It’s the Year of the Tiger, which means local runner Lenny Maughan—who’s been dubbed the “Picasso of Strava” and a “Human Etch-A-Sketch”—wanted to map the majestic creature across San Francisco’s curvy, hilly and erratic streets.
As always, he started by studying up on his subject before tracking the run on the fitness app Strava. “Tigers’ stripes are variable, so I knew I’d have some flexibility with the design,” said Maughan, adding that the eye was the hardest part to get right.
“In any kind of drawing or painting, if the eye isn't spot on, it just makes the whole thing weird," he said.
The 61-year-old runner isn’t new to creating fantastic art from runs around San Francisco—and you can follow him on Instagram or Strava to see all of his routes—but said the tiger shape was one of his most ambitious projects yet.
All told, it took him four days of planning and 21 hours to run, which he split into four segments across four days.
“The 95 miles I ran…it was hard,” said Maughan. “But it was not as challenging as the design. The design is always the hard part.”
So why put in all this time and effort—from planning to actually completing the route?
“I’m an avid runner,” said Maughan. But beyond his own gratification, Maughan also loves how much his whimsical creations inspire others.
“Almost every day I get comments from people along the lines of ‘you make me happy’ or ‘this is inspiring,’” said Maughan. “Thinking about the joy of others is tremendous.”
Maughan says his pieces aren’t political, though he does hope they encourage people to get outside and appreciate the city. He noted that lately, a lot of the debate in San Francisco has been around how filthy it is, which Maughan pushes back against.
“Yes, there’s some of that, but it’s a beautiful town with some incredible streets and vistas,” he said. Maughan is currently working on a project to run all of San Francisco’s streets, alongside his commitment to making one artistic design a month.
Plus, he always does the Lunar New Year zodiac. Last year was the ox, and Maughan says we can expect a rabbit come February 2023.
Sophie Bearman can be reached at [email protected]