Shape Runner: Richmond man cuts curious corners around city

Some people cut shapes on the dancefloor, while others carve designs on walls.

Peter Grant, in his spare time, fashions running routes around Richmond and Toronto which, when mapped out on his app, take the form of something as simple as a staircase or as ingenious as planes and boats.

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Peter Grant gets set to take off on another interesting route around Richmond. Alan Campbell photo

There is no bones about it, the 57-year-old Richmondite is passionate, borderline obsessed, about pounding the pavement, having completed 32 marathons and more than 100 half marathons.

It all dates back to his junior high days growing up in the U.S. where, due to his impaired vision, he was unable to play the likes of baseball or football and was dismissed to do multiple laps of the running track instead.

But it was only a few years ago that Grant - who works in the finance industry and commutes regularly to Toronto – realized by accident that his obsessive running routes had a life of their own.

“Richmond’s layout kind of forces you to take certain routes, which I can trace on my Nike app and post on Facebook,” said Grant, who has never been able to drive, either, due to his poor sight.

“I then realized, and others pointed out, (the routes) look like actual shapes, including a staircase.

“Some of the patterns are by default, due to certain roads or routes being impassable in Richmond. But I found out that, if I zig-zag, I’ll usually end up somewhere close to where I need to be.”

As for the ship route he designed in Downtown Toronto, Grant said he only realized what he was doing once looking at the app afterwards.

“I had done the bow of the ship by accident. Then I looked at it and said, ‘that looks like the bow of a ship,’ he explained.

“So then I thought, ‘if I run this way, as well, I can add the top of the ship.’”

Asked if he has any new shapes in mind for Richmond, Grant said he’s in the process of planning a “box in a box in a box.”

“Because Richmond’s grid is so big, the next one I want to do is 20 miles; that’s going to take me three and a half hours,” he revealed.

“It’s going to start at No. 1 and Westminster, head down to Granville, then to Railway, then back to Westminster, that’s the first half mile and then extend it half mile each time, until I get to Steveston Highway.

“Ever increasing boxes I guess is what I will call it.”

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And if you think you’ve seen Grant in the new before, you’d be right.

He featured about 18 months ago, revealing another compulsion that keeps Grant off the streets and out of trouble – Lego.

“I think Lego is the creative side, while running, for me, gives me a chance to think things through,” added Grant, whose Lego replicas of iconic Steveston buildings are still on show at a City of Richmond exhibit.

“I’ve got a challenging job, with lots of personnel issues. Somebody once said, ‘if you can’t solve something on a three-hour run, then it’s unsolvable.’”

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