Running Route Mapping Tools
by Marty Mazur
The NVRC Running Route Maps pages have quite a few nice local routes all traced out on topographic maps. These maps come with annotation, calculated distances and elevation profiles, and route alternatives. The maps were generated using DeLorme 3-D Topo Quads 2.0, and augmented using Microsoft PowerPoint drawing tools. Mapmeister Marty Mazur adds several new routes a year to the growing library, and has backlogged requests for more routes.
Rather than waiting for Marty to put your route on the Running Route Maps pages, you can make a nice first cut of your own map. Thanks to the efforts of various people to exploit the mapping and satellite imagery available in Yahoo and Google data bases, there are several online mapping tools, linked below, that can be useful to runners who want to plan a route or calculate the mileage they've run. Each of the tools below has its own advantages and disadvantages. The tools use theYahoo and Google map service, which gives you access to street maps, a satellite's eye view, or a hybrid of the two (major roads superimposed on the satellite pictures). Both Yahoo and Google make very high resolution satellite imagery available in the big metropolitan areas, but only the Yahoo map data base has the high resolution satellite views for the State College Area. The tools calculate mileage, and two of them have calorie counter capabilities. The street maps are more up-to-date than those in the DeLorme software, but only the Gmaps site can show topographic maps. These tools are generally not as accurate as DeLorme 3-D Topo Quads, and the output product not as refined. The main advantage of the tools is that they're free and easy to use. Try them all!
- Runningmap.com - Advantages: Uses a Yahoo Map data base with much higher satellite image resolution than all the other mapping tools below. Good interface. Very accurate mileage. Can annotate maps. Can save maps to a "permalink". Disadvantages: Can edit maps once they are saved but this creates a new "permalink". Cannot add points between points that are already laid down except by deleting points from the end all the way back to the point you want to insert. No topo map or calorie counter.
- MapMyRun.com - Advantages: Clean interface. Easier to use than the Gmaps Pedometer. Remembers the last place you started from when you revisit the site. Can upload route from GPS unit. Has calorie counter. Disadvantages: Need to register to activate some capabilities. No elevation profile capability yet. No topo map. Relatively low resolution satellite imagery in State College Area.
- Gmaps Pedometer - Advantages: Topo map and elevation profile available. No registration required to print map. Can download map to GPX data format. Disadvantages: Buggier interface than MapMyRun.com (satellite and hybrid options sometimes don't appear until you click some other unrelated menu options). Forgets your past visits to site. Relatively low resolution satellite imagery in State College Area.
- USATF Running Map Data Base - Advantages: Huge data base of running routes available all over America. You can map your own routes and add to the data base. Readers can critique routes. Disadvantages: No elevation profile, topo map, or calorie counter capabilities.
Thanks to Greg Fredericks, John Sheakoski, and Morgan Wasikonis for the tips regarding these valuable online tools.