San Francisco Runner Honors the Work of Stacey Abrams With a Strava Art Portrait

When insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, not only did it stop the country in its tracks, but it also drew attention away from the historic runoff for Senate in the state of Georgia, which yielded uncharacteristic results in the traditionally Republican state.

Many—like Frank Chan, 48, of San Francisco—wanted to celebrate the work of the American politician, lawyer, and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who fought voter discrimination and suppression in Georgia and got people out to vote.

Over the summer, Chan took up the running hobby of Strava art—using a GPS tracker to draw a shape using a usually urban landscape—and he got pretty good at it. After the November 2 election results were finalized, he wanted to draw a shape to honor Abrams. That thought sat idly over the next month as Abrams worked tirelessly in the lead up to the runoff. Finally, when the capitol was attacked, he decided to do the run.

“That week was both sad and doubly sad that [Abrams’s] efforts were lost in the news cycle,” Chan told Runner’s World. “We should have celebrated the results of her work to combat voter disenfranchisement and groups that have been historically oppressed. I wanted to re-inject her back into the forefront.”

Outlining a route around his east San Francisco home, he spent hours making a shape and adjusting it as he applied it to the map. By Thursday, January 7, he had his route set in stone, and had written down the directions he’d need to complete that shape to carry by hand. On January 9, he set out to complete it.

He started with Abrams’s hair in the hilly area of his Russian Hill neighborhood before working down the left side of her body and eventually looping back up to the head on the right side. For the duration of his run, he was deep in thought.

“What’s great about running is it can take you away from everything,” Chan said. “While I was in the 20s for mileage, I thought about how much I had left. That’s when I said to myself, if I endured 10 years of a challenge trying to get people to vote, I can make it to the next mile and remind myself why I’m doing this. Running can help you interact with the world around you. You’re not running away from it. You reflect and you interact. It’s escape and connection. You can experience both.”

In total, Chan ran for five hours and 51 minutes, covering 32.2 miles to make his creation.

A post shared by Frank Chan (@chanarchy)

The image has been passed around on social media since, and Chan has received mostly positive feedback.

“Like I wrote in my original post, let’s not forget the work Stacey Abrams did,” Chan said. “This was the work of more than one person, and she has been great about giving credit to other organizations in the fight. We all need to do our part. We can stay informed about this work and these organizations and work directly on these problems and contribute if you can to that work. This is not hero worship. This is crediting someone after a very long fight. She deserves everything she gets here.”

In addition to celebrating Abrams, Chan also included a link to a fundraising link from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that splits donations between seven organizations in Georgia who assisted in the voting efforts. You can donate to that fundraiser here.

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