymore. Now, I average about 15 miles a week.
SCOUT: Do you listen to music as you walk?
ALLISON: I have Pandora on my phone, and I also use my walking time as my phone talking time. I’m taking pictures as I go, too. I started doing that mainly to remember all the places I’d been, but my family and friends love looking at them on my blog. I love getting people I don’t know that come to check my blog out too.
SCOUT: What are some of the interesting things you’ve seen on your walks?
ALLISON: I’ll find myself climbing up a steep hill or drive wondering why anyone would want to live up here and then I peek between the buildings and see how amazing the view is. If I have time, I’ll stop into interesting businesses I see on my walks, but I always have time to take in the amazing views.
SCOUT: What’s been your favorite area so far?
ALLISON: I like The Richmond because the streets are straight and easy to navigate, so that made it easier for tracking my routes, but the most fun neighborhood has been The Mission. There are always people out on the streets, so that makes the walks more entertaining, but I just love how colorful the neighborhood is, too.
SCOUT: What are some of your curious finds?
ALLISON: This isn’t a new find, but I like getting ice cream at Humphry Slocombe then heading around the corner to look at all the art in Balmy Alley.
SCOUT: Why does SF have a special place in your heart?
ALLISON: Before San Francisco, I lived in the Florida Keys on an island that was 2 miles by 7 miles with one major road. It was about the least dynamic place I’ve ever been. Here in San Francisco, there is so much diversity and the city has so much texture and all the different architecture that’s kind of lumped on itself. It’s got this cultural saturation like no where else does. It’s impossible not to like San Francisco.
SCOUT: When you’re not racking up the miles where do you hang out?
ALLISON: I like all the restaurants and businesses on Valencia from 16th to 24th, Polk from about Broadway to California is always fun, and my favorite harbor is South Beach, right behind AT&T Ballpark. I feel that it’s a really under appreciated marina.
SCOUT: Where can we keep track of your progress?
ALLISON: I update my blog regularly, along with maps of where I’ve been. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.