Eau Claire runner journeys across every street in the city

By Ryan Ward | November 1, 2022


A little over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex Rongstad had an idea for a project. Could he run every street in the city of Eau Claire before the end of the year? A life-long runner, Rongstad had around 6-months left in 2021 to both start and finish his idea.

“I think there’s something like 500 some odd miles of streets in Eau Claire,” said Alex Rongstad. “But I’m doing it all from my apartment.”

Alex was confident the project was doable. His dad Tony Rongstad, also a runner wasn’t so sure at first.

“I told him he was crazy,” said Tony Rongstad. “I said, the first thing you need to do is call the city streets department and ask them how many miles of streets there are in Eau Claire.”

Even if his dad didn’t have confidence, Alex still did. The goal behind the project was much more than the numbers and the logistics of it. It was an opportunity for Alex to grow closer to the community he grew up in.

“I was kind of looking at a map,” said Alex Rongstad. “And I started seeing like, wow, there are these huge gaps that I’ve never seen before.”

Alex kept his idea quiet at first, but the word of his goal soon started to spread. Once his employer, husband, and wife Adam and Alicia Condit heard they couldn’t help but be supportive of Alex. After all, they do own Blue Ox Running, one of the only running supply stores in the Eau Claire area.

“It reminds me of the movie Forest Gump when he runs across America,” said Alicia Condit. “I don’t know why, but I use that analogy.”

“I think people can really relate to what he’s doing,” said Adam Condit “He’s literally running on the same streets that they run on.”

For Alex, the journey soon came with a wave of nostalgia. As he began running down streets and around neighborhoods he hadn’t seen in years.

“Every block triggered a new memory of a friend that lived there or an experience I had with like my siblings,” said Alex Rongstad. “It was like I was watching my life sort of on, you know, repeat or something.”

Finally, the day came in mid-December of 2021 when Alex completed his project. Joined by his father, and a group of close friends and supporters. Alex ran his last street and completed his journey by running a total of 3,378 miles in around 6-months.

“Alex seems to always want to go beyond and to do something bigger,” said Tony Rongstad. “Something that affects other people in a positive way. And that just makes me extremely proud.”

For Alex, it was a project and journey that he’ll never forget.

“Just put one foot in front of the other. And when you choose to do that, you’re already there,” said Alex Rongstad. “Like you’re already over halfway there, so you’ll just keep going, just keep going.”

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward is a producer for the “Wisconsin Life” project and can rest easy after he finally found the perfect jar of homemade dill pickles at the farmer’s market in Madison. … just like his Grandma Shirley use to make!

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