Rick Gates has been a notable figure in the distance running community for quite some time now. He has spent nearly a decade competing in ultramarathons on an elite international level; however, in recent years, this self-described “conceptual runner” has been blending endurance with artistic mediums of writing and photography.
In one of his recent projects called “Every Single Street”, Gates set out to run, literally, every single street in San Francisco. In his endeavor, he covered 1,317 miles over the course of 45 days, averaging approximately 29 miles per day. While the accomplishment was a huge athletic endeavor, Ricky Gates sought more than just a physical challenge. Through his wanderings, he stopped to talk with people from all walks of life on the city streets and learn their stories. On his website, Gates writes “To walk across a place is to observe and participate in a vast, intricate and complex web of infrastructure. It is to experience the history of that place in a very real and personal way. It is to have a better understanding of what that place is. Where that place is. Who that place is. Why that place is. To walk across a place is to truly know a place.”
This mantra of understanding the concept of place has taken Ricky Gates to new heights in his latest project “TransAmericana”. In 2017, Gates embarked on an epic quest to traverse the United States, coast to coast, on foot. This 3,700-mile journey spanning from North Carolina to California is undoubtedly a tremendous feat of endurance. However, just like in “Every Single Street”, Gates was searching for more than merely finishing this monstrous objective.
Inspired by the immense political divide and turmoil following the 2016 presidential election, Ricky Gates had questions that needed answers. Through his quest, he sought to spread empathy and get to the bottom of political polarization, which has become so deeply entrenched in U.S. culture. Once again, just like in “Every Single Street”, Gates seeks answers by meeting people from all over the U.S. to learn their own personal narratives.
“TransAmericana” is more than just a running film- it is a challenge to us all to practice empathy and respect one another. “TransAmericana” is set to debut on September 29 on Salomon TV’s Youtube channel. In the meantime, you can also check out Ricky Gates’ book, Cross Country, in which he reflects upon his 5-month, 3700-mile journey across the United States.