It’s safe to say few have a more intimate knowledge of the City of Everett’s streets than Wes Plate. After all, as of Tuesday Plate’s feet had trod every inch of every single one.
Plate has spent the past nine months on a quest to run every single Everett street. It’s a project that’s allowed Plate to discover new neighborhoods, learn about the city’s history and develop a greater appreciation for Everett.
Plate, a 47-year-old video editing app designer who originally hails from Marysville, is an ultramarathoner. Several times a year he competes in races that range in length from 50 kilometers (31 miles) to 240 miles. He chronicled his running of the Moab 240 in 2019 in a video that has more than 196,000 views on YouTube. Therefore, Plate has unique qualities that make the idea of traversing all the streets of a good-sized city possible.
In January, Plate moved to Everett from Snohomish, and two months later he began his quest to cover the entirety of Everett’s street map.
“The biggest impetus was COVID,” Plate explained. “When it hit they closed all the parks and trails, so it was difficult to do all the trail running I’d do for training. And at the beginning the emphasis was on staying local, so I was staying close to home to get some miles in. But I wanted it to be interesting, I didn’t want to do the same loop over and over again, so I started to do different routes.
“As that happened, I stumbled upon a website called CityStrides.com, which helps people track the streets they’ve run in their city. So being stuck at home because of COVID, running the streets and finding the site were a perfect storm.”
Plate runs wearing a watch with a GPS unit that tracks his route. Once or twice a week he would go on runs around town that were as long as 23 miles, but generally stayed in the 10 mile range. When he first started he would begin and end his runs at his home in the Riverside neighborhood of north Everett, but eventually he began driving to new starting points in order to extend his range. He didn’t set out to complete the streets as fast as he could. Nor did he make a point of trying not to repeat streets, something that wasn’t possible given the need to complete cul-de-sacs and grids.
Sometimes Plate would come across streets that were labeled by CityStrides as open to the public, but which weren’t, such as those at Naval Station Everett — Plate tried to arrange to run those roads, but was unsuccessful. So he helped update the site’s Everett map.
As Plate progressed he watched the lines showing the streets he’d covered gradually fill the map.
“You could see neighborhoods where you’d go in and out of cul-de-sacs, which weren’t interesting as a run, but you’d load it on the map and it would be an odd shape that fit with other odd shapes,” Plate said. “It was extremely gratifying.”
Eventually Plate’s runs required advance strategy sessions.
“I’d spend easily a half-hour before a weekend of running plotting out what I was going to do, and I actually really enjoyed that,” Plate said. “I found planning the run was almost as much fun as doing the run.”
Not only did the runs help Plate stay in running shape, they provided an education about his new hometown.
“Having grown up in the area I felt I generally had a pretty good idea of Everett,” Plate said. “But through this project I saw neighborhoods I’d never seen before, views of the city, views of the sound that were spectacular. I’d learn interesting historical things, see someone’s curious yard with interesting art out front. It was really getting to know on an intimate level every part of town, and it was quite the blessing.
“It surprised me that I’d run through a low-income neighborhood and one block later you’d find expensive homes,” Plate added. “There’s economic diversity everywhere, there’s rich and poor all over the place, there are no massive concentrations of rich and poor. I found it interesting how much the different economic groups coexist throughout the city.”
What were Plate’s favorite areas in town to run?
• “There’s an area called Dogwood Lane kind of west of Forest Park, that road and the area around it had a vibe that I quite enjoyed, it became one of my favorite neighborhoods.”
• “I really enjoyed the area just to the south of downtown above the old Providence Hospital. The views were spectacular and I enjoyed running the hills and seeing all the houses.”
• “There’s a neighborhood called Valley View west of the Everett Mall, and when I was running through there I saw a lot of signs in people’s yards that talked about saving Wood Creek Forest. What is Wood Creek Forest? I went home and looked it up and learned about how Wood Creek used to be a source of water for Everett. I enjoyed the experience that day of being in a neighborhood and getting the vibe of what’s important to them.”
• I was happy to find some urban trails sprinkled throughout the city. As I was running I’d find odd little trails that were maybe only 100 yards long or a quarter-mile, but amidst all the streets there’d be a trail in woods.”
Plate said he didn’t have any areas he didn’t enjoy running, but he did have one he found to be the most difficult. “The area near Mukilteo branching off Mukilteo Boulevard was difficult because it had the steepest hills.”
Plate finally finished his quest Tuesday, his last road being Walter Hall Park Road. In total he covered 538.8 miles along Everett’s streets, though because that includes repeated roads he doesn’t know the exact mileage of Everett’s streets. CityStrides lists Plate as having completed 99.51% of Everett’s streets, though that appears to be a glitch as it also shows Plate as having completed the streets he supposedly is missing. As of Wednesday no other runner on the site had completed more than 14.79% of Everett’s streets.
So how did it feel to finish?
“When I was done I had a little bit of a twinge of sadness,” Plate said. “There was so much planning and thought put into this thing, and now that you’re done you ask, ‘OK, what’s next?’ But it’s fun to have finished.”
What is next for Plate? He’s training for the Cocodona 250 in Arizona in May, so he’ll be getting back on the trails to prepare for that. But he’s considering attempting to complete the streets of other nearby cities. He’s finished 48.68% of Snohomish’s streets, so that may be on deck.
But he’s appreciated getting to know Everett better.
“I feel like I’m on friendly terms with the entire town.”
If you have an idea for a community sports story, email Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.