He was once a noted local expert on craft beers — and facing multiple health risks due to weighing almost 400 pounds. But Jake mcCluskey changed his life with an athletic journey that took him thousands of miles — without ever leaving town.
Standing in foothills that make up the edges of town, Jake McCluskey muses about what he knows of San Jose.
“Now that I’ve seen everything, I know that we have such a beautiful city,” McCluskey says. “We are so lucky to live here.”
He knows it all because McCluskey ran every street in town — about 2,411 miles over 15 months.
In that time, McCluskey discovered some favorite places: Tiny Palm Haven with its well-maintained trees and unique homes; the largely Mexican-American business district of Calle Willow and, of course, the view from the hills.
He also discovered things about himself.
From the hills above Alum Rock, on the city’s far east side, San Jose lays in the valley before him. The main drag, Santa Clara Street, runs like an asphalt artery through downtown. McCluskey’s Japantown neighborhood is to the right.
“That means absolute home to me,” he says of the neighborhood he’s lived over the past 18 years.
There, he lived by the liquor store where he worked as well-known craft beer expert. It’s also a place he just didn’t leave much. He weighed over 380 pounds and walking any distance was hard.
Four years ago, he decided, as he puts to, to take his health back.
When he first started running, McCluskey jogged early in the morning, too embarrassed he’d be seen at other times of day. He kept his route to what was reasonable for him — his block.
The more he ran, the more he could run. One day, talking to a friend who ran every road in the East Bay city of Dublin, McCluskey got inspired to do the same in his adopted hometown of sprawling San jose.
It put an exclamation point on his transformation — and showed him something on the inside as well.
“I’ve learned the owner manual to Jake, inside and out,” McCluskey said. “Not just physically but mentally, you know, when you are out running for hours at time with no distractions you are really forced to look at yourself.”
He’s discovered two big things: He puts more good than bad out into the world, and he now knows what he wants out of life — to help others make changes like his own and add years to their lives.
“When I run ... that’s my way to connect and my way to get around,” McCluskey said. “It means absolute freedom. “
It’s a feeling he wants to share.