Unlike better-planned cities like, say, Baltimore—God that’s sad—Cleveland doesn’t much utilize its waterfront for parks or trails. And since the closest thing to a significantly sized park in the city center is a West Bank gravel factory, treadmill-wary joggers living downtown are forced to take to their neighborhood’s streets.
Which, if you plan your route right, can make for some excellent motivation. ...
The prison-like men’s shelter at 2100 Lakeside Avenue is the largest in the Midwest, and in the entire area from E. 10th to E. 30th, you’d be hard-pressed to spot a pedestrian that’s not homeless. And as I recently discovered, bums, for some reason, love joggers. There seems to be a citywide Bum Ordinance that calls on them to loudly hail every runner that passes by. So whenever I run in the vicinity of the shelter, I’m buoyed by the support of all I pass. It’s a gauntlet of high-fives, and on every block, there’s a new cheer: “There we go now!”; How many miles ya done, Champ?” I even get “Looking good!” though in fact, I really look like a young Rodney Dangerfield in a sweatsuit.
For maximum vagrant huzzahs, the best route from the Warehouse District is heading east on St. Clair, and then somewhere between 26th and 30th Streets, turn around and head back via Lakeside. You won’t pass the same bum twice, and at the moment when you’re in the greatest need of motivation—just beyond the half-way point—you’ll pass the shelter fence, where you’ll be greeted like Zydrunas Ilgauskas returning to Lithuania. The Bum Path doesn’t have the natural beauty of, say, a Metropark; in fact, it’s a dismal, half-developed industrial wasteland, strewn with broken beer bottles. But with all the cheering, you’ll run harder, farther—and if you scare easily, faster—than you ever have before. – Gus Garcia-Roberts